Alien Species (1996)

Two cops are driving some convicts around when they stumble upon some people that are in need of a lift. Meanwhile, some other people are working in a room doing some kind of research using computers. It's not really handled very well and everything just kind of happens in this movie.

You know that there is going to be some kind of situation where the convicts get free but have to band together with the normal folk due to aliens. I mean, come on, look at the poster. When that kind of stuff happens, it doesn't matter how many men you've murdered in bars or how many girls you've raped and slaughtered! You band together with your fellow man and take those alien bastards down!

So they do. There is an attempt at some kind of "bunch of people who hate each other forced to work together" drama but it doesn't really work so instead you get a bunch of shrill jerks skulking about in caves acting annoyed at one another, being slowly chased by aliens.

Am I giving too much away if I tell you that one of the convicts has a heart of gold and was wrongfully convicted? Well, that's what he claims anyway. A jury of his peers disagreed and I am not one to question due process.

The special effects are awful. You have a bunch of computer generated spaceships zooming around. There are a lot of explosions but they are also fake. They just take a picture of a city and overlay explosion animations over it!

There is a lot of swearing but very little blood and no nudity. Don't these people know why we watch movies with titles like Alien Species?? This is no Alien Contamination, that's for sure. The aliens in this movie basically just punch people to death.

Like a lot of movies from this time period, you have a hero running around spouting one-liners. They get old quickly. It's one of those movies where they felt they had some awesome chemistry going between the characters and thought it would be realistic and funny if characters would just say sarcastic things during every conversation. The script is awful. And not in a funny way... the constant one-liners and sarcastic comments are annoying, to the point where it's hard to appreciate the movie for its terribleness.

This is also one of those movies where you have a nerdy scientist guy but they overplay his nerdiness and/or scientistness and it ends up being stupid. Leading to conversations like this:

Scientist: Our probability of survival decreases by the second!
Hero: Say it in English Doc!
Scientist: We're screwed!

They made fun of this in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and it's unbelievable that scriptwriters continue to think that's hilarious stuff. Is there anyone on this planet who will hear that and think, "hahaha that's a good one. The hero didn't understand the big words and the scientist was like 'we're screwed!' hahaha"

The nerdy guy also has other powers. He can put an alien artifact on top of his laptop and then merely by slamming his hands into the keyboard he can figure out what the artifact does and how to use it. At least he doesn't upload a virus into the alien ship like that guy in Independence Day. He is also good at finding loaded rocket launchers on the sides of roads for the hero to use.

Finally, the pacing is poor. This movie seems to last forever and an inordinate amount of time is spent cave skulking. There are also too many scenes of the nerdy guy being a jerk to his hot female scientist partner. Upon reflection, I think I could sum up this movie by saying that an inordinate amount of time was spent on everything in this movie.


Atomic Rulers of the World (1964)

Atomic Rulers of the World is serious business! A group of somewhat retarded aliens from the Emerald Planet who are worried that the earthlings will contaminate the universe with atomic radiation create Starman!

Starman's mission is to look for potential atomic situations to deal with, using his atomic wristwatch. His first situation- foil the schemes of the evil leader of Magolia, some crazy country that is out to take over the world. Their plan is meticulous and fool-proof. First they will blow Japan up with a nuclear bomb. Then China. Then Europe. Then Russia. Then the US. Finally the rest of the world!

So then it's off to Japan for Starman, the country where, we are told, "the penalty for lying is DEATH!!"

Starman disguises himself as a normal Japanese guy but he doesn't need to because he is invincible and goes around saying things like, "I am called Starman. I was created on the Emerald Planet. I come from outer space." He basically tells this to anyone who will listen... nuns, thugs, children, the police, etc.

There are a bunch of lovable orphans running around getting involved accidentally with Magolian thugs, so of course Starman has to save them. He's a little creepy, in his skintight alien outfit with his ridiculous little antenna, hanging out with kids and saying things like, "I am the friend of all children" and, "children are the future of Earth."

There's a big section in the middle that's kind of talky in that boring early 60s scifi way. Luckily there are plenty of great fights peppered liberally about. The fight choreography is surprisingly good, especially compared to similar kinds of movies and shows of the time. Starman is a crazy sonuvabitch so he has no problem just walking into an enemy base, laughing, and loudly declaring that he is Starman! It doesn't matter that there are dozens of guys with submachine guns!

