Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Project Terrible: Carl J. Sukenick's Alien Beasts

Welcome back to Project Terrible, for my last film of this round. Coming to me from Alex Jowski, may I present:

This was absolutely mind-breakingly awful.

Carl J. Sukenick's Alien Beasts is barely a movie, and falls pretty much in the Actium Maximus: War of the Alien Dinosaurs quality range. Awful acting, awful effects, a nigh unintelligible plot (that barely exists at all), horrid and obscenely lengthy action scenes, constant, droning music...the list goes on. Honestly, all we're missing is the snot dinosaur puppets and the awful green-screen effects and it'd be Actium Maximus all over again.

The basic plot is this: there's a team of spies, and they're trying to transport some kind of device that ceases to matter immediately after its introduction. They're opposed by another team of spies (ostensibly Iranian, despite, well...you'll see in the pictures). The whole spy vs. spy thing really doesn't matter, though, as some kind of interdimensional portal opens and an alien beast takes over the enemy spies. Also, apparently, some of the spies on the good side are traitors...or something...

Okay, can I be honest here? I pretty much just played Splinter Cell: Blacklist with this playing off to the side because I could feel my soul leaving my body every time I looked over at it. Despite that, though, I do have a few notes about this cinematic catastrophe.

Absolutely nothing is done correctly here. This film is basically the sort of thing you make when you're 8 years old and playing with your dad's video camera, except that the people making this appear to be in their twenties or thirties. The people making this film managed to make a mess of every single part of moviemaking, with one unfortunate exception: they managed to properly load a tape in their camera. Ah, what a grand world this would be if they'd somehow mucked that up too.

Yeah, I'm getting the sense the filmmakers knew nothing at all about Iran. Or spies, for that matter.
There's not a plot to criticize, really, though what they do have makes absolutely no sense and frequently contradicts itself. I'm not going to waste time trying to dive into that particular Charybdis, so I'll just move on to note some of the spectacularly strange things about this production.

