EVE OF DESTRUCTION (1991) (Blu-ray)
Director: Duncan Gibbins
Scream Factory/Shout! Factory

Scream Factory’s EVE OF DESTRUCTION teaches viewers a valuable lesson about how not to talk to a lady… android, that is.

Dr. Eve Simmons (Renée Soutendijk, THE FOURTH MAN) has been working on a highly secretive government-sponsored robotics program and has seemingly perfected the technology with Eve VIII (also Soutendijk) modeled after her not only in physical likeness but also on her thoughts and memories. While Eve is spending some time off with her son Timmy (Ross Malinger, KINDERGARTEN COP), her deadline-minded associates take Eve VIII on an unscheduled field-training scenario in the Bay Area, monitoring her movements and interaction in the city. Things go very wrong, however, when Eve is shot during a bank robbery and her circuitry is damaged; causing her to go into “battlefield mode” in which she reacts with deadly force to anyone she perceives as a threat to her. Although her creators have lost radio contact with her, they can track her movements by a credit card issued to her as part of the field test, and what they’ve learned so far is that she’s bought several wholesale guns and rounds of bullets and has rented a car. Reluctantly pulled in from an African hostage crisis, counterterrorism expert Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, WHITE NIGHTS) is paired with Eve to find and stop her creation before she goes into the even direr “nuclear mode” which renders her capable of decimating a radius of twenty city blocks. As they follow a trail of destruction – pretty much any guy who calls Eve VIII a bitch (“Please don’t call me that. I’m very sensitive.”) – McQuade realizes that Eve VIII seems to be acting on her creator’s memories and fantasies, and Eve must delve into her own repressed traumatic past to determine what Eve VIII’s endgame is.

Although released in 1991, EVE OF DESTRUCTION has the look and feel of a mid-1980s film due in large part to Philippe Sarde’s (GHOST STORY) score – performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and The Limehouse Synthesizer & Electronic Percussion Group – and Alan Hume’s (LIFEFORCE) photography which is attractive but quite the antithesis of the 1980s/1990s sci-fi noir style. Story wise, it also feels like the product of an earlier era as a theatrical feature up against stuff like TOTAL RECALL and TERMINATOR 2. The film probably would have been more entertaining had it been directed by Paul Verhoeven who had previously directed Soutendijk in SPETTERS as well as his BASIC INSTINCT-precursor THE FOURTH MAN (1984). Verhoeven, who was at the time embarking on BASIC INSTINCT could have fully exploited the perverse possibilities the scenario had to offer (the meeting sequence in which Hines and other government officials get a simulated view of Eve VIII’s “insides” could have been a precursor to the interrogation sequence of the Verhoeven film, while the necessity of McQuade probing Eve’s memories and repressed fantasies could have created some actual tension.

What we get instead with writer Yale Udoff (Nicolas Roeg’s BAD TIMING) and co-writer/director Duncan Gibbins – who tragically died in the 1993 wildfires in Southern California – is a TERMINATOR-esque chase thriller stripped almost to its barest elements. From an opening teaser that gets its point across without being particularly exciting to slapdash staging of the bank robbery, the film rushes to get to Eve VIII’s rampage and what is ultimately the pursuit of an android with daddy issues. This allows for a series of set pieces in which Soutendijk displays some skin and maims and kills various thugs, roughnecks, and yuppies while making her way to the source of her creator’s issues culminating in a ludicrously short cameo by INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS’ Kevin McCarthy (a Jeff McCarthy plays his character in flashbacks, but they seem to be unrelated); alas, this is nowhere near as entertaining or exploitative as the Indonesian LADY TERMINATOR (1989). Soutendijk turns in a good performance beyond the mere exoticness of her looks and accent while Hines does a lot of barnstorming; and Kurt Fuller (GHOSTBUSTERS II) does his slimy bureaucrat act, here proposing some diversionary blame (“whoever’s at the top of your shitlist”) when Eve VIII’s rampage gets the attention of the press. Stuntman George P. Wilbur (HALLOWEEN 4 and 5’s Michael Myers) plays one of McQuade’s trained troopers. R. Christopher Biggs (THE UNNAMABLE) provides some grisly effects (mostly the damage inflicted on the purely cosmetic skin and organ system of Eve VIII) but there are few visual effects with a greater emphasis on pyrotechnic effects and gunplay. EVE OF DESTRUCTION ends up being fun but is ultimately brainless action film rather than science fiction.

Although a widescreen version of EVE OF DESTRUCTION has been available on DVD in a couple PAL territories through MGM, their domestic release was a barebones fullscreen transfer. Scream Factory’s single-layer 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC-encoded 1.85:1 transfer opens with a Nelson Entertainment logo and features a beautifully sharp and colorful transfer. The Dolby Stereo track is effectively rendered in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track, but there are no subtitle options as there were on the DVD (and usually on Scream Factory’s special editions). The sole extra is the film’s theatrical trailer (1:58), although the cover is reversible. (Eric Cotenas)