There is a moment in Brett Piper‘s latest film that looked incredibly familiar: a stop motion mutant takes on a handful of giant alien bug things (“Clickers”) and pounds them in an impressive show of strength. I knew I’d seen those moves before.
But an instant later I realized that the creature was moving just like the classic Willis O’Brien King Kong.
This, I think, nicely sums up Brett Piper’s chosen role as the last, great,
B-Movie director. His films are wild, hand-crafted efforts, featuring meticulously created stop-motion effects, along with a wild profusion of beautiful props, good make-up effects, and even full-body alien suits. The emphasis here, as always, is on fun: there are no pretensions of philosophical depth or deep commentaries on current events or human nature. There’s simply a commitment to trying to recapture the joy we felt watching those great Fifties and Sixties SF and fantasy films, often with a nudge and a wink to the audience to say, “hey, remember this one?”.
And I’m all in favor of that.
Here he returns to the post-Apocalyptic SF film after a long gap. He’d explored it in three of his first four films – Galaxy, Mutant Wars and A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell – but hasn’t made another one in 27 years. It gives him an excuse to destroy half the world’s familiar landmarks in his opening montage. As a special treat for all those sharp-eyed Godzilla fans out there, that includes Osaka Castle – and there’s also a very familiar sound clip in the sequence, borrowed from another movie featuring alien spacecraft devastating the world.
Once we get to the devastated aftermath of the invasion, it seems like things are slowing down a bit, but before long, there are alien soldiers, a big mutant, a genial mad-scientist type (hailed as a top science dude by Rolling Stone magazine before everything fell apart), a few, brief cameos by Mark Polonia (who produced the film), giant bugs, walking machines and the usual brilliant plan to deal with the alien menace…
Okay. Maybe not “brilliant”.
I do find myself wondering, whether Brett is deliberately referencing the wildly entertaining Irish monster movie Grabbers with his ending. Not that it matters – they’re both incredible fun. Which is something we could stand a lot more of in the theaters these days.
But fortunately we have people like Brett Piper around who are willing to put in countless hours creating the kinds of films they love.
Even if they are just pulpy B monster movie fun.