Thursday, 19 May 2016

#35 Los Nuevos Extraterrestres (The Pod People) (1983)

Cast: Ian Sera, Nina Ferrer, Susanna Bequer, Sara Palmer 
Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror
The next movie on our list is a French-Spanish collaboration called Los Nuevos Extraterrestres, which I believe means The New Extra Terrestrial or The New Extra Testicle, (it’s one or other).
If it’s The New Extra Terrestrial, then I’m sure you’ll agree this sounds a little bit familiar.  When I then tell you that this movie is the story of a young boy and his small alien pal, then I think the penny may finally start to drop.  That’s right, it sounds exactly like that 80’s cult classic, Mac and Me, (1988), which has also appeared on our bad movies list, (see blog here).
It also sounds a little bit like ET – The Extra Terrestrial and that is no coincidence.  The story goes that this movie was in development but that the studio wanted to cash in on the success of ET.  This meant that some changes were made to the story, but more about that later.
The only copy of the movie we could find was in Spanish and the only English version was the MST3K version.  So I enrolled in a Spanish evening class hoping to get a sound foundation of the language so I could get the gist of the movie.
Only joking, we took the easy option.
Firstly, a brief review of the MST3K version; it’s a Joel episode, which normally I’m not so keen on because I preferred Mike episodes, but this one is actually incredibly funny.  In fact it’s one of the funniest MST3Ks I’ve seen in a while and I encourage you to check it out.
Anyway, onto the movie and as I previously said, the studio changed the original storyline to make it more family friendly.  So did this have an adverse effect?  It was time to find out…..
The movie begins with the worst hunters since Elmer Fudd trying to poach deer.  One of the hunters stumbles upon a cave which contains many glowing large red eggs.  He decides to make the world’s biggest omelette and starts smashing them to bits.  He is just about to add sliced mushrooms when something stops him and promptly kills him.
Nearby, a band that produce some of the blandest music possible are on a camping holiday.  They are led by Rick, (Ian Sera), his girlfriend Sharon, (Nina Ferrer), producer Brian, (Emilio Linder), Kathy, (Sarah Palmer), Tracy, (Maria Albert) and Roberta, (a little gag for you G’N’R’ fans ).  There is also hanger on, Lara, (Susanna Bequer), who Rick is secretly trying to cop of with.  Lara is so excited about sneaking around with Rick that she runs through the woods, encounters an alien and then throws herself off a cliff.
Meanwhile Tommy, (Oscar Martin), has also found the cave which now has one remaining glowing red egg.  Tommy fancies eggy soldiers and so steals the egg, unaware that Mummy alien is snoozing nearby.
Tommy takes the egg back to his mum’s, (Concha Cuetos) and Uncle Bill’s, (Manuel Pereiro), house nearby where it hatches, (the egg, not the house).  Tommy is amazed as the creature inside grows overnight and in the morning is as tall as Tommy!  The alien looks like ALF with a trumpet sellotaped to his face and so Tommy calls him Trumpy, (and also he farts like a good ‘un!).  Tommy and Trumpy become good friends and Trumpy keeps Tommy amused by moving objects around his bedroom using only the power of Telekinesis whilst some funny music plays at double speed in the background.
Meanwhile, Rick and the band turn up at Tommy’s house with Laura who is in a bad way. Laura is put into a spare room by Tommy’s mum who cares for her.  Laura returns the favour by promptly dying and developing black dots on her forehead.
Sensing something isn’t right, Rick, Brian, and Uncle Bill, set out to investigate the area and call for help.  They bump into mummy alien who is very cross and has killed another hunter also leaving a series of black dots on his head, (which shocked me.  I completely forgot these guys were still in the movie).  She then descends onto Tommy’s house to find Trumpy and to tell him off for not coming home for tea.
Tommy, peeping through this telescope, has seen most of the action and realises the others may also want to get to Trumpy before he turns into a big cuddly psychopathic killer…….
Can Tommy save Trumpy?  What do the black dots mean?  Is the 3rd hunter still in the movie?
Watch The New Extra-Terrestrials to find out!
If I had to sum up this movie in one word, it is confused.  For example, let’s start with the actual title of the movie.  I know it was originally called Los Nuevos Extraterrestres, but in English I have seen it called The New Extra Terrestrial, Extra Terrestrial Visitors and in the case of MST3K, The Pod People.  No wonder we couldn’t find a copy of the blooming thing as no-one seems to know what it’s called!
Then there’s the opening sequence, which is very confusing.  It does involve a hunter finding an egg, but I must admit the alien does look very different…..  This is because the opening sequence is lifted directly from another movie called Galaxy Invader, (1985).  How the hell they got away with stealing scenes from another movie is beyond me.  More puzzling is how on earth Galaxy Invader did not make it into our top 100 bad movies!
The first 20 minutes of the movie are incredibly confusing as they seem to be 3 different movies.  A movie about some hunters going poaching, a movie about a crap music group camping and a movie about a young boy who lives in a cabin in the middle of some woods.  Eventually when Tommy visits the cave that the hunter had done previously it starts to connect, but until then I really thought 3 movies were spliced into one, each more crap than the last.
I would normally rate the acting but as Wes has alluded to already, going this far into the list you can just assume from here in that it’s bad.  Madonna bad!  This movie is not helped by the dubbing however, which leads to more confusion.  The actor is angry; the voice is flat and unemotional.  The actor is sad; the voice is flat and unemotional.  The actor is flat and unemotional, the voice starts shouting.  I sort of wished I had taken that Spanish class after all just to clear up the confusion!
But the biggest and single most confusing thing about the movie is, well, erm, the movie!  As I said, the studio changed the original storyline to make it more family friendly.  Did this have an adverse effect?  You bet it did!
Originally, The Pod People was supposed to be about some aliens that go on a killing spree.  As the hunter instigated the fight by smashing the eggs, this could have been interesting as the alien seeks revenge.  Do we side with the alien?  Do we side with the humans?  Do we cheer as the killing moves onto the ‘music’ group?
Either way, it would have been a low budget horror, job done.
Then they were forced to include a storyline in which the killer alien and a young boy become good friends.  That’s just a bit odd to say the least.  What are we supposed to do?  Cheer Trumpy as he performs his cute little stop animation tricks and then slaughters his best pal?  Cheer Tommy as he manages to keep Trumpy safe so he can kill again and again?   Hope killer and child are happy together forever?
What on earth were they thinking?  If the alien was a human and was Hannibal Lector, would we be expected to swallow this storyline?  What if Trumpy was Freddy Kruger or Jason?  You could dress Leatherface in all the cute attire you could find, but I would still not be hoping the new pals stay together at the end of the movie!
The end result is this confused mess of a movie shamelessly trying to cash in on the success of ET.  Avoid the original movie at all costs, but do check out the MST3K version which is definitely one of the best I have ever seen.