Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There's Nothing Out There... No really...

D. Rolfe Kanefsky
16mm Full Frame

I first encountered this over the top home spun horror comedy many years ago when it played the Drexel 24 hour horror movie marathon in Columbus Ohio in I believe 1992 or 1993. I absolutely HATED it. The audience there LOVED it. It went over like gangbusters, but I thought it was juvenile and forced and wanted nothing to do with it or the goofy humor it contained.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my reaction said more about me than the film I had just seen. In the following years the horror genre would change drastically for the worse, with tons of lame self referential comedies becoming the norm in the wake of Wes Craven’s and Kevin Williamson’s SCREAM movies. The actual “horror” of the movies consistently taking a back seat to jokes and refernces about how the films intrude on real life and vise versa. A wink and a nod hipster look at the genre and why it is not really scary to begin with.

I on the other hand was a hard core horror movie buff who like it straight up and ice cold. Movies like that in those days pissed me off (though SCREAM got a slight pass with me until it spawned all the imitators and sequels.) I didn’t like horror comedies because I could see the writing on the wall and it didn’t look good. That horror was quickly becoming another dirty word and as long as there were laughs it was all okay.

But what I missed was that THERE’S SOMETHING OUT THERE was a relatively clever and quick witted little monster mash that more than lives up to its sleazy little promise. First time director Rolfe Kanefsky obviously loves the genre as much as I do because he packs in so much detail in the movie that it feels like it may have been his last project ever. It actually wasn’t as he went on to direct plenty of sleazy little movies from there on out. But it is his first movie that shows he had his heart in the right place. 

Recently re-released from TROMA in a mega two disc package this movie may finally find the audience that has never quite copped to it until now. Cause this little flick has it all. A little green alien that shoots lasers out of its eyes, lots of slime, tons of naked girls and at least one really nasty decapitation that should go down into the books. Then there is the jokes, fast furious and actually pretty funny, this is one of those rare horror comedies that actually is smart enough to look at itself and the genre as a whole and know what is actually funny. But is never mean or spiteful enough to insult the audience.

The plot details a group of semi obnoxious teens who head out into the woods to one of their parent’s cottages for some sprint time rest and relaxation. Naturally the one single guy turns out the be the group horror fanatic and continues to tell them consistently that they are all doomed from the start because the whole situation reeks of a bad horror film. But he is right because earlier a meteor had fallen setting loose a little green alien that looks a lot like if Belial from BASKET CASE was from outer space. This little space turd begins bumping off the fellas and they soon figure out wants to mate with the ladies (including our leading lady who looks rather foxy in her stars and stripes bikini she sports for most of the running time).

That is pretty much it. Cat and mouse, lots of goofing around with a monster (that they figure out hates shaving cream in the mouth) and tons of girls taking off their clothes. Punctuated by tons of fun dialogue and a fashion sense that hadn’t yet let go of the 80’s.

I was obviously just a very angry young man when I first saw it because it is a very charming piece of work that has only gotten better with age.

The TROMA special edition includes several commentaries with the director, one older one from a few years back and a newer one specially recorded for this disc. It also has tons of audition footage, rehearsals, outtakes and other stuff where you get to see the cast and crew cutting up.  Most fun is the director’s couple of short films including a cute little (not) fetish film called MOOD BOOBS about a gal who accidentally wishes her breasts could change sizes at will. So they end up inflating and deflating when she gets angry, excited or moody. It is clearly a little fetish piece for those who have the breast inflation Jones. But it is also a cute and funny little short comedy.  There is a full disclosure behind the scenes peek at the making of this one as well.

Unfortunately this has the typical TROMA intro by Lloyd Kaffman that can be skipped over. It also has the typical TROMA crappy DVD authoring, where on the second disc you  can’t navigate backwards through the extras. Once you click past them, you have to follow the entire sequence to come around full circle to get to it again. Lame.

Still there is a lot of material packed on for such a small movie that most have never heard of. So for the few fans this movie has this is a great release, and should get some new fans going as well.

Review © Andy Copp

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