Wow, what a generic title, huh? Like “Death” or “Car Crash” or “Special Effects,” it doesn't leave you much in doubt what this movie is all about, does it. To be fair, the distributors decided on the title; director William Malone's original title was “The Titan Find,” which is a bit more evocative. And of course, the current title is supposed to remind you of “Alien,” also a fairly generic title but (here's the motivating factor) a very successful film.
Now, the cover of this one is interesting. The title, CREATURE, appears over the face of the beast, which here looks like a really ticked-off seal, with a huge lot of ill-fitting teeth. But that's not the interesting part; below the portrait, we have the tagline, and then the name of the film's biggest star. So, this reads,“It's Been Sleeping for 2000 Years. Until Now. Klaus Kinski.” I've always heard Kinski could be difficult to work with, but no wonder if he just woke up after a nap like that! Ha ha ha ha.
Of course, the cast member I recognized instantly was Diane Salinger, who played Simone in “Pee Wee's Big Adventure” (released the same year as this). I always wondered what happened to her. Here, she plays a very different role.
Oh, and yeah, I've seen this one a couple of times before. Shall we begin?
The first thing we get is rather 80's style string and percussion music, and an exposition screen: “In the competition for new materials and advanced manufacturing techniques, two multi-national corporations have invested heavily in space. The rival firms of RICHTER DYNAMICS (West Germany) and NTI (USA) are locked in a fierce race for commercial supremacy.”
We then pan down to a blue sphere, here to represent Saturn's moon of Titan. And somewhere on the surface, we have a guy in a space suit who's sort of marveling at something. His companiion agrees that it's pretty wonderful, that “these structures” are over 200,000 years old. We pull back a bit, but the video quality is pretty grim—it looks like they are in a big junkyard. One almost expects Fred Sanford to come out and yell at them. One of them calls the other to look at something he's found. A find? On Titan? Uh oh!
It's a cylinder, which we are told contains a skeleton “of some kind.” The finder opines that he has to get a picture of this. As he does, his pal goes off and finds a cylinder which is unbroken. Oh WOW says the other guy (not in those words, of course). They decide to “get it out of there,” there being a big stack of other crap it is stacked on. Man, Fred is going to be so mad....
Now, you and I are watching a science fiction horror movie (well, I am) so we both know that it's okay for the characters to get excited about something unbroken that's been around for 200,000 years, because whoever was around back then, would have been able...to, uh, figure out...um, how to pack, er, a life form (a Creature, say) so...that it would, uh, last 200,000 years without spoiling or dying or something relatively bad in the search for science. Remember the Egyptians could do that with those mummies. But, the rub is this: has there ever been an audience that thought finding something like this meant champaign all around? Isn't it usually something like, Uh oh? Recall if you will that those self-same mummies (the movie ones) were always coming to life and exacting curses and such.
Well, hardly were my objections given wings of song when one of the guys points out that whatever is in this unbroken cylinder is probably dead. But he's probably no fun at parties, besides, he has no idea what kind of movie he's in.
They get the cylinder out of the pile of crap and set it on the ground. The guys look inside and say, oh, that's probably a face. A freeze-frame shows some teeth and either a dental appliance thing or a football helmet's face guard. “Wherever this thing came from, he wasn't bred for looks,” says one guy, and you know, hearing that just never gets old.
This guy plays his flashlight over the face, and the dental head-gear turns out to be just a reflection. The face is pretty much Our Man on the Cover. And then the creature opens his mouth.
Well, flashlight guy yells out about this, and to his pal's inquiry, says, “That thing opened its eyes!”
...excuse me? Did you not see me type the word “mouth” up there, flashlight guy? Our Creature opened its MOUTH not its eyes.
Other guy asks “Are you sure?”
“Maybe it was the lightning,” says flashlight guy. (I should point out that the surface of Titan, as depicted here, is kind of a perpetual thunderstorm.)
Other guy points out that he cracked the case when he dropped his flashlight, which I suppose he did in that panic-attack he had. “Looks okay,” says flashlight guy. I hope he can convince Fred it's okay, or he's just bought that thing!
Flashlight guy asks his pal to come over next to the cylinder. Pal repeatedly asks why, until finally Flashlight Guy reveals that he's going to take a picture, and Pal is needed for scale. Yeah, only a wuss would use a ruler or something.
Reluctantly, Pal agrees. Flashlight says he can't get both the cylinder and Pal in the same shot (this is why a zoom lens is preferrable to a fixed focus, by the way). He asks Pal to sit on the cylinder. Then he wants Pal to pull one shoulder down on his suit, and look kind of sultry at the camera. And hold up a piece of fruit, and be half winking.
Okay, no he doesn't, except for the sitting part. But that seems just as dumb. “Here, sit on this thing that contains something frightful that moved its mouth a moment ago! All the cool kids are doing it!”
Anyway, Pal sits on the cylinder. There's a quick shot of something oozing up through the crack that Flashlight made. Flashlight says this is going to be a good picture...THEN he backs up to frame the shot. Flashlight, you...that's not how you get good picture, by announcing how great they are and then lining them up. Oh never mind. I'm sure his photos suck worse than mine, though.
Pal says maybe Flashlight should be sitting here, then he stops and gets an expression on his face like, oh, I dunno—like some ancient evil has grabbed him from below, maybe. Then his space helmet fills with blood and he falls down.
“Oh my God!” yells Flashlight, as the (movie) camera advances on him and he, too, falls down.
And we cut to the credits, and the most blatent rip-off of Alien possible. (At the time, of course. Alien-ripoff technology has advanced remarkably since the mid-80's.) We get the flute music over droning dread, Titan in the foreground and ringed Saturn in the back. If you haven't seen Alien recently, this is exactly how the credits play for that film. And the music, having impressed us briefly, goes back to being kind of crappy and all very 80's and stuff, said 80's ness being pretty impossible to define clearly, but, man, is it there.
