Kamillions (1990) fails to hit the jackpot

Something of a vintage curiosity, “Kamillions” may lack a proper release on either physical or streaming media but a quick google should point you in the direction of the full movie on YouTube but the question is, is it worth it? Its own marketing pitch at the time tried to tempt potential viewers with promises of a mash-up of “The Thing” and “Gremlins” but it’s actually much, much closer in tone to “Beetlejuice” only, you know, without the budget, artistry and production values.

Doctor Wingate has accidentally opened a gateway to another dimension in his basement laboratory. All his wife Nancy wants is for him to stop tinkering and get ready for his birthday party as the family are starting to arrive. But when he’s accidentally sucked through the portal and two creatures from the other side emerge, the Wingates are in for a very strange family gathering indeed.

It’s got bags of cheap and cheerful anarchic energy and a real ripe-for-MST3K vibe as the two Kamillions (pronounced chameleons), extra-dimensional shapeshifters take on different guises to further their different agendas. One is evil, the other kind of good and until they both go back through the portal, the family won’t be able to get Doctor Wingate back again. As if that’s not enough, the machine only has four hours of coolant left and if it’s not switched off before then – it’s kaboom time for half the world.

Directed by Mikel B Anderson, the film’s a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of artistic visions, edited down against its director’s will by a producer who didn’t speak English yet despite that it has a kind of camp, over the top consistency as the Kamillion’s attacks get more and more outlandish and goofy. What it lacks in horror or sci-fi credibility, it makes up for in amusingly staged practical effects, including a claim to cinema’s best ever trouser snake gag. It’s never, even for a moment, scary but it’s fun in a daft, “Weird Science” kind of a way for about an hour but runs out of steam for a limp finale which has a bizarre – especially for this kind of horror-comedy – reset button where everyone ends up alright after all.


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