Proteus (1995)

Rating:

UK. 1995.

Crew

Director – Bob Keen, Screenplay – John Brosnan, Based on the Novel Slimer by Harry Adam Knight [John Brosnan], Producer – Paul Brooks, Photography – Adam Rogers, Music – David A. Hughes & John Murphy, Visual Effects – Image Animation (Supervisor – Duncan Jarman), Special Effects – Any Effects (Supervisor – Tom Harris), Production Design – Mike Grant. Production Company – Metrodome Films/Wonderful Films PLC

Cast

Craig Fairbrass (Alex), Toni Barry (Linda), Jenifer Calvert (Rachel), William Marsh (Mark), Robert Firth (Paul), Margot Steinberg (Christine), Nigel Pegram (Dr Shelley), Doug Bradley (Leonard Brinkstone), Jordan Page (Dr Carol Soames), Ricco Ross (Buckley)


Plot

Surviving the accidental destruction of their yacht at sea, a group of drug smugglers seek refuge aboard an oil rig. The rig initially appears deserted. They then find they are trapped on board with Proteus, an attempt to combine human and shark DNA that has gone wrong, resulting in a monster that can absorb and imitate its prey.


Proteus is a drab and thoroughly routine monster movie. What makes it more disappointing than any other cheap monster movie is the spectacular nosedives that the talents arrayed behind the camera each make in terms of what they promise and what is delivered. The talents in question include Bob Keen, previously the supervisor at UK’s Image Animation makeup effects studio, responsible for the startling work on the likes of Hellraiser (1987) and Nightbreed (1990), who makes his directorial debut here. The other being John Brosnan who for several years wrote an ongoing film review column in UK’s genre magazine Starburst and has published two histories of science-fiction cinema – Future Tense (1978) and The Primal Screen (1992) – all of which are highly opiniated and scathing of the shortcomings and inadequacies of science-fiction on screen. One would think that between the two of these – Bob Keen’s expertise as a monster effects creator and John Brosnan being so loudly certain about what he considers good science-fiction to be – that they could have created an outstanding monster, if not science-fiction, movie. (Brosnan also provided the novels the formed the basis of Carnosaur [1993] and Beyond Bedlam/Nightscare [1994]).

Alas, such is not the case and all that one has on display is a disappointingly poor knock-off of Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982). In fact, Proteus is not even so much a copy of Alien as it is a copy of Alien copies like Deepstar Six (1989) and in particular Leviathan (1989). Bob Keen directs poorly – the film has an extremely cheap look to it and Keen overdoes the monster point-of-view shots. Even more disappointingly, considering the quality of work previously established by Keen and Image Animation, the creature effects are unremarkable, with the full-size Proteus at the end looking decidedly rubbery.

Equally, John Brosnan’s writing is poor – Toni Barry is able to tell from a single animated DNA chain on a monitor that the oil rig is the base for DNA experiments. Or how the monster happens to absurdly develop a heroin addiction, which is stretched out a preposterous excuse for it to keep chasing the drug dealers in order to get the smuggled drug package.

Bob Keen also directed To Catch a Yeti (tv movie, 1995), a family comedy about the Yeti; Jim’s Gift (tv movie, 1996) about a VCR that can play the past and future; The Lost World (1998); and the hospital horror Heartstopper (2006).



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