Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Sound of Thunder

The Sci-Fi Channel advertised A Sound of Thunder (hereafter referred to as ASOT), not as one of their original movies, but as a movie new to the channel. It aired this past Saturday at 9 PM. The movie, in typical sciffy fashion, got off to a fair to good start with a interesting premise that seemed like it might actually go somewhere worthy of note, then it all just tumbled down the hill into twilight bizarro land. But let's back up a bit. What caught my eye was the actor in the promos, Ben Kingsley. Sir Ben Kingsley, in a science fiction movie on the Sci-Fi channel? Wow!

The second I saw that promo I knew I had to see this. Alas the fact I had never heard of this before it's airing on sciffy should have been a clue. . .

The first thing that is wrong with ASOT is it's a time travel movie. The second thing that is wrong with ASOT is the premise sucks volcanic ash. No that's too kind, the premise smacks the viewer in the face with the rancid fecal Absurdity of a rabid monkey. I know that must sound like hypercritical hyperbole but this is the sum total of the ASOTs premise: Evil corporate goons (are there any other kind?) run a time travel safari that sends rich fat slobs back in time to hunt, er, I mean kill extinct animals.

To be more specific they are going back to a specific point in time to kill a T-rex moments before it falls into a tar pit. Why? Because the T-rex would have died anyway so there's no way that killing it could adversely affect the future timeline. They make a point about mentioning this at the outset by way of informing the audience that upsetting the timeline is what's about to happen. It's transparently predictable.

But, wait, here is the part I really love; not only does the T-rex fall into a tar pit a volcano goes off within a few minutes sending a massive pyroclastic flow over the area. We know this because, when things somehow go wrong (a weapon jams) the hunters, after shining flashlights in the T-rex's eyes to distract it long enough to unjam their weapon, make a mad dash for the return portal just as the volcano erupts and said pyroclastic flow is shown to rush toward the area at speed. Remember these facts.

Before we go any further let me just say I enjoyed the movie, for the most part, however the CGI beasties and time travel nonce really were epic in their ill conception. The entire premise is that, during this cluster-fork of an expedition to the past some one in the group did something to alter the timeline. It's basically the ripple in the pond, or butterfly effect, theory. That, alone, provides enough rope for a writer who's not too particularly well versed in basic logic or science to hang themselves. But it gets worse. They decided to throw evolution into the mix. Now, if you don't want the movie spoiled, read no further because to explain what's wrong I have to give major plot details away. Are you still reading? This is your last warning. .

Long story short during the "hunt" that went wrong one of the hunters (meaning one of the rich boy weasels who paid to for the privilege to put a bullet in a T-rex's head moments before it dies) steps off the safe and secure path (somehow this time travel device generates a portal with a walkway) and stomps on a butterfly. Let me repeat that: He killed a butterfly. Like I said this movie is basically about the butterfly effect, in this case the movie posits that killing one butterfly can have drastic consequences on the evolutionary timeline.

Here's where the problems arise:

First, how does killing a butterfly in a zone of destruction that, based on the scope of the CGI volcanic explosion, would likely have killed said butterfly affect evolution in the slightest? That pyroclastic flow seemed to come at the hunters in a matter of moments. They literally escaped back through their time portal by the skin of their teeth. Are we supposed to honestly believe a butterfly is going to out fly a volcanic explosion of such a massive scope? I don't think so. Granted this problem is more likely an error introduced during post by the CGI department. But even if we overlook this. . .

Second, by all that's holy and scientific there is no way in any of the circles of hell that killing a butterfly in any part of the Cretaceous period would alter evolution to create baboon faced raptors. I don't care if this is one of those deals where the CGI department introduced the error this is just stupidity of such an epic scale that the producers must have been brain dead zombies to think it was okay to green light the usage of this implausible, unrealistic, asinine garbage.

