So I’ll lead off with WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS (1971), a biker film in what my friend Ross calls the “just enough” category — it’s 95 percent biker crap (they drive around bullying people, drinking and getting laid), but after a Satanic cult puts the whammy on them, one or the other of them periodically changes into a werewolf. It’s not good even as a biker film, but I knew that going in. “That was no accident. This is heavy — someone’s controlling the vibes.”
Speaking of vibes, VIBES (1988) stars Cyndi Lauper as a medium and Jeff Goldblum as a psychometric, recruited by Peter Falk to find his long-lost son. Except it turns out Falk’s lying — his real agenda is to find a psi-McGuffin ahead of sinister psi-researcher Julian Sands. Given the cast, this should have been really funny; instead it’s just blandly amiable. “Another man has been touching these panties!”
Speaking of blandly amiable McGuffin hunts, MEET DAVE (2008) stars Eddie Murphy as a human-shaped spaceship hunting on Earth for a lost piece of technology that will enable them to siphon off our oceans and save their dying world. Murphy also plays the ship’s captain who in the opinion of subordinate Gabrielle Union is having way too much fun letting the ship flirt with human Elizabeth Banks. While the cast is competent, “Dave’s” efforts to make sense of human behavior are stock — and why do these Vulcan-like aliens suddenly get feelings on Earth other than because that’s what aliens are supposed to do?” See how she squeezes the smaller one’s skull despite his protests? Such brutality!”
LOONEY TUNES: Back in Action (2003) is another non-ET film but I watched it because I clearly remembered Steve Martin — the evil head of Acme Industries — was an evil alien in a human mask. My memory was wrong. That said, I enjoyed his battle with Bugs, Daffy, actor/spy Timothy Dalton, stunt man Brendan Fraser and executive Jenna Elfman better than most people and a lot better than Space Jam. It does have several scenes in Area 52 (Area 51 is just a cover story — clever huh?) so it might work its way into the book anyway. The biggest weakness is the heavy-handed product placement (lampshading it doesn’t help). “If you don’t find a rabbit in lipstick amusing, we have nothing to talk about.”
Brian Yuzna’s PROGENY (1998) feels like a more graphic version of The Stranger Within, with Arnold Voosloo and Jillian McWhirter coming to realize her miracle pregnancy (his sperm ain’t what they should be) is because aliens put a bun in her oven during an alien abduction. Like Barbara Eden in Stranger, ending the pregnancy isn’t an option — when she tries, the aliens turn off medical equipment and overload ob/gyn Wilford Brimley’s pacemaker. Not as cleverly weird as the earlier film and repellently graphic — the impregnation scene is pure hentai. With Lindsay Crouse as a skeptical hypnotherapist.“Ethics? You’ve already violated every ethical and legal code in the books.”
COWBOYS VS. ALIENS (2011) has Daniel Craig wake up amnesiac in the Old West with a strange, high-tech bracelet on his wrist. Could it have something to do with the aliens carrying off folks from the nearby mining town? Could be … This is watchable, but it’s the kind of thing that provokes absolutely no deep thoughts or insight on my part; Harrison Ford plays a bad man who turns out to be better than he seems and Olivia Wilde is an alien looking for revenge. “God don’t care who you were, son — only who you are.”
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