Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Film Crew: Killers From Space
Review by Sombrero Grande

I previously reviewed the Film Crew's first DVD offering, Hollywood After Dark, so if you're looking for general comments on the Film Crew DVD series, I'd check out that review first. Here I'll be talking specifically about Killers From Space, the second endeavor in the Film Crew series.

The movie to be mocked here is a 1950s sci-fi thriller that actually involves very little in the way of sci-fi or thrills. Peter Graves stars as a military scientist brought back to life by ping-pong-ball-eyed aliens who want to use the U.S. government's nuclear bomb tests to fuel the growth of their giant bug and lizard armies which they plan to use to wipe out all life on earth. Pretty standard '50s fare, you could say. The reason I said there isn't much "sci-fi" in the film is that all the plot points I've just mentioned aren't made clear until at least halfway through the movie when the ocularly-enhanced aliens finally get around to showing up. The lack of any form of "thrills" in the movie is continually mocked by the Film Crew, typically in pointing out the blandness and dullness of Graves' leading man performance.

The quibbles I had with the Film Crew's Hollywood After Dark DVD still stand here, though I have to admit the closing skit that the trio do for Killers From Space is actually quite funny. Sadly the same cannot be said for the "Lunch Break" skit in the middle of the film. Kevin Murphy presents alternate ideas for oversized body parts (non-dirty) the filmmakers could have used instead of eyes for the aliens, which is nearly the same exact sketch that was featured in the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Manos: The Hands of Fate, only less funny.

The one extra on the DVD is a clever idea that's somewhat botched in execution. It's a feature called "Did You Know...?" and pretends to offer up outtakes from the film in the scene where one of the ping-pong-ball-eyed aliens appears to be speaking some mystical, other-worldly language though it's obviously just his regular English lines played backwards. Murphy states that the actor in question had a disagreement with Peter Graves just prior to filming this scene and proceeds to offer up a choice to the DVD viewer of which "alternate takes" he/she would care to view. It's a cute idea but what undermines it in execution is that all of the "outtakes" are named with the punchline of the gag within. For instance the "alternate take" which shows the backwards-speaking alien to actually be saying, "Peter Graves keeps slapping me in the back and pissing me off," is titled: "Pissing Me Off." The outtake where the actor says, "This is my last day on the set of this stupid-ass movie with that Norwegian pinhead," is titled: "My Last Day." When the punchline is revealed before the clip can even be viewed, it spoils the whole thing. A better idea would have been simply naming the outtakes: "Outtake #1," "Outtake #2," etc. and then letting the viewer discover the joke within on his or her own.

Note that while the back of the DVD says that the disc, "Includes the Film Crew's 'Did You Know...?' AND Outtakes!" both refer only to this ONE feature on the disc.

Overall the Film Crew's riffing of Killers From Space (the reason you're interested in this disc at all) is good but not great. Though there are certainly some hilarious moments to be enjoyed, the commentary as a whole is not as consistently funny as that on Hollywood After Dark. If you're only going to get one of the Film Crew's DVD releases so far, I'd stick with Hollywood After Dark, though if you're a big MST3K fan longing for more mocking from Nelson, Murphy and Corbett, you could do worse than pick up Killers From Space as well.


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