The Brother from Another Planet (1984)

Moving on, we find writer/director/producer John Sayles, whom I first encountered through my mother and the 1997 jungle bloodbath, Men with Guns. But let’s not even go there.

Instead, let’s go back two weeks ago, to the Hollywood Video by my apartment-hive. I’d planned to fill some of the gaps in my girlfriend’s cinematic knowledge base with a little classic Star Trek. Low and behold, I spot this little bundle of weird and I felt…almost compelled. Worst case scenario, I was in for 108 minutes of bad blaxploitation comedy. Like I can’t get through that in my sleep…

Was I ever blind sided. This is no ordinary blaxploitation comedy. I’m not even sure it has a right to the label. No gunplay, no kung fu, no hookers, no afros…a few evil white guys to be sure…but what movie doesn’t have those?

Instead, Brother From Another Planet has a conscience, and Lord help us it’s a social conscience. This is a movie with Something to Say. Released just after E.T., Brother is an attempt to re-imagine the proverbial immigrant story and turn it on its head. While it succeeds in this, it does so at the expense of the little things like pacing…structure…stuff of that nature. Like me, this movie has a bad case of the Rambles. And by the ninety minute mark I was itching for it to shut the hell up. {More}

Reptilicus (1961)

Ah, yes, Sidney Pink. A name synonymous with “quality.” You may not know the name but believe you me, you know his work. This is the man who found the money to give us that great, humanitarian gift, Bwana Devil…in 3-D. And who could forget the rollicking good time (*cough*) that was Sidney’s next picture, Angry Red Planet (which he co-wrote)? Heck, even if you have forgotten (even if all of the above was not to you but stump-jumping jibber-speak), trust me on this one thing: you’ll remember Reptilicus. For about twenty-four hours. This was Pink’s second directorial credit, a worthy follow-up to 1953’s I Was a Burlesque Queen, earned in tandem with former sound designer Poul Bang. Pink also wrote the screenplay together with Angry Red Planet scribe Ib Melchior (who would go on to at least get “story” credit for Death Race: 2000), so this film really, truly can be lain entirely at Mr. Pink’s feet. Few men can say they single handedly ruined a country’s daikaiju genre, but Sidney, were he alive today, would walk away with that brass ring. No contest.

We critical folk liked to bandy about words like “forgettable,” “unremarkable,” and “crap,” but rare is the film that readily falls into all three categories. I suppose that’s a sign of something…not quality, to be sure…but something, nevertheless.

Chances are you’ve seen Reptilicus before, even if only while browsing through your satellite provider’s Guide screen. The damn thing has remained a staple on the Sci-Fi Channel, edging other, better giant monster movies right off the network after it sold out. Before that it played on countless Saturday afternoons to an audience of latch-key kids. Before that: the drive in. (You remember drive-ins, too, right?) Yet, somehow, I managed to avoid seeing Reptilicus in its entirety until just last night. Go figure. {More}