Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

How to Talk to Girls at Parties, or: Zan-adu

This month takes us not to new cities, countries, or worlds, but new galaxies.  Time to finally take up stargazing because we’re ready to kick off Alien August!

The Film:

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

The Premise:

A teen trying to get his punk band off the ground unknowingly joins an alien party for an evening, leading to shenanigans.

The Ramble:

1970s London.  Punk.  Eyeliner.  Spiky hair.  Aliens?  Aliens.

Enn is a wannabe punk rocker with his small group of misfit friends.  No one seems to like his little gang, as their fellow punks think they’re posers, while everyone else thinks they’re hoodlums.

After embarrassing himself in front of the entire Croydon punk scene at a concert, Enn has also struck out with Boadicea, a punk with the connections to get their band into the limelight.

A woman with bleach-blonde hair and a punk aesthetic smokes a cigarette.

At least they have the after party to look forward to…until the trio become hopelessly lost while trying to find the party.  Upon hearing strange music they’ve never experienced the likes of, Enn and his pals follow the sounds to a different party–an alien party.

Unbeknownst to any of the 3, they all have a good time grooving with the aliens, getting some hot alien action, and meeting intriguing alien girls.  Enn feels a connection with Zan, an alien in the form of a teenager who wants to see and experience human life in an authentic way.

Unfortunately, the other aliens disapprove of Zan’s actions and even believe she will stir up trouble.  After partying all night, Zan meets Enn’s mother as well as one of her fellow aliens, who sort of possesses the body of Enn’s mother to communicate?

A group of four women stand with hands on hips; they are wearing skin-tight orange and black outfits with orange patches at the breast and crotch area.

When Enn and Zan return to Boadicea’s undergound punk club, a misunderstanding leads her to believe Zan is a big deal in the American scene.  As a result, Zan accidentally becomes the lead singer of a punk band for the night.

A young man and woman at a house party face each other, screaming into microphones.

However, her night goes off the rails when other aliens crash the party and she decides to do a little much carpe diem-ing in defiance.  Overhearing some rather sinister plans, Enn becomes convinced Zan is part of a cannibalistic cult that will kill and eat its own.

Calling in a favor from Boadicea, Enn assembles a punk army to defeat the aliens and save Zan. Does she even need saving, though?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

The coherence level is low here, but there are just enough charming touches to almost make up for it.  There are some crazy, nonsensical sequences, but I don’t hate them–the energy is great and feels drawn from a genuine love of punk music and culture.  Honestly, the plot is kind of unnecessary and not nearly as fun as just watching punk and alien cultures collide.

The highlights here are the two main ladies.  Elle Fanning’s mannerisms are endearing and fun and avoid the trope of the logic-driven, emotionless alien.  I do love that she keeps asking Enn to see the punk.  And can we please talk about punk Nicole Kidman dressed more or less as David Bowie in Labyrinth?  Because it’s just as incredible as it sounds.

Was this the dark punk rock dream of my blog wife or a total poser?  Find out in her review here!

an extremely tall woman looks into the window of a house
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, or: Feminist(?) Rage

Catching up on classics is my favorite thing to do during Blog Free or Die Hard month, and this one has been leaving an approximately 50 foot hole in my heart.

The Film:

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

Where to Watch:

Hoopla

The Uncondensed Version:

It’s not a good time to be in 1950s California—for more reasons than one.  The primary reason being a comet rapidly speeding towards the area, which turns out be a…glowing alien orb?  With a giant alien ghost who has a fondness for diamonds.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  To understand the complex drama unfolding in this film, let’s back up just a little bit.

a large glowing white orb sits on the ground in front of a parked car at night
A practical and aesthetically pleasing UFO.

Nancy Archer is the first person in town to stumble across the crashed UFO, having just stormed angrily out of the bar where her husband, Harry, was sleazily flirting with his mistress.  Harry would leave his wife except that would mean sacrificing her inheritance and the cushy life he’s grown accustomed to.  As Nancy has a vague history of mental illness, including a sanatorium stay following violent headaches and…falling down(?), it wouldn’t take much for Harry to get her committed for good.

