There’s a heavy bleed-over between sci-fi and horror fandom, and this makes perfect sense – the two genres have a lot in common. As theorist Vivian Sobchack points out in her book Screening the Space, the sci-fi film can, at least superficially, be seen as a “technologized” version of the horror film. For example, mummies and zombies can be replaced by robots, Dracula’s mind control can be replaced by that of an alien’s, and Frankenstein’s Monster could be easily replaced by a machine. Of course, there are more nuances that play into each genre that further differentiate them, which Sobchack also explains in her book, but it does illustrate how much they have in common.
The people behind the two films in this entry embrace the creepy cross-over between science fiction and horror and, as always, they don’t need an astronomical budget.
BLOOD: Lots of spewing red stuff with geysers of green, too
BUDGET: $50,000, mostly going to special effects and building sets
Along with a high volume of moustachioed men, ’80s horror boasted a glut of great, goofy, gaudy gross-out films such as Street Trash, Class of Nuke ‘Em High and Bad Taste, that seem to have fallen out of style. Mold! recaptures fond memories of these sick, sludgy shockers, and throws in a handful of moustaches for good measure.
Set in 1984 during the height of Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs, the film concerns a secret government project to develop a hyper-growing mold meant to obliterate coca fields that supply crack and cocaine to the US. When government and military officials visit the science lab to check on the project’s progress, the mold breaks out from its controlled environment and infects the flesh, brain, guts, etc., of the exposed individuals. The reaction to the mold once it touches human flesh is hardly based in scientific fact, but makes for a variety of gruesome gore gags: guts burst, eyes melt, goo spews, and heads even pop off. Those stuck inside the lab (mostly men with moustaches) are forced to fight off the mold as long as possible while avoiding exposure, and hopefully find a way to escape without letting the spores outside.
What brings this gooey gore-fest to the next level is the colourful cast of characters. These include the cocaine-fueled Congressman Blankenship (James Murphy), the straight-laced, tough-as-nails Colonel (Edward X. Young) and the chaste, Lisa Simpson-esque Dr. Julia Young (Ardis Campbell), who all commit to their stereotypical and zany roles without any winks to the audience.
An accomplished bit of barf-inducing filmmaking, Mold! holds its own among its disgust-ploitation predecessors and, being the feature debut of co-writer/director Neil Meschino, points toward what will hopefully be a revolting and riotous moviemaking career.
BLOOD: a slew of kooky and chaotic CGI slaughter
BUDGET: about $125,000
Dedicated to the frugal ’60s flicks of Roger Corman, this sci-fi schlock-fest features a trio of planet-destroying aliens who resemble young women in school-girl themed stripper outfits. Led by The Father (Ron Jeremy), the gals land in smalltown, USA, armed solely with laser guns (that either zap their target into a dissipating orange substance or an explosion of blood) and the intent to destroy and conquer. Of course it’s up to a motley crew, featuring a football star, his girlfriend, a young deputy and the grizzled, over-the-hill sheriff, to save the town from the school-girl threat, and the world from alien oppression.
Cheesy to say the least, Killer School Girls From Outer Space has laughable CGI effects, over-the-top acting and a ludicrous storyline, but thanks to some deft directing, it’s one hell of a time.
The second disc in this DVD set contains a series of tutorial videos on Adobe After Effects, lighting, colour correction, raising money and getting known actors in your film – all of which use Killer School Girls as an example. There’s even a video featuring Jeremy on how to make a living as an actor, which is surprisingly insightful and informative. Producer (and father of the director) Bob Shumake does the hosting duties and has a jovial, authoritative and very Texan way about him, that adds a bit of character to what would otherwise be a series of stale how-tos.
Killer School Girls From Outer Space delivers on cheap thrills with its feature and educates you with its extras, making it a boon for budding filmmakers and a fun flick for trash fiends.
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