Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Species (1995)

Directed by Roger Donaldson
Starring Ben KingsleyMichael Madsen, Forrest WhitakerNatasha Henstridge
Rated R

"Should I leave a message?"
"Yeah. Tell him he's about to copulate with a creature from outer space."

In Species' dramatic opening, the improbably named Dr Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) poisons Michelle Williams - who's inside some glass bubble - with cyanide, hoping to kill her. But instead she busts out and escapes. She hauls ass out of the (presumably) secret medical facility she's in and manages to hop a freight train. And then she kills a hobo.  One of those rare mid 90's hobos. She switches over to a commuter rail train, robs a few people, eats a banana wrong, dreams about a train with teeth, and then starts turning into a tentacled monster.

What sort of madness is this?

Let's go back to the lab to find out! Four people are assembled for reasons unknown and asked to wait for further instructions. This motley crew includes two scientists, Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) and Dr Steve Arden (Alfred Molina); a psychic, Dan Smithson (Forrest Whitaker) and...well, it's never really clear what Preston Lennox (Michael Madsen) does, but he's clearly some sort of bad-ass.

And then Ben Kingsley explains what's up. Aliens! Turns out the aliens sent a DNA sequence to mix aliens with humans.  They used it once, and it grew into Michelle Williams - code name "Sil" -  and now it's running amuck. He called Preston and the gang together to hunt her down, using their unique abilities. And so it begins.

Sil quickly evolves from button-nosed Michelle Williams to gorgeous Natasha Henstridge. Hubba hubba! Lennox and crew inspect the train she went bananas in and find the bloody results of her transformation.
The gang figure she's in LA, so they head out there.  Shouldn't be too hard to find her, since she's wearing a lace Xanadu dress and a fanny pack.

The crew tries to make a new alien without the human DNA and it turns into a scary monster. They have to burn it before it kills them all!

Meanwhile, Natasha Henstridge checks into a motel and then heads out to a nightclub to find a man for mating purposes. She hits on some dude but gets vadge-blocked by another chick. So she kills her. Then she takes her shirt off and picks up another dude.

He takes her home and she shows him her boobs, but then he gets grabby, and things turn out badly for him.
And then she takes a blood shower!

Sil gets hit by a car and gets all smashed up, so some dude in a convertible takes her to the hospital. She manages to heal herself pretty quick though, and saunters out of the hospital on her own. She leaves with the dude and has some cheese and he takes a few Polaroids of her. Seems valid. And then she gets naked again for a hot tub romp with the guy. Hooray!

Madsen figures out what's up, and tries to warn the guy.

He doesn't answer the phone, which proves to be his undoing, because she turns into a monster and tongue-fucks him to death.

Then she runs around naked until she finds somebody to carjack while Ben Kingley fumbles around with his crew.

Then she cuts off her own thumb, as well as one of her kidnap victim's thumbs. Sil's quickly grows back. The other lady, not so much. She gets a bunch of gasoline and puts in her car and then leads Kingsley and co on a car chase through the Hollywood hills, complete with helicopters and a fiery explosion. And that's it. Game over.

Or is it? Of course, it is not. Sil just blew up the kidnapped chick to make it look like it was her. Then she dyed her hair brunette to throw people off. Then she heads back to the hotel and seduces the nerdy scientist. More awesome Henstridge nudity!

So Madsen busts in, but it's too late! She killed him and got out! They have to get her before she gives birth to super monster babies!

So then they all chase Sil (now a Giger-designed mecha-bio slime beastie around in the sewer. She also gives birth to more monsters who look like regular babies, except they eat live rats with prehensile tongues. It's pretty nuts.

And then they go a little berserk with the CGI monsters. You know how these things go. 

While it takes virtually all of its cues from 80's sci-fi flicks - most notably Aliens, The Hidden, and Lifeforce - Species nonetheless possesses a singular charm, one borne from A-list actors twitching, gesticulating, and vamping through their scenes like a delusional high school drama club, and from the perfectly adolescent thrill of seeing a truly breathtaking beauty get naked every ten or so minutes. Throw in a ridiculous looking monster, gobs of slime and gore, eye-rolling dialogue, gratuitous fanny packs, and a snot-covered toddler catching rats with a prehensile tongue, and you've got a minor cult-classic on your hands, one that stands up to repeated watching, as each viewing reveals new layers of nonsense and overacting.


Although Henstridge only returned for one, Species is survived by at least 3 sequels. I haven't seen any of them, but I'm assuming, based on the original, that they are all fuckin' awesome.

- Ken McIntyre

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