Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mill Creek Invasion: EXTRATERRESTRIAL VISITORS (Los Nuevos Extraterrestres, 1983)

Some of you will know J. Piquer Simon's E.T. knockoff by another name. Apparently someone in this country thought it might sell better if people thought it was a knockoff of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and as Pod People the film took its lumps from the robots on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I guess some genius thought that hatching from an egg made an alien a pod person, but that's exploitation. The late Simon is perhaps best known as the director of Pieces, the object of a growing film cult, and in keeping with the tone of that film he seems to have wanted to make something closer to a horror film. His studio had different ideas, however, and the result splits the difference like a tight pair of pants.

Los Nuevos Extraterrestres is set in, but not shot in, the United States, where poachers are on the prowl, an aspiring pop band records a new song called "Burning Rubber Tires," and an alien craft with a precious cargo of eggs crashes in the wilderness. One of the poachers discovers the eggs and, confronted with an unprecedented find, promptly sets about smashing as many as he can.
'Eggy weggs! I likes to smash'em!"

We can't blame his behavior on Aliens because that film is three years in the future. Maybe he thought they were pods and just panicked. In any event, he leaves one egg untouched. Meanwhile, a confused, angry adult alien wanders through the woods. It has a death touch. When it kills you, it leaves a glowing star map on your forehead -- it's way of saying "Kilroy was here," perhaps.

The one surviving egg is discovered by a precocious young naturalist who takes it home with him and takes it to bed with him to make it hatch more quickly. The new life starts out sort of looking like the famous "inside-out bear" of Prophecy in embryo before growing into a kind of Cave Alf, a shaggy little creature with a pinhead and a trunk through which he can suck up bowls of milk and Planter's Peanuts.
A cautionary tale of what happens when you eat too much of the wrong stuff.

It soon grows "big and strong," albeit not very big, on a diet of American breakfast cereals and junk food and develops strange magical powers as the little boy tries to teach it how to play. "Trumpy," as the boy calls it, can assemble jigsaw puzzles telekinetically. He can lift a rocking chair with his mind and drop it back on the floor. He can make the boy's closet full of shirts parade through the room. He rigs up the boy's telescope so he can see African animal scenes instead of space and stars. Like many cheap films about aliens, there's no rhyme or reason to what Trumpy can do. The only limit to his powers is the budget, and that's pretty tight.
Behold, the magical parade of shirts!

In the meantime, the adult Cave Alf stumbles upon the poachers, who are remarkably undisturbed by their new visitor.

A. What on earth is that?...Looks like a cross between a pig and a bear.
B. By God, it's ugly!...Be careful, it could be dangerous.
A. Ahh, it may be ugly, but it appears harmless enough. Sure is a strange bird. Dja think it could be worth something?
B. Ahh, could be. Keep'im busy.
A. (to alien) Hey, uh, enjoying yourself? Takin' a little night stroll? Trouble is, the weather's a little bit rough for that, isn't it?...
B. Go on talking!

Somehow the Cave Alf survives the poachers' pick-up lines and shrugs off the net they cast over her, this being, we are to understand, the mother of the martyred eggs and the surviving Trumpy. Before it can be united with its only child, it'll bump off some members of that awful pop band, which has come camping to ease the tensions of recording their surefire hit about the burning tires. Some slight effort has been made to make these people into personalities, but it's all for naught, since they're killer-fodder as surely as if they had made camp at Crystal Lake. Regrettably, the results aren't nearly as bloody as they might have been at the lake. Simon's producers apparently thought that if they went easy on the gore, the mass murder perpetrated by the Cave Alf wouldn't really compromise the eetean flavor they were aiming at in the Trumpy scenes.  Inevitably, however, the storylines must converge. Will the innocent Trumpy be mistaken for its malevolent parent and blown away by the surviving bandmembers and civilians? Will little Tommy be able to convince the Cave Alf that not all humans deserve the fatal star tattoo? Will he convince his family not to kill Trumpy? And will no one rid us of that insufferable brat?...

Knowing about the compromised production of this picture really strips Extraterrestrial Visitors of what little naive charm it had. It lacks the wild, stupid edge apparent even in clips from a Turkish E.T. knockoff called Badi. Instead, it's merely stupid in the pathetic manner of films made for children. It isn't a film to watch alone. Better to see it with friends so you can root together for the boy to die, come up with a better name for Trumpy, or try to figure out the lyrics to "Burning Rubber Tires." If there was ever a film that deserved nothing better than to be MSTied, it was this one.

I'll send you home with a little music courtesy of YouTube poster DLAbaoaqu:


Anonymous said...

I don't know what country this is, but if the guy who penned/sings "Burning Rubber Tires" is the best (as the "I'm a Virgin" guy indicates) it is pretty p*ss poor in talent.

Alex DeLarge said...

This is one of my favorite MST3K episodes. Their jokes and skits make the flick watchable.