“Shocking Dark” aka “Terminator II” (1989)


By Jerome Reuter

This is a film that’s really hard to put into words. I’ll certainly try to. Shocking Dark, also known as Terminator II, is a product from the late Bruno Mattei. Without a doubt, this is one of the quintessential Italian B movies. There’s no other to way to say it, this is schlock. It’s mindless entertainment, and also some of the most fun you’ll ever have.

Before getting into to many details, heres the backstory. Much of Mattei’s work has a familiar formula. A good amount of his more memorable works are in name only sequels, and rip offs. Laughable efforts to cash in on the popularity of a preexisting work. I also happen to love everyone of them. Aside from cashing in on more successful works, Mattei’s trademark touch is present, lifted stock footage.

Some of these titles are Hell of the Living Dead, which cashes in on the popularity of Dawn Of The Dead. His first film, SS Girls is a low budget composite of the Nazi-sploitaion classic Salon Kitty. Some of his other works of this nature include Jaws 5:Cruel Jaws, and Caligula Reincarnated As Nero.

However, Shocking Dark is truly a sight to behold, for a few reasons. First of all, it reunites the team of Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso. The two had worked together on Zombie 3, Rats, and Hell Of The Living Dead. Whenever these two collaborated, hijinks were bound to ensue. The films alternate title, Terminator II, is what gives this one a sort of twisted irony.

            Allow me to “clue in the crew.” (pardon my bad Zombie 3 pun)

This was released before James Cameron’s Terminator II:Judgement Day. Even going so far as using artwork VERY similar to the first Terminator film. So, why are these facts important? Simple, this is a blatant knock off of Aliens. Genius I tell you, genius! I feel this is why watching this one is so much fun. With its bad dubbing, paper thin story, and ultra low budget effects, you’re in for good time.

I did say paper thin plot, so I’ll give you the gist. The film takes place beneath the Italian city of Venice, in the year 2000. Far from being a tourist attraction, it’s now a dystopian community. We follow an armed group called the Mega Force, trying to keep the city safe from a series of supernatural occurrences. The plot itself never goes anywhere, but why would we want it to? That’s half the fun with Shocking Dark, it’s a nonsensical Sci-Fi romp.

The Mega Force!
The Mega Force!

 Much of the story involves the mega force being killed off in entertaining ways. Not to mention, random events in a control room, and cheesy one liners. The most memorable being “You’re going to die,die die!”

This wouldn’t be a proper Aliens rip off without a Ripley clone, as well as a robot. This one certainly has that, even a small child to be rescued. Also, she has one of the most annoying dubbed voiced you’ll ever hear. I should stress, it’s still not as bad as Bob, from The House By The Cemetery.

Rip Off Ripley
Rip Off Ripley

Despite this film being laughably bad, it’s pure enjoyment. It’s easy to track down, and worth every entertaining moment. If you’re bored on a Friday night, give this one a watch. Invite some friends over, and tell them you’re about to watch Terminator II. Just be sure to keep your’ eyes peeled for their reactions.

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