And we cut to a space station, orbiting...the Moon. Okay, hey, why not. Usually such stations orbit the Earth, but let's give 'em credit for something unique. This here space station is owned by MTI (according to the title screen) and it's June 23rd. Happy Birthday to someone no doubt.
Inside, a guy with a beard is reading a screen that shows something approaching the station rapidly. His boss tells him to “try and raise them.” He does, and informs them they are on a collision course with the space station, and would they please stop that. Beard Guy's Boss goes to condition red.
He tells everyone impact is in 40 seconds, and Beard says they have a visual. He punches up a screen with a guy in a space suit who has seen better days. This guy, the pilot of the errant space craft, looks like a skull with eyes. He plows into the space station, and there's a HUUUGE explosion.
And we cut to a big space ship, moving through the void to some 80's type synth music.
Inside, a guy (the Boss) is addressing the crew about how this is an NTI mission and that's where everyone's loyalty should be, mmmkay? We see four folks listening, a guy in a Dark Jacket, a guy in a Light Jacket (the Captain), a blonde with Short Hair, and a blonde with Shoulder-Length Hair. That's too long to type, how about Green Shirt.
Back to the Boss, we also see Diane Salinger, in black leather tights, behind him looking kewl. Oh, and there's another blonde! William Malone, you hate me—al these Blondes to keep straight! (This final blonde is the Doctor.) Boss goes on about the “archelogical discovery of alien origin.” No one gets very excited about this. The interiors are very, very much llike those in the Nostromo from Alien.
Green Shirt asks why the discoverers didn't claim the discovery, and Boss says the “only survivor” crashed his ship into the space station. Hey, we just saw that! Wow! Since his ship was totally destroyed, and no one knew he was coming, I guess just before the crash he must have called his mom to tell her about the Titan Find, and that's how we, in turn, know about it now.
Leader says the plan is to mark the site, return samples and claim the place for MTI.
Green Shirt asks if that's all, why “the security officer” has to be along? And Diane Salinger gets a significant close up. (She has a great face.) Leader says she's along just in case. Diane Salinger doesn't say anything, but turns and walks away.
And we're outside with the ship again. Approaching Titan. Moving right along. Yep, still approaching.
And we're inside the Medical Lab, where the Doctor is telling Diane Salinger--”Bryce”--that she can't have all the drugs she's currently stuffing into a bag, and taking anyway. Bryce doesn't say anything, and Doctor Blonde keeps telling her she can't do this and its not having much effect. I guess they paid for these lines in the screenplay and they're gonna shoot 'em.
Short Haired Blonde (SHB) comes in as Bryce leaves and asks whazzup, Doctor Blonde says Bryce was cleaning her out of sedatives. Dr. Blonde wants to know how someone can be on a ship with folks for “three months” and not say anything. They chatter a bit, and we cut to Green Shirt and Light Jacket Guy. Light Jacket Guy turns out to be the Captain (noted parenthetically earlier). At any rate, or rather because of, Green Shirt says she'll have him checkmated in three moves (she says this while reading a paperback, so you know she's the brains around here). Captain says, no way, but he has that meat-head look that spells doom in competition with women in these 80's movies.
He asks how many times she's going to read the same book. She answers that it's the only book she brought. “That stuff is going to rot your brain,” he says, and she hmmphs at him.
He picks up a rather bitten-into sandwich which was right in front of him but he's just now seeing it, and says, “I see Susan's been here,” and Green Shirt admonishes him for drinking too much coffee. He agrees.
Well, that vital bit of, um, something out of the way, we cut to some other part of the ship, which looks rather technical, and Dark Jacket and SHB are going in there. They're going there to look at the approaching moon of Titan, and they remark about how pretty it all is and stuff. SHB has misgivings, though, and she doesn't like that old Titan sky. Dark Jacket tries to be understanding and non-commital re:danger, and hold hands and things, but she's still pretty creeped out.
“I guess I'm being silly, but...something about this trip,” she says.
“It's the fear of the unknown...it's natural,” says Dark Jacket.
“I'm not coming back,” says SHB suddenly, as if she had read the script or something.
“Of course you are! What are you talking about?” asks Dark Jacket.
SHB is adamant that she can feel this, and she asks Dark Jacket to “make love with me...please.”
And we cut to some rather orange footage of this happening, but's all rather PG at the most so don't worry.
We fade back to the folks at work, Green Shirt says she has an “LRV” of a spacecraft on the surface. Captain asks for a replay, as does Boss, and Green Shirt complies. Yep, sure looks like a...um, triangle, in, er, a toplogical map. Hey, that spells spaceship!
There's a bit of bickering when they find out this triangle, I mean, spaceship is from Richter Dynamics. The crew's not happy that Boss has been keeping this from them. Captain grouses about how Richter won the race, but Boss counters that only they know the exact location of the “find.”
Captain continues to grouse about all the artilery loaded aboard, and protests that his crew aren't trained for combat. Boss counters by saying Bryce can handle anything that comes up. Boss wants to land right away, Captain is a wuss and wants to take readings and things, but Boss counter-orders. (You know this can't end up good, right?)
They're going to land, and the music uses that flute motif from alien (I'm sure it was a coincidence). We cut to the outside of the ship and something opens, to the sound of a blaster from Star Wars. Back inside, we get people talking to each other about landing coordinates and such. If you've seen Alien, you'll remember the scene. Oh wait, I mean, it's totally fresh and original. There's 3-d topo displays, and the ship moving through storm clouds, the ship lands through heavy atmosphere with lights lancing through the storm...um, no, no, this looks completely original.
And the ship sets down safely. Unlike Alie—um, any other films, the ship doesn't suffer damage or stuff. Nice safe landing. Honestly, how many times have you seen that? Usually there's trouble at the landing in most films, right, not like here, where...
Uh, where the ship rests a moment, then crashes through the thin crust they've landed on, sparks fly, etc.
I should really watch these things first before typing these reviews. Or at least not be so bad a guesser.
SHB gets a cut on her forehead and is unconscious. Most everyone else is okay, one supposes (the one writing this), and we see some storm lashed landscapes.