Conveniently, Nancy runs to the police to report her alien sighting, where she is pretty much dismissed as a raving drunk.  And cautioned against wearing diamonds because they might tempt thieves.  Fucking hell.  Is it any wonder she’s going to get super angry (spoiler)?

a woman holding a glass looks angry while standing in a living room
RAGE.

Nancy and Harry obviously have a really unhealthy relationship—if unclear before her return home, it is written out when Harry confronts her.  Harry threatens to leave her, which is what supposedly drove her crazy before.  In a really condescending scene, he tucks her in for bed and goes out drinking again.

However, Nancy’s rest is short-lived as the local news is giving a lot of attention to her alien sighting and making pretty fucking rude jokes about finally finding a man to love her.  Fuck off, men.  Determined to prove her sanity, she goes out to the desert and encounters the alien once again.  Her encounter with the alien leaves her in a coma due to radiation…(?) for some reason.  It also turns her into (spoiler spoiler spoiler) a 50 foot woman.

a woman wearing a white bikini knocks down a large structure
Everything else was in the wash…

Mandatory scientist with a pipe and incomprehensible German try to figure out what’s going on, reaching the conclusion that women who mature become irrational like middle-aged men.  JFC, dudes.  To cure her, they will need Harry’s permission to operate.  Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

In spite of Harry’s best efforts, Nancy does finally wake up and all hell breaks loose.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

This is one of the early examples in horror where you are just waiting for a specific character to die…but honestly the payoff doesn’t feel worth it.  No one is supposed to come off squeaky clean in this one (at least none of our 3 leads), though my biggest problem with Nancy is that she didn’t crush more skulls.  I really wanted her rampage to be more satisfying and I would have been okay with more or potentially all men dying.  In painful ways, which makes me feel conflicted about the person I’ve become.

Frankly, for a movie entitled Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, the aforementioned 50 foot woman really has very little screen time, and her attack is quite mild.  Does not live up to the poster.  Next time I’d like her to destroy the foundations of our society or at least raze an entire town.

Did Christa embrace the rage here or…let’s be real, there is no other option.  Read her thoughts on this one here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, or: The Star Trek of Christmas Movies

To continue the subgenre of, er, classic(?) film, and without further ado…Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

The Film:

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

The Premise:

Martians kidnap Santa!  Because…their children need to enjoy childhood more?

The Uncondensed Version:

The Martians are facing a real but probably not instantly resolved problem—their children spend too much time watching TV and not enough time enjoying childhood.  These Earth TV programs are corrupting the youth, turning their minds to mush…you’ve heard it before.  This is in a society in which it’s considered totally appropriate to use sleep spray to send children to sleep (that’s a euphemism for chloroform, isn’t it?!?!?!).  Martians seem to be extremely open to the power of persuasion, so when they hear a news program suggesting Mars needs its own Santa, they decide to kidnap Santa.  Obviously.

two boys in matching blue costumes and helmets stand while a man dressed identically sits in the background
Why spend time with your Martian children when you can just kidnap an elderly man to make toys for them instead?

Throwing a wrench in this ingenious plan are (1) logic and (2) Voldar.  Logical gaps come in the form of the Martians turning on their radar shields only AFTER being detected, as well as kidnapping 2 Earth children…so they won’t tell the authorities and so no one will suspect Martians kidnapped Santa Claus.  WHAT.

Voldar is definitely the main antagonist here and honestly a bit of a hero.  He tells the children to their faces their theories are stupid, and is against the whole concept of children having fun, playing, enjoying life, etc.

a man with a moustache wears a helmet with a metal attachment
Exemplifying that the mustachioed character is always evil.

Although the children escape to warn Santa (even braving a fierce polar bear and, inexplicably, a robot Voldar tries to program to destroy them), it’s too late.  The Martians use their freeze rays to kidnap Santa and bring him back to Mars.  This, of course, begs the question of why the fuck you even need Santa when you have freeze rays.

close-up of a person in a polar bear costume
Terrifying.

