Friday, February 18, 2011

Blockbuster Rip-Off Cinema: Plaguers

Alien- everyone loves to rip you off.  The only film that seems to get ripped off nearly as much as you is Aliens!  From Creature to Unknown Origin, the rip-offs just keep on coming!  The scary thing is: this trend never stopped.  While those films mentioned before were made in the either the '80s or '90s, there is at least one from just three years ago!  The 2008 film Plaguers was released Direct-to-DVD and features a plot synopsis that shouldn't disappoint.  Sexy, space pirates disguise themselves as sexy, space nurses to take over a ship, only to have a supernatural evil corrupt the place.  All of the zombies/aliens here are caused by a giant, green Gobstopper!  My God, it's terror will be Everlasting!  The film also features 'Charles Manson' too- bonus!  Will it live up to it's premise in spite of being a rip-off?  Since this is a 2008 film that's widely-availabe, I will warn you of yonder SPOILERS ahead.  Put on your face mask and turtleneck, because we're going to meet some...
We begin the story in media res with a woman running from mutated people.  Why?  You'll see.  The movie proper begins with people bickering in space.  It seems that a woman has taken over as the ship's commander and there is some friction.  Gee, it was silly of me to expect this story to have been told from the beginning, wasn't it?  Anyhow, the crew from Critters 4: They're Invading Your Space is flying along until they hear a distress signal from a floating ship.  This always turns out great- at least, it does if you like Xenomorphs.  They go onto the ship- or rather, two of them do- and wander into a couple jump scares.  Eventually, they find a bevvy of sexy, space nurses.  So you didn't lie to me, title!  They take the women on board, most of them finding one that wants to be friendly.  Unfortunately, their hands-on approach to spaceship travel doesn't last long as one of them stabs the pilot through the throat and the rest knock out the crew.  The only one to resist the female advances is the Science Tech played by Steve Railsback.  You couldn't resist the jungle women from King of the Lost World, but you fall for these gals?  The ladies reveal their evil plan.  You see, they are space pirates who plan to sell the ship and everything on-board.  Unfortunately, one of them has a problem subduing one of the crew members in a later struggle and hits her head on a weird, glowing gem in the Cargo Bay.  This transforms her into...
...A space zombie!  There are no aliens here, just space zombies!  No, they're not Astro-Zombies, nor are they the titular Blood Monsters.  The man manages to kill the thing and get away...or so he thinks.  These things refuse to die.  Damn their 'merch powers!'  Our heroes manage to overpower the space nurses/pirates during the ensuing chaos, but not before they lose two of their own to the mysterious plague/infection.  It's about this time we get the reveal that's not even a surprise, since this is an Alien rip-off: Steve Railsback's character is a robot.  I guess when you can't get Lance Henriksen, he'll do!  He shows off his robotic strength by knocking a chunk off of the head of a lady 'zombie.'  Don't worry- it just kind of grows back without anyone acknowledging it.  The remaining pirates and crew member hide and try to think up a plan.  As they do this, we get more zombies.  Yeah, these guys are not the best survivalists, it seems.  They also explain the whole 'new commander' storyline in some exposition dialog.  Basically, they picked up the weird, green thing on some planet, but it's box crushed the old Commander aka the new Commander's fiancee.  How sad- get back to the zombies!
Not surprisingly, the pirates are not the most trustworthy bunch.  The craziest one convinces the guy who originally caused the infestation to split off from the group and look for an escape pod.  Yeah, he dies a bloody death, as does the woman.  The cast is whittled down until we have just the Commander, the lead pirate and Railsback.  He holds the zombies off for a bit, but gets controlled by the green orb thing.  He escapes its power, however, long enough to get ripped apart by the zombies during an heroic act.  The pirate- shockingly- betrays the Commander and goes for a pod, but gets killed.  The wounded lady manages to escape to the Docking Bay where she finds that her fiancee's preserved corpse is missing.  In it's place- a super-mutant.  Yeah, I guess it mutates dead people different or some shit.  She gets away, sending herself out in his former-coffin (ew) towards Earth...only to find the Orb inside.  Ruh roh.
There's not enough fake blood here to save this 'sinking ship.'  The plot of this movie is part Alien and part Day of the Dead.  Of course, it's not as good as either of them.  They frame the story in a confusing manner at times, deciding to reveal certain plot points later than you would think.  Why do they wait nearly an hour to explain what the magical orb is or where it's from?  It's kind of important to the plot, guys!  The acting is not great here either, although Railsback does his usual good job.  He doesn't have a lot to work with here, but he tries to make the most of it.  Everybody else....I don't care about.  The film's real appeal is going to be from the gore.  While it doesn't show in my screen captures, there's a lot of it.  Some of it looks good, while some of it looks cheap as hell.  If this is enough to draw you into a film, it should work.  For everybody else, it's just a lot of wasted potential.  Zombies in space- neat.  The way zombies in space are handled here- not so neat.  Plus, it just reminds me that nobody has made a real werewolf or mummy in space film.  Someone really needs to get on that.  This movie is alright, but nothing more.  I was hoping for something more, I guess.
Next up, I cover Troll 3...again.  This time, it features 'Ator,' a two-headed robot and Godzilla.  Stay tuned...

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