Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Film Worthy Of Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I find my current selection of films limited to a handful of choices. Luckily for you, though, one of those choices is my ever faithful Mill Creek Sci Fi collection, so I am once again dipping my toe into those waters. And today, I’ll be talking over a film that I have been wanting to watch for a few years now – the interestingly titled Teenagers From Outer Space. Will it feature any ACTUAL teenagers? Or even have anything to do with Outer Space? Only time will tell.

According to the blurb on the disc sleeve, Martians are coming to Earth to raise a herd of Giant Space Lobsters (hopefully with weak points that one can attack for maximum damage) and it’s up to one heroic Martian to try and stop the invasion once he realises that there IS intelligent life down here on Earth. Sounds potentially interesting – let’s gather ‘round and have a watch, won’t you?

Well, we open with a 40 Year Old Teenager in an observatory, so at least there will be some mention of Outer Space. He finds something in the sky and calls over his boss – Dr Mason, the man with the realest beard that could ever be. And he, of course, makes thee 40 Year Old Teenager second guess himself and give us the usual Atomic Age Sci Fi musings on Earth and its place in the universe. And then…ALIENS!! Or, at least, the upside down pie plate that is 1950’s UFOs. Then we get some credits that would not look out of place welcoming us to an episode of The Twilight Zone. And then…ACTUAL ALIENS!!! Who are very, very human looking – c’mon, movie, you can do better than that, even The Crawling Terror and Manos were able to spring for costumes that didn’t come from the local home hardware store. In fact, these aliens look like a low rent Devo cover band – Thor, Derrick, Mor, Saul; Q – Are we not men? A – No, we are Dev-NO!

And, holy crap – the plot kicks in almost immediately. This is one thing that I do really like about Atomic Age Sci Fi – the plot (when we are lucky enough to get one) wastes no time making itself known. And so, silly Derrick is fighting against the rest of the Martians (who just called themselves “the supreme race” – so we have our first allusion to Nazis) and what they want – Giant Gargons! And, really, don’t we all want that?

At least their plan was an almighty bust…or was it? Because, if it was, then that would mean that this was the shortest movie ever. And that the humans wouldn’t even get to save the day. And, here we go – Derrick has done runndoff, and is also the unknowing son of the Martian Leader (so, I guess this is just the inspiration for the Roswell TV show). Let me take this small aside to say: if someone were able to grow and harvest giant space lobsters, I would eat the shit outta those things. Meanwhile – back at the movie, Thor is charged with destroying Derrick – but not before he can make contact with some friendly Earthlings and become charmed by our crazy Earth ways. Silly Earth.

Just before we go on, I have to say that Derrick – our hero, bears more than a passing vocal resemblance to Jamie Gumb, aka Buffalo Bill, aka one of the creepiest characters ever put to film. Auditory dissonance FTW!

And, we get our first moment of possible WSD: upon his first meeting with an Earthling (a kindly gas monkey), Derrick is sent on his way to town and we get this exchange:
Gas Monkey – “I wonder where he is from?”
Customer – “He could be from Mars for all I care…”
See, it’s hilarious because Derrick actually IS from Mars. But golly gosh, is he ever a friendly fellow. And so is everyone else in this town, as a local gent stops to give Thor a lift into town, too. That’s 1950’s Midwest Anytown USA for ya, folks – a place where even an alien assassin can get a ride.

Meanwhile, in town, Derrick becomes acquainted with Betty Loveinterest and here kindly Grandpa…and winds up renting their spare room. Well, gosh, I don’t know HOW many times that has happened to me. Brief aside number two – not only does he kinda sound like Buffalo Bill, but Derrick also kinda looks like a young Harry Connick Jr. Visual dissonance FTW!!

Meanwhile, out of town – Thor finds the gas station attendant, and kills him good. Oh Thor, why so angry? That is only going to bring you pain, you silly scamp you. And, at the same time, Derrick and Betty are getting even better acquainted – she really is quite the hussy, what with taking someone she just met to a party at the home of the town…cougar? (well, there is NO way that the actress could even hope to pass for a teenager, even here in Anytown USA – home of the oldest teens in the US). Speaking of getting better acquainted, Thor is getting better acquainted with Grandpa – and is still just as angry as ever. But, at least this means that Betty can get a lesson in Martian technology – and, holy crap, she has got to be the most accepting person ever, not even raising an eyebrow at any of this.

Meanwhile, Thor kills off the cougar – dude, be careful with that blaster, the way you are swinging it around, I doubt the cast will last all that long, and this doesn’t seem to be a film that can afford that many actors. And Grandpa, you old coot – stop telling Thor where Betty and Derrick are going all the time – you are going to get them, and yourself, killed at this rate. I just don’t get you. And speaking of things I don’t get – why the hell do we need to introduce ANOTHER professor? Didn’t we have a perfectly good one at the start of the film? Why not use him again? Doesn’t matter – he’s dead either way, and his secretary will not work in any job that considers that a prank.

Anyway – long story short, the rag tag bunch of heroes use electricity to blow up the realest looking giant space lobster I have ever seen and send DevNO! On their way. But not before Derrick can become reacquainted with his dad – the NEW man with the realest beard ever. And Earth is once again saved from the evil Red Menace. USA! USA! HOOOOOOOOOOOOO! *insert Hacksaw Jim Duggan here* And yes, Thor done got disintergrated but good.

Typical Atomic Age fair – stilted acting (to the point where I suspect that the cast was actually made up of actual aliens who were just imitating human mannerisms and speech patterns), 40 Year Old Teens, thinly veiled allusions to both Nazis AND Communism and a plot that was ultimately so thin that it couldn’t hold up a 30 minute Twilight Zone episode, let alone the 90 minutes it was given.

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