Embryo (1976) starring Rock Hudson, Barbara Carrera, Diane Ladd, Roddy McDowall, Anne Schedeen, John Elerick, Vincent Baggetta directed by Ralph Nelson Movie Review

Embryo (1976)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Rock Hudson as Dr. Paul Holliston in Embryo

Hudson's Victoria Secret

Fact No.1, whilst "Embryo" maybe called a horror movie it really isn't, it's more of a thriller. Fact No.2 we have basically a reworking of Frankenstein's monster as a Doctor manages to grow a woman from a foetus in the space of a few days. And Fact No.3, whilst the opening suggests there is fact to this story, trust me it is most certainly more fiction then fact. And just one final Fact, "Embryo" fell into public domain and so there are various versions available many of which are of a seriously inferior quality and trust me inferior picture quality doesn't help matters. But ironically for all that is wrong with "Embryo" and there are other things it is surprisingly entertaining, never more than struggling to be average but entertaining.

Following a car accident Dr. Paul Holliston (Rock Hudson - The Undefeated) manages to save the foetus of a dog which ran out in front of him, but not only that as he uses an experimental formula to accelerate the speed of aging to turn this premature foetus into a full grown dog in the space of days. Having achieved this with a canine foetus Paul goes against medical ethics and in secret tries it with a premature human foetus and it works. In fact it works a little too well as whilst Paul aimed to age the foetus to become a baby he ends up with a full grown woman who he calls Victoria (Barbara Carrera). And whilst trying to keep Victoria a secret poses a problem they are nothing compared to what Victoria brings with her when she has to fight for survival.

Barbara Carrera as Victoria Spencer in Embryo

What "Embryo" is is basically a reworking of Frankenstein's monster, placed into what was a modern setting back in 1976. It is in fact quite a nice idea that we have Dr. Paul managing to speed up aging of a premature foetus so that they survive and then by accident causes the foetus to grow so quickly that they become a fully grown adult. There is some solid thought to this as is the fact that Victoria is uneducated having been grown in a lab and so Paul has to educate her. And whilst cliche the fact that there is a semi romantic element to this as well sort of works.

Now whilst all of this is going on we have the drama, the drama of the initial incident where Paul grew a canine foetus following a car accident and then the drama of trying to keep Victoria a secret until she has learnt enough to survive. Of course not only is his attempts to keep Victoria a secret a bit far fetched so is the super human ability she has to learn. It is one of the many laughable and unexplained elements as to why over a few days Victoria manages to learn so much.

The thing about "Embryo" is that it is billed as a horror but in reality it isn't. The storyline which evolves with Victoria having to fight to preserve herself is more thriller than horror and that is partly due to it being so telegraphed that you know certain scenes are coming. I won't explain because it does reveal one of the twists but it isn't really horror. And so is the whole idea of a foetus being grown outside the body as the ramifications of doing this never end up scary. As for the big climax well lets just say you will have seen it coming and when it comes you will probably laugh as much as I did at how poor it was.

Now of course "Embryo" is a product of the 70s and watching it now it does feel seriously dated, not only in the medical technology on show but also in what it expects us to believe is possible. But even when you take into account when it was made there is still something seriously tacky about the special effects, especially that of the dog foetus as we watch it move in a glass tank. Although you have to say that the dog or dogs they use later on as this canine foetus grows are seriously well trained and end up one of the movies highlights.

Sadly you can't say that Rock Hudson as Dr. Paul is one of the highlights as he never inhabits the character and so we have a very 2 dimensional and generic doctor. The knock on effect of this is that when the drama of the story increases it all feels forced when ever Hudson is in the scene. The real star of "Embryo" ends up Barbara Carrera as Victoria and not just because she looks absolutely stunning, have you ever noticed how women creations are always stunning in these sorts of movies. Nope she is the star because she delivers a character, one which to start with is beautifully innocent as she learns about everything, then supremely clever as her ability to learn manifests and then desperate as she is forced to fight for survival. In many ways it's because of Carrera and her performance that you end up being drawn into the story as with out her "Embryo" wouldn't have even been average.

What this all boils down to is that "Embryo" is not a good movie and barely makes it to being average. The trouble is that there is a long list of things which are wrong with it most notably that whilst called a horror it most certainly isn't. But it is strangely entertaining and that can be put down to Barbara Carrera who is not only stunning but creates a character which is more than just 2 dimensional.