  • After an extraordinarily long still frame title screen, we first see a very lengthy (and very poor) fight scene between person A, person B, and person C (who I think is person B's ally, but I'm not sure). We get no context for any of this, and in fact person B just kind of wanders off sometime in the middle of the fight.
  • There is a wondrously awful narrator for this film. He seems to be just kind of trying to make things up as he goes along, so he repeats lines constantly, gets lost and has to restart lines, pauses awkwardly, and contradicts himself multiple times (sometimes almost immediately). It's simultaneously awful and utterly hilarious to hear what an absolutely train wreck the narration is.
I kid you not, we get several minutes of the camera just staring at this woman's face while the narrator gives a long speech. Twice.
  • There's one point early on where he clumsily gives an entire setup for the next sequence, revealing tons of (meaningless) information, and then decides to repeat the entire thing. It's even worse the second time, by the way.
  • The film is very, very fond of putting up a still frame shot of some kind and just kind of leaving it there for, oh, several minutes. Sometimes you get narration during this. Other times, just music. This happens probably a good 5-7 times in the course of the film.
And then there's the times the narrator reads what's on the screen...repeatedly...for about a minute or more.
  • There's one shot, though, that I don't think is actually a still shot--it's just that the two actors sitting at the table don't do anything. For several minutes.
If I had made an animated GIF of this scene, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference, I promise.
  • No one involved in this film can act, at all, but the spy commander deserves special recognition for repeatedly just kind of dropping his role entirely and starting to give this weird undulating yell...actually, he kind of reminded me of the Ultimate Warrior. Though definitely not in physique.
Wait, are you giving me orders now? Also, two members "is," huh?
  • I'm pretty sure there's also a shot in the film of him and a buddy lighting up some weed, which would explain a lot.
  • We repeatedly get very long, very awful fight scenes with no real context, all shot from a really long distance so you can't much tell who is doing what.
  • "Abe was watching on the security monitor" is repeated approximately 339 jillion times over the course of the movie. What does Abe do about all the things he sees on the security monitor? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. And yet we keep cutting back to him and getting that line constantly.
You watch that monitor, Abe! You're my hero!
  • The film also loves switching that there camera into negative mode! That's the "energy pulse" effect, usually combined with, you guessed it, still frames.
  • At one point I'm fairly sure the filmmaker just filmed a friend, his wife, and his daughter enjoying a day at the park and then stuck that in the film.
  • There's a lengthy pointless nudity sequence midway through the film that is creepy for many reasons. For one thing, I'm pretty sure this was kind of a project made by a bunch of friends for kicks on at least some level, which means that this dude asked a girl he's friends with to basically do a stripper act (ostensibly as an enemy spy controlled by an alien beast), and then get felt up by another of his friends (ostensibly a good guy but acting incredibly creepy...like "call 911, there's a sexual predator attacking a woman"-level creepy). Charming.
  • I think a lot of the dialog is improvised (probably the narration too). Not sure if this is actually a Zen filmmaking project, but it has all the signs of one. In any case, this is another fine example of why you shouldn't improvise your film, especially if you lack any possible acting talent. Some winners, with commentary:
    • "I have a knife and an axe in the pocket of the blue jacket over here if you need them." 
      • Really? Stuffed a whole axe in a jacket pocket, huh? That seems...unlikely.
    • "I knew that they were traitors but I didn't know who was a traitor and I had to wait for the right time to destroy them all."
      • So, wait, you knew they were all traitors? Or only some were traitors? Are you "destroying" all of them because they're all traitors, or are you accepting collateral damage? I'm so confused.
    • "Get the knife and the axe and the blue jacket inside the house, and kill the monster!" 
      • Is the blue jacket really necessary to this plan?
  • As the film wears on, we get a lot of artsy juxtapositions, like repeatedly cutting back to Abe's bored face quickly between parts of a shot of something bad happening. So basically, this film is both utterly inept and incredibly pretentious.
  • The end of the film is a sight to behold. After a very, very boring fight between...you know, I'm not even going to try to make sense of that. Anyway, after the fight, only the spy leader is left, so he has to stop the alien beast. He goes into the house, and we get a glorious stop motion animation section involving a drawing of a ninja, or possibly three ninjas, a shuriken, a...I don't know, a razor or something...a clay model of a monster, a squishy goopy monster hand model, a guy's face staring openmouthed, an animator drawing the ninja, some film glitches, and very likely several other strange things I'm forgetting. Several shots are repeated in their entirety multiple times over the course of the sequence. That serves as your final fight, and the film wraps up with the narrator saying, and I'll write this like he says it: "Carl, you've destroyed the enem...enemy agents and the alien..............interdimensionalmonster. Everything is destroyedyouwon!" 
  • Cut to credits.

Yes, not only do we get a "music recomposed" credit, which I don't think I've ever seen before, it actually comes before the "music composed" credit.
Wow. Just wow. This is unquestionably among the worst films I've ever seen, right up there with Actium Maximus: War of the Alien Dinosaurs, though in some different ways. In a way, it's actually a little worse, because at least Actium Maximus has enough actually going on that you have some things to comment on when talking about it. This...uh, not so much. This was an absolutely worthless piece of trash, and the lone thing I can say positive about it is that it wasn't Baked Baby Jesus, which sounds like it was even worse. That's kind of akin to saying, "Well, sure, it hurts, but at least I only got kicked in the balls 417 times instead of 418." At a certain point, things are so bad that they technically can be worse, but not in any way you're likely to be capable of recognizing.
"Coincidental." How do you screw that up? Also, the events are fictitious, not the characters (more common for this statement), but it's still a similarity to persons that's "incidental?" Oh, whatever. Look, I don't think anyone was going to confuse your movie about suburban spies fighting non-Iranian Iranians possessed by an alien force utilizing the mighty power of stop-motion animation with reality, okay?


  1. Honestly, I thought that I was the only one unlucky enough to have seen this cinematic mess.

    I cannot believe that this was actually sold on video cassette for cash money. If that wasn't enough, there are MORE movies (I say that lightly) by Mr. Sukenick.