Last month, From the Projection Room revealed a new feature, in which Russ delves into his Criterion collection and brings us some reviews of truly fantastic films from around the world. While I love Mulholland Drive, Hunger, and Rashomon as much as the next cinephile, there are those amongst us, like myself, who grew up more on 976-Evil, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, and Fraternity Vacation. So with that in mind, allow me to present another new feature, the yin to Criterion’s yang if you will, for everyone who spent a good chunk of Friday and Saturday night watching USA Up All Night.
What I love most about b (or c… or z) movies is not only that they’re just flat-out ridiculous fun, but they can serve as a great example of just grabbing a camera, some friends, and shooting a damn movie. No huge budget, not-so-special effects, no acting classes… just write a story (or not, who cares) and make it happen! Is it going to be good? I mean, no, but who’s counting? Case in point, the first movie that I’m going to tackle – The Revenge of the Teenage Vixens from Outer Space. By all appearances, this movie looks to have had a budget of about $15, maybe $20 if they splurged for lunch from Wendy’s one day. The vast majority of the cast have no other acting credits to their names, and I’m sure most of them would prefer to not have this one tied to them.
The opening scene gives you a pretty decent idea of what you’re about to witness, as what appears to be a slightly melted brooch is falling from space. You know that it’s falling because they loop the same shot 4 times of it descending down the screen in front a pinhole star background. The brooch/spaceship lands in the woods outside of Mayfield, your typical 1980s Anytown USA. Cut to high school kids doing typical high school stuff – hanging out on/around their cars, making eyes at each other, and talking about the opposite sex. Our main character, Karla, rolls up on her bicycle, and promptly runs into a girl who is mad at her because she thinks that Karla told everyone about her abortion. Completely unnecessary moment #1. Oh, and Karla’s brother John is a DJ on the local AM radio station (apparently the only DJ), which we know thanks to everyone Karla runs into telling her that her brother needs her to unlock the door to their house. Where there are no parents. Cue Danny, who I guess is the most popular guy in school or something, telling Karla that if her door is unlocked, he’s going to come by later. What’s up, creep? Just as Karla is making her exit, everyone’s attention is drawn to a random cloud of pinkish colored smoke, and the silhouette of 4 girls. Sure, you can’t see any defining features at all, but it’s pretty clear that every boy in the crowd wants to bang these 4 mysterious shapes that just showed up.
Next shot, Karla is at home getting ready for bed (yeah, no segue at all) when she hears a noise downstairs. Figuring that it’s cool guy/potential home invader Danny, she heads downstairs, only to see a group of sexily dressed (I’m using that very loosely) girls standing in her living room. Don’t call the cops or anything, just say “What do you think you’re doing?”, Karla. One of the girls explains that they’re new in town, and a teen magazine addressed to Karla had been delivered to them, so they wanted to bring it back. At 2am. Nothing unusual about that at all. I guess Karla didn’t seem to think so, since she gives the girls time to explain that they’ll be starting at her school on Monday, and they finally leave just as her brother is getting home from the radio station that is probably freaking out in his absence.
Once we’re back at the school, biology class to be precise, we find out that Karla’s teacher is trying to set her up with his son, because, again, nothing unusual about that. In walks one of the new girls, who takes a seat right next to her new pal Karla. New girl (Zody? Zodie? She’s just credited as “The Vixen”, despite there being 4 of them) has her eyes on the teacher, Mr. Morelli, which of course presents an issue for the other girl (Stephanie, aka the conniving bitch of the movie) in class that’s trying to bang the teacher. This isn’t just speculation, mind you. After class, Stephanie waltzes into Mr. Morelli’s office, flashes him some leg, and plants a kiss on him. She’s subtle like that. Unsurprisingly, he tells her that she’s conniving and to get out of his office, but oh, there’s weird Zody standing there in the doorway to the classroom like a creep.
So, even without seeing the movie, you can probably guess at this point that all of the guys are going nuts over the new girls in school, especially the ones with girlfriends. Hell, in the stereotypical locker room scene (every 80s movie about high school has to have one, right?), one of the boys says his girlfriend won’t be mad if she never finds out. Also, while we’re on the topic of this locker room scene, all of the guys look to be about high school age, let’s say 15 or so, then there’s Pete with his Ron Jeremy mustache, looking like he’s about 43. I know this movie took 4 years to complete (how?! It looks like it was shot in 3 days!), but damn. As the boys are just hanging around in their towels, Danny finds out that Paul, the biology teacher’s son, is going out with Karla on Friday night, and boy is he pissed. This is where we can tell that Danny is the cool jock in school, because he’s holding a volleyball. In strolls another vixen, claiming she thought this was “the other locker room”. She shoot Danny a wink, and suddenly no shits are given about Karla.
Let me disrupt the continuity of this review to give you a little back story about these intergalactic trollops. They come from a planet where there are no men, so, it’s pretty clear what they’re after here on Earth. I’d say they seduce their way through the school, but that would insinuate that there was some effort on their part. With absolutely zero effort, they evidently bang every boy in school (all 9 of them) except for Paul. Yep, even Paul’s dad hooks up with one of them – Zody, of course. During their date, Paul and Karla discuss the new girls, how weird they are, and that his dad slept with one of them. As you might expect, the conversation flows right into the suggestion that maybe they’re from outer space. Logical. Paul ends up sitting down to talk it over with his dad, who insists that he needs to find Zody. Despite Paul thinking that it’s simply because his dad is a fucking creep trying to bang an underage girl again (rightfully so), it turns out that these girls really ARE from outer space! But wait! There’s more! Sixteen years ago, there were other vixens from outer space, including (drum roll) Paul’s mother! That’s right, Paul is half alien, and his father needs to go find the alien that he loved and knocked up.
