Wednesday 26 October 2011


We're always looking to expand the canon of exploding helicopter movies, so we're particularly psyched to publish this guest review by the great Ninja Dixon aka Fred Anderson who does a top class job reporting on the outer reaches of exploitation cinema on his own site. Here's his take on cult creature feature DNA.

My relationship with Mark Dacascos is built on a love-hate concept. I hate it when he slums around in more respected borefests like Crying Freeman, or the even more terrible Brotherhood of the Wolf (yes, I think Christophe Gans is the worst living director in our time).

And I love it when he shows his true talent in masterpieces like Steve Wang's Drive and... well, that's his only masterpiece. But hell, I still dig movies like Double Dragon and I Am Omega.

Dacascos wasn't born to star in big budget movies, he's here on earth to grace the DTV-universe. Among my top ten Direct To Video-favourites is DNA (together with Dark Breed, another trashy masterwork!), the last movie directed by visual effects maestro William Mesa.

Shot in the Philippines and with Jürgen Prochnow as the baddie, it's not a movie you suspect to be a good movie. I'm very sure that the majority of viewers would hate DNA, but the few of us who understand the exploitation genre this movie has everything - except nudity.

Mark is Dr. Ash Mattley, a very ambitious young doctor who works at a hospital for the poor in some remote jungle town. He's of course brilliant and has some fantastic ideas about a medicine that would cure cancer, aids... yeah, everything under the sun.

One day Greedy Evil German Dr. Carl Wessinger (Our buddie Jürgen of course) visits him and offers to help him with finding the rare bug that is an important ingredient to produce the formula. But because he's a Greedy Evil German Doctor (Copyright Ninja Dixon 2011) he shoots Mark and takes the bug - and some monster bones - and leaves.

But Mark survives, goes on with his life until one day a woman, Claire Sommers (Robin McKee) asks him to follow her out in the jungle to see what happened to the Greedy Evil German Doctor. When they arrive at the doctor’s jungle camp they soon realise that SOMETHING HAS GONE TERRIBLY WRONG!!!

You get the idea, yeah? This is hardly a unique movie in any way. It rips-off Predator and Alien and every other action/monster film cliché in the book. It even has an annoying little boy as a stand in for Newt (from Aliens, if you remember) and an Alien-style creature who uses the ventilation shafts to get to his (or hers?) victims.

But this film differs from many of the Alien and Predator-clones out there by being creative, gory and with a lot of action and pure stupidity!

Artistic merit

DNA has probably the single most absurd helicopter crash in modern movie history. It's both hilarious in a bad way, and very charming in a retro-fascist way. Fascist because we're forced to watched something that looks extremely bad, but kind of attractive in an evil way.

Exploding helicopter innovation

The whole scene with the helicopter is 100 % innovation. Our heroes are first chased by a miniature helicopter (pretending to be a real one of course), they shoot it down and then suddenly they are chased by a stop-motion 'copter which rolls through the jungle and then explodes. It has to be seen to be believed.

Number of exploding helicopters


Another, less cool, exploding helicopter takes place earlier in the film as Dacascos tries to escape Prochnow's secret jungle base. During a gun battle between Dacascos and Prochnow's goons, fuel tanks nearby a parked chopper are hit and blow up. The explosion starts a chain reaction which sees the static whirlybird consumed in flame and explode.


William Mesa probably understood that the material he was working with was less than good, and focused on giving us a creative, bloody and fun action/monster movie which uses the jungle and the camp very well. It's very well-made and the actors seem to have fun.

Jürgen Prochnow is still the leading DTV baddie and he's excellent, and a good counterpart to the boyish Mark Dacascos. The gore is not in any massive amounts, but the stuff that we see - including the monster - are executed with perfection by the experts at K.N.B. Effects Group.


It's terribly generic. The story is a mix of everything we've seen so far in both mainstream cinema and cheap DTV from all over the world. That can be very negative for some people, but for me it's more a matter of something well-known and safe. I like it, what can I say...

Favourite quote

"You never said anything about using it as a weapon!" (said by one of the scientists after participating in creating a unstoppable human-eating monster named Balacau!)

Interesting fact

One of the local actors name is Pong Pong. I find that pretty interesting.

Want more? Then you can listen to Exploding Helicopter and Fred Anderson discuss DNA on our podcast show. You can check out the episode on Podomatic, Stitcher, YourListen, or iTunes


  1. And here I was totally ready to watch this flick until you said there was no nudity. What an outrage! Isn't it mandatory to have at least a quick glimpse of some boobies in any low budget exploitation flick shot in southeast Asia?

  2. I completely agree. This film is breaching the unwritten contract with the viewer that they can at some point expect some nudity.

    If there's too many more films like this then I think there may have to be a formal legal requirement for low budget exploitation flicks to provide some nudity, no matter how brief.

  3. Well, Mark Dacascos shows his manly torso several times. That's something!

  4. People have been getting on me to do DNA for a long time now, but based on your review it may take a back seat to other Dacascos flicks I have on tap-- though that helicopter explosions is pretty funny.

  5. Great review!

    Always saw DNA hanging around at the video store, never picked it up. Might have to watch it now for the helicopter crash and Prochnow\Dacascos.