Sunday, July 27, 2008

Inhumanoid (AKA Circuit Breaker)

Here's a review I did a while ago. It's classic B-movie Corman schlock. Enjoy!

Review by C. Demetrius Morgan

Country: U.S.

Year: 1996

Cast: Richard Grieco, Lara Harris, Corbin Bernsen, Brittany Ashton Holmes, Robin Gammell, Ilia Volokh, Renato Powell, Conrad Goode, Grant Mathias, Cole Nelson, Jeff Dixon.

Director: Victoria Muspratt.

MPAA Rating: R

AKA: Circuit Breaker

Inhumanoid is a strange little flick. It's like the first ten or so minutes were based on a really great sounding idea for a quickie space opera adventure film that got tacked onto someone's really bad elementary school script. We're talking a script that had been mouldering in a old sock drawer since the author was thirteen yet, amazingly, this doesn't seem to have bothered anyone. Which perhaps explains why nothing in this heinous waste of a movie makes the least bit of sense.

If you can imagine a movie whose basic plot was lifted from Dead Calm but takes place in a low budget and totally uninspired Event Horizon style setting with a classic Lost in Space (the series) gone wrong feel that's basically this movie.

Inhumanoid is a experience best shared with friends who like to verbally annihilate bad movies after the end credits roll. Of course I totally recommend this bewildering piece of trash cinema as grade-A viewing for bad movie night. You really never know what's coming next, which is always a plus. Sure it could have been better but that's the point. You watch this and come away wondering how it was ever made and wishing you could somehow magically re-edit it. If this movie doesn't inspire you to grab your folks old camcorder and turn your garage into a movie studio nothing will.

The Movie

This movie is an insufferably tedious Corman produced knock-off of Dead Calm set in space that has only one thing going for it, Corbin Bernsen. Alas even this esteemed actor realized half way through shooting what a steaming pile of crap he'd been conned into starring in and gave up. That the villain of the piece is played by a bloated and dazed Richard Grieco, who plays one of the least convincing Cyborgs in cinematic history, does little to alleviate the torture which audience members must endure. The supporting cast, which includes Edie McClurg (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) and Brittany Ashton Holmes (The Little Rascals), whose presence is wasted, put forth a noble and valiant effort that sadly does little to save this tasteless hasty pudding.

Compared to Future War
, which was an incoherent mess shot on a bubblegum budget, Inhumanoid is an incoherent mess shot on a super sized McDonald's lunch menu budget. The downside is you have to suffer through not only Richard Grieco's cringe-worthy performance but also a sex scene with him too. It's soul shuddering cinema!

And what, exactly, is going on here?

Good question!


A husband, wife, and their daughter encounter an hostile entity while traveling through the depths of interstellar space.

The Setting: Space, primarily aboard a small commercial grade private space vessel.

The Characters: The main characters are a married couple, Katrina (Lara Harris) and Foster Carver (Corbin Bernsen), and their daughter Amy (Brittany Ashton Holmes). We also encounter one Dr. Marianne Snow of the EMMC (Emergency Mobile Medical Center) who is actually a secondary character that's more interesting than the villain. The villain being one 'Adam' (Richard Grieco) who is supposed to be a cyborg.

The Story: While traveling through space aboard their personal little craft space family Robinson encounter problems, get into trouble, and then things really fall apart. There's a few twists, like the wife apparently having a shady past. It's a bit of a unintentional mystery involving her being an addict. It's all very strange, witness the fact the wife, at one point, wanders into the corridors, strips naked, then hallucinates being raped by this space-beast-werewolf thing. . .

From here on the movie really becomes a disjointed mess. The wife stumbles back into bed without saying much of anything about her psychotic episode but, before you can blink, they are talking to some doctor woman via view screen then discovering a derelict vessel. The husband decides to investigate, the derelict vessel not the female doctor, thus leaving his wife and child alone on their pleasure craft.

What? I thought people only did stupid things like this in twilight zone episodes!