Upon meeting her at the radio station, Paul lays all of this info on Karla, who isn’t the least bit surprised. Like, not even a little. In fact, she asks Paul if he has any “special powers”, or if he really looks exactly like a human. To try and find out if he does, she starts trying to pull his pants off, real casual like. By just grabbing straight for them and saying “Off with your pants”. Eager to prove that he has special powers, Paul instead manages to untie the straps of Karla’s shirt with his brain, exclaiming “I did that! I just pictured it and it happened!” I can’t see that causing any problems. After making out in her underwear in the parking lot of her brother’s radio station, Karla and Paul are off to track down Mr. Morelli, but apparently they get sidetracked and end up getting it on in John’s car. Which Paul I guess turned upside down with his brain, but can’t get it flipped back over. Pathetic, Paul.
Mr. Morelli is successful in tracking down his ex-lover, right where Karla thought that the vixens would be – the old school. Don’t worry, we know that it’s the old school, because there’s a road sign right in front of it, pointing to it, that says “Old School”. Glad they cleared that up. Turns out what initially set these girls loins on fire was Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show. While the people of Earth only saw his upper half, evidently their planet somehow only saw the lower half. Karla’s teen magazine being delivered to them set them off once again. Look, I know that you’re wondering how in the hell a magazine was accidentally delivered to another fucking planet, because I was, too. They don’t even attempt to explain this, so stop thinking about it. Stop. Now. Karla convinces Paul to go talk to his mom, which leads only to the kind of disappointment one could imagine would come from meeting your alien mother for the first time. As he sulks off, he leaves behind his necklace, which is the same medallion on his mother’s staff. Also it’s the same as their spaceship. Whatever, props are hard to come by when you’re working with a $15 budget.
Remember Stephanie, the conniving bitch of the movie? Well, she’s so pissed about the vixens that she’s telling everyone what they’re up to. Girlfriends are pissed, Mr. Morelli is suspended and his teaching career is almost over, and for some reason Danny being pissed about Paul and Karla somehow ties into this. Now really, the girlfriends should know that their boyfriends were cheating on them (Pete, the one with the mustache, gets his come uppance in the form of yogurt poured down the front of his shorts…while he’s walking the halls of the school without a shirt on), and Mr. Morelli is definitely no saint, so you can’t really fault Stephanie. That is, you couldn’t if she was doing it to be a good person, instead of doing it to stir up shit. Since these girls are from outer space, the shit that hath been stirred involves them having ray guns. Just when you’re sure that the people that are being zapped with these guns are evaporating, or freezing, or melting, or… I don’t know, doing ray gun shit, we finally see what actually happens to them.
They turn into vegetables.
No, I’m not being insensitive and saying that they become handicapped, they literally turn into vegetables. The first transformation that we actually see is when a boy’s face starts bubbling, he turns orange, and then… he’s a fucking carrot. Then that boy is a squash! That girl is a tomato! Hell, the vixens turn a whole town into a giant spaghetti squash! Somehow, Karla and Paul get wind of this and head to the radio station to tell John. He doesn’t believe them, of course, because it’s fucking insane. That is until Danny shows up after witnessing the vegefication of his friends, storms out because Paul is there, and they all witness him being turned into a pickle. Producing their pickle-son in a jar, Danny’s parents attempt to rally the other parents into action. The astute amongst you would likely notice that with Danny being the 12th student to vanish (aka, be turned into produce), there should be a fairly sizable horde of parents and other concerned citizens. Yeah, there’s like 10 people. They’re not entirely convinced that they should do anything until Stephanie tells them that the vixens seduced and banged all of their sons, which is obviously a more damnable offense than using space magic to turn your child into a fucking crop. Oh, and why vegetables? Well, space mom reveals to us at one point that since there are no men on their planet, they reproduce with plants. Do the math.
Things escalate pretty quickly here, and before the townsfolk have a chance to sharpen their pitchforks, the Senator of whatever state this takes place in evidently has enough power to call in a squadron of Army bombers to just bomb the living shit out of the school that they’re holed up in. Realizing that his father has gone to warn his space mom, Paul and Karla convince John to drive them directly to where the bombs are about to be dropped. Cheesy dialogue results in Paul’s mom giving him back his medallion since he can’t strip girls with his brain without it, and she flies through the ceiling to escape, despite all of the other girls being able to just materialize wherever they feel like. At the last moment, Mr. Morelli grabs his estranged lover’s ankle, and flies off with her. As they head directly towards the bombers, her voice echoes down to Paul, telling him to use his power. Just as a panning camera shot shows Mr. Morelli hanging out to a pair of ruby red shoes and you think “Hey, wait a minute…”, Paul begins to say “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”
Cut to the intergalactic mail room – seriously, that’s what the screen text read: Intergalactic mail room. After dozens of blank envelopes fall, two postcards drop in the pile. One showing Paul and someone who I guess is Karla, despite it not looking like her at all, and one showing John with two of the vixens. Good to know that they made it safe and sound to whatever weird ass planet has perfected intergalactic space travel technology, and has the ability to shoot people and turn them into plants, but still deals with the postal service for some absurd reason. The postcards read “Made it safely!” and “Having a great time!”, though I’m not sure who they’re going to be delivered to since their entire home town was wiped off of the map by military aircraft. Details, details!