Director: George Elanjian Jr.
Synapse Films

With the same low budget disposition and intricate plot points of a Sci-Fi Channel original picture, SYNGENOR doesn’t run the risk of becoming a cult classic anytime soon. However an uproarious performance by cult favorite David Gale and an abundance of inane dialogue does make it worthy of the attention of bad cinema enthusiasts and anyone looking for a good unintentional laugh.

At Norton Cyberdyne, production has begun on a weapon that will one day replace man on the front lines. With all major world leaders agreeing that the next generation of combat will take place in the deserts of the Middle East, Cyberdyne technologies has created the ultimate solider to fight and succeed in such brutal conditions. Syngenor or SYNthesized GENetic Organism is a completely self reliant weapon of tomorrow. It does not require water to sustain itself and is able to reproduce asexually every 24 hours, ensuring a steady pool of skilled recruits. While it is difficult to control and feasts on the spinal fluid of its victims, Cyberdyne president Carter Brown (David Gale, RE-ANIMATOR) is confident that such glitches can be corrected despite the recent killing of project creator Ethan Valentine (Lewis Arquette). Frustrated with the lack of police response to her uncle's murder, Susan (Starr Andreeff, THE TERROR WITHIN) sets out to uncover who or what attacked her on the night her uncle was killed, assisted by intrepid reporter Nick Cary (Mitchell Laurance). Conning their way into the Cyberdyne building, Susan and Nick find themselves surrounded by shady inter-office politics and corruption that have foolishly allowed the Syngenor project to roam and reproduce freely throughout the building.

If not for the wildly, over the top performance by David Gale, SYNGENOR could have easily been forgotten as another in a lineage of low budget ALIEN rip-offs. David Gale devours every scene, delivering lines in a manner that seemingly suck the oxygen out of the room, leaving any actor unfortunate to be sharing the scene to choke to death. As reporter Nick Cary, Mitchell Laurance is a recognizable face from such 1980s television series as HBO's "Not Necessarily the News", but then again I could be confusing him with his identical twin brother Matthew, who also found regular work on television in the 1980s and 1990s. Lewis Arquette, father of Patricia, Rosanna and David Arquette, has but a moment's screen time as SYNGENOR creator and ex-Cyberdyne employee Ethan Valentine. His one fleeting scene does however stand out as it features Valentine working in a homemade garage laboratory, blowing up oranges to make a fresh glass of OJ. And keep an eye out for William Shatner’s daughter Melanie in a minor but noticeable role as naive receptionist Bonnie Brown.

The Gigeresque SYNGENOR creature itself is a salvaging of the mold from William Malone's SCARED TO DEATH. Used at the suggestion of Malone, recycling the creature not only cut some major financial corners but it also allowed the impressive design to live a second life. Bipedal, the creature is akin to Sil from the 1995 film SPECIES. Covered in a rowed exoskeleton, the design is rather striking, despite the fact the bunched up facial features and elongated forehead make it look like a newborn. As impressive as the suit might be, particularly given the time period, it is far from fully functional as the creature always appears stiff as it lumbers at a slow but steady pace toward its prey. One scene finds the creature crawling through a series of air ducts after Susan and Nick, but the suit's head is so big and the design clearly not taking into account the need for neck movement, the Syngenor simply shambles blindly after the pair to hilarious results.

Besides David Gale’s performance, SYNGENOR’s greatest asset is its blatant disregard for continuity and absurd dialogue. The Syngenors are supposed to reproduce once every 24 fours asexually and such is the case with the creature that kills Ethan Valentine. However, the other Syngenors that where captured and contained in the basement of Cyberdyne industries quickly multiply into a baker’s dozen or more in a matter of hours. It is also unclear as to what the neon green, glowing RE-ANIMATOR liquid that David Gale injects into his neck is supposed to be or what its effects are, but with such ridiculous dialogue you’ll be too busy giggling to pay it much mind once the predictable ending (at least predictable to anyone who has seen ALIEN) rolls around.

Synapse Films has rolled over the presentation and special features from the Elite Entertainment DVD, which debuted back in 2003, updating the original cover slightly but with optimal effect. Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, SYNGENOR looks fantastic, with accurate skin tones and not a single blemish or scratch to be found. Night scenes can get a bit dark, masking the action but this may have been done on purpose to hide any outstanding flaws on the SYNGENOR suit or the script itself. An English language audio track is available in both 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital surround with optional French and Spanish language tracks also included. Dialogue is easy to follow and understand, with only the shrill, electronic yell of the SYNGENOR ever masking the comical conversations.

A commentary track with lead actress Starr Andreeff, writer Brent V. Friedman (THE RESURRECTED) and producer Jack F. Murphy features the trio reminiscing about a production that was much more cerebral than what ended up on the screen. The discussion is active with numerous informative bits about the cast and its primary setting, the famous Ambassador Hotel. “David Gale at Tokyo Fantastic Film Festival” is a one of four Behind-The-Scenes featurettes all apparently shot on home video. Following David to Tokyo for a grand screening of SYNGENOR, it is apparent that the Japanese appreciated the film much more than the States. “Publicity Photo Shoot” runs just under two minutes and give the clearest view of the Syngenor suit in all its rubbery glory. “Doug Beswick’s Creature Shop” shows the creature being made from William Malone's original molds and while an interesting segment, this release's best extra is without a doubt a very brief but highly enjoyable SOV audition tape for David Gale, which gives just a taste of the insanity he would bring to role of Carter Brown. An extensive photo gallery and filmographies for the chief cast and crew top off a fun disc that will find favor with those who relish cinema that is so bad, it’s good. (Jason McElreath)