Inside, Captain wants to contact the German ship for help, Boss is pretty peeved at this, but Captain says according to the manual, they are now in a “life and death situation” and thus Boss's authority is “extremely limited.” Boss says he might get Captain fired! But Captain's messages of SOS go out...and there's no response. So they're going to break out the EVA (space) suits, and walk over.
“And THAT,” he says, “stays behind,” saying that they're going to ask for help, not start a war. And he's pointing at Bryce who is carrying a huge gun. Not sure what he means by “that” because Diane Salinger is sexy as hell in this film, also clearly a “she” and not a “that” but I suppose Captain says this because he is a wuss and, um, other reasons not known. Boss points out that Bryce takes her orders from him, the Boss, and not him, the Captain.
Cut to an exterior, a surreal landscape designed by someone who, oh, perhaps saw some paintings by H.R. Giger, a landscape wracked by winds and such, and full of spider webs. As they walk among them, the crew comment on the webs, there's some talk about the temperature (it's damned cold, no matter how far below the surface you are) and...oh, come on....we get something a lot like that “conch shell noise” from Jerry Goldsmith's score for, um, that mumble mumble film, oh all right Alien.
Eventually, they get to the German ship, and discover the door is wide open. Weapons drawn, they decide to go in and see what sort of dreadful fate might have, oh, you know, randomly happened. They go inside (there's another airlock) and discover that the air inside the ship is still “good.” Dark Jacket and SHB immediately remove their helmets. Captain advises everyone to keep their helmets with them. He calls out to see if anyone answers, and when no one does, he splits everyone up. SHB goes off by herself, and finds a lab or something filled with broken bits of equipment, spilled fluid everywhere, and what looks like a huge amount of blood around something she describes to Dark Jacket (who scares her by putting his hand on her shoulder) as “an egg.” She describes it a bit, and Dark Jacket is annoyed that here is “another mystery.” As he turns to leave, he suggests that SHB connect her airhose! Yes, that seems a timely suggestion. He leaves her (with a goodbye kiss—oh, sorry, is that a spoiler?) and she says she'll be right along momentarily. She sticks her face into the end of the egg, and--
We cut to someone, doing something. Man, the tension! Is the face-in-the-egg-scene going to be just like Alien, or a lot like Alien, or mostly like Alien?
To find out, we cut back to her, taking her head out of the end of the egg, and moving over to a table. (Answer: not like Alien. Who'd a thought?) She picks something off the table and eats it.
Do me a favor, and read that last sentence again. Does that make sense in any context to you? Let alone, any science fiction-horror context.
Didn't think so.
But, no matter, as it turns out whatever she ate wasn't an infectious alien spore or nothing. If it was food, it wasn't even rotten. She leans down to look under the table, and a bloody dead German pops out; she screams, backs into a cabinet and inadvertantly opens it, and another bloody dead German pops out (don't mention The War!) and she runs to the door, but that seems to have locked itself, and now there's an ominous shadow in the room. Looks a bit thick dunnit? Luckily, the door wasn't locked, it was just slow (aren't they all), so she grabs her helmet and bolts through, calling out for help all the while.
She runs into the others, and describes the situ, and Bryce leads the charge back to the lab. They pause in the doorway and peer inside, and inside this lab, there's something wet and dark that's moving around. It peeks at them thrugh some kind of solarized vision, and Bryce fires at it.
Then they all run away, and despite the fact that Bryce was the last to leave (she fired a time or two more) when they get to the main doors, SHB is the one left on the other side when these doors decide to close. Despite the best efforts of the others, the doors close and a hysterical SHB is on the wrong side.
Solarized vision shoots up toward her, and blood basically shellacks the window (Dark Jacket, on the other side, has the blood basically slather the glass where his face is). Dark Jacket is pretty upset by this, as one can imagine. As he gazes through the window (now, um, well, no longer bloody) he beams his upsetness through the cosmos, and we cut to SHB, eyes open in death, being dragged across the floor (out of frame), leaving a bloody trail behind her. Let's pause a moment to reflect on Young Love Lost. Okay, you can stop now.
Back among the living, Dark Jacket and Captain get in a wrasslin' match, because, when the women are no longer there for lovin', those male urges have to go somewhere. Either that, or Dark Jacket desperately wants to go inside and rescue SHB, who, to all but the most obtuse (does that include people in love?) is pretty much dead.
The wrasslin' match ends when Bryce sticks a needle into Dark Jacket's head. “It's all right, it's just a tranquilizer,” she says, which I think marks her first dialogue in the film (25:55 in).
They get him to his feet, put his helmet on and seal it, and prepare to leave the German Ship of Death. Outside, the surviving trio are given a lot of questions by Doctor, but no one answers. The door to the German ship is closed, and everyone goes back to their own ship.
But, on the way, Doctor spots something. She tells Boss that he ought to look at it. And we're back where we were at the beginning! You know, all that alien trash stuff, with Fred Sanford coordinatin' it all. Someone asks what it is, and someone else says it's “a sort of laboratory.” There's one bit where a flashlight plays over a humanoid dog corpse (half out of one of the egg-things) but nobody talks about ancient Egyptian gods. (It would be a cool tie-in with my mentioning mummies earlier, except that was just me.)
After pointing out the age (200,000 years) of this stuff, Boss says that “This stuff is going to be worth a fortune.”
“Only if we make it back,” says someone else.
Another person flicks a switch of some kind, and things start activating. We can call the switch-flicker Gilligan, except we don't know who did it.
“Specimen containers,” says someone about the contents of the junk yard.
“Too bad they're all broken,” says someone else.
“Maybe it's a good thing they're broken,” says someone other else. (Sorry, all these scenes are taking place with folks in space suits that completely hide their hair color or jacket style, so I can't really tell them apart. I could say things like “A man says” and “a lady says” but there's not really a lot of point, is there?)
Hey, by the way, don't misunderstand me, science is great and we should explore a lot of stuff, but, ahem, dead crewmember and stuff? Should we be hanging around here with this cool alien flotsam, or trying to get back to Earth so we can tell SHB's parents the bad news about why she's not with them?
