Syngenor (1990)
Syngenor (1990)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: October 3rd, 1990 MPAA Rating: R

Director: George Elanjian Jr. Actors: Starr Andreeff, Mitchell Laurance, David Gale, Charles Lucia, Riva Spier, Jeff Doucette, Bill Gratton, Lewis Arquette, Jon Korkes, Melanie Shatner, Julie Kris, Kate Romero




fter hours, Stan Armbrewster (Charles Lucia) and his pal (an expendable PR executive) bring a couple of girls up to the vacated Syngenor (Synthesized Genetic Organism) high-rise, where the monstrous prototype creature awaits in the thermal vault (it’s later mentioned that this is supposed to be taking place in the basement). Immediately, the beast is unleashed, making quick work of everyone but Stan, who was actually assigned to create a scenario for the Syngenor to escape. This opening scene also boasts some gratuitous nudity from one of the girls, both of whom are introduced by a camera that starts at their high heels before slowly panning up their shapely torsos.

A short time later, genius scientist and Syngenor creator (and originator of the “Dark Skies”-codenamed program) Ethan Valentine (Lewis Arquette) becomes the next victim, leaving his niece Susie (Starr Andreeff) to fend for herself as the slimy black humanoid attempts to tear her apart. This attack sequence is moderately effective, though the amount of light and the level of visibility for the actor in the alien suit are both evident hindrances to a scary atmosphere. The next day, reporter Nick Cary (Mitchell Laurance, playing the leading man and the comic relief, simultaneously, in a sci-fi thriller, which is never a good idea) attempts to snoop around the Syngenor offices (specifically the Norton Cyberdyne building, which is presumably a nod to “The Terminator”), but can’t get a scoop on top boss Carter Brown (David Gale), who has the police and media mostly in his pockets, and is intent on keeping the situation contained. But while his wealth buys him influence, it also grants him power-hungry betrayers (in the form of Paula Gorski, played by Riva Spier).

The basic premise for the Syngenor itself is glossed over by simply showing an advertisement video (“Syngenor” is actually something of a sequel, following 1980’s “Scared to Death,” which first debuted the Syngenor design), explaining that the next global war is thought to be fought in the Middle East (perhaps something of a prophetic notion) – but not by American men and women. Instead, the genetically engineered supersoldier creatures will take their places as soldiers without fear, who are impervious to conventional weaponry, and who are unimpeded by arid desert terrain (which is also part of their weakness, as they’re damaged by water). Plus, they can reproduce asexually every 24 hours. What is not detailed is why the thing has to look so hideous – like a relative of the creature from the black lagoon (or a bad ripoff of H.R. Giger’s Alien) – or why it’s built to feast on the spinal fluid of its enemies.

“I guess the Syngenors must’ve got her.” The dialogue is generally terrible, and the delivery equally as tepid. Fortunately, a couple of the actors (including Gale, who is having more fun than anyone else in the cast) aren’t half bad, even if they’re written to be a stereotypical wacko or an uncommonly heroic heroine (complete with obligatory sex scene). But for a monster movie, there’s little blood and infrequent action, paired with pitiful costumes and sparse sets (save for an air vent sequence unmistakably stolen from “Aliens,” and the Syngenor outfit itself, which, though overly rubbery, would be so much scarier if shot with conservative lighting). Nevertheless, the foreshadowing of the Deathrattle gun is amusing, while the use of a second Syngenor getup for the new breed (as well as a hybrid at the finale) is quite admirable on this clearly tight budget.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10