The Inhumanity: Inhumanoid is a mind boggling mess of a movie. For instance Inhumanoid has a Cyborg in it, but it isn't really a Cyborg movie. There's a woman who, apparently, is a drug addict experiencing a psychotic episode. Yet the movie never even tries to explore the psychological aspects that could have made it a provocative horror thriller. Worst of all it's set aboard a spaceship traveling in space, yet it's not a proper space opera.

Availability: This one may be hard to track down as it's video title is "Circuit Breaker". Alas it has been released only to VHS and Laserdisc (from Image Entertainment) so far. Which is odd considering this played as part of the "Roger Corman Presents" Showtime lineup. I believe most of those titles have made it to DVD but are OOP. Perhaps that's the case here, alas I have been unable to confirm this as having recieved a DVD release under either title.

Moral: One shouldn't expect much of movies released straight to cable TV.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bogus Series, or Overtly Optimistic Indie Producers?

To this day I still scratch my head about this one. So take this as a warning when using IMDB as a reference. The entry you may be reading might not just contain erroneous information it my be totally bogus to boot; or not entirely up-to-date in the realm of daylight reality. . .

So there I was, looking through my message history to check up on movies I've posted about, when I noticed this strange entry: "() re: vaporware".

"Huh?" thought I.

Well I clicked the link and got an error. The message (heck the entire entry page) was apparently no longer there.

"Interesting," thought I.

Took me a while to figure out what this was for, as it was a post I'd made some time ago. But the long and the short of it is this: One of the biggest frauds perpetrated against sci-fi fandom has finally had it's listing removed from IMDB. I am, of course, talking about the vaporware scam (?) called Starhyke, supposedly starring Babylon 5 alum Claudia Christian. Great actress so I figured if she was involved this must be something special. To misquote Puck, "What fools we poor mortals be!"

I know, harsh words, but at some point you have to see the spots and call a leopard for what it is. I don't like to say it but it's been a couple years and, seriously, if Star Trek fans can manage to produce fan series like Star Trek: Hidden Frontier and Star Trek: New Voyages then an, presumably, professional production company shouldn't have any problems getting a series out of post and onto the air. So, yeah, this leopard showed it's spots.

But you know what I'm not angry, though I should be, mostly I am just disappointed. Claudia Christian is a great actress and I was really looking forward to seeing her return to a sci-fi series on the small screen. At least that's how I felt when I furst stumbled on the entry for Starhyke two some odd years ago. Still nothing. Sucks.

I even posted in it's IMDB message board asking if anyone knew anything about this since there was NOTHING online save a static page that was more of a mock-up place holder promising information. Problem was the year it was promising there to be information posted by had long since come and gone.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not bashing the premise of the series, which is supposed to be a comedy (starring Claudia Christian) about a spaceship from the future flung into the past where they have to deal with primitive social customs and mores totally alien to them. What gets my hackles up is this is a non-entity, vaporware, a series that wasn't. The premise itself wasn't too terrible sounding, if a bit clichéd, and there could have been room for some fun antics. Alas, there appears to be nada, zilch, zippo in the way of actual epsiodes.

Oh, sure, there were statements about principle photography being finished; years ago. But if principle photography, as was claimed, had been finished and they were just waiting on the CGI SFX then, sorry to say, there's no hope for this if it hasn't appeared by now. Think about it. They're claiming principle photography finished, well, now it would be something like 3+ years ago. If true I'm sure the actors have long since moved on to bigger and better things.

It boggles the mind. No airdates, no webisodes (that I know of), no DVDs just. . . Empty claims and vacant promises. How does IMDB allow such non-entities to post listings?

At one point someone claiming to be involved with the production came by the IMDB message board and stirred up a hornet's nest with their comments and excuses. Funny thing is buried in all the vitriol was actually a few informative posts which, one day, just disappeared along with all the negative comments and aspersions made by this mystery individual. Now you may be thinking, "But, Kester, I'm sure the modstaff and adminstaff had a good reason for removing such messages."