They poke a bit more amongst the spooky containers, and a lady finds the remains (I think) of one of our original guys, back at the beginning. She seems to take ill at this, and the others feel it is a good time to return to their ship (which we learn is called the Shenandoah) and reflect upon their thoughts there. Sounds like a plan, and we cut thusly.
Green Shirt observes the stormy landscape outside, while we track around her. Then Captain shows up. He asks Green Shirt where everyone is, and she lists them all and their current locations.
“Where are you?” he asks Significantly.
After a Significant pause, she says, “I'm here.”
That established, Captain says he's going to check on Dark Jacket (last seen tranquilized, before a side trip to the Titan Museum). Green Shirt asks about the air supply, and Captain says it's “not good.” Green Shirt starts to cry about this, and asks if they're going to die here.
Captain, recognizing the signals of impending despair, gets captain-y and says no of couse not, and asks her to build a “KFM” transmitter out of some of the old crap they have lying around. See, this is to keep her busy so she won't panic. She says she can do it.
And we cut to Bryce making sure her weapons are all ready for action. She looks in the mirror for a long time. She takes off her leather jacket, and then turns as if she heard something. Satisfied that she did not, she removes her leather pants too, but don't get excited you guys, she's wearing a li'l skirt underneath it all. Still pretty hot, though. Having shed some garments, she gets surprized by Klaus Kinski, who grabs her from behind. Klaus, I'm thinking you made a mistake, here. Diane Salinger is not to be trifled with, and don't forget Andy!
“I see you like guns,” he says. “What else do you like?” He starts to fondle her. “You haven't told me what else you like,” he continues.
“Violence,” Bryce says, and...demonstrates. Poor Klaus, what a turn-out for the books. We fade rapidly to the medical lab, where Klaus is being checked out by the Doc. He's okay, though Captain points out that if Bryce had wanted his condition otherwise, so it would be. (Bryce is back in her leathers, by the way.) He introduces himself as “Hans Rudy Hoffner” of Richter Dynamics. (Well, if you're going to be a rip-off of Alien, why not be blatant about it? At least no one can accuse you of being naïve.) When asked how he got aboard, he points out that the rear of the spaceship is missing, which is an obvious doorway. Boss wants to throw him out, and “save the air” but H.R. Gig—er, Hoffner, says that they all want the same thing, to escape from Titan, right?
No one seems to have any different plans, so HR says he knows about the creature, and he knows how to destroy it. (So...why didn't you?) Fine, yes, very useful, but not really an escape plan, eh? HR is asked, “What are we up against?”
Well, Klaus, he likens as he's got some acting to do, so he ups and does it, and for quite a spell, too. He walks back and forth arguing with himself as the cameras roll, until he finally decides to answer the question. Or, at least A question.
He says that the area outside (by which I assume he means Fred Sanford's place) is like “a child's butterfly collection...only some of these butterflies are not so friendly.”
He tells about how some of his pals brought one of the broken cannisters aboard, figuring that whatever was inside was in some kind of suspended animation (which is better than my guess of “dead”), but it turned out it was only resting a bit, and not even the tiniest bit happy to be woken up. He says it was “waiting for us,” and out of twenty-two men, he's the last. One by one it got all his men, for which it had been waiting “2,000 centuries” and “now, it's waiting for us.” Klaus, you are a total bring-down, man.
Cut to Dark Jacket, convalescing in the window of the ship, when he heards a female voice: “John” (which is his character name).
He thinks he's just having a bad dream. Until SHB, in space suit but sans helmet, pops up on the other side of the window (yes, out in the Titan atmosphere. Stay with me here).
She asks him for help, then runs off. He calls out to her, and runs out of the room he was in.
Cut to Klaus and The Gang discussing dealing with the creature. They mention that Bryce's weapon had no effect, but Boss counters that she was shooting at shadows so that's not definitive. Klaus says he has bombs on the German ship that will “blow it to hell.”
Captain says let's think about this stuff, but Klaus the Actor will not be denied.
He mentions, again, that “we found this Great Evil,” and how “it's using us for food,” and, to clarify, “it's using our own men to kill each other.”
After admitting he doesn't quite know, he suggests “some kind of collective intelligence” and then decides he's going back to his own space ship, and he's taking his baseball bat and glove with him. Exit Klaus, and Doc says she's going to go look at John.
Speaking of Dark Jacket, he's all suited up and leaves the airlock. He's led on a merry chase by SHB, who, in a couple of shots, shows us the bloody side of her head. Well, I hadn't forgotten, but thanks all the same.
Finally, he catches up to her, just as she's peeled off her clothing. She stands there naked (and, well, er, dripping with blood) and he's rather pleased by this, and doesn't seem to mind too much about the blood. See: raging hormones.
She goes to him, and unlocks his helmet, and, you know, Titan's poisonous atmosphere and all, this has the predicted effect. Though she does give him a nice kiss before he dies, and, well, continues to kiss him a lot, before holding up a slimy spider-like thing, which she shoves toward the camera (presumably, toward Dark Jacket's head) and then we cut back to the ship.
Doc's rather frantic about the missing Dark Jacket, and mentions that a space suit is missing. They put two and two together pretty quickly. Klaus (eating something) points out that searching for Dark Jacket will waste air that they don't have to waste. Boss agrees with this, but Captain says they'll take the air tanks off the Richter Crew (who don't need them, being dead). This, sigh, entails some moral argument between Captain and Boss which I guess eats up running time but doesn't add much here. I suppose a suggestion could be made to make paper airplanes and fly 'em til everyone collapses in a heap of regretted memories. I'm just saying.
Klaus volunteers to go, but he wants to go with Bryce. And I suppose “go with” is a pretty good euphemism. The next scene shows the two of them suited up on the surface, and he grabs her ass, which doesn't make her happy. Klaus, you're going to get yourself shot with naughty behavior like that. He thinks they'll be great friends, though.