Once aboard the ship, Santa comforts the children with a mix of dad jokes and rather sinister laughter.  What will happen next???  You know.  Believe me, you already know.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

This one regularly makes worst movie lists…with good reason.  It’s like watching one of the cheesier episodes of Star Trek:  TOS (like that one where the costume designer wrapped a dog in a shaggy rug and called it an alien)–complete with horrible special effects, cheesy fight scenes, awful one-liners, a lead male putting odd emphasis on the word “sabotage,” and a simplistic message about morality that hits you over the head with a mallet.  Also like some of the worst Star Trek eps, this is bearable for only about half of its run time.  The first half is admittedly entertaining in an utterly cheesy, campy, and cringe-worthy kind of way.

It does get darker than I expected, as Voldar tries to throw Santa and the children out of the airlock.  Maybe this is just who I am, but I was totally rooting for the villain here.  The children are ANNOYING, and Santa’s blind faith in humanity is grating.  Was also hoping for some kind of horrible Santa vs. aliens fight scene.

Was my blog wife on board the UFO for this one, or was she tempted to throw it out of the airlock?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Grabbers, or: Alcohol Is the Answer

New round of Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab! Compare/contrast with Christa’s excellent review here on her blog.

(We’re just going to pretend it’s still Sunday or I have to acknowledge my role as the worst collaborator in history. Worse than the Nazi collaborators.)

The Film:

Grabbers

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

Alien tentacle monsters terrorize a small Irish island until everyone realizes liquor solves all of your problems. Or at least all of your alien tentacle monster problems.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

In the beginning, an ominous light streaks across the sky towards Earth (presumably aliens).

Whatever THE THING is (yeah, it’s aliens), when it crashes off the coast of Ireland, it takes out the entire crew of a fishing trawler (admittedly, a very small fishing trawler).

What will happen next??? Will we discover humanity is the true monster? (No, it’s the alien tentacle monster.)

Cut to eager young policewoman arriving on a small Irish island. A hungover cop is there to greet her/grumble and generally act like a dick.

Meanwhile, shots of the gorgeous Irish coast are interrupted by a significant number of small-ish whales washed up on the beach (immediately thought this would be a Star Trek IV rip-off, and the Enterprise crew would turn back time to save the whales). At this point, we get two stories of ocean life gone wrong—the first follows the whales, which the police and a marine ecologist investigate. Marine ecologist Russell Tovey (actual actor who has been in real movies; you have now entered the Twilight Zone of bad movies) says sometimes these pilot whales just wash ashore for reasons no one understands. The power of science has failed us, just like it’s failed to bring us a reliable method of teleportation.

This is by far the most gorgeous monster movie I’ve ever seen.

Other ocean life gone wrong story happens when a crusty old fisherman, Paddy, catches what he describes as a lobster. (In the words of another Irishman, “It’s no feckin’ lobster.”) Paddy VERY wisely decides to give the “lobster” a new home in his bathtub. Largely because he is in a constant state of intoxication, Paddy brags about his discovery to anyone who will listen, including that cop, O’Shea, who is not so secretly an alcoholic.

O’Shea is definitely really into new cop Nolan, which he makes embarrassingly clear by showing up at her door drunk and asking her out. She responds by putting him in lock-up for the night.

At the same time, the creatures kills at least 3-4 more people. The “lobster” in Paddy’s bathtub has migrated to the ceiling and attacks him (coincidentally, it looks quite a lot like the tentacle/vagina monster from Watchmen).

I decided not to use the tag “Vagina monster” for this post (to avoid [more] internet creep traffic), so I’ll make up for it now: vagina monster vagina monster vagina monster vagina monster vagina monster.
All of this is punctuated with some gorgeous shots of the island. Sea monster tentacle aliens or not, I want to live on this island.

Next day: Smith, the marine ecologist, is studying the grabber (as Paddy calls it). Based on the structure of its tongue, the grabber must attack its victims and drink their blood like a leech. It essentially just needs blood and water to survive. This particular specimen was pregnant and full of grabber baby eggs.

It was pregnant and full of grabber babies. Smith suspects the whales were killed and used as a food source for the spawn.