I don't doubt that. I'll grant some of the messages were worthy of removal. But they also removed messages that contained technical information and details allegedly about the status of the series, and virtually all my posts disappeared as well. But THAT is not what really irks me as it just showed the guy was a fraud claiming things that were obviously BS. (He claimed the series would be airing soon on certain UK stations but then revealed the series had NO BACKING by any major studio and that this was all done independently. Which means this series was, at best, a overreaching fan production, at worst fraudulent BS.) It's the loss of posts about the status of the CGI and excuses about difficulties with the CGI that were noteworthy. There were also links and, if you Google for the series today you may not even be aware that what snapshots you are seeing now are NOT the CGI shots of the ship(s) originally shown a couple years ago.

That's right this leprous lesion on IMDB had been around for YEARS. I don't know what IMDB's policy is on fan productions or how they determine what are fraudulent entries but it should have been obvious about the third time they CHANGE THE YEAR on the entry this was vaporware. I mean, honestly, a entry for a series that has aired NOWHERE has no plans on being aired ANYWHERE and is, essentially, a fan production without an actual episode that can be seen? What's that all about?

I sure don't know. All I do know is I got suckered like a lot of other people. So kudos to IMDB for finally removing this entry, even if it seems to have taken way too long to realize this wasn't a legit entry in the first place.

}end rant

Friday, July 11, 2008


DISCLAIMER: The author of this review holds a strong affinity for science fiction, especially swashbuckling space opera adventures, and makes no excuses or apologies for his predisposition towards liking the genre or these sorts of movies; no matter how silly they may seem.


Country: Italy

Year Filmed: 1978

First Video Releases: 1980 (Italy & Germany)

DVD Release: 2008

Starring: Sirpa Lane, Vassili Karis, Lucio Rosato, Roberto Undari, Umberto Ceriani, Maria D'Alessandro, Giuseppe Fortis, Venantino Venantini, Dada Gallotti, Giuseppe Lauricella, Marina Hedman, Iren Szeremi.

Director: Alfonso Brescia. (AKA: Al Bradly)

Director Alfonso Brescia's movies tend to be overlooked and largely forgotten. Which is a shame since they are gems of an bygone age of Italian cinema. From tongue-in-cheek sword-and-sandal epics like Helen, Yes... Helen of Troy and Battle of the Amazons to action movies like Miami Cops he'd chased most of the popular trends during his career. However it is his spaghetti space operas that really take the cake. One can not watch movies with such teasing titles as BATTLE OF THE STARS (1977), COSMOS - WAR OF THE PLANETS (1977), WAR OF THE ROBOTS (1978), or STAR ODYSSEY and not come away with a sense of incredulous wonder. BEAST IN SPACE is the final entry in Alfonso Brescia's space opera quintology and Severin's R1 DVDs mark the first video release of it in the U.S. or Canada, and the first time the movie has had a legit DVD release anywhere.

The movie itself is a jaw dropping wonder to behold. The costumes in BEAST IN SPACE, which were recycled from the previously mentioned Brescia spaghetti space opera epics, were obviously patterned after uniform costumes from the golden age of sci-fi. .

A look that was much imitated in B-movies for many years. This gives the movie a peculiar retro look that modern audiences may find silly. Alas while this uniform was the look FLASH GORDON and BUCK ROGERS began life with in both comic strips and matinee serials it had long since been rendered obsolete by the fabulous fashions of the seventies. Too, television series like STAR TREK and movies such as STAR WARS broke the mold and created clichés of their own. Indeed, by the late 70s to early 80s sci-fi costuming had become revitalized with fresh and unique designs as seen in such series as Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, and the numerous Saturday morning series targeted at kids like Ark II and Space Academy.

Even contemporary Italian movies of the time like The Humanoid and Starcrash had moved beyond the campy 40s and 50s era 'space fighter pilots' look. Which is why, I feel, these movies were produced with tongue planted from in cheek. From the silly caps, the change from vinyl "space suits" to cloth uniforms, just about everything in the movie feels like a send-up of sci-fi movies from earlier decades, including the GAMMA ONE movies, just done on a shoe string budget. This look is really bargain basement sci-fi at it's best. But what Beast in Space really seems to be poking fun at is the Italian space opera PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. .