The dubbing is excellent in that it is pretty hilarious. It's not terrible but it's still bad enough to be amusing. It's just right.


Atomic Rulers of the World was invented by brilliant cold war scientists, who labored day after day in secret radiation proof bunkers to combine two highly volatile Japanese short films: Super Giants and Super Giants Continues. Although many lives were lost, all was not in vain for today we are left with a wonderful film and thanks solely to their work on this movie the cold war has ended.


Alien Contamination (1980)

The first movie in the Nightmare Worlds set is pretty awesome. I'm talking about Alien Contamination. This is an Italian movie from 1980 so you know it's going to have tons of awesome gore and a bunch of take-no-bullshit macho dudes running around slapping women.

Alien Contamination is one of those movies where just about all you need to know is contained in the title. Some guys find some weird looking alien eggs on a boat. The eggs explode, spewing acid in their faces. Then they explode, as though they had swallowed little bombs. I'm not sure how that works but it's awesome.

One of the survivors of this little group is a cop and of course, being as how this is an Italian horror/scifi movie from 1980, he calls women "babe" and stuff and can't stop himself from telling you about his balls.

There's this woman from the military and she decides that these eggs must be from Mars, so she goes to find the guy that landed on Mars. This is kind of shocking because up until this point there has been no hint that the world in the movie is any different than the world of 1980 Italy. And then they spring it on you like it's nothing. "Oh hey, what ever happened to you guys when you were on Mars?" "Well, it was a long time ago and it suuuuuuuucked."

So her job is to convince this guy to come with her and the cop to investigate the eggs. She does this by antagonizing the guy to the point where he slaps her and says, "That's just so you know where I'm coming from!" Then they're off!!

Honestly at this point of the movie there's a lot of talky stuff and I kind of didn't pay much attention. It's okay though, you don't need to pay attention to this part because it's just telling you about the story. The end is really cool though, with the return of the awesome exploding body effects and one of those endings where one guy looks up at the sky and gives a little monologue.


Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

Horrors of Malformed Men was pretty disappointing, especially considering its lurid cover art.

Look at that cover. Pay special attention to the line at the top: "BANNED FOR DECADES!" Sure, there's a lot of nudity in this one (more than in Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion? I don't think so!). And there are a lot of guys hopping around in freak makeup. Okay, that's pretty impressive for 1969... I guess.. But keep in mind that Nobuo Nakagawa's Jigoku, which is far gorier, came out a good nine years before Horrors of Malformed Men.

It starts out pretty good. You've got an amnesiac guy in a mental hospital, surrounded by crazy half naked ladies in a cell. That's my kind of therapy! This guy, Hirosuke Hitomi, claims to be a doctor who was falsely declared insane and committed against his will. The rest of the movie is him piecing together his past. He finds out that there is a very recently dead man who in life looked exactly like him and before you know it he's taken his identity and is surrounded by babes!

All this good stuff can't last for long. Hirosuke continues to learn more and more about his past and this leads him to confront the dead man's father.

Okay, up until this point the movie is pretty good. It's slow but paced well and there are plenty of fine naked ladies to keep you interested. The mystery is pretty compelling and every layer that is pulled away reveals yet another! Just like an onion or a Russian doll!

The ending is kind of lame though. With about 10 minutes left in the movie you've got a ton of unanswered questions. I was thinking there was going to be some awesome and expertly handled revelation that would explain it all! Instead, some minor throwaway character from earlier in the movie shows up literally out of nowhere (seriously, he walks into a secret cave on a mysterious forbidden island) and goes "I'm a famous detective!" and explains everything to everyone. What a letdown.


The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)

This is such a great movie. I generally don't go for movies that are funny on purpose but The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is the right mix of subtle parody and off the wall zaniness.

Created to mimic the style of a 1950s black and white scifi movies, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra concerns the experiments of Dr. Paul Armstrong, a "meteographer" who is studying the properties of a meteor that is full of atmospherium. He is convinced that in the right hands atmospherium could benefit mankind in many ways. Meanwhile, a pair of aliens and their pet mutant have crash landed on Earth and need the atmospherium to fuel their ship. And an evil scientist is looking for the meteor so he can being the titular skeleton back to life.

