12/15/06

405 Being From Another Planet

(1982, Horror/SciFi, color)

Honk if you hate this film.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

An alien mummy terrorizes university students.

Summary:

Filmed in Mummyvision(tm).Professor Doug and his student pals stumble around in the dark, waving their flashlights around in aimless circles. Eventually they find a cave full of ancient corpses and a sarcophagus. They take the sarcophagus back to a university in California for further study.

Once there, they remove the lid and take some X-Rays, but the shady student radiologist cranks the radiation up way too high. He sees some really cool crystals in the X-Rays and steals them out of the sarcophagus’ not-so-secret compartment. He takes other X-Rays (also with way too much radiation) to hide the crystals’ existence, and then hides the originals in the hall, where anyone might find them later.

While Professor Doug and his student lover Susie labor over ancient manuscripts, the sarcophagus begins to glow in the other room. In the morning, the greedy and evil university administrators have called a press conference in spite of Professor Doug’s warnings about strange fungi on the mummy. A random student pal gets his finger burned off by the fungus, but the press conference goes on as planned. They open the sarcophagus to find the mummy missing. The corrupt administrators and the stupid campus security chief mount a slash and burn campaign to find the mummy, while Professor Doug and his student pals start their search by going on the radio to request its return.

Meanwhile, the shady student radiologist has tried to pawn the crystals, only to find out that they’re worthless. So he sells and barters them for money and debts among his shady and slack-witted student friends. One of the gems ends up with student lover Susie as a gift from a spurned admirer. She wears it despite of her attachment to the übergroovy Professor Doug.

We see much of the rest of the film through the green-filtered eyes of the mouth-breathing mummy, as he stalks the crystals one by one. He kills a couple people with his burning fungus hands, and then smashes one against a wall. He chases Suzie down endless university halls, snatching the gemstone away and pushing her off of a high ladder. She survives with some minor bruising.

Professor Doug and his student electrician pal find the discarded original X-Rays and confront the shady student radiologist. He admits the theft and gives up one of the gemstones, saying that the last one is with his girlfriend. Fortunately, she’s taking a shower when the mummy visits her. He takes the gemstone from her soap tray and leaves peacefully.

The student electrician pal finds the source of some strange power surges with the help of an old Atari 2600 that seems to monitor the whole university power grid. There they find that the mummy is building an interdimensional radio out of the crystals and a large Star Trek symbol. The corrupt administrators show up and accuse Professor Doug of stealing the mummy himself, but the mummy arrives and scraps that theory. The stupid campus policeman tries to shoot the mummy, but Professor Doug jumps out to take the bullet. The mummy completes his radio and takes off his wrappings to reveal a stereotypical big-eyed alien. He takes the wounded Doug’s hand and teleports them both to another planet. A greedy administrator tries to take one of the crystals, but it burns his hand off while he shrieks in horror.

Introduction:

Order now by pressing the button that brings the Satellite of Love back to earth.Joel and the ‘Bots play twenty questions, but Tom and Crow will only ask meaningless movie trailer clichés, such as, “Is it a shocking exposé of souls in bondage?” and “This time, is it personal?”

Host Segment One:

The ‘Mads have invented “Tragic Moments” figurines, depicting such scenes as “Daddy’s Liquid Breakfast” and “Sparky’s Last Ruff.” Joel has invented the Jack Palance Impersonator, a gas mask-like device that makes everything you say sound gravelly and sinister. Crow demonstrates with the taut, tension-laden phrase, “I just purchased a new shovel today.”

Host Segment Two:

Tom and Crow talk about the incredibly lame mummy in the film. Joel arrives and they somehow get sidetracked into discussing former child star Bill Mumy’s career.

Host Segment Three:

Crow and Tom charge money to blindfold Joel and make him put his hands into such Halloween staples as peeled grape eyeballs, Jello guts, spaghetti worms, and a cauliflower brain. Joel grosses them out by eating the brain.

Host Segment Four:

Joel tries to cheer up Tom and Crow by throwing a big party, complete with streamers, balloons, and goofy holo-clowns in the Hexfield Viewscreen. The fun only lasts a few minutes before it peters out. Quoth Joel, “When you take all the fun stuff in the world and put it in one room, it makes you feel kind of empty.”

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots start the TV’s Frank Shopping Network. They only sell things that TV’s Frank would like. On sale today is the V-shaped Diamond Encrusted Mummy Thing, and you can order now by pressing the button that brings the Satellite of Love back down to earth. Frank almost falls for it, but Dr. Forrester catches him and shoves a thighmaster through his head.

Stinger:

The greedy administrator shrieks in horror.

Thoughts:

Toga party!This film may have many of the old horror clichés (e.g. corrupt officials, stupid, dispensable students, and shrill, libidinous young women with no fight or flight reflexes) but it does manage to do one thing right. The mummy can actually move, not just at a slow shamble across the room, but actually chasing people at a running pace. That said, the movie itself doesn’t move well at all. It’s badly lit, and spends way too much time lingering on the mummy’s nocturnal strolls through aged plumbing and drunken frat parties.

I think Susie suffers from the same affliction as Kenny in the original Gamera film. As you may recall, Kenny spends the entire film claiming that “Gamera is good” even as the giant turtle stomps all of Japan into mangled rubble. In this case, even after the mummy has fried a janitor, mortally wounded a coed, and smashed a frat boy into jelly, Susie swears from her hospital bed that he didn’t want to hurt her. I’m guessing she’s been in this kind of relationship before.

My favorite host segment is the depiction of the “Tragic Moment’s figurines,” though the movie trailer cliché version of twenty questions was fun too. All the host segments were good. Even the Bill Mumy discussion is funny if you know who he is (he played Will Robinson in the original Lost in Space series).

The film segments drag a little because of the badly paced and badly lit movie. At one point, Joel says, “Man, if we could see that I bet it’d be really scary.” Tom and Crow freak out every time we see through the mummy’s green-filtered point of view. The heavy breathing in the background makes Tom remark, “Here comes that evil asthmatic.” When everyone holds each other back at the end of the film, Joel says, “We’re all going to join hands now and try to contact the script.” The fun host segments make up a little for the slow film segments, so the episode works well as a whole.