A movie that obviously had a large influence on the style and look of Brescia's movies (not that you can see the images very clearly, but that's the best Blogger can apparently manage). .

However the less said about SFX and the model spaceships the better. All things considered this is worth seeing by film students and genre fans purely as a curiosity. BEAST IN SPACE is just one of those movies you have to experience for yourself. There's no other way to fully assimilate the weirdness. That said. .





A mustached lothario walks into a spacebar, glances around the room with the devilish grin of a cat in heat, and quickly notices a lonely beauty sitting in a corner. Glancing up the hot space honey smiles coquettishly, the lothario's mustache rises in expectation, and with a peacock strut he saunters over to the bar. Meanwhile a slimy lounge lizard "Trade Federation" merchant wearing Han Solo's cast-offs zeros in like a greasy heat seeking missile on the sultry space siren, who endures some of the worst pick-up lines since Captain Kirk's shore leave on Regulus. That is until she is rescued by the mustachioed lothario who, of course, shows her that real men use their fists not their mouths.

After the pointless brawl our space siren and lusty lothario surf naked under red and green lights. All of which is an important set-up for the "morning after" scene in which seductive space siren wakes up screaming, which leads to her recounting the tale of a nightmarish dream of her being chased through a forest on a mysterious planet by sinister forces. Then the movie starts for real!

What follows is a story so convoluted that one may wonder if the writer didn't use an Enigma machine to type the script on and neglected to pass on the cipher to the director. Long story short the previous scenes were merely foreshadowing things to come. The lothario is actually Captain Madison, the seductive space siren is really Lieutenant Richardson, and the brawl with the merchant from the trade federation turned up a substance called "Antalium" and that is what sets the stage for the rest of the movie. That's right this entire mess is ostensibly about the search for Antalium on a distant mysterious world.

Confused? Not surprising. This movie is a send-up, a parody, and comedy doesn't translate well. But, and this is important, Severin's sub-titles appear to be a fresh translation, at least they are different from what appeared on the bootleg dubs I have seen. However it's amazing how a few words can change the substance of a scene. .


A mustached lothario walks into a spacebar, glances around the room like a curious cat in heat, and quickly notices a lonely beauty sitting off in a corner. Glancing up the hot space honey smiles coquettishly, the lothario's mustache rises in expectation, he walks toward the bar and the sub-titles read: "Hurry up. One bottle of Uranus milk."

Wait, he said what?

The injection of that one word "milk" in the subtitles changes the entire texture of the opening scene. Take it away and it's a fairly simple, straightforward, and even mildly amusing drunken bar scene in which a guy is ordering some strange space brew. Now I don't speak Italian, and the dialogue is spoken so fast the words meld together, but I'm not hearing the word "latte" so why it's called milk is anyone's guess. But when you're reading the dialogue that’s the sort of non sequitur that makes your mind come to a screeching halt as it attempts to figure out if your eyes really just read that, thus you end up playing catch-up with what's happening on screen; and we're not even a whole two minutes into the movie yet!

But it gets better. Just around the two minute mark our sultry space siren is approached by a greasy Han Solo type with a Kirk complex who sits down uninvited and tries to chat her up with such wonderfully smooth lines like: "My name is Juan. And, as you can tell, I'm a member of the trade association. At the trade association, we are experts at judging women. You have something special. You're fabulous!"

That’s just horrible. I mean, honestly, what sort of a sleazoid comes up with line like that? But even worse is this minor detail. .

Doesn't that badge look familiar? Makes you wonder who they got to do the translation. Maybe it was someone's elderly aunt who doesn't know much about science fiction because me, I look at that badge, and I can tell you exactly what the sub-titles should have read: "trade federation". That's the joke. That's why the camera zooms in on it right when the sleazoid mentions who he is. It's so obvious that it's painful. Alas this is how reference comedy gets lost in translation. Still a fairly funny scene though the reference obviously went over the poor translators head.