Third, the major conceit that pads the run time of this movie out is "time waves"; those ripples in the pond. What are these "time wave" precisely? They are the tidal wave alterations to the time line that wash over the world, seemingly only when the writer or director has decided they need to move the characters along or hinder their efforts. One minute the characters will think everything is fine then along comes a time wave to smash their world around them or they will be in a car being chased by giant bat creatures then a time ripple will wash over them and, well, those creatures are suddenly gone. Why is this a problem for me?

Fourth, for some inexplicable reason the characters who know what's going on decided to trek across town to find the two idiots they took into the past to try to find out what they might have done. This means leaving their time travel device and wandering through a city now overrun with primordial jungle and strange unknown CGI beasties. Me, I'd just have jumped into the time portal and gone into the past and been done with it. Why the trek across the city? Why not just go back and keep whatever happens from happening? The only answer I can think of is there'd be no movie then. And, friends, that's the problem. This is a movie that should not have been.

Fifth, before the "time waves" manifested there was one additional safari hunt to the past. The same point in the past to kill the same T-rex, but with different people! What? So they are going back to the same event over and over and killing the T-rex over and over and over? This is a bigger problem for me that the plot point introduced here, namely that there is a time discombobulating effect going on. (This first manifestation of the time wave problem.) They arrive, the T-rex is already dead, and the volcano is about to erupt. So you see the problem. No? Well if they were expecting the T-rex that they killed to be alive after they already killed it then why would the butterfly not also be similarly returned to life as if it had never been trod upon?

But let's forget this glaring implausibility for a moment and focus on something else, namely the time waves. When faced with time waves wiping out existence as we know it all around you I should think time would be of utmost importance to do something to stop them. Alas the writer, director, and obviously the producers did not seem to grasp this. Instead they tried to create a action movie in which the characters try to outrun the time waves- I can't believe I just typed that but it's what they are doing- while wasting time in a effort to find out what might have gone wrong. The quickest, simplest, and most effective way to do this would be to simply go back to the event either as an observer or active participant. Obviously the first option would be negated given the mode of transport through the space time continuum exists at a fixed point in the affected relative present; not to mention time constraints. So that means going back as an active participant, which, after all is said and done, is exactly what happens; but only after the director got to pad out the run time to feature length.

Yet I keep coming back to the fact the time safari people expected the T-rex to be alive to be killed again ad infinitum ad nauseum, yet the butterfly getting stomped on gets stomped once and throws the entire evolutionary timeline into disarray?

I give up!

ASOT presents a potentially interesting premise that, in the right hands, could have been a great movie. Sadly it was not meant to be. How they roped the likes of Ben Kingsley, Catherine McCormack (Braveheart), and Hex's Jemima Rooper into starring in this I'll never know. Yet, if the CGI were to be re-tooled, this movie could still be made to work. And that's the most telling criticism of all I can offer. The CGI ruined this movie, not because it looked bad or was poorly rendered, but because there was a total disconnect between post production and the movie itself. No one was their to tell the CGI people just because they can do something with CGI doesn't mean they should, thus ASOT gets baboon faced raptors and CGI volcanoes that explode with such magnitude that they shatter the sense of disbelief of the key plot point of the entire movie. Or, well, ugh, my brain hurts. . Must. Find. Aspirin.

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

[Tongue-in-Cheek Reviews #1] STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE

R1 cover

Buy Now?

Country: U.S.A.

Year Released: 1977

MPAA Rating: PG

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guiness.

Director: George Lucas.

Luke Skywalker, on the desert planet whateverthehellitwascalled, is put in charge of two droids his uncle bought from the Jawas- the Jawas being a gang of cloaked dwarves with glowing eyes that roam the desert of planet whateverthehellitwascalled in a mobile chop-shop- but when Luke's cleaning R2D2 (a small fat trashcan shaped robot) he triggers a message: "Help me Obi Wan!" The droid with the message runs away in the middle of the night and Luke goes after it, finds Ben, and ends up leaving planet whateverthehellitwascalled aboard the Millennium Falcon. So this "Old Ben" dude becomes Luke's mentor in the ways of the Force so he can become a Jedi like his father. It's all very mystical.

