Monday, August 31, 2015

The Killings at Outpost Zeta - 1980

Written as I watch it, high and drunk:

Hm.  This movie's kinda slow.  I don't want to think that this early in, but dialogue, dialogue, bored actors.  What constitutes a good actor versus a bad actor?  If they just learn the lines, if they memorize them word for word.  Think about what they'll be doing as they say those words.  If they allow no part of themselves, their humanity, to drip into the character.  If they don't know what expression they're making, what they're doing with their hands, why their character is mad or glad, or whatever.  These actors suck.  They're horrible.  No thought at all about their characters.  They all come off as tired, bored, maybe drunk.  That's thought one.

It's amazing the work that these cheapass little movies can accrue.  Look at these ridiculous uniforms.  Someone had to make those, those lame skin tight red spandex things and the white detailing and the gloves, etc.  Someone sat down, and sewed that shit together.  That cheapass set, the one that looks like someone's office?  It was an office!  They emptied it of the officey things and hung up space graphics and put some chairs in there...I've been on sets, I know how it goes, and believe me, it's a lot of work.  To see the work that goes into this and the final product....isn't that why we love bad movies?  To see someone's passion turned into this horrible, disgusting, useless, trivial thing?  To feel better about ourselves?  Or is it to put ourselves in their shoes, to wish we were on that sinking boat, being that ignorant captain who says, and wholly believes, the ship's not going down.  This, this is brilliant.  This film matters.

What makes a script "bad"?  I know in my life I've said stupid things, things that sounded forced or didn't make sense, things that contradicted other things I'd said.  If we recorded real dialogues, they would be worse than the worst script imaginable.  And yet we criticize these scripts because the lines are so "unrealistic".  Have you ever played dumb, pretended you didn't know what someone was talking about when you actually did?  Yeah of course you have.  You could never do that in a script.  It's would be one of the worse, and one of the least sensible things to depict in a script.  But it's fucking human, it's ridiculous and inane.  How do we find these faults in ourselves explainable next to a movie wherein the dialogue is dumb?  Yeah of course it's dumb, LIFE is dumb.  YOU are dumb.  What the fuck do you expect?  Yet we do expect better.  We expect, because this is "entertainment" and entertainment must be "better".  How about instead of entertainment, we judge things by realism?  Wow, suddenly a lot has changed right?  This might be the most random review ever.

First real review part 1:  Holy shit I'm not going to make it.  I'm way too tired for this shit.  Get to the killings!  It's 30 minutes in and I just checked to see how much was left.  Ughhhh....  I don't understand what part of the human psyche loves bad movies.  How did evolution not breed that out?  I have probably legitimately spent years of my life researching, reading about, tracking down, and watching bad movies.  How is this the real review?  I want pasta.

Okay, now here I am two days later, having finished the movie after this original day.  So consider now to be the real review.  Killings at Zeta was a tremendously slow film, hell they don't even land on the planet Zeta until like 35 minutes in.  In the meantime it's all talking, people doing things, the supposed "drama" of spaceflight, and little to nothing to keep us entertained.  They land, a few of the crew goes out, finds a skeleton, all while the people who stayed with the ship try and uncover what happened to the last crew that came to the planet.  I realize they might have addressed this in the movie (but I think they didn't):  couldn't they have just communicated on the radio?  Like "Yo, spaceship, there's a fucking skeleton out here, keep your heads up"

A gigantic sort of rock monster thing shows up.  Supposedly, this was the planet's native species.  The first crew found the remains of one and started to grow another, and then the one they grew killed them all and went roaming around the planet.

It's obvious they just want to kill time for most of the movie.  What would've made a really neat 30 minute mini-movie was stretched into 90 minutes, and so most of the film is just filler.  They try to add tension, they try to distract us, but it's just needless fluff.  But that's kind of okay.  What this movie is, is a great film for a rainy day, a day where you're off work and you're dead tired and you maybe smoke a bowl.  It's enjoyable in that way where if you were a kid this movie would make a huge impression on you.  It reminds me of another era, an era where channels had nothing to show on them so they would throw $20,000 at a director and tell them to make a movie, and then to kill the otherwise unoccupied air space they would toss it onto the airwaves at 10:00pm.  All of 180 people would actually tune in to watch it, 30% would watch it all the way through, and 0% would remember the movie 3 weeks later.

But in the world we live in now, one of the strangest and most interesting facts is that these completely forgettable, absolutely temporary films, made for no reason more than to kill time, are all now online, living second lives, being reborn and re-examined.  Is that good?  I don't know.  I don't think anyone involved in this movie would've ever, EVER expected for someone like me to watch it 35 years later.  I sometimes think that nothing trivial, nothing bizarre can be forgotten anymore.  That's the double edged sword of the internet.  Sure you might think, "well that's not bad" and I'm not saying it is, it's just interesting to me that a little movie like this has gone on, it has survived.  How much else will and has?  We have the option to view movies from the 1800's, to listen to original recordings that are lifetimes old, to read manuscripts that are centuries old.  The intention was never for us to see, hear, understand that artwork.  No one thought or knew their creation would be studied years, decades later.  I think it's one of the most interesting things ever.

I find, with movies like this, it wasn't originally meant to last.  This was made for TV.  This was basically just a cheapo once off excursion.  The director, Robert Emmenegger, directed a total of 7 real movies (and some documentaries), all of that in 2 years.  Then, he completely vanished from the film industry all together.  You have to wonder about things like this.  What happened?  Film used to be such a transitional thing to some people it seems.  You don't see directors nowadays randomly appear and disappear in a 2 year time frame.  I'd love to know more about this guy, the movies, anything.

 Probably it's exactly what I said though.  Some fledgling channel, in Missouri or Iowa or some shit - he was like a creative director or a editor or a producer on the channel, they decided one day, we need a sci fi movie (or 7) to throw on late at night.  They threw a dart, it landed on him, they wrote him a check and said "do it".  Much like Larry Buchanan.  But then, the channel folded, the movie vanished into obscurity, and it would be completely forgotten if not for the magic of YouTube.

How do I rate it, though?  Interest level aside it's bad.  It's boring, it's slow, the actors suck, the effects are terrible, the music is weird...It's Z grade.  But that's why I do the fucking site, bro!

Update 3/14/17:  I have since purchased this film.  This has to be a clear contender for my favorite review of mine thus so far.  The Killings at Outpost Zeta, bad as it may be, is memorable, for some reason.  I ended up (foolishly, perhaps) thinking that this movie is awesome.  That is all.

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