However I should point out that the sleazy guy in the bar actually says he's from something that sounds like "federation di americante" but I am not certain of the last word, it could be an attempted double entendre on "ammirazione" (admiration, to admire) or "ammiccare" (to wink), either way it seems like the translator was listening to an entirely different audio track. The word "federation" is clearly spoken and unmistakable. If I, a non-Italian speaker, noticed this it does make one wonder what else the sub-title translations got wrong. And we're not even three minutes into the movie yet!

The remainder of the subtitles tell a pretty straightforward, sometimes dull, story. Alas, since this is a comedia that's bad. The subtle nuances of this farce may have been either ignored or just not picked up on alas, as I don't speak Italian, all I have are questions. Still it's better than the dubbed dialogue of the movies mentioned above. (If there's any native Italian speakers out there who have either of Severin's DVDs I'd love to hear your views of the actual spoken dialogue.)


Before we compare the DVDs, and for purposes of fair and full disclosure, let me state that I received three DVDs from Severin. The first actually being a DVDr of the raw pre-release movie. Content wise the commercial DVDs are virtually identical to this raw pre-release which had a run time of 1 hour, 32 minutes, 33 seconds. Picture quality of all versions is light years beyond any of the VHS presentations. Note that the Unrated DVD clocks in at 1 hour, 32 minutes, 3 seconds; while the XXX version runs 1 hour, 32 minutes, 5 seconds. At a glance both movies appear to be identical to the DVDr presentation, sans extras, and, of course, the minor differences made to create a softcore vs. hardcore edit. Also each of the commercial releases have their own unique menus. A nice touch that!

But what are these differences? Mostly they're superficial. Completists will want both DVDs. And their may be reason to get both as seen in the comparisons below. .

It's hard to see in the thumbnail Blogger produces but there is a slight difference in contrast and darkness levels. The difference is so subtle you may not notice it unless you make screen caps or play the two version side by side on different sets. Also there's the content differences, which are fairly substantial.


For full details of the various pre-DVD releases of this title click here. That link will take you to the archived copy of my old Beast in Space review.


Considering the number of releases, each under an astonishing assortment of alternative titles, this director's other spaghetti space operas have received on "PD" labels it's a real treat to finally be able to see BEAST IN SPACE, and see it on a proper R1 DVD release! Alfonso Brescia's spaghetti space operas are unique hybrids that stick to a formula of emulating established and well-known movies and stories with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Movies such as Antonio Marguerite's "Gamma I Quadrilogy" and George Lucas' Star Wars. They aren't just knock-offs or cheap copies, rather they are unique movies unto themselves.

Alas the look chosen for the costumes was already well dated and past it's expiry date by the time these movies were made. Combined with the fact most audiences, in the wake of Star Wars, had long since grown accustomed to a far more refined costuming thanks to television series like Star Trek (1966-69) , Space Academy (1977-79), and Space: 1999 (1975-77) modern audiences are likely to find the retro costumes laughable and thus dismiss the movie before giving it a chance. Which is a shame because that's part of the movie's charm.

But the real question to be asked here is: How does Severin's release compare to previous video releases?

The answer, quite simply, is it puts them to shame. The video quality is outstanding. The run time is longer than any extant video release known, and while an English track is not included at least English sub-titles are present. Which is probably for the best since these sort of movies too often got dubbed incompetently.

In short Severin has done a superb job bringing this obscure space opera to DVD. While Beast in Space had received multiple VHS releases to the best of my ability to research the facts there were no LD or Beta releases. Until Severin's release this title was not just AWOL on DVD there was serious doubt it even existed in the English speaking world as it lacked mention in print resources. Compared to extant VHS releases Severin's appears to be more complete, has better video quality, and is the only way this movie should be seen. However, like every other movie in this series I have seen, Beast in Space has left me utterly dismayed. The editing is quirky. At times the pacing seems better suited to a television series.

Of course I heartily recommend this movie to all fans of science fiction. Beast in Space may not be the best space opera ever filmed but it's far from the worst. Perfect for bad movie night and an excellent choice for a stocking stuffer or birthday gift for that special sci-fi fan in your life.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan