Mars Needs Breeders! Movies viewed for Alien Visitors

MARS NEEDS WOMEN (1968) stars Tommy Kirk as the leader of a Martian raiding party (I’d like to head-canon this into continuity with Kirk’s previous Martian invader in Pajama Party but I can’t make it work) seeking fertile Earth women because a Martian genetic glitch has created a male/female ratio of 100 to 1. After their initial attempt to kidnap women by teleportation fails (I presume their atoms got scattered en route) they ask the U.S. government if they can recruit volunteers, get told no, set out to kidnap by more conventional means — but in the process Kirk falls in love with sexy geneticist Yvonne Craig who may be willing to return with him voluntarily. Like Village of the Damned, this soft-pedals the rape overtones, but depending on your taste it might pass as So Bad It’s Good (I wouldn’t agree). “The freezing process is part of how we map non-chromosomal genes.”

When, Nya, THE DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (1954) arrives in the Scottish highlands looking for men, it’s because her planet has largely wiped them out in the battle of the sexes, making her a proto-feminazi as well as a would-be Earth conqueror (this struck out at me because when the alien males need breeders it’s the result of tragic accidents). Despite being competently acted (the exception being the title role), this filmed stage play is stage bound much of the time and generally just plodding. With Adrienne Corri as a barmaid and Hazel Court as a miserable model. “Now Earthmen look — watch the power of another world!”

I’ve had INVASION OF THE STAR CREATURES (1962) on the B side of my Invasion of the Bee Girls DVD for years without ever feeling the itch to watch it until now. A wise decision on my part, it turns out, as this low-budget story of two inept GIs (the template seems to be the Bowery Boys, but without even that level of talent) confronting two beautiful ETs, Puna and Tanga (as Bill Warren says, probably a pun on “poontang”) and their plant-man warriors. One advantage of not reviewing every film for Alien Visitors in detail is that I don’t have to struggle to say anything intelligent about this one, because I got nothing. “It would not be so bad to be prisoners of Earthmen — we might even get to like it.”

THE ABYSS (1989) has deep-water mining engineers Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio and Ed Harris lead a team to rescue a stranded sub at the bottom of the ocean, a mission complicated by a)an alien vessel (whether ET, Atlantean or other-dimensional is never clear) and b)Marine Michael Biehn snapping and becoming convinced a nuke will solve everything. The aliens are almost irrelevant to the story, but the mundane underwater drama is good enough — except at two hours I had to use it as a talking lamp. “I always knew this was a one-way trip.”

Joe Dante’s EXPLORERS (1985) has a lot in common with E.T. (Dick Miller filling Peter Coyote’s role as the guy who dreamed of doing what the protagonists did) as well as making the same kind of pop culture jokes Dante’s Piranha and The Howling did, but it’s a poorer film than any of them. It starts off well as tween Ethan Hawke starts receiving strange tech insights in his dream which tech nerd River Phoenix uses to create a mysterious force-field sphere that enables them, along with a third musketeer, to fly inside it. First around town, then up into space to meet the source of the dreams — which is where the film tanks. Taking the pop culture references way over the top, we meet alien kids (whose ET suits look like something out of a bad Saturday morning live action show) who’ve been monitoring our TV broadcasts for years and babble constantly in quotes and soundbites; it’s meant to be amusing, but it sucks the magic out, particularly as that’s all there is to their interaction. I’m also annoyed that even though the girl Hawke crushes on shares in their dreams, she doesn’t have any role except as the love interest. “I watched four episodes of Lassie before I figured out why the little hairy kid never spoke!”

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