EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL | Offscreen
This evening’s two fillms were made on budgets bigger than those of the average B-movie, but were nevertheless conceived in the spirit of the genre.
Explorers stands out amid a flurry of films inspired by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. At first sight, it could pass as a typical Amblin production of the 1980s, with friendly aliens and geeky, tech-crazy kids as heroes. But this is a film by Joe Dante, best known for dropping a wrench in tothe Hollywood system with Gremlins, and an ardent fan of old science fiction B-movies. The end result is surprising: partly because of the chaotic post-production that made for slightly gauche editing, but mainly because the director was keen to counterpoint the enchanted tone of the film’s first act with an audacious, game-changing reversal in the finale.
Body Snatchers is the third adaptation of Jack Finney's novel, and a worthy successor to the earlier masterpieces by Don Siegel and Philip Kaufman. After the anti-communism of the 1950s and the paranoia of the 1970s, the 1990s version points its finger at the dehumanisation of a society ruled by the military-industrial complex. This sincere and visually stunning remake by Abel Ferrara is the director’s first venture into the major studio system.
River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke make their film debuts as child actors in this sci-fi adventure about geeky teens who build a spaceship and find, much to their surprise, that it works. And then they encounter space aliens! A delightful sci-fi yarn with a streak of subversive humour.
On a military base in Alabama, a teenager finds that humans are being taken over by aliens as they sleep. Abel Ferrara’s remake of a sci-fi classic poses the question: what if the root of all evil was not communism, but the military-industrial complex put in place to combat it?