There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun.
After the torture that was Wishmaster, I figured it would be nice to go back to a film I know I loved and had to have aged well. So, bringing in one that blends two of my favorite genres, Horror and SciFi, this is Species.
Today we discuss Species.
Today’s Key Movie:
A lab creates a genetically developed alien-human hybrid only for her to escape so that she can begin her mission to take over the Earth with her progeny.
Why this movie?
Having been a fan of the Alien franchise, when I heard that HR Giger, the designer of the original Xenomorph, had been tapped to design a alien for a new film, I was stoked. You have to understand that in the 80’s and 90’s Giger’s designs were legendary. This artist blended dark alien themes with very highly sexualized concepts to create some intriguing and often rather disturbing visuals. From his work in Alien to the few pieces that appeared in David Lynch’s Dune, Giger was all but a house hold name in geek culture. This coupled with the film having a plot involving alien DNA being transmitted to Earth via the SETI program, the Giger fan combined with the extra terrestrial fan was elated.
I don’t believe I saw this one in theaters but it is entirely possible seeing that it had a pretty wide theatrical release. I do remember, however, renting this from a video store. My dad was as much of a scifi fiend as I was so of course this one found it’s way into our home, and eventually, into my collection. For a teen in the 90’s this had all the right elements to get me to want to see this film but what I saw turned out to be much more than a typical 90’s B-horror/scifi film, in fact it turned out to be a very solid scifi action-horror film that remains a favorite even now. Incredibly, this movie is packed with some extremely well known actors including Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Williams and Marg Helgenberger making it really stand out among the 90’s films from the same period.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
From the beginning of the film you find yourself sympathizing with the alien known as Sil who is played by Michelle Williams early in the film. Williams portrays a lost and confused young girl who clearly doesn’t understand why she has been marked for death by the very scientists who made her. Now on the run she soon transforms into her adult form portrayed by Henstridge. In this form she has one motive and one motive only, to mate and propagate her species on Earth.
It is there that viewers find themselves torn and filmmakers Roger Donaldson and Dennis Feldman really manage to make this a movie that forces you to think. Sure Sil is a killer alien who’s only desire is to mate and take over the Earth but she is also an abused person made by a lab only to be quickly discarded the moment she has clearly become a sentient and intelligent being. To further this trauma, the lead scientist (Kingsley) is clearly torn by this decision knowing the danger of Sil but also feeling responsible for her life. He soon calls in a group of specialists led by a government Agent Preston Lennox (Maden) that also includes Whitaker, Molina and Helgenberger. This team of specialists track down the evolving Sil hoping to stop her before she is able to breed, an event that could mean the end of human civilization as we know it.
That is where the fun scifi part comes in. The cool question this film asks is, what if Aliens send us a signal and it is not a benevolent one. What if aliens send us a way to inadvertently make them a weapon that will be used against us in a way we could never imagine? Imagine a species that spreads itself across the universe using other beings DNA, imagine you had no clue that you were making the very thing that could destroy you. Pretty interesting huh?
To me, this is one of the most underappreciated films of it’s time. For some reason it was vastly ignored after a while despite doing well in the box office and has since fallen into obscure semi-cult status. Sure, it can be a little overly sexual at moments…I mean the Alien itself is rather…revealing but the story is one that is by far one of the best. With a solid A-list cast, tremendous budget for effects and a really cool scifi story, this is one I highly recommend to anyone who digs this genre. It is solid through and through.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is one that is pretty available via streaming even showing up on Hulu from time to time. If you want a physical copy Shout factory has a pretty solid bluray copy for around $25 that is totally worth your time.
This film spawned a few sequels that vary between pretty good to downright terrible. You can be sure that, if I can find them all, we will be sure to feature each one in time. Only first we are going to revisit a certain hellscape…
Late To The Game 5/28/2021
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
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