Back onboard the ship, Green Shirt is trying to contact the outside world with her makeshift “KFM” transmitter, but it starts smoking and she asks that it be turned off. But they get a response anyway. It's from Dark Jacket, he's at the German ship, and he says everything is great! The crew are so relieved, they're fooled by this, but we're not...are we? He claims that the creature that was there “must have left” and gone somewhere else, maybe to Best Buy or some place to buy some DVDs, maybe some Ridley Scott films. He asks for the others to get over here, pronto, and Captain says they'll think on't, and Dark Jacket says not to take too long, as he wants to get home. All in all, a pretty convincing performance, but we (the audience) already saw him die, man, comma, man.
As the crew look at each other like trying to fix blame for a fart (suddenly, they're not too sure about Dark Jacket), we cut to Dark Jacket, who turns and lets us know why he kept one side of his face away from the camera, er, video communication phone, as we see he's got a horrible pulsating thing there. (Nice makeup effect, by the way.)
We cut to Klaus and Bryce in some kind of grotto, finding dead bodies in space suits. “My friends, this is not a place for you,” Klaus says, “you are not butterflies.” We get some more of Klaus Acting. And while he busies himself with that, Bryce finds SHB's body, which still has something (gosh, what?) pulsing in her head. She sits up, barfs up some blood (hey, you damn zombie have some manners) and Bryce shoots her.
Back at the non-German ship, everyone is in a space suit except Green Shirt. Captain tells her that he thinx something stinx on the German ship (good for you, Cap) and he wants her to stay here and wait for Bryce and Klaus. He and everyone else are going to check the German ship and stuff, since the air is over there and they're all going to be there soon. He gives her a goodbye kiss.
And then...well, I guess we cut a bunch of stuff, as we see three folks (who'd be Captain, Doc and Boss) approaching a door in, oh, I dunno, a spaceship, which opens for them. I was kind of expecting that the journey would take longer, myself, but heck, on occasion I am glad to be proven wrong if it gets the damn thing over quicker. I have a great respect for the practical, you know. Well, you should. I've told you enough times. Yes, I did. Just last month! Oh, you're impossible!
One thing I'm wondering is why Bryce didn't radio anyone about SHB coming back as a zombie. Sure, she's reticent and all, but come on. And Klaus's English is pretty good. “Watch out for dead people,” might be a lifesaver here.
Well, weapons drawn, the three enter the space ship, and the door closes behind them. They remove their helmets (a great idea is even greater when done twice, eh?), and they spot a suspicious shadow, but before blasting it, it turns out to be Dark Jacket, now with Newly Bandaged Head (hiding Unsightly Alien Parasite) and there's some “witty” banter exchanged between he and Captain.
So, does that mean Dark Jacket retains some of his human personna? I can't believe the creature could catch up on sarcastic greeting protocol (“I almost shot you!” “Nice to see you, too!”) without a frame of reference. Unless that Richter Dynamics ship was full of bootleg sci-fi DVDs, and the creature had a lot of time on its hands (and the instruction manual). It's just...too much!
Dark Jacket leads them into the control room. He's asked about his new bandage, which he says is due to the Germans using “caustic fluids.” I suppose he was taking a shower or something. Doctor Blonde says she should examine it anyway. Dark Jacket asks about the missing folk, and is told where they are, and he says he's going to engineering to finish up the repairs. He agrees to have Doc examine him. Funnily enough, everyone seems rather suspicious of ol' Dark Jacket, but they let Doc go off with him alone anyway. It wouldn't be a movie otherwise, would it?
After they're gone, Captain looks worried, and says to Boss that Dark Jacket seems to have forgotten all about SHB. Boss concurs, and says they should do their own examination of the ship. (Nice to see you two cooperating, by the way.)
Cut to Doc and Dark Jacket walking along, and Doc confesses that she's not what he thinks she is. (Ha ha ha ha. See, it's funny because Dark Jacket is not what she thinks he is—ie, Dark Jacket.) To his prompting, she says she's a biophysicist or something so, um, she's not a real doctor. Hey whatever chews up running time. Me, I'd a thought a doctor would be a good thing to have along on an interplanetary jaunt, but that's just old age thinking.
“That's okay, I have a secret of my own,” says Dark Jacket, and to Doc's question, responds with, “Ah, here we are,” as they get to the sickbay. (The Alie—er, Creature appears to know how to talk—through Dark Jacket-- like a screen villain, too.)
The lights are out, so Dark Jacket offers to fix them. He goes in, and Doc hesitates. He calls her inside, though. Hands up if you thought this was a good idea. I thought so. I'll see you after class.
Well, she walks further into the dark lab, and then walks into some spider web type stuff, which is entwined around several bodies, and then she starts yelling and screaming, and Dark Jacket shows up and grabs her, but she's a) either too hysterical to behave or b) onto his game, and she...rips the lower half of his face off (again, a nice make-up effect).
Not that this diminishes his efforts; in fact, he seems to be kind of freed by the lack of pretense. Some people, huh!
Doc screams and screams, and in the shadows, something unlurks. It raises itself up to look at her (it's the alien creature), and she screams louder, and we cut to the Captain and the Boss in the hallway, walking along.
They seem to react at the same time that Doctor Blonde screams on the soundtrack, but...well, they're actually reacting to the fact that it's really, really hot on the German ship. And they're sweating a lot. But, they note, Dark Jacket wasn't sweating at all!
My Gosh, that MUST mean he's under alien influence! What other explanation could there be? You're right, NONE!
They decide to run to engineering, but don't know where it is, so they split up. Captain goes off one way, and finds the sickbay. He opens the door, and sees our titular monster chewing on Doc Blonde. The creature chews her head off, and it falls onto the floor! Man, what nasty table manners. While Captain gapes at this unhelpfully, behind him rises Dark Jacket (still with missing face). Dark Jacket taps Captain on the shoulder, then throws him into the sickbay. He tosses Cap around a bit, rawring like a good zombie, gooking bloodily into the camera and generally getting the upper hand (see: Captain's wuss-ness) until Boss shows up and shoots Dark Jacket in the head. Said head explodes, pretty spectacularly. There follows an odd shot of Boss standing looking manly and decisive, and Cap comes up to him and kind of gazes at him in admiration at his manliness and decisiveness, but no one says anything and we cut back to Green Shirt working on her KFM science fair project.
