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  Extra-Terrestrial Visitors Not Exactly The Spanish Spielberg
Year: 1983
Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Stars: Ian Sera, Nina Ferrer, Susanna Bequer, Sara Palmer, Óscar Martín, Laura Albert, Emilio Linder, Concha Cuetos, Manuel Pereiro, Frank Braña, Guillermo Antón, Frank Sussman, Gary Richardson, Hugo Astar, Luis M. Martín, Marcos Treviño
Genre: Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Deep in the forest, a trio of poachers are setting up their operation to make money killing and selling deer, but as they establish their plans for the next day or two, there is a loud noise and one of them sees an explosion. It has been caused by an asteroid hurtling to earth, yet the man's companions brush the incident off, reasoning they have more important things to concern them, which will soon turn out to be a fateful point of view. They continue their illegal activities, but one stumbles across the rubble of the celestial object and wanders, intrigued, into a cave where he finds some eggs; not waiting to find out where they came from, on seeing one hatch he takes his rifle and smashes them up - which is when the mother arrives.

Juan Piquer Simón already had a reputation of a generator of cheapo tat in genre circles when he made Extra-Terrestrial Visitors, which was to be one of his projects, shall we say, "inspired" by some other works, in this case part of the craze of space monster flicks spawned by Ridley Scott's Alien at the end of the nineteen-seventies. To save money, the location was chosen as a patch of woods which would be given a smoke machine overload to add some atmosphere, much easier than building new sets, and he was on course to create one of his gore-drenched horrors, but then unforeseen circumstances intervened. That being a new global hit to take the outer space visitor as a theme.

Yes, if it had not been for a certain Steven Spielberg, this effort would have been a straightforward monster runaround, or as straightforward as any Simón movie could be anyway, but it was not to be because the producers saw the huge profits his E.T. the Extraterrestrial made and wanted a slice of that. This meant the script was retooled to make the alien more friendly, as he got to know the little boy who saved his egg and nurtured him to something approaching maturity, but the director was reluctant to let go of his old ways, and managed to ensure the creature's mother was going on a rampage while all this was occurring, though not a gory rampage, that would scare off the potential family audience.

Naturally, well, unnaturally, the results were a mess pulling in two different directions that never reconciled themselves, meaning no child or adult in their right mind would settle down with this when it tried to serve two masters and satisfied neither. However, there was one group of film buffs who would be attracted, and they were part of the cult of Simón, the bad movie fans, many of whom were introduced to this not under the title Extra-Terrestrial Visitors, nor Los nuevos extraterrestres as it was originally, but as Pod People, which was the name it ran under (with cuts) on movie-lampooning TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Because of that, it has now been lowered to the dubious pantheon of worst movies ever, and looks unlikely to shift that reputation for decades to come, but was it really justified?

There was always a sense of shooting fish in a barrel with MST3K, and there were plenty of fish to take aim at here, an ideal candidate since it offered a fair amount of laughs on its own, none of them intentional: the actual jokes were strange to say the least. From the group of pop stars we see rehearsing in the studio at the beginning (one camp assistant sports a T-shirt emblazoned with "I’m a Virgin" just in case you thought Simón was selling out) who then drive off to the woods for a holiday, but probably monster fodder, to the shenanigans with the little kid Tommy which are ostensibly innocuous but in effect are fairly creepy, though not in a horror movie fashion as Trumpy the alien tries to become President of the United States - no, not really, he uses his psychic powers a lot to amuse his new pal in ridiculous scenes, the ever-present question "what were they thinking?" will be at the forefront of every viewer's mind. Not least because of the amount of swearing, violence and an ending that doesn't have the decency to wrap the plot up for the hardy few who wanted to find out what happened to the little elephant-faced bastard. Music by Michael Demer and Librado Pastor.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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