To a hardcore horror freak, there's no denying that John Carl Buechler is an artist deserving of praise and attention. Starting in the early '80s, the guy concocted, created and applied some really nastily elaborate makeup effects for some of our most beloved pieces of horror cheese. Deathstalker, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th Part 7, Nightmare on Elm Street 4, etc., etc. The guy might not be on the level of a Rick Baker or Stan Winston, but we gorehounds still grew up on Buechler's stuff, and so we like the guy.
And then he started directing movies. (Actually, he directed Friday 7, which many of the Voorhees aficionadoes consider the absolute weakest of the bunch.) Either way, the guy's as rotten a filmmaker as he is gifted with the latex and gore. Troll, Cellar Dweller, Watchers Reborn, Ice Crawlers ... all directed by JCB and all a very specific sort of awful. But none of them hold a candle to what I just witnessed.
An amazingly chintzy retread of Aliens mixed with a little Die Hard, The Eden Formula used to be called Tyrannosaurus Wrecks -- a title that gives you a much clearer idea of what you're about to get into. The plot is stupidly simple: A bunch of evil villains have broken into a tacky little science lab, which allows a genetically mutated, entirely angry, completely ravenous, and astonishingly fake-looking T. Rex to escape from his captors. The rest of the movie consists of bad actors running around a plywood set, many of whom frequently look up, point at something, and scream before the goofy beastie reaches down and chomps on 'em.
Basically, The Eden Formula is like an even stupider version of those Carnosaur movies -- and I'm pretty sure Buechler's latest actually steals a bunch of stock footage from that particular "cheap dino" series. In a nutshell ... the flick's outrageously cheap-looking, seemingly shot inside a three-room warehouse over the course of one drunken weekend. With just a little more humor, The Eden Formula might be mistaken for a parody of monster movies, but it seems pretty clear that the flick is meant to be taken somewhat seriously. And that's just hilarious.
Don't let the familiar faces fool you. Sure, you've seen some entertaining schlock that stars Jeff Fahey, Dee Wallace-Stone, and/or Tony Todd before -- but this just might be the worst flick of their combined careers. And that's saying a lot. The Eden Formula plods on, precisely like the paper-mache creature who spends so much time terrorizing this flick's obnoxious characters. But here's what I don't get: The Eden Formula was produced about two years ago -- so can someone please explain to me why the dino FX are ten times tackier and sillier than the creatures found in Land of the Lost?? When an FX artist is the guy behind the helm of a movie -- and his FX are 150% weaker than those found in a low-budget 1960s TV series -- well, you're not talking about a movie with a whole lot of "quality control."
I was embarrassed for the actors, irritated for myself, and pretty damn amazed overall. Low-budget schlock can be a whole lot of fun in some cases, but The Eden Formula will beat you with the stick of ineptitude after the first four minutes, and then the thing just gets dumber, tackier, and considerably more boring. If you're looking for a movie so bad that it could teach small children what bad filmmaking is all about, here's the first thing you should pull off the shelf.
Audio/Video: Yikes. The full-frame flick looks like it was shot from behind a wall of UHF-style static-fuzz. It's really quite amateurish. And unpleasant to look at. Audio is delivered in an equally muffled DD 2.0 format. Let's be nice and say the A/V specs are woefully lacking in every conceivable fashion.
Extras: Just a few trailers.
The Bottom Line
For the first half-hour or so, it's easy to enjoy the blatant and omnipresent awfulness of The Eden Formula -- but then you'll probably start to realize that your 90 minutes could actually be spend on a GOOD movie. And then you'll just start to get annoyed. Like I did.