After investigating one of the grabber attacks, Nolan and O’Shea return to the lab, where they light the grabber on fire. That’s right—IN THE LAB, which triggers the sprinkler system. Remember how the grabbers just need blood and water to survive? As Smith comments, “You really are Irish” (apologies to the Irish).

a man examines a creature with octopus-like tentacles in a lab setting; a woman stands beside him with a fire extinguisher ready
At least Nolan is on stand-by with the fire extinguisher? However, everything else about this picture demonstrates terrible fire safety.

The grabber attacks O’Shea’s face so he becomes difficult to distinguish from Davy Jones in POTC. It then turns to Paddy, but shows little interest in his blood. The old drunk guy is still alive, and the thing wasn’t interested in him; so they realize Paddy’s blood-alcohol level would’ve been toxic to it.

Brilliant plan: have a lock-in at the pub, stay out of the way, and drink. The only problem is that Nolan doesn’t drink and doesn’t even know if she can get drunk, which leads to an inspirational speech from O’Shea. As it turns out, Nolan CAN get drunk. Slurry, giggly, stumbly drunk. After the island doctor injects the tentacle monster with Nolan’s blood, there is one less tentacle monster to worry about.

So the cops get everyone to the pub, and the small group of people that knows about the real reason for the party discusses defense plans.

When a supersized version of the tentacle monster crashes the party along with some of the tentacle monster babies, the cops move the party upstairs. A fight breaks out because of course it does; there are many drunk Irish people in a small, enclosed space (sorry again, Ireland).

When the islanders realize the reason for the party, they start brainstorming, coming up with some GREAT drunk ideas like throwing a bomb at the monster or pushing it off a cliff. TOTALLY going to work. Finally, Nolan comes up with the least terrible idea to catch it with a crane and leave it out to dry. Unfortunately, she also inadvertently lights the pub on fire.

Will the plan succeed??? Does this movie suddenly become The Towering Inferno??? Can the poor Irish villagers ever stop drinking???

For dramatic effect, I will leave these questions unanswered. Also because this post is already 1,000 words long, and I need to cut myself off.

Seriously, I think you should watch this.

The Critique:

This movie has way better production values that I expected; it’s an IFC Film, and the effects/acting/film techniques are decent to good. Even if this movie were totally awful, the beautiful shots of the Irish coast would make up for it (though this movie is far from awful). It was surprisingly subtle/non-exploitative, especially for a horror-comedy. As Christa notes, most of the time I was laughing with the movie rather than at it. The entire experience was like stepping into the Twilight Zone, but in a good way—like in that episode where the grandmother comes to live with the kids and everyone is pretty much okay when she turns out to be a robot.

a landscape shows houses sitting on the coast, rolling hills behind them
Seriously, the most charming fucking setting for a horror film ever.

Biggest complaint is that there were several times I had to turn on the captions, especially to understand Paddy and other drunk characters (plus there was a character named Tadhg, for feck’s sake. So many consonants, so few vowels).

Also one of the lessons of this movie is sorta that love solves all of your problems, including and especially, alcoholism. But hey, that’s Hollywood.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I know; this rating is losing all meaning because I use it for EVERY film.

Check out Christa’s review here.

Film Reviews

Super Bowl Sunday: A Time for Lesbian Alien Romance

While the rest of ‘Murica watches the Super Bowl, what am I doing? Reviewing movies about lesbians from outer space. Duh.

The Film:

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

Lesbian space aliens whose uncontrolled emotions have destroyed the ozone layer of their planet arrive on Earth to overcome their feelings.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Our film opens with a therapy session in which Earthling Jane describes a note that reads “What are you doing later?” dropping out of the sky. The therapist suggests these fantasies prevent her from acting on her desires; she is unable to put herself out there and talk to other women.

Cut to an alien news broadcast covering the destruction of ozone in the planet’s atmosphere: when feelings of love become too intense, they leave the body and destroy the ozone layer. The aliens Zylar, Barr, and Zoinx, whose feelings threaten the ozone, must be sent to Earth to prevent further damage. By spending time with Earthlings and having their hearts broken, they will be numb and unable to love anymore.

