Xenogenesis (1978)

Everyone had to start somewhere.

In 1978, in the wake of Star Wars, James Cameron convinced a group of dentists to give him $20,000 to make an audition film for a movie he hoped they would produce.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t Star Wars enough for them and they withdrew their backing. However, the film was impressive enough to convince Roger Corman to give him a job as a special effects technician on Battle Beyond the Stars.

Not bad for a former truck driver.

He released it a few years ago as part of a lawsuit over the movie Avatar so we can finally see this seminal work.  Is anyone really surprised that it is fairly impressive?

The film features a brutal mechanical battle between a huge robot maintenance vehicle and a walking scout vehicle piloted by a young woman.  The film quality of the available versions is appallingly bad, and it lacks the stirring score that would have accompanied the actual feature film version he intended.  And yet, he already knew how to keep an audience in suspense.

Very impressive.  And yet, you can’t help wishing those dentists had been able to see its potential and had taken a risk.

Oh, well.

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