Damnaliens DVD Review by Steve Sawicki
Note: order the films from Amazon by following the hyperlinks to buy  junk food for the aliens and keep them away from the dog.)

December is a time of giving. I was reminded of this when, just the other day, I received a package in the mail. I should point out that it met all of the warning signs that the post office has told us about; heavily taped, no return address, crude handwriting, too many stamps. I get mail like this all the time though so I immediately opened it. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a copy of The Phantom Edit. For those of you who don't know, TPE is the work of someone in Hollywood who went back to Lucas' The Phantom Menace and re-edited the film. Gone are most of the Jar-Jar scenes. Gone are the offensive alien languages. Gone are some of the other distractions which turned the film into such a disaster. 

What remains is, simply put, the movie that Lucas should have made. Now, while this is highly illegal and even owning a copy (I no longer have mine having turned it over to the proper authorities) can get you into trouble, it still points out an alarming trend for the future of film.

 Rumor has it that the person who did the edit is Smith the director of Mall Rats and Clerks. Others insist that it is Lucas himself who, realizing the error of his ways, put the fixes together. Other rumors hang around the edge of reason. It's an interesting piece of work. I know this because the copy I got somehow fell into my VCR and it took me almost two hours to finally get it out. During that time it played and played and I ended up seeing most of it. While it's not something you can get someone else for the holidays, there are a number of other viable candidates out there. And, if in doubt, return to previous columns for some sure hits.

Recent Releases    /    Classics    /    SFTV    /     Anime

Recent Releases

What do you get someone who has everything? Why giant dinosaurs, like those in Jurassic Park III. Giant dinosaurs prove that you don't need much of a story to make things interesting. People get lost, people get threatened. Do they survive? Who cares, there's giant dinosaurs wandering all about.

When one seeks presents one should be cautious about what one asks for. Sheena  is something many asked for. This is what they got. See Tanya ride the horse painted as a zebra. See Tanya jiggle. See Tanya run thought the woods. See Tanya bathe. It's only when she speaks that the flaws of this film become obvious. Someone forgot to write a script. Sheena has to rescue things and keep her costume from falling off as she wanders the African plains. This is a great example of the old saying that it is better to give than receive. Perfect for the male throwback on your list.

This time it's the guy who has to go out and rescue the babes from some mad overlord called Overdog. Spacehunter, Adventures in the Forbidden Zone,  is another of those future apocalyptic flicks where blasters and biker armor go hand in hand. Once you get past the huge plot holes this ones actually not half bad. Shot in 3-D. Kids of all ages will enjoy this one and you don't really need the glasses.

Evolution has been called a crude Ghostbusters that's nowhere near as funny. I think of it more as what Ghostbusters would have been had it been made by thirteen year olds. Rectal humor, slime, guts, gore and an almost total disregard for women make this the must avoid pick of the month. Makes a perfect present for someone you hate.

Classics

Dr. Jekyl and Sister Hyde is an interesting premise but it goes pretty much no where.  Does anything in this movie make sense?  Not really.  Interesting choice of cast though and worth watching simply for the idea switch.  Definitely not a present for anyone though.

More dinosaurs on more lost islands.  This time it’s a whole continent actually, The Lost Continent Released in 1951, this movie lacks slick special effects and goes for the ‘glue stuff on a chameleon’ method of dinosaur production.  Cesear Romero tries his best to act his way off the island.  Improbable plot and while the dinosaurs were probably interesting in 1951 they’re simply not today.  Stick with the present when thinking of dinosaur presents.

Lust for a Vampire is the sequel to The Vampire Lovers. This time Carmilla, the original seductress, sets up shop at an all girls school.  A Hammer film made on the studios trip to the dump heap.  Really bad considering what they had to work with.  Only for the vampire completists.  Otherwise it’s just a waste of good blood. 

SFTV

There’s the usual suspects here, Star Trek, X-Files, Avengers, etc.  The only one worth any real mention would be, Babylon 5: The Gathering/In The Beginning.

This is how it all began, at least until MS decides differently in some future effort.  You have to know the characters for this to make sense so only consider this a gift if you have a B5 nut around.

Anime -

Mind tricks are being played and there’s some dancing on the edge of sexual taboo here.  Ceres, Celestial Legend-Progenitor continues the soap opera saga of the future.  No robots which is excellent since they’d just get in the way.  Typical Japanese animation.  Nothing to write home about.  A gift?  Probably not unless you’ve got one of those fanatic completists.

Crest of the Stars--Into the Unknown on the other hand is a space soap opera which takes place in space as well as on planets.  Again, not great animation and the story is only so-so.  Still no robots in sight though which is a plus.  Simply a clone of all the rest of the anime that’s out there.

The giant black robot comes to Earth and the fight continues to the shell of New York where robots continue to fight it out in Getter Robo Armageddon-Ascension.  Finally, robots.  But not many and they don’t really mumble.  Not as interesting as it sounds.

Finally, here they are after hiding out for a couple of months.  Mobile Suit Gundam--Desert of Despair.  The mumblers are back and they’re fighting mad.  More Japanese soap opera.  If only these characters would get in touch with their emotional side a lot of this conflict would never happen in the first place.  Give the gift that keeps on giving since they’ll watch this over and over and over trying to figure out the dialogue.