I'm not a big fan of 1950s scifi movies. They tend to be goofy (good) but really boring (bad). I have a hard time sitting through them, but I've seen a few. This is why I love The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. It's like a bad 1950 scifi movie with all the boring stuff either cut out or exaggerated to the point of hilarity. Filling in the space left by cut out boring stuff is more goofy stuff. It's like a big hunk of cheese, the kind with holes in it, but where the holes are filled with more cheese!

This is the kind of movie where you can tell that everyone involved really loves the subject they are parodying. Toned down a little bit, you could put this on one of those 50 Scifi Classics DVD sets and it wouldn't seem too out of place.

The acting is all purposefully wooden and/or melodramatic. Just like in the 50s!

Having said all that, sometimes they try too hard. I would have liked a slightly more subtle approach, and some jokes go on for too long. One of the best parts is near the beginning when Mrs. Armstrong out of nowhere points off screen and comments, "Look! They've got the right idea!" You're then treated to several seconds of stock footage of squirrels. It's funny because it isn't really exaggerated or anything, but it's just the kind of thing that happened in these old b-movies!

Now, will you like this movie? It's hard to say. You have to have at least a passing familiarity with bad 1950s scifi movies in order to get all the jokes, but there are plenty of jokes that work in this movie regardless. I watched this one with a couple friends who aren't as familiar with these kinds of movies and they both had a blast.


Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972)

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion is everything that was right with Japanese movies in the 70s. Conversely, it also happens to be nothing that is wrong with modern Japanese movies (ghost girls, choppy editing, ridiculous pace).

It takes place mostly in one of those awful and corrupt prisons you see in movies all the time, where everyone involved is a total and irredeemably evil scum bucket. The basic flow of this movie involves the protagonist, Nami Matsushima, being abused until she flips out and gets her revenge.

This movie has a sense of humor believe it or not. It's not all gloomy barbarism in the prison! This is a pretty violent movie, but none of it is serious. Witness that part where a certain someone gets a glass shard in his eye and he sort of just stands there angry, like there's not a giant shard of glass in his eye! There's a lot of black humor in this movie.

Nami does a lot of sitting around taking abuse in this movie. But at the end (I don't think this is ruining anything for anyone) she runs around in a stylish black overcoat and hat kicking so much ass it's unbelievable. The last 10 minutes or so of this movie is AWESOME. I mean, even more awesome than the first 80 minutes.

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion jump-started a whole series of Female Prisoner movies in Japan. I haven't seen any of the others and have heard they aren't nearly as good as this one.


Meatball Machine (2005)

An antisocial factory worker falls in love with a woman working in the neighboring factory. Too timid to do anything about it he basically just does nothing for much of the movie until he encounters this little alien bug looking thing. These aliens come to earth so they can inject themselves (graphically) into humans, which they use as vehicles to fight each other. It's like a fleshy version of Robot Jox!

This movie wears its inspiration clearly on its sleeve. This is basically Tetsuo: The Iron Man in color with more blood. But it lacks a lot of the charm of that movie.

Whereas Tetsuo is very vague and offers no explanations for anything, Meatball Machine is one of those movies where you have characters explaining everything to you at length. And it's also one of those movies where they will repeat dialog and key scenes for you in case you've forgotten what was just told to you 20 minutes ago. I guess what I mean to say is that there is a lot of padding in this movie. As a result, even at only 90 minutes this movie seems to run too long. It drags at times which is a huge problem in a movie that is supposed to be chaotic and violent and crazy.

On top of the poor pacing, I couldn't find a single character I cared about. The "hero" sits there and is reduced to a sputtering blinking mess at the sight of any danger or conflict. There is a transvestite character in the movie who is pretty awesome though. I don't want to ruin it for you! But it's the best scene in the whole movie.

So besides the transvestite, what is good about this movie? Well, I'll tell you. The special effects are pretty interesting, though they aren't as good as the (very) similar effects in Tetsuo (1988!). I don't remember a single CG effect, so if you appreciate good practical effects you might get a kick out of this.

I really don't have a lot to say about this one. It was kind of boring.