Meanwhile, these MIB types are on a stakeout, presumably on the lookout for any lesbian alien activity (this film is not a porno, I promise).

As soon as she arrives on Earth, Zylar places a personal ad reading (you guessed it) “codependent lesbian space alien seeks same,” which gets her quite a few more dates than you might imagine. However, they are not particularly successful dates as Zylar is (understandably) a bit strange.

Zoinx, on the other hand, wanders into the stationery store where Jane works, hoping to purchase a radio transmitter. Jane finds Zoinx delightfully quirky, and the two go on a date together. (My cat sat on my lap at this point, which suggests he was rooting for Jane and Zoinx as a couple.) After going to a movie, they head back to Jane’s place. Zoinx asks “Is it permissible for me to touch you?” and touches Jane’s nose. (HOT LESBIAN ACTION.)

an alien woman and a human woman touch each other's noses
Apologies to all internet creeps who were actually looking for hot lesbian action. This is about as hardcore as this movie and blog get.

As we discover, Zylar and Barr were in a relationship, but they’re trying to move on. They don’t actually want to be heartbroken, so they just try to be sad. For example, the indifference of a revolving dessert tray is sad in the way that “the cheesecake comes towards us and then revolves away.” Pretty devastating.

Barr wants to be in a committed relationship, but Zylar has started vlogging about her various relationships. In her vlog, she tells one of her lovers “I said I would meet your family, but I didn’t think we’d be going out this long.” Barr discovers Zylar’s online presence after she brings her cheesecake, which is a pretty fucking romantic gesture if you ask me.

Meanwhile, the MIB keep tabs on Jane and Zoinx. The two ladies are on a date at Coney Island. As the MIB watch they discuss what exactly constitutes a lesbian date, Boston cream donuts, as well as the Little Mermaid-themed wedding of the older officer. Apparently children weren’t allowed at the wedding: “We made sure everyone had a great time by not forcing them to spend time with children.” Pure genius.

After Jane and Zoinx leave Coney Island, there’s an incredibly awkward shower scene; Zoinx doesn’t take off her collar.

an alien woman wearing a collar that covers her ears leans next to a laughing human woman in a shower
Not sure which is more awkward: Zoinx’s facial expression or her refusal to take off the collar.

Later Jane tells Zoinx she has a gift for her: a mug with “Zoinx” written on it (which initially said “Zoe,” but Jane she painted over the rest of the letters). They go to a movie together, but Zoinx is very distant. At this point, Zoinx confesses she’s a space alien; she wanted to tell Jane earlier, but she thought it would be too difficult to believe. Funnily enough, Jane has no trouble believing Zoinx is an alien.

Suddenly, the aliens are called back to their planet since it’s been discovered that it’s not emotion destroying the ozone layer, but the sun reflecting on their bald heads.   Zylar seems to be up to her usual antics and goes on a dating show. On this show, two men have to guess which answer to a series of questions belongs to each participant. This is actually all part of Zylar’s plan to communicate with Zoinx that they’ll be returning to their planet.

two women sit next to an alien woman on a dating game show with their reactions to kissing a man displayed onscreen: "He tasted like chili con carne," "Pancho Villa has returned," and "It was pleasurable, but I wish he was a woman"
Bonus points if you can guess which one was Zylar’s answer!

The MIB attempt to intercept the aliens before their journey home. The younger guy who is kind of a jackass suddenly starts shimmering. When they spot the aliens, he deliberately fails to follow them; the other guy gets out of the car to pursue them on foot, but they escape. Ultimately, the jerk MIB guy just sort of disappears at the end. (WHAT.)

All of the aliens leave Earth in their extremely low-budget UFO, and Jane decides to leave with them in order to be with Zoinx.

a UFO that seems to be made mostly of foil sits near the Brooklyn bridge
Not sure if UFO or burrito…

The Critique:

This movie was a pleasant surprise. It’s obviously very low-budget, but it takes advantage of that to create some really funny awkward pauses and strange dialogue.

It embraces the strangeness without falling into the po-mo hipster bullshit category.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

For once, I have nothing else to add. I approve of this film.