Friday, October 26, 2012

Thirty One Days of Horror: Deep Space

File:Deep space film.jpg

Day Twenty Six: Deep Space

Continuing a trend with horror themes containing the word "Space" in it, we have an obscure 1988 horror special starring Charles Napier as Detective Ian McLemore, a rogue cop who --wait for it!-- plays by his own rules. He's paired with his partner Det. Jerry Merris (Ron Glass), who serves as his slightly less rogue-cop foil. The two are doing all the things you'd expect of a couple detectives in an 80's action flick with a captain ready to bust a vein at their antics (they're introduced with a furious and dubious gunfight that leads to the death of a guy smuggling around....halloween costumes???) when something from space crashes into a remote section of town, unleashing...well...basically a close cousin to the tree demon from Evil Dead, at least at first.

Seems that some secretive government-funded military lab has fired off a bio-weapon into space for some special but not entirely obvious reason, and somehow lose control of it. The overly buff, poorly acted not at all science-y dudes manning the control stations using technical language even a beach bum could grasp might be part of the problem here...

While the massively incompetent government officials try to figure out what happened to their rogue space capsule, the "big brown thing" has started hatching and eating people in short order, culminating in a very alienesque monstrosity escaping from the morgue.

Actually, it's hardly fair to say the monster looks suspiciously like the Alien xenomorph. It might be more accurate to say that this monster bears traits of pretty much every Alien-inspired movie monster to appear since Alien came out:

I'm in ur movie eatin ur plot

Anyway, McLemore wrestles with mutant invaders, a potent psychic who wants to help at all costs (played by Julie Newmar no less!) a new relationship that he wants to foster into something meaningful (with Elisabeth Brooks) -- by luring her into getting naked with bagpipes, no less....yes, McLemore is a busy manly man, a pure and unadulterated product of 1980s cinema.

This movie is full of some awesomely bad dialogue, delivered with shockingly, awesomely bad acting. I can't tell if the actors are playing it straightly....and badly....because they're simply nonplussed by the insane script they're stuck with, or because none of them can quite believe they're reduced to making such a hideously bad movie as this. The strongest actor in this movie is Napier, who plays the role of the dangerously rogue detective to the hilt; Napier plays McLemore just about like you'd expect (or even hope): as a conventional made-for-TV cop drama star who somehow accidentally stumbled into a monster movie and can't quite come to terms with the fact that he's forced to trade up Columbian drug lords for mutant space monsters. Everyone else....well, they're all just a foil for this intensely by-the-numbers schlock horror flick, except for Elizabeth Brooks, who's an old hand at this sort of film (and it shows); she's got a more than exemplary performance as McLemore's main squeeze.

Giant Roach Egg???

Despite the utterly tired, worn and terribly cliched mess that this movie is right from the get-go, it had some sort of weird charm that kept me watching. I think the idea that McLemore was actually somehow peering through the fourth wall, fully aware he had been accidentally placed in a horror film when he was really supposed to be doing some sort of Starsky and Hutch or Lethal Weapon rip-off instead made it slightly more amusing to me. Perhaps it was when the captain sends the detectives off to investigate the crashed pod on Innsmouth Road. Maybe it was the way everyone unrelentingly delivered their lines in the most plebian, unremarkable and utterly fake way they possibly could. Somehow, it made this movie work, despite the fact that it really doesn't...!

Just like The Terror Within, Deep Space can't resist ripping off some of the scenes from Alien. When the old security guard chasing the cat in a warehouse with a rooftop leak problem meets the, giant mutant cockroach thingy, well....lets just say the scene escapes being a blatant rip off only because when the security guard throws his flashlight at the monster it handily catches it before actually eating the man with its extending, I mean, tentacle-like things.

I dunno....I'll give this one a D...for derivative!

This movie reminded me of another bad cops vs. monsters movie from the early nineties called Split Second and starring Rutger Hauer. Tragically not on Netflix, but one which I need to find again....there's something about cops vs. alien films I kinda like...

"It'll be a few more years before Predator 2 shows us how to do a good cops and aliens movie, sweetheart."

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