So we're on the Millennium Falcon, this being the ship Luke and Ben chartered to take them away from planet whateverthehellitwascalled, which is captained by Han Solo. This dude is one grumpy mercurial mercenary pilot on the hook to some alien slug gangster called Jaba the Hutt for major credits. Han and his hairy shag foot partner, Chewbacca, watch bemused as old Ben teaches young Luke how to skillfully manipulate his lightsaber with his eyes closed. That's about when they reach their destination and drop out of hyperspace, or whatever.

No sooner do they go to look for the planet where the girl in the "Help me Obi Wan!" message asks them to go when, WHAM, they're snared in a tractor beam and taken aboard a moon sized space station. During their efforts to escape they end up rescuing Princess Leia from the clutches of this evil tall dude called Darth Vader that wears a kooky looking black leather S&M outfit with a funky Samurai helmet/mask.

How's that for a coincidence! They find the princess and the villain, all by chance, aboard that gignormous space station. And the space station?

Well that was called the Death Star, and you know if they give something a name in a movie that means it's important so they, of course, have to come back and destroy it. So off they go to the HQ of the rebellion where they gather up a rebel fleet and launch their attack against the Deathstar. The shizzle hits the fizzle and before you know it Luke's piloting a X-Wing star fighter with closed eyes doing his Jedi thing as he pops a cap into the Deathstar's rear entry.

The End.

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I acquired these titles as part of the SCI-FI SIX PACK COLLECTOR'S SET put out by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, purchased on sale at Best Buy for $14.95 (regular price $19.95). For the price a fair deal, especially considering the contents include 3 double features (6 DVDs in 3 Amaray cases) as follows: FUTURE FORCE/FUTURE ZONE; PREY OF THE JAGUAR/CONSPIRACY OF FEAR; and SPACE MUTINY/FIREHEAD.

When I saw SPACE MUTINY listed on the box I had to buy it.

Why? I remember seeing this totally inept space opera on the local creature features program as a youngling. It is a classic waste of celluloid that's worth adding to sci-fi fans libraries for two simple reasons. First, the producers lifted- as in blatantly stole- their spaceship SFX sequences from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. .

Second, the use of hula hoops, strobe lights, and spandex costumes combined in what has to be the silliest spacebar slash dance scene in a movie ever filmed. .

And if you don't like sci-fi then you'll still want this movie because it was a South African produced oddity and it shows in the uniforms; not to mention the lack of actors representing, shall we say, broad ethnicity. I mean. .

It's the SS in space? Technically the ship is called the "Southern Star" but c'mon! As for the story this movie really has to be experienced and I don't want to ruin it for you but long story short the Southern Star is carrying the last remnants of humanity searching for a new home world. Suffice it to say this is, as the cover blurb says: "Hilarious. . . But not on purpose." Then there is FIREHEAD.

This cheese fest is a dopey Firestarter knock-off that's trying desperately to be a cold war era espionage thriller slash action hybrid starring Christopher Plummer and Chris Lemmon, whose performances are just icing on the cheesecake that is FIREHEAD. The only problem I had with this was the cover synopsis states a "Russian Cyborg with telekinetic powers terrorizes a city" but it's never clear the guy is actually a Cyborg and he's not terrorizing a city so much as attacking secret corporate military targets. However FIREHEAD is a product of the 80s video boom. It's pretty bad, especially the dialogue, but the people making it were professionals so it at least looks good. .


Not terribly bad. I do not know how long the BB sale is going to last but this set would be worth getting just for SPACE MUTINY even at the non-sale price since the individual discs MSRP is $6.99. Take into account the two classic 80s era David Carradine flicks and, even if the sci-fi elements may barely be there for the rest of the movies in the set, it's still a good deal.

Video Quality: Fair to good. Firehead was a bit on the dark side at times and had some sound issues, though that may have been a problem with the original production. Space Mutiny looks very good. No screen bugs.

