Director: William Malone
Starring: Stan Ivar, Wendy Schaal, Lyman Ward, Robert Jaffe, Diane Salinger, Klaus Kinski . USA. 1h 37m
I feel a little bad for suggested that this is just another Alien (1979) rip off, but it’s obvious that it’s highly inspired by the late 70’s classic, but it does a little something extra to the cult storyline that did develop from the Aliens comic spin offs. What really came a shock is that this film was released only 1 year before Aliens (1986) and yet it struggled to look half as good, and I’d hate to assume it was purely down to budget, but that’s not all of it’s woes.
In a slightly comical prologue a pair of geological researches from an American corporation start investigations on Titan, one sits on an egg like container so his companion can take a photo and a pissed off alien rips him a new one later the geologists ship crashes into a station with the pilot having died in his seat, somes like something from Alien huh..
“I saw a movie once, where a group of people were trapped in an ice station by a carrot from another planet.”
Later NTI, the American corporation dispatches a new ship the Shenandoah to Titan with a mixed bag of a crew, the most striking character is the underused moody Melanie Bryce (Salinger) whose striking appearance is both sinister and mysterious.
Once close to titan they realise that a rival German ship has landed on Titan and after crashing their own vehicle the crew have a ton of technical problems but head out to investigate, they discover a rather angry alien (probably scared at the fact that more human butts are in the vicinity) and the zombie like creatures it’s victims can become and Hand Rudy Hofner (Kinski) the only survivor who’s idea to blow the alien up isn’t jumped on immediately, but this is only one of several terrible ideas in the fight against this strange otherworldly zoological specimen.
A large part of the film sees the dwindling crew conjuring up ideas on escaping from the monster but it isn’t just killing them, it’s inserting red bloody virus like creatures into the corpses and turning them into “puppets” all acting on a mind hive principle, so the odd aren’t in the favor for the remaining Shenandoah team. Who are formulated out of some of the worst actors ever, the only touch of class comes from Kinski, who is the only person able to string a full sentence together without sounding confused and seemed to enjoy himself by ignoring all direction from Malone. The movie struggles along, after the basis is set up it’s just plan after plan after plan when the easiest option is skipped over.
The aesthetics are fun, I really adore the 80’s foam rocks and space vehicle miniatures, while these aren’t on par with work of Martin Bower’s best work it’s a treasure to see this art applied to sci fi films. There’s a brilliant gory head explosion and some nudity to keep the sick kids interested but there’s so little interesting action there might be a struggle to make it until the end.
William Malone is a tad hit and miss for me, I enjoyed the creative ideas that flourished in this film and I think he got a lot right with the 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill but FeardotCom (2002) and Parasomnia (2008) were as enjoyable as slipping into a coma. I feel this film could have pushed it’s cast a bit harder, there’s a brilliant story somewhere in there, but talking about people being attacked by carrots and tripping over every five minutes just doesn’t make you cool enough, just put some conviction in and do you best, it feels as if everyone gave up halfway.
R: Alien (1979)
L: Films in the public domain in the USA
5s: Klaus Kinski