Last updated: June 12. 2014 1:29PM - 285 Views
Tom Doty Times Columnist

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An Italian film crew tries real hard to rip off “Alien” in this low-tech “spaghetti sci-fi” flick from the 1980s.

Italy has always been adept at cranking out genre flicks with half the money of American movies, but enough visual flair to cover up most of the budgetary holes. Unfortunately, a slew of big budget flicks saw huge production values grafted onto cheesy plots. Films like “Jaws” and “Star Wars” made it impossible for low-budget film crews to get a piece of the pie. It was a cultural wave that would generate fine flicks like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but there was a price to pay. The day of the drive-in was over, and direct-to-video became the new grindhouse.

Italy tried hard to catch up. First, there was a wave of “Killer Shark” cinema, but the best one, Enzo Caselarri’s “The Last Shark,” skewed so closely to Steven Spielberg’s film that Hollywood blocked it from being released in the United States. Then came the double punch of “Star Wars” and “Alien.” Now the war was on, and Italian cinema passed the gauntlet to Luigi Cozzi.

He was not up to the task of emulating these box office juggernauts and the spaghetti sci-fi flick was D.O.A. Cozzi was a talented filmmaker. He had made his mark with the unsettling horror classic “The Killer Must Strike Again.” Unfortunately, his grand ideas could not be matched by meager budgets, and films like “Hercules” and “The Adventures of Stella Star” were box office duds (but a lot of fun of if you’re genre junkie).

That said, this is a fun one, especially if your standards are dampened by alcohol or lack of sleep. It all starts with a ghost ship, carrying exotic coffee, drifting into Manhattan (an eerie visual that recalls “Zombie”). The Coast Guard climbs aboard to investigate and is immediately set upon by pulsating egg-shaped objects which explode and kill them (you got me).

A specialist named Stella, from Division 5 (you really got me), is called in for her expertise with UFOs. She quickly hatches a theory that these eggs were bound for the sewer system (to fight the alligators?) which would act as an incubator for them. Next, she leads a team to a Bronx warehouse, where more eggs are discovered, as well as six armed guards who explode before they can be questioned.

Her next move is to question an ex-astronaut who got drummed out of NASA. He is bitter and boozing now but still believes there is life on Mars. She feels he would be the perfect companion to accompany her to the Caribbean to investigate the coffee company. There, they find out that the coffee people have been infiltrated by ETs. The whole shebang is secretly run by a large one-eyed space beast they call “Cyclops.” It all leads to an abrupt finale that is rife with exploding eggs and blown minds.

This is a goofy time-waster that has plenty of pitiful dialogue and some of the lamest alien make-up you are likely to see. It may not be very good for you, but it sure beats hitting your head with a rock, and it is dirt cheap as a solo or part of several sci-fi collections.

1980, unrated.

Best Lines

“Whatever killed these men, it wasn’t coffee.”

“It is my master who creates the eggs.”

“Help. Let me out. There is an egg.”

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