Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Grindhouse Xenomorph

What can I say about the b-movie that is Dead Space? This isn’t an adaptation of the video game since it came out in 1990 or 1991 and it isn’t the movie the video game is based off of. This Roger Corman produced flick follows a freelance “space detective,” as I call him, who answers a distress signal from a nearby research facility on an unknown planet. When he gets there he finds out that the distress call was a false alarm, but was it? You see, this facility has been messing around with genetics in order to genetically create a virus that could combat another life-threatening virus that has plagued Earth. When the virus begins to manifest itself into a living creature, the resulting “baby” becomes loose in the facility. Using humans as its main source of food, the freelance detective and his trusty robot sidekick must find a way to stop it before it kills everybody in the station.

The only thing I can comment is at first I thought this was going to be a semi-humorous buddy cop movie with an alien twist but it turns out that the entire movie is a ripoff of Aliens. I wasn’t pissed about this because it went in a somewhat different direction but the resemblence between the virus and its lifecycle is uncanny to that of the Xenomorphes. In its final form, the virus has manifested itself in to a full-blown monster with giant mandibles, elongated head and body that seems to have its exoskeleton on the outside. I think what’s a dead give away aside from the giant pincers is that its head isn’t just elongated, but it’s flattened and looks like a giant headpiece, which looks just like the Queen in Aliens. Even more so, the virus forms itself into an egg, which was locked into an incubator. When one of the scientists gets too close to it the egg slowly opens up and shoots parasitic slug into her nose… just like Alien. Then, when its finished its larval form, the virus explodes out of the host’s chest and scurries away.

Does any of this mean anything in the long run? Probably not but I like ranting about these things. I quite enjoyed Dead Space if only because it reeks of b-movie goodness. It wasn’t as bad as its grindhouse counterpart The Terror Within but it was nice to see the b-movie equivalent of the Xenomorphs. In fact, many people have cited Alien for being a big budget 50’s b-movie, so I think it feels appropriate to view what it would have been like if it had a tighter budget. Still, when the movie got done I felt like watching Alien or Aliens. For being a film that was made in the 90’s, the practical effects were pretty damn good even though they weren’t as slimy or gory. I find it funny, though, that the poster for the film is set in space but not once during the entire film do any battles take place in space. There is only 10 minutes of total screen time that takes place in space, so it’s Alien in the Aliens 3 setting.

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