We have met the enemy, and they are…really goofy: “Syngenor”

October 10, 2011

Well, thanks to the local Mangpong DVD store, the next flick in our Scary Movie Month lineup is Syngenor, a B-grade shlockfest that’s been mostly forgotten since it was released in 1990. As a matter of fact, this movie should by all rights have been swept into the ether. It should be a regrettable half-memory in the minds of whatever poor saps were convinced to see it twenty years ago. But, um, no apparently someone decided that the world had been deprived of Syngenor-ey goodness for too long and released it on DVD. When you pause for a moment and think about the man-hours and money spent immortalizing this movie on DVD, and then shipping those DVDs all around the world, well, the whole economic meltdown thing makes a lot more sense. Oh well, it’s here, so let’s review it.

So, yeah, Syngenor. It’s an acronym for Synthesized Genetic Organism, and the name itself raises a couple questions like, shouldn’t it be spelled SynGenOr? And are there a lot of non-genetic organisms out there? Granted I didn’t pay a lot of attention in high school biology, but I’m pretty sure the answer to that last one is no. Anyway, a Syngenor is a genetically-designed monster, intended to be a super-soldier in desert climes, and is the signature product of Norton Cyberdyne, an evil multi-national corporation which seems to employ about a dozen people.

The movie kicks off when a couple of executives at NC decide to field test the new Syngenors by feeding it a PR flack and a couple of high-priced escorts (well, high-priced for this movie, anyway). Evil Corporate Stooge #1 convinces them to head to the storage area for an orgy and then promptly books when the Syngenor breaks out. Now, it should be pointed out that NC may not have the best of security, as it seems to be contained in a walk-in freezer secured with a bike lock.

"We feed them hookers and PR flacks...we call it the Charlie Sheen diet"

So, we got a Syngenor on the loose. It shambles into the suburbs (maybe it catches a train or something…I don’t know), and attacks a seemingly random dude and his live-in niece. The old dude dies, but the niece fights the thing off using the old hairspray-and-lighter trick. Yeah, I know these things are supposed to be super-soldiers, but I guess this one was version 1.0 or something.

Okay, settle in because this is where the movie practically slows to a halt. So, we got Syngenors on the loose, and this should scare people. But instead, the movie follows two separate parallel plotlines. In the first, the niece who survived the Syngenor attack teams up with a business reporter who is convinced that something is hinky at Norton Cyberdyne (hinky like they’re breeding Syngenors and feeding them escorts). In the second, we follow the corporate chicanery inside Norton Cyberdyne, as a couple of executives try to unseat the CEO, who is himself totally losing his shit and injecting himself with some weird glowing substance. It’s simultaneously boring as hell and batshit crazy.

Anyway, skip ahead about forty-five minutes (yes, it takes about that long for our protagonists to learn what we’ve known since scene one of this movie) and what we get is a full-scale (read: three) Syngenor attack on NC’s corporate headquarters. Of course by this time, the evil CEO has gone full-scale Caligula on the place and is now running around killing and torturing people while wearing a bunny mask. Yeah, you read that right. So the Syngenors kill the evil CEO and his minions, and the niece and the reporter use some of NC’s prototype weapons to wipe out the Syngenors. Fin.

So, yeah, this movie is idiotic, but what’s even more pants-crapingly insane is that this is actually a sequel to a 1979 movie called Scared to Death, or, sometimes, Syngenor. Yeah, apparently the producer was so impressed with the monster suit that he wanted to get some more mileage out of it. Now, this isn’t the worst reason to make a movie, but I think that the enthusiasm over the monster design was a tad over-hyped. I mean, first off, it was eleven years between the design of the suit and this film. That’s kind of a long time in special effects years. Second off, if you’ve got such a jim-dandy monster suit, you may want to hire behind-the-camera talent who know how to get the most out of it. Newsflash: harsh lighting is not the friend of the rubber monster suit. In all of their over-lit glory, the Syngenors never look like much more than Sleestacks on steroids.

This monster suit definitely warrants another movie...

But beyond that we get such other Did I Just F@&%ing See That? moments. Such as:

* The reporter gets his car towed when he parks in a handicapped spot. Despite the fact the parking lot is completely empty.

* The Syngenors feed on spinal fluid…which, according to this film glows orange.

* The guy playing the CEO (apologies, but I couldn’t figure out who played who in this movie, and IMDB was no help) was either a heck of a good sport or totally railed on cocaine for all his scenes. My fave is the one in which he repeatedly shoots a security guard while hopping up and down like a rabbit.

"I'd like to thank the Academy..."

* A running joke concerns whether or not the CEO’s receptionist is 18 yet or not. And then she’s electrocuted. Stay classy, San Diego!

* In a scene where a Syngenor is hanging onto the roof of a car, TJ Hooker style, the monster suit is clearly just tied to the car. When the car screeches to a halt, it just sort of slides off.

* The niece discovers the reporter hiding in her shed, huddled beneath a blanket. Uh, hey, Woodward, you’re not going to find any leads under there…

* In big final battle between the corporate mercenaries and the Syngenors, like six different people get shot in front of the same stack of boxes.

These boxes spell D-O-O-M!

These are the boxes of DOOM!

* Apparently, Norton Cyberdyne keeps fully-functional examples of its weapons systems in its corporate office, because…well, why not?

* So, this movie takes a break from the Syngenors and the quest to learn about the Syngenors for about a third of its runtime, while it dicks around with the corporate-intrigue subplot. Imagine Robocop spent an hour in OmniCorp’s offices, while Robocop was off getting his oil changed or something. It’s like that.

* Oh yeah, and Syngenors melt when exposed to water. Um…kind of a design flaw there, don’t you think, guys? I mean, your unstoppable army can be effectively taken out with a fire hose. That’s some good SynGenOr-ing right there…

So that’s Syngenor. It still exists. And it’s our fault.


  1. Thanks for the review. I remember reading about “Scared to Death” in an issue of Starlog back in the day. I never saw it; it struck me as just another Alien/H.R. Giger ripoff. Anyway, the CEO sure looks a lot like Fritz Weaver. FWIW.

  2. Uhm yeah… look into this again you got it all wrong. And the CEO is the legendary now deceased internationally famous actor from Re-Animator… juuuust so ya know.

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