And then there’s Klaus Kinski…
Klaus earned the reputation for being a great actor thanks largely to a number of impressive films he did with Werner Herzog, most notably Aguirre: The Wrath of God. Part of his fame, I suspect, had as much to do with the stories of the epic battles between actor and director on that film, including one probably Apocryphal story about how Herzog had forced him to do a scene at gunpoint.
He then went on to make guest appearances in dozens of cheap genre films (including the incredible Le Orme). This was a deliberate choice on his part: he loved money and took any part that paid lots of it. Somehow enough of his reputation — or notoriety — survived that he made money right up until his death in 1991.
It’s almost inspiring.
This one is yet another in the long series of Alien ripoffs of the early Eighties. The ruins of a long lost alien civilization have been found on Titan, but the scientists who found it are all dead, and the big corporation responsible sends a new crew out to secure the find before their West German rivals get there first.
Well, we all know that one’s going to work out badly.
The division of the world into two rival corporate factions is moderately interesting, but ultimately so sketchy that it hardly plays much into the film. Kinski plays the only survivor of the West German crew who is (as we expected) a bit on the crazy side. There are a few minor interesting details along the way — like the notion that they’ve found someone’s collection of alien creatures gathered from dozens of other worlds, and the parasites the creature uses to control some of its victims, which absorb and take the place of their brain, complete with references to hive minds — but none of these really get developed much. There’s also an interesting scene, where they attempt to use the method used in a very familiar Fifties SF film to kill the beast.
There’s some moderately impressive Eighties gore, some of it a bit absurd. The creature itself is pretty dire, but, as we only get a good look at it in the last few minutes — and its half-glimpsed appearances are so well stage-managed — that it doesn’t take away too much of the fun.
The one curious aspect here are the ties to Forbidden Planet. A very familiar line gets quoted early on, and when they reach Titan, a lot of the hardware looks very, very familiar (the door control from the control room of the Krell Machine is probably the most recognizable). William Malone, the film’s director and producer, owned a lot of Forbidden Planet‘s props (including Robbie the Robot) and he thought it would be fun to work some of them in.
This one was cheap, and largely familiar, but still manages to be moderately suspenseful and even gives us a few good scares. It may not be great, but it is reasonably entertaining for those of us who appreciate the occasional cheesy SF horror flick. Nor does it hurt that it clearly has a fond eye on the great SF of the Fifties. It bears a far closer resemblance, plot-wise, to Alien’s inspiration, It: The Terror from Beyond Space!, than it does to Alien, and that does endear it to me. I also give it a few extra points because it didn’t make that all too familiar last minute “surprise” revelation about one of the crew which we were all expecting.
For those of us willing to face such cheesy films with low expectations, it is definitely worth a look.
And, yes, it has Klaus Kinski. That counts for something.
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