MARCH 3, 2010
As a newly minted fan of Norman J. Warren, I was excited to check out his Alien ripoff Horror Planet (more common title is Inseminoid), hoping it would make up for the somewhat lackluster Satan’s Slave. But I also figured it would be a good movie to kick off HMAD Live Tweeting with, where I comment along the movie via Twitter for anyone who cared to watch along on Netflix (or simply read a whole bunch of out of context remarks for 90 minutes). Not sure how many people joined in (current estimate - 3) but those who did seemed to like it, and hopefully next time I can give a bigger heads up (it was sort of a spur of the moment thing).
Also, hopefully next time the movie is as easy to make “funny” remarks about as this one was. While I don’t want the feature to simply be a text-based MST3k, a dull or “atmospheric” type horror film probably wouldn’t be worth the hassle (nor would it lend itself to a constant distraction). But Horror Planet is wall to wall inanity, be it the nudity, the catfights (at least three!), the horrible alien puppets that look like baby Jabba the Hutts, or just the simple fact that just about everyone dies horribly, with no clear hero or final girl. In fact, both of the women I thought were being set up to be the Ripley character ended up getting killed, and only one sort of random guy survived (presumably).
Unlike Warren’s other films that I’ve seen, this one also has a fairly fast pace. It drags in spots, sure, but it kicks off much faster than his others, with the requisite “he brought something back” scene occurring in the first reel and his attack on the female coming soon afterwards. She is raped by the alien and impregnated, but it also turns her evil, so the rest of the movie is pretty much her running around the base killing everyone, before she eventually has the alien baby and then resumes killing people. It’s a delight. And like I mentioned, there’s no clear Final Girl or whatever, so there’s actually a touch of suspense that I wasn’t expecting - it really seemed like no one was safe.
And, as a fan of “Huh?” moments, it seems Warren took a page from 2001 and/or Solaris, as we occasionally get some weird visuals of human figures (aliens?), planetary bodies, what looks like dissected fruit, and lots of pointlessly color-filtered shots. All part of the fun. Not as much of a fan of the final 10 minutes though; after everyone is killed, we are introduced to a rescue team that has gone to their base to see why they haven’t been in contact for a month (sort of like the BEGINNING of a lot of spacebound horror movies), and we watch them piddle about for a while. As a quick one or two minute thing it would be fine, but it just drags, and we know what its building toward (that the aliens are not dead), so the whole thing is sort of like climaxing and then leaving your condom on for 10 minutes. Movie’s done, let’s go!
I also wasn’t a fan of Netflix’s presentation, though that’s not the filmmaker’s fault. First off, it was a full frame transfer, which is just inexcusable (the Inseminoid release has the proper aspect ratio, though Netflix doesn’t stock that one even for disc rental, let alone streaming). It seems that the picture might have been vertically squeezed in order to keep more of the information on the sides, but that’s just as bad - everyone looks like they have Lurch’s figure. The audio is even worse, constantly going out of sync (both too soon and too late), which I thought might have been a lag problem but after skipping around (and confirming it with one of the participants) it was indeed part of the original stream. Granted, it’s a free service even offered to customers with the lowest possible rental plan, but they could probably entice MORE people to sign up if their transfers were worth bragging about - seeing something like this surely isn’t going to make me forget about physical media.
One final note, in case anyone was wondering - I am the first to denounce people texting in a theater, but “live tweeting” the movie doesn’t make me a hypocrite. The feature is strictly optional - there is no way I could be ruining someone else’s experience by tweeting stuff as the movie plays, as a cell phone user in a theater can and does do. Also, I had Twitter and Netflix in separate browser windows, sized so that I could always have the movie on screen instead of minimizing it in order to type something out. In fact, I’d actually argue that I paid more attention to the movie than I usually do when I watch one at work (where I AM switching windows to check email and such). But if anyone has any suggestions how to improve the service, or an idea how to make it easier for myself to do or you to follow it, please let me know.
What say you?