Extras: None. Verdict: Great if you like these sort of cheesy SF flicks.

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

[This is an archived review. Originally posted here.]

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Plan 9 from Outer Space, the remake?

This sounds like a bad joke. Perhaps it is. If it is a practical joke it's done in very poor taste. But you be the judge. According to this site: "director John Johnson - along with his production company, Darkstone Entertainment - is poised to remake the classic film <…> the remake will be a serious-minded retelling of the original story, paying homage to the spirit of Wood's film without resorting to camp or parody."

So they're going to remake it without any of the camp or any attempt at humor? I suppose the best pitch you could give for this would be that the remake couldn't possibly be any worse that the original. But isn't that really the only reason anyone watches PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE?

Why mention this at all? Because technically PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE qualifies as Cosmic Cinema. There is, however silly, a science-fiction element within this farce of a horror movie. After all it is about aliens invading the earth who animate corpses to create an army of the undead to take over the world. Okay, so there's only like two, maybe three, people actually playing corpses. Sure the budget was non-existent and the graveyard was made of cardboard, the acting wooden, and the movie so utterly awful it's best viewed as a parody.

I had the following to say at Mise-en-scene Crypt when I first heard an RED DAWN remake had been announced. -

"If there was ever any doubt that Hollywood has become a great big Xerox machine left on auto then the fact rumors coming out of Cannes about a re-make of RED DAWN being considered should be proof positive. <…> Alas, according to a blurb here, RED DAWN and ROBOCOP have been added to the long list of movies Hollywood's "green" recycling machine may be about to regurgitate onto some poor unsuspecting audience." (Full article here.)

But what can one say when they hear a movie heralded as not just bad but the worst movie of all time is getting the remake treatment?

Well if it was from a mainstream Hollywood studio I'd probably say something really harsh like, oh, maybe the suits in charge should claim their Darwin Awards forthwith and exit stage left. Luckily Hollywood, or at least mainstream Hollywood, does not appear to have anything to do with this. . this. .

Actually who are these people? I've never heard of either the director or production company. That's enough to make a person wonder if this is part of some cosmic Internet prank. I mean the idea of doing a 'serious' remake of PLAN 9 "not bound by the technological limitations placed on filmmakers 50 years ago" (code for "we'll be using the cheapest CGI money can buy") boggles the mind.

Seriously words fail me.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Country: Italy

Year Released: 1978

Starring: Yanti Sommer, Gianni Garko, Malisa Longo, Cristea Avram, Ennio Balbo, Roberto Dell'acqua, Aldo Amoroso Pioso, Pino Ferrara & Filippo Perrone.

Director: Alfonso Brescia.

I am fascinated by Italian movies from the seventies and eighties, especially those strange and wonderful 'exploitation' titles that were produced, often on shoestring budgets, solely to cash in on Hollywood box office hits. Movies like Starcrash, 2019 - After the Fall of New York, Conquest, Hercules (1983), Ator the Fighting Eagle, Thor the Conqueror, Lisa and the Devil, Robowar, The Seven Magnificent Gladiators, The Humanoid, and, of course, Star Odyssey.

Star Odyssey (Sette uomini d'oro nello spazio) is the third entry in a quadrilogy of space opera's produced by Italian director Al Bradley- AKA Alfonso Brescia- that used to play on TV back when Creatures Features and midnite movies were big. The features included BATTLE OF THE STARS (1977), COSMOS - WAR OF THE PLANETS (1977), and WAR OF THE ROBOTS (1978); which have ample information available on them. Sadly there's an data black hole where Star Odyssey is concerned. Neither Google or Yahoo search turns up much of anything on it under any of it's various title permutations, save for it's less than stellar IMDB entry and a scant handful of reviews. Worse my print resources are about as helpful, which leaves only the movie itself to turn to.

So what's the story?