Outside, some space-suited figure rips some kind of junction box or something off the wall of the ship, and inside, Green Shirt's power goes all ill. She wonders whazzup. Pretty much all the power is gone. She opines how she would rather not go outside, but reluctantly suits up. However, she has forgotten her tools, so she leaves the airlock to go back and get them. As she does, the outer airlock opens. My bet is that this is not good for Green Shirt.
We cut to her gathering up her tools, then a quick cut to the outer airlock door closing again. Green Shirt seems to hear this, and know something No Good is Up To here. She calls out to “Melanie” which (if I remember my previous viewings) is Bryce's first name. But no one answers, so she goes off to look at what's creeping her out. And no, she doesn't seem to have a weapon. (As an aside, Green Shirt wears a spacesuit with the name “Sladen” embroidered on it. And I suspect this is in tribute to Elizabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith on the final Jon Pertwee- early Tom Baker episodes of Doctor Who. But this may just be my fannish amiability showing opinion, which thus colors my judgement.)
Well, where were we? Green Shirt is wandering through the dark corridors as the music becomes all tense and stuff. Deciding (we suppose) that she heard nothing but her own overactive imagination, she returns to her tool gathering. And behind her, a space-suited figure approaches.
It turns out to be Klaus, now clearly a Creature-controlled-zombie (I suspect the health care benefits are cheap). Although she screams at him, he calls her “my pretty” and “my precious” (what a pity Klaus didn't live to appear in The Lord of The Rings). He holds up a pulsating spider-thing, and encourages her to “join us.”
However, she's the Smart One (can you remember back to the chess game?) and she's having none of his Klausiness and his Germanic Ways. She hits him with something and runs to the airlock, closing Klaus out of the room (and, knowing Klaus, also out of her pants). She seems to be lacking a helmet, which I would place in the “minus” column if she wants to go outside. But, being the Smart One, she grabs a bag of stuff and starts suiting up again (I know, I know, but hey you know women, right? Gotta dress up if they're gonna go out.) (The person who wrote that has been sacked.)
Klaus starts forcing the door open, so she opens the outer part, grabs a helmet and runs outside. After collapsing and starting to choke on Titan's hostile atmosphere, she thinks about the helmet and decides, hey, why not, and starts to put it on.
But Klaus is in the airlock now! And he's, like, all Klaus Kinski and stuff! But Green Shirt gets the helmet on (it already has a bloodstain on the face-plate—is this a portent of things to come or sloppy continuity? Or is there a difference anymore?) She gets up and runs off, pursued by Klaus.
Back at the German ship, Captain is trying to contact Green Shirt, but (as you can imagine) not having a lot of luck. Hey, try her cell phone! Oh, wait, this is 1985, no cell phones (and the roaming charges would be killer anyway). Boss points out that there are some extra suits with oxygen they should take, and they should get out of this place. Captain, reluctant to part with his radio thing, agrees, and they run off down another corridor.
Back out on the occasionally forbidding surface of Titan, we see a character lurching about like a Creature-controlled zombie. But it turns out to be Green Shirt, lurching because...uh, the director told her to. Her Woman's Intuition going off the scale, she turns around...and sees Zombie Klaus! He just dooesn't quit, does he.
Well, leave your heart monitors on pause, because we've just got to cut back to the German ship. Boss finds his and Cap's helmets, but they've been crushed and are useless. And the spare suits are gone. Cap theorizes that the Creature wants to keep them in the German ship. Boss doesn't like this. Well, no one likes this, to be honest. But they have no way off the German ship, now, so they retreat to the bridge. Their plan is to contact the NTI ship and have Green Shirt bring over the emergency suits. Little do they know, eh? Eh? Eh?
Before Boss can close the “bulkhead” windows (go with it, here) they see Green Shirt approaching. “That's Beth!” says Captain, which lends creedence to my theory about Doctor Who.
Boss doesn't want to let her in, figuring she's the same as Dark Jacket. Captain is going to let her in no matter what, however (remember them raging hormones).
Outside, Green Shirt runs and runs, then collapses (there's blood on her mouth). Behind her, some of us suspect, is Zombie Klaus.
Back inside, Boss and Captain arrive at the airlock. You could cut the tension with a piece of string cheese!
In the airlock, a suited figure is bringing another suited figure inside. Once the door is closed, Boss and Captain rush to Green Shirt's aid. They get her helmet off, and the other figure turns out to be...wait for it...Zombie Klaus! Ha, I bet you didn't know that was going to happen! Yes, yes, I know you did, give me a bit of slack here.
So, Zombie Klaus gets the drop on Boss, but Captain sheds his wussiness and slams Klaus a good one! The fight goes on for a bit, and one suspects the other actors enjoyed beating up on ol' Klaus. In the end, Boss shouts “Hoffner!” and Klaus looks up at his own name (see above, regarding how much of their own character do these zombies retain) and then Captain rips Klaus's parasite off him and stomps it. Stomps it good. Klaus takes ill at this and exits the picture.
Then they see to Green Shirt who turns out to be okay, just in a bit of a daze. And the three survivors try to sum up what's been going on, for those of you who either passed out before this was over or rented the tape that hadn't been rewound. Green Shirt gets an acting moment. She, Captain and Boss talk about the pulsating brain-things and how they tie in with the Creature. They discuss the creature, and various things, and how there has to be something they can use to kill the Creature, so they can...uh, do something else. I mean, both ships are broken, right?
Green Shirt has an idea. “I saw a movie once, where a group of people were trapped in an ice station by a carrot from another planet.”
Everyone else laughs at this rather basic summary of The Thing From Another World. But Green Shirt persists, and mentions that The Thing was killed by electrocution. Captain says this isn't a bad idea (“It worked in the movie!”-- a quote from another film). But Boss says all the stuff they need is in Engineering, which is Creature territory.
