In case you are thinking this one sounds familiar, that’s because it does.
I mean, ship responds to distress signal, alien monster gets loose on board, tough female hero tries to stop it.
Never saw that one, right?
But that really brings us into the question of Cult film and what exactly it is.
Brad Sykes made this film on a tiny budget, with practical effects, and got a handful of awards and played at Science Fiction festivals. This means that it has acquired a certain cult following. Does it deserve it?
Now I should point out that there are differences, as we have a ship with a less than honest crew, who haves stolen some sort of alien power source which they hope to make a killing on, only they answer that distress call and a group of female space pirates take over their ship.
And, naturally, this is when the alien doohickey starts turning people into zombies.
Fast zombies, at that.
Let’s be honest: zombies — or even, as would be more accurate in this case, some sort of zombie-like alien mutants — don’t demand a lot when it comes to practical effects. A bit of makeup, a bit of gore, a few bits of latex, and you could outfit a dozen George Romero films.
In the film’s last few minutes we do get to see a few more elaborate monsters for a few seconds, with the biggest very much like the Metaluna mutant from This Island Earth. They’re actually moderately impressive in a mild sort of way, but we don’t see much of them.
However, the spaceship models are decidedly unimpressive as they have very little detail and completely lack the sort of iconic profile the best movie spaceships have.
Perhaps the most outstanding thing about this film is the presence of Steve Railsback, an actor who has made a career out of odd roles, in such films as Turkey Shoot (1982), Lifeforce and Blue Monkey (1987). Here he seems to be channeling Lance Henriksen in Aliens, although it takes a while for the script to admit what we guessed as soon as we first saw him. He doesn’t get a lot to do, but he’s a welcome addition.
And for those of you for whom such things matter, I’ll point out that, despite having sexy female pirates and two women on the crew of the Pandora, there is no nudity.
Which does make this a rather strange sort of exploitation film.
But then, I suppose, in a film this cheap they just couldn’t afford it. Movie nudity doesn’t come cheap.
On the whole, I’d just call this one a fairly standard sort of Alien ripoff, a bit better than the average, perhaps, but mostly notable for its practical effects. Even its nihilistic ending has little impact.
Its cult status appears to have a lot more to do with its Independent origins and tiny budget than anything else. I know it has its admirers and fans — enough to earn it a Tenth Anniversary re-release — but there isn’t a lot to distinguish this one.
Not even with sexy space pirates.
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