The short answer: At a galactic auction attended by a menagerie of aliens rejected from the cantina scene in Star Wars: A New Hope up on the block is Sol 3, otherwise known to it's inhabitants as Earth, which is promptly sold off to an evil alien pinhead looking to go into the slave labor business. That's right Earth is little more than a font of material resources, it's native inhabitants to be culled like sheep and sold to the highest bidder as cheap slave labor to a gaggle of aliens decked out in bargain basement Halloween costumes.

What right do these aliens have to buy and sell the Earth? About as much right as our European ancestors had when they "colonized" the so-called New World displacing the indigenous peoples in the process. Alas what might have been a scathing social commentary on imperialism and manifest destiny gets lost in bad editing and one of the worst dialogue dub jobs since the Bible in Esperanto for books on tape.


However, as always happens to evil alien entrepreneurs who gaze upon our pretty blue marble planet with covetous eyes, these would be overlords soon discover that we Earth folk aren't about to go quiet into that last good night. For as the self-proclaimed landlord of planet Earth arrives to greedily suck up our resources his saucer is met by blazing 'atomic canons'. Silly alien don't you know that Earth is full of an angry trigger happy Humanity! Of course we all know what happens next. The evil alien lands in some remote part of the globe where he unleashes a sinister army of golden robot men to exact vengeance.

Sounds great so far, right? Well there's chronoton particles in our warp matrix. While War of the Planets and War of the Robots can be found in various budget bin sci-fi collections- the most notable release being a Retromedia boxed set- a proper release of Star Odyssey has remained elusive. Indeed until recently the only available R1 DVD release had been from a bargain bin budget label; Brentwood. The bad news is this label is notorious for shady "PD (wink wink, nudge nudge)" releases. While Star Odyssey could be found in their numerous PD multi-movie sets the transfer was less than optimal. Enter Target and PC Treasures. While the source appears to be identical the quality is very different. Behold:


The Brentwood release is not only darker but suffers from a faux letterboxing effect that squishes the image whereas the PC Treasures edition, while the brightness is off giving the video a washed out quality, is a proper full screen presentation. However, to be fair, this is a minor problem that probably won't be noticeable on most standalone players. Alas there's also this:


Video dropout. It's the sort of blip that happens when a VHS tape either isn't tracked right or hit's a bad spot in the tape. That's not the sort of thing you want to see on a DVD. Yet there it is. Otherwise the Brentwood release is virtually identical to the PC Treasures edition. Which isn't to say the PC Treasures DVD is free of problems. Behold what happens at the 1 hour, 12 minute, 56 second mark:


That's evidence both releases were sourced from a pretty beat-up tape. However there is one main difference about the PC Treasures DVD that makes it better than the Brentwood release; it can be purchased for a mere dollar. Better still you get more bang for your buck as this edition comes with a number of extras:


1 Superman cartoon (Electric Earthquake), 1 Felix the Cat cartoon (Astromeous), 1 episode of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (Escape into Space), 1 The New Three Stooges cartoon (The Littlest Martian). So given that and the fact the video quality of the main feature is a step up from the Brentwood edition that's not too shabby for a single saw back, right?

Sadly I suspect both DVD releases of Star Odyssey have been sourced from the same bootleg hack. By which I mean the movie, as presented, appears to have been re-edited by a dyslexic mental patient. The correct sequence of events should be Galactic Auction > Alien Craft Approaches Earth > Space Battle > Alien Craft Crashes. Instead what we get is Alien Craft Approaches Earth > Space Battle > Alien Craft Crashes > Galactic Auction.

How do we know we aren't seeing the proper structure of events? Simple the alien comments on having purchased "Sol 3", AKA Earth, during the battle sequence. Obviously a character cannot comment on an purchase made at an auction they haven't attended yet! Whoever did the re-edit on this must have either been on some heavy-duty drugs or just didn't pay attention to the dialogue. I'm guessing it was probably a bit of both as I can't see why anyone would bother to re-edit an Italian spaghetti space opera unless they were medicated beyond all common sense and basic impulse control.

Is it possible that the reels were merely played out of sequence?