Then, a bunch of flashy lights and pulsating sounds herald the fact that the Creature has opened a few doors from the outside to the inside. So, the situ has gotten a bit more desperate. Boss is going to go get some tools, and Captain is going to brave the Engineering section. But, just so's you don't think they're all idiots, they all have headsets and will keep in constant contact.
Boss gets to security central and activates all the cameras. Both Green Shirt and Captain wish “Melanie” were here, though Green Shirt prefaces her desire with a “No offense, but...” The two of them enter what I had earlier referred to as sickbay, but what is, in fact, apparently engineering. Noted.
They move trough the area, noting the various dead bodies. And get to the control point they need. Green Shirt starts to work wiring her electrical trap (expostulating that she will rig said trap to be controlled from the main computer room) while Captain stands guard. Just as she finishes (way lucky, there) she happens to shine her flashlight on the Creature, who rears up like “Huh, wha? [Yawn] No, I'm totally awake...”
Green Shirt screams, and Captain shoots the Creature, but it seems to have no effect. They manage to shut the engineering door, but the Creature is smart, it opens the door, and gives chase.
Green Shirt and Captain, now tagged along with by Boss, make it to the corridor outside the computer room. Boss and Captain point their guns at the sluggishly moving monster, while Green Shirt tries to activate her electrical trap. Captain and Boss both say things like, “Anytime now” to Green Shirt while the Creature advances, but Green Shirt points out that the computer controls are written in German (which is a pretty good way to use your screen time and not be totally annoying, I must say).
At the last possible moment, of course, Green Shirt finds the right switch, and the creature is enveloped by electrical animation; of course, something shorts out in the computer room, so we (the audience) are left uncertain while the three survivors exult over their triumph.
Captain pokes his gun into the Creature's face, and it is not responsive, so they all figure it's dead. “We did it,” “Let's warm up the ship and go home,” and such like are the things said. Green Shirt is sent to go back to engineering to prepare for lift-off. She hesitates before stepping over the Creature's body—hesitates a lot, in fact, which ought to clue in anyone—but she gets to the other side, then lightly kicks the Creature once (hiking her foot in quite a way, I might add, but the kick has no effect--”Okay, I killed all your friends and used them as zombies against you, I deserve a kick”).
She then tries to kick the Creature again--
--and it grabs her. (“Hey, stop kicking me! I get ONE kick for being an evil Creature and using zombies, TWO kicks is being totally judgemental!”) Okay, now, who among you was surprised by this? Let me see a show of hands. Hm.
Anyway, she squirms her way loose from the Creature's grip, and while it rears for another strike, she runs off. Back in the main control room, Boss and Captain are readying things for a departure while (they assume) Green Shirt does all the real work. To Boss's credit, he's the one who hears her screaming. They both wonder what to do. And they both decide to rescue her from this Creature who doesn't like the rules and does not play well with others.
The two of them come across a pool of blood, which bodes not well to them both, and they start shouting for Green Shirt.
And we cut to her, hanging upside down. Apparently the Creature is going to get kinky or something. Captain and Boss arrive to look through the window to see her hanging in the room. Boss asks if she's still alive, to which Cap responds that he thinks so. When he looks into the room again, the Creature scares him by poking his face up into the window and being all Creature-y. Captain notes how a) this is scary and b) the Creature knew they'd probably try something obvious like the door. Foolish humans!
Captain, at any rate, panics and says they gotta get her out of there, but Boss restrains him by pointing out that the idea is foolish. Cap agrees, whereupon Boss opines that he's glad to be right about something. Boss further thinks that there has to be another way into the lab, so he'll go in the back way, distract the creature, and Cap will rescue her. Sounds like kind of a crappy plan but is probably better than my plan of “offer the creature money to go away.”
Boss goes back to the computer room and looks up some blueprints, and discovers he can get to the lab with Green Shirt through the cargo bay. We then cut to him in the cargo bay. Huh! Just like that! Film editing is powerful magic, yes. He tells Cap about his progress on the radio. As he makes his way into the (very) dark lab, Cap tells him that he hasn't seen the Creature in a while. That sounds like a set-up! But instead, Boss finds some crates that grab his interest. It turns out these crates contain lots of explosives, which reminds us all of Klaus' plan about blowing up the creature.
So, he grabs one and continues on his way toward the lab. But he stops and plays with some switches, which drop a net on to the floor. Hey, what spaceship would be complete without a net? I ask you. He arranges this net, I suppose into some kind of Gilligan-ish trap, and we cut back to Green Shirt hanging upside down. “Hurry,” she moans. “Hurry.” Yes, that's just what I've been saying to this movie for some time now, but it doesn't seem to listen.
Back with Boss, he discovers that the door between the cargo bay and the lab is open. Thinking something along the lines of oh, crap, he asks Cap if the Creature is still visible. Cap says no. Boss begins backing away from the lab (backing away is never a good idea, kids).
Back to Cap, he calls out to Boss with rising annoyance when Boss fails to answer. Or maybe it's panic. He decides to open the lab door, and he runs in and rescues Green Shirt. They collapse into each other's arms, like they have time for that sort of thing, and we cut back to Boss, looking nervous as the dickens. He activates the explosive he's holding, sets the timer to 30 seconds, and behind him something shiney and leathery looking rises into shot...
Back to our lovebirds, they're still comforting each other when they hear Boss's strangled scream. Cap grabs his gun and goes over to the hatch between the lab and cargo bay, and starts going down into the bay. But he's not going backwards so he should be all right. Should be.
There are some rather icky eating-type noises as Cap descends, and he finds Boss being gnawed on by the Creature. Boss points at something, and tells Cap “Do it...do it...do it...” and then he starts the timer on the explosive. I think Boss was pointing out some kind of switch to release the cargo bay hatch, and dump both diner and dinner onto the Titan surface.
I guess Cap does so (as the Creature moves in to, um, bite Boss some more I suppose) as the floor of the cargo bay opens and the whole Creature-Boss-Bomb mess drops out. Captain stands there looking like well how about that before, you know, Titan's poisonous atmosphere makes him start coughing. Green Shirt quickly pulls him up and he orders her to close the hatch. They start running through the corridors of the German ship.
They get to the main lock, which is open, and all the Titan atmosphere is pouring in, and the Creature is right there in the doorway. Now, the atmosphere doesn't seem to be bothering anyone for some reason. (Both Captain and Green Shirt are in their civvies.)
The Creature still has the bomb strapped to it, showing a countdown just exiting the 20's. It kind of looks tubby and cute here. It also has two projections out of its shoulders that might remind some of the “exhaust pipes” in Giger's Alien.
Well, Captain shuts the door so it's just him and the Creature in the airlock, then he jumps up and grabs something on the ceiling and swings and kicks the creature down on the ground. He falls to the ground too. Once here, he starts choking a bit, but the Creature starts beating him up! They honestly get into a kind of fistfight.
The Creature thoughtfully tosses Captain some distance as the counter enters the final digits. And the bomb's counter goes to zero, and...nothing. It's a damn German piece of crap that doesn't work! I hope it's still under warrantee.
“It didn't go off,” chokes out Captain. But then Bryce shows up (in spacesuit) and says, “Oh yes it did,” and she shoots the bomb, and it and the Creature blow up, blow up good, blow up real good. From a couple of repeated angles, too. Just so's we all get the message that it really is dead, and not just pretending this time.
Bryce picks up Captain and drags him back into the ship. And we cut to see Green Shirt applying soothing pastes to Captain's injuries.
“By the way, where were you?” Captain asks Bryce, in the sort of tone that one normally doesn't ask of persons who have, you know, saved the day and all.
“When Susan [SHB] killed Hoffner, I went back to the Shenandoah, but there was no one there, so I came back here.”
“You were gone a long time,” Captain says, again in a rather not-so-nice tone.
Diane Sallinger gets a long, long close-up and she moves her face around a lot, before finally admitting, “I got lost.”
“I got lost,” she repeats.
“So, Captain, are we having fun yet?” asks Green Shirt.
“Ask me that later,” he says. The whole thing implies that he and Green Shirt are going to be, well, you know, all the way back to Earth.
Bryce gets a look on her face like I hope there's a deck of playing cards for Solitaire. Then she hands the departing Green Shirt a book. It's a paperback called “Scared to Death” which...and you won't believe this...was the title of director William Malone's previous film! Hey, as long as we're tossing references rigt and left, why not a nod to the old resume?
Well, the German ship with our survivors aboard lifts off and flies through space, leaving unanswered those questions about what they're going to do when they get back to Earth. An NTI crew is flying a Richter Dymanics ship—a ship on which all aboard were killed. There's blood all over, too. Isn't that going to raise something of a stink between the two firms? I sort of got the impression that they were almost at war with each other as it is.
Perhaps they'll deal with that in the sequel. We, here, roll credits. Director and co-writer William Malone is still working today (he did the remake of House on Haunted Hill and Feardotcom, both with Jeffrey Combs so you know he's doing all right). The special effects were by Robert Skotak who I know I've heard of before. The extremely 80's music was by Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker, who I haven't heard of before or since. Aside from the obvious Alien-isms, it really lacks a strong bass and thus kind of floats over the movie rather than engaging it. Johanna Ray did the casting, she's a big name now, I know she's done a bunch of David Lynch films. Among the cast, there's Stan Ivar (Captain), Wendy Schaal (Green Shirt), Lyman Ward (Boss), Robert Jaffe (Dark Jacket), Diane Salinger (Bryce), Annette McCarthy (Doctor Blonde), Marie Laurin (SHB) and Klaus Kinski, who gets his name in a box. Other than Kinski and Salinger, Schaal is the only name that rings any bells and those bells are rather muted and distant. Eileen Seeley did some voice overs, she played the Sheriff's wife in both “Jack Frost” films.
And finally, when we get to the rest of the technical credits, the music turns not only interesting, it turns fascinating. I'm not kidding. It's a kind of white-noise/industrial/synth mix that is way cool. Then it goes back to its normal self in time for the Special Thanks to. And we're done.
This is a Diamond DVD, they specialized in rather cheap transfers without a lot of extras or, for that matter, not much care put into the presentation of the film itself. It's noted at the end of the credits that Creature was filmed in Panavision, but we got pan-and-scan.
In the “Bio and Fun Facts Section,” the Fun Facts are that the budget was four million dollars, and that the special effects were by the LA Effects Group, wich also worked on Explorers, Commando and Aliens. The “Bio” is that of Klaus Kinski (of course). It gives us his birth and death dates and places, his birth name (Nikolaus Gunther Nakszynski) and the fact that he made 145 films between 1948 and 1989. Nothing about why he ought to be regarded as anything special. A pity. Well, one can't change the minds of DVD outfits.
Speaking of DVDs, however, what should we say about this one? Hey, you know, if you cover the right side of the front cover all the way over to the “E” in “Creature,” it kind of looks like an Evil Clown profile!
Okay, that was fun, what else?
Clearly, this film was made by fans of the genre. One suspects (well, I do) that they knew they had to rip off Alien to get the film made at all, but decided to do so with some respect, and some fun. In that respect, they succeeded; as stupid as the film can be at times, it's generally fun. The Creature itself is rather generic and disappointing, though you can tell the film-makers thought highly of him and his abilities; the other makeup effects are much better.
Would I recommend it? Sure, provided you're not thinking you're going to get much in the way of originality, it's a fun little pic. It's not thoughtful or scary, but there are certainly worse ways to spend your time. If you have a penchant for playing spot-the-influence, you might find it a lot of fun. Otherwise, it's not really good enough to enjoy on its own (other than as good trash) and it's not bad enough to be laughable. Right there in the middle. Kind of like Klaus Kinski's career average, when you think about it. Klaus was always worth watching, at least once....
-- November 19, 2004