Produced by Roger Corman (who produced the 1957, 1988 and 1995 versions of this film, no joke)
Directed by Jim Wynorski.
This movie gets me.
When there’s theremin, 80’s drums and synth in the first 10 seconds of an alien invasion movie, you know at least one person knew what they were doing.
The movie starts like any good invasion movie should: in space, following a space whatnot hurtling toward earth.
Our token alien appears as a conspicuously nondescript man in a business suit with sunglasses and a silver briefcase, having taken on the completely average name of Mr. Johnson.
He needs human blood (to save his dying world/self) but has trouble getting it by going into a clinic and nonchalantly stating ‘I HAVE NO FEAR, I CAME FOR A TRANSFUSION OF BLOOD’. He decides to mind-enslave the doctor to discretely study his blood and–getting the vague notion of what a nurse does–he offers the nurse cash to come live with him in his house and preserve his life while the doctor conducts his studies looking for a cure for space-anemia.
‘Hello Nurse!’ is played by one Traci Lords, whose adherence to the Italian/German age of consent apparently caused her American porn industry career some issues, and rumor has it this is her first mainstream (that is to say, non-pornographic) role, the interesting part of this trivia is that both the movie and presumably the audience of the time knows it and embraces it with bare breasts and loving arms. Her costumes are all impractical for whatever scene she is in (unless I’m woefully mistaken about the amount of cleavage or
cashmere (what. what is it then? I don’t even know what you were looking at that made cashmere come to mind. Did you even read the fucking movie? What do you think cashmere is, it looks identical to other wool and I don’t even remember her wearing wool, nor would it be sexually suggestive if she did I said impractical, after dinner she is at the hospital making nurse-related calls in a fucking cashmere sweater, what do you want from me? Idk I haven’t rewatched that part yet Did you even read the fucking movie? (Also I said cashmere because of Ed Wood, it might not be cashmere.)
you mean this shit? I don’t know what this is, I think she skinned a frost yeti. ANGORA – that’s the word, but yeah it might not be that either) that is normal for on-duty nurse attire), and almost all of her lines are either delivered in that fake suggestive or double entendre-laden lilt, even when there is nothing suggestive about them. To get even more meta (fuck you), the movie is self-aware of this, that is to say it is a conscious choice made by the director and actors to channel this ‘let’s watch a porn star in a real movie’ expectation into intentional camp. She’s pretty damn good at it too. In a sense, sexploitation that is owning up to what it is and doesn’t owe you a damn thing.
Also under Mr. Johnson’s vague mind-control is Jeremy, his chauffeur/slave.
Jeremy is the smarmy, phallic every-man, a sort of real-life Bugs Bunny with a raging erection, unabashedly desperate to be Ms. Traci’s Lord, while she counters his advances by rocking her hammed-up sassy spunk, reminiscent of any woman unlucky enough to be cast next to Harrison Ford in an action movie, except that the script doesn’t require her to fall for him in the end. (I love when she acts all smug and superior to him while asking him about Mr. Johnson (“Jeremy, exactly how much do you know about Mr. Johnson?”) as if she has it all figured out, when she knows exactly as nothing as he does.) (Yeah, it gets me off (too).)
Another golden line: “Shared paranoia doesn’t exactly make us Lodge brothers, Jeremy.”
Jeremy’s costumes oscillate between full-on bellboy outfit with leather gloves*, and John McClane’s wifebeater and sideholster.
*Character note: Jeremy’s backstory is that he’s a petty crook, so the bellboy outfit is entirely his Bugs Bunny-esque decision; there is no reason to think Mr. Johnson ever instructed him on how to dress for his new job.
About midway through the movie a female alien is brought through Mr. Johnson’s
space portal closet, fleeing their dying world. She gets a bathing suit instead of a suit suit, but they both have sunglasses so you can hardly call it prejudice.
Because she’s desperate for blood, Mr. Johnson takes her to the doctor’s office, but accidentally gives her rabid dog blood which was the subject of throwaway-dialogue earlier.
(The best thing about this is that the nurse or… phlebotomist? maybe just
lady doctor? delivers this dialogue holding what looks to be a liter of blood, so they basically drained some dog bite victim of blood just so they could find out he had rabies.) (Gendry from Game of Thrones is from phlebotom) (…) (I’m just saying, they wanted his blood too) (You have a problem)
Once left on her own the female alien is accosted by a group of punks. One punk’s costume includes a kitchen knife and silk cape. Normally I would settle for ‘why the hell not?’, but the answer to that rhetorical question is that the next scene is taken from another Roger Corman movie where a woman is seen wearing a cape and wielding the knife chasing another woman through the streets. The clip-clops of their boots on the wooden walkways are deafening and the grim vampire/slasher film scene is set to music that sounds like an old NES game.
(This is the second full Robert Corman ‘stock footage’ scene of a woman losing her dog and being murdered that is recycled into this movie with no fucks given.)
The sound effects in this movie are whimsical and seem just plain happy to be part of the team.
Random space-sounding things are constant. Anything goes, from organ music going ‘dun-dun!’ to augment a line of unimportant dialogue, to the sound of a samurai sword unsheathing as a shirt falls from a hanger.
“I can’t feel sorry for him. He had no emotions as we know them.”
This movie is filled with genuinely funny stuff, though I wouldn’t label it a comedy per se, and it hardly feels like the main purpose (if one can use that word here) of the film. The purpose is FUN, of which humor is a part but so is campiness and unapologetically making an alien invader movie, plus the superfluity of female flesh. My favorite part of this is that “Mr. Johnson” never shows any erotic interest in female humans but still decides to prey entirely on strippers and prostitutes for reasons completely external to his character, i.e. the movie makes these scenes happen purely because it wants them to, and makes no pretense otherwise.← I concur with these facts. → Also in the spirit of pure FUN and no-fucks-given is every time the aliens talk about their homeworld, and it’s all–what’s the galactic-politics equivalent of technobabble? They know they’re talking complete gibberish and they just go with it. The comedy isn’t tongue-in-cheek or in-your-face wink-winking chaotic annoying bullshit, it is honest whimsy from directors and actors. It is ‘we don’t give a shit’ craftsmanship, and knows exactly how seriously to take itself as a B-film.
Endearing me (but you know, also me) [us] to this film even more is that Wynorski bet Corman that he could remake his 1957 film with similar limitations to the original, so he filmed it in 11 days with the same budget (adjusted for inflation). The end result is a damn good B-movie that never pretends or needs to be anything more than what it set out to be, a heartfelt tip of the hat and contribution to low budget sci fi.
Happy Birthday indeed.