That is a possibility that must be considered, however I don't think so for two simple reasons: First, at one point during the "attack" on Earth we suddenly see black and white stock footage of things exploding. This just feels like something a video hacker lifted from a PBS war documentary. So we really aren't seeing the movie as intended. I can't prove it but those are my suspicions. Second, the events described so far occur within roughly the first 10 minutes. So if this were a problem with the film elements it would not be a problem with reels but splicing, which would still make the problem a editing issue.

Why spend so much time talking about the first 10 minutes?

Because it gets worse, much worse. The intro leads us to believe this is a alien menace film patterned after Antonio Marguerite's "Gamma One" space opera quadrilogy with costuming influenced by Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires. Alas what follows is inexplicably one of the most convoluted prison breakout schemes interrupted by the auction, which is shown around the 34 minute mark (remember the attack, with the comment about buying planet Earth, occurs in the first 10 minutes), and then there's the junkyard rescue of two suicidal robot lovers.

I kid you not; suicidal robots that try to off themselves at a junkyard! I barely believe it myself but it's true. See for yourself:


Those have to be the worst C3PO knock-offs ever. As if that's not bad enough the prop designer went out of his way to rub our noses in the badness for we also get this little fellow:


But wait Star Wars isn't the only sci-fi series to have it's character likenesses unceremoniously stol- er- borrowed and butchered by this bargain basement hodge-podge of Italian weirdness. Behold Hercules, the wrestling android-bot-man thing:


The costume is very rough around the edges but it's obviously patterned after a Dr. Who Cyberman. If you purchase Star Odyssey for no other reason get it because it is chock full of costume strangeness. Just look at the what the main protagonists wear:


To recap there's a galactic auction, evil alien invaders, robots, wrestling, a prison break, light sword duels, more robots, and a ton of footage recycled from whichever of Brescia's space operas preceded this one. The only real problem, aside from the dubious video sourcing, is the action jumps all over the place making it impossible to know what in Hades is going on. Whether this is a result of bad dubbing, poor editing, a video hacker, or a combination of the three the end result is a movie that walks the fine line between incomprehensible gibberish and incoherent crazy with the swagger of a drunken sailor.

Then again what do you expect when your alien villain is a pinhead? I know you think I'm just cracking a bad joke but, seriously, he's a pinhead. See:


Makes you wonder if Clive Barker might have been traumatized by this movie as a child. If so, terrible as it is to say, at least that would mean this movie gave us something good; the childhood nightmares that spawned Hellraiser!

Okay, that was terrible. I humbly apologize to Mr. Barker. Back to Star Odyssey. . .

To attempt to extricate a coherent plot is like pulling teeth with tweezers, there's no point trying. However I am curious if this is the result of a demented armchair director who re-edited this, whatever distributor created the original English edit/dub, or if the movie was really originally this bad. Alas, try as I might, there's just no information to be found. I can't even confirm this was ever released theatrically.

So what it appears we have here is a shifty "Public Domain" release that's yet another in a long line of shady releases. Sadly these sorts of low budget features almost never generate the level of interest from the mainstream companies that could undertake even the most minimal of restoration efforts. Thus we may never know if a good movie was at the core of this incoherent mess. On the other hand an edit is only as good as the source material.

Remember you get what you pay for. The video quality here is poor at best. Worse there's no way to know if the movie is being presented as intended. Had I not caught that bit of dialogue about having purchased Earth while making screen caps I might just have written this off as utter crap. So what's the verdict? This is a tough call. Al I have are questions.

Is this a video hack? Possibly. Is it sourced from tape? Most definitely, but what sort of tape? Was it a VHS, possibly an ex-rental, or- as seems more likely- someone's aged broadcast master?

My money is on the latter. I'd bet even money someone who had a local creatures features type TV show, possibly on cable access, re-edited Star Odyssey and that this, lo these many years later, is what made it into the hands of whoever sold the video the unsuspecting DVD companies sourced. It's just a suspicion. Now you know and knowing is half the battle. Caveat emptor.



Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

[This is an archived review. The original appeared here.]

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Alien Species (1996)

Country: U.S.A.

Year Released: 1996

Cast: Charles Napier, Hoke Howell, Jodi Seronick, Ashley Semrick, Kurt Paul.

Director: Peter Maris.

Trying so hard it's too often hilariously awful acting, laughable 90s era CGI, and dialogue that vacillates between absurd and over-the-top ludicrous are just a few of the B-movie charms of this blatant low budget knock-off of ID4 (Independence Day). Of course it's not like you'd expect anything more of a movie where the only recognizable faces are those of character actors Charles Napier (Dinocroc, Return to Frogtown) and Hoke Howell (Bikini Drive-In, Alienator). And what movie is it that earns such glowing remarks? Why it's. .


So what exactly is this movie about?

According to the blurb on the DVD: "Huge motherships from an alien species sneak ominously into orbit and around earth. Lethal, bat-winged fighters descend to the planet. Citizens are abducted. Homes are destroyed. The invasion has begun. A small-town sheriff, two deputies and a professor discover the alien plan. With the secret to destroy the attacking space ships, there's a chance they can stop the alien invasion... for now."


My take: Two bargain basement CGI motherships lifted from some 3D FPS descend upon an cheesy looking CGI Earth, launch CGI craft that look suspiciously like altered renders of Cylon fighters, whereupon they abduct a cow, a teen boy, his teen girlfriend, vaporize the teen girl's dad, and are pretty much used as an excuse for unnecessary pyrotechnic explosions in which a lot of old junker cars are destroyed. Oh, yeah, and the thread holding this all together? It's all supposed to be part of an alien invasion. . . or something.


Actually the SFX are fairly decent for a low budget effort from circa 1996, not great, but okay. It's just the movie Is so utterly lacking that, well, the best example I can think of is from early in: The Sheriff (Charles Napier) is berating one of his deputies. The actor literally just stands there like a brain dead zombie. He doesn't react. Not even when directly questioned, thus leaving Mr. Napier to literally carry the entire scene!

Sadly that's the level of supporting cast competence on display almost entirely throughout this feature. On the other hand the creature effects weren't bad. Alas many will probably give up on the movie and thus miss out. For instance, at one point, after the aliens have attacked and the unlikely group of survivors have become trapped in a cave they get in trouble ala Frodo Baggins when . . .


Oh no they have a cave troll!

Unfortunately Alien Species is the sort of movie that starts out really slow tries to build up the action alas by time things really get going no one really cares anymore. It's a total buzz kill so you end up ejecting the disc to put in something else. However thanks to the Internet you can read and see more about the creature effects here. In short this is your typical low budget, released direct to video, alien invasion flick sans nudity. There's really not much more one can say about this fumbled non-epic.

Availability: While it appears this might have been released by Troma at one time my DVD of it, which is a double feature with Moon of the Wolf, is from Brentwood. This movie can be found in numerous of their multi-movie sets. If you want it I suggest looking for one of the multi-movie sets as it'll be cheaper plus you'll get more movies!

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

[This is an archived review. Orginally posted here.]


Welcome to Cosmic Cinema,

This Blog is an adjunct to Mise-en-Scene Crypt specifically dedicated to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and perhaps the odd U.F.O. slash 'conspiracy theory' related news story and/or cinema related events.

Mise-en-scène refers to what is "put into a scene", it is thus as much about visual composition as it is about the performance. At Mise-en-scene Crypt I've posted many reviews, always with this in mind. I will continue to ask the hard questions- like: What makes for a good scene? What makes for a bad scene?- but the one question at the heard of every one of my reviews will be: Was this a good movie?

Of course ideas of what is good, bad, or downright terrible is a matter of opinion. So if something I post doesn't mesh with your feelings that's perfectly fine, as is letting me know what your take is. Of course I reserve the right to disagree, politely.

Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius