The Terror Experiment Blu-ray DVD Movie Review

The Terror Experiment Blu-ray DVD Movie Review
Directed by George Mendeluk. Starring Judd Nelson, Jason London, Robert Carradine, and C. Thomas Howell.
Updated: 03-26-2012

C. Thomas Howell is becoming a howler staple. (Ouch, talk about howlers!) But seriously, folks: I just saw him in Camel Spiders (read our review of the Blu-ray here), then looked up his imdb and saw he’s got 12 seemingly sub-par projects listed for 2012!
This could mean one of three things: He’s got several ex-wives; he’s got a resume-based bet with Jessica Chastain; or, he's got a yen for starring in horror movies. For the sake of our readership, and because I hope it’s true, I’m going to go with door #3. I happen to love C. Thomas Howell in horror movies, so it works for me. In case the name is ringing your actor-bells but his credits aren’t popping out, here is an oldie but goodie: The Hitcher (the real one, with Rutger Hauer and the French fry finger-fries). Howell’s been in several other scary and psychological features and TV shows, but it’s The Terror Experiment we’re here to find out about.
This direct to disk microwave-popcorn flick follows the fallout after a disturbed war vet detonates a biological weapon inside a bustling Federal Building in order to expose the U.S. government’s slyest, most secret testing.  Cloaked in a cloud of toxic gas, comes a virus that attacks the adrenal system, causing humans to become inhumanely aggressive and violent: just like zombies. When the building is quarantined, each and every person – yep; C. Thomas, too – must fight to survive.
At first, I was pleasantly surprised by The Terror Experiment. I was thinking “Hey, this is pretty watchable,” until… about halfway through, it became less-so. So, story and direction are so-so, but I must single out the acting, cinematography and makeup effects. Howell is hammy fun as the mustachioed S.W.A.T. cop who refuses to listen to Judd Nelson’s bespectacled scientist, and winds up trying to sidestep being on the wrong end of a mind-control virus that’s so secret it makes Area 51’s cover-up look like the world’s biggest billboard. DP Brad Reeb (who’s only done short films before or since) has a beautiful sense of composition, admirably embraces negative space, does some neat things with perspective in stairwells, and has a helluva focus-puller (unless it’s himself; in that case, double the praise). Makeup effects on the stricken, shambling and fallen are top-notch, spilling and spewing blood that’s realistic, yet rancid in a supernatural sort of way.
There are so many lapses in logic throughout The Terror Experiment, it’s like a laundry list of the whacky-worst of “24”, but for example, ala CTU, who thought of building a high-rise bio-lab in the middle of a teeming metropolis? For no apparent reason, the action takes place on Christmas Eve (unlike, say, P2 – the calendar-driven plot device was used to good end, in that case). Direction is of dual personality, sometimes brisk and sometimes boring. Most of the time there’s too much emphasis on family dynamics and interpersonal crises, leaving those who chose The Terror Experiment based on the evil undead depicted on the box-art in the drama-drenched dust.
In short, The Terror Experiment is a mixed biohazard bag. Proceed at your own risk.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
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