Sunday, 14 August 2022

Beach Babes From Beyond (David DeCoteau 1993) Review

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They're kinda cute for primitives.” It's all be done before, hasn't it? Cops and robbers, the profession of love at an airport, the rise and fall of a criminal empire … but when was the last time you saw interstellar petrol knocked-up at a beach-side snack shack by a vegetarian wearing fashion that could best be described as coming from the 'day-glo vomitorium' collection?...

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And his cranial capacity?” / “Is that all you ever think about?” Home alone on the Planet Zircon, blonde babes Luna (Tamara Landry) and Sola (Nicole Posey) convince their gal pal Xena (Roxanne Blaze, Bikini Drive-In) to take her father's pride-and-joy space ship for a joyride. Cruising amidst the stars, these 'Valley girls from space' find themselves in the vicinity of Beta 45, the residents of which are known to be dangerous and untrustworthy. Curious about the 'bad neighbourhood' of the galaxy, they stray too close and crash land on the planet … which naturally turns out to be Earth.

Their arrival captures the attention of a pair of buff beach boys, UFO-believer Dave (Michael Todd Davis) and sunblock-disbeliever Jerry (Ken Steadman), who have come to visit Dave's Uncle Bud, a sort of beach bum Rip Van Winkle, an ageing surfer hanging out in his crumbling shack of a home brewing his own special concoction sunburn lotion/BBQ sauce. Encountering Dave and Jerry, Xena and her out-of-this-world space chums pretend to be Swedish exchange students so they can study the locals, only to become embroiled in a vaguely convoluted plot involving the cut-throat world of swimwear design and beach babe bikini contests. Ah, yes, that old chestnut!

Oh my gosh! Holy shit! You're a space babe! Can I go inside?” Shot for $300,000 on a ten-day shoot, Beach Babes From Beyond was the first release of Torchlight Entertainment, the softcore erotica sub-label of Full Moon Pictures (most famous for the Puppet Master series), and was directed by David DeCoteau (Creepozoids) – under his regularly-used pseudonym Ellen Cabot, deployed for any project he deemed to be beneath his usual standards. Visually speaking he needn't be embarrassed, but when it comes to the threadbare plot from writers Bill Kelman and Alexander Sachs, you can start to see why DeCoteau reached for his well-worn AKA.

However, several of the actors weren't fussed about appearing in the flick and having their names liberally utilised to advertise the hell out of it. Xena's parents Gork and Yanna make brief appearances bookending the film, the pair played by Don Swayze (brother of Patrick) and Jackie Stallone (mother of Sylvester and Frank). Indeed, the film is a veritable cornucopia of famous family members, as Uncle Bud is played by Joe Estevez (The Zero Boys, brother of Martin Sheen) while NASA scientist-turned Veggie snack shack owner Dr Veg is essayed by Joey Travolta (brother of John). As if that wasn't enough, sun tan lotion mogul Mr Bun is portrayed by Burt Ward, best known as Robin from the 1960s Batman television series!

You young chicks are all alike, going after men old enough to be your father.” Half-way through the movie and one can't help but notice that the plot is minimalistic, to say the least. This can partially be explained by the fact that this is the 'uncut' version of the film as opposed to the R-rated, and yet this 'uncut' version actually removes chunks of the story, such as certain scenes that better explain the backstory between Uncle Bud and his ex-girlfriend Sally, as well as a little more to do with why he's in some legal trouble. In-place of these plot-driven scenes, if you can call them that, the 'uncut' version injects numerous softcore sex scenes to make sure it'd be a popular watch on American TV channel Cinemax, which was affectionately otherwise known as 'Skinemax' for its propensity to show lots of naked ladies at a time before the proliferation of online smut and, no doubt, its reputation for doing more for Kleenex's stock price than the seasonal sniffles.

These sex scenes, or 'Skinemax wank breaks' if you will, are all seemingly shot without sound, so it's just some terrible music to tickle your lugholes while the movie routinely grinds to a halt for several minutes of licking, squeezing, writhing, and Brazilian-style personal topiary. The scenes are stylishly shot, although it seems as if these sequences have been captured through progressively thicker layers of cheesecloth and diffused lighting. Po-faced critics of the sort of films DeCoteau often made would sniff at the 'gratuitous T&A', but there's shower scenes to accompany exposition and then there's Beach Babes From Beyond, which sets a new level for 'gratuitous'. Weirdly enough, the movie would benefit from less nudity and more talky plot bits!

Speaking of gratuitous raunch, if you're a fan of over-extended scenes of beach parties set to terribly repetitive ear-worm 'beach rock', then you'll be well catered for here. The camera prowls about a veritable sea of toned and tanned bodies, craning high and low, sliding this way and that, yet again grinding the movie to a halt at repeated intervals. A few establishing shots, fine, but this many and this often? Come on, now. But, well, you've got to fill those 80 minutes with something. Indeed, you've never seen so many day-glo bikinis in your life, as if the entire global supply of luminous-yellow-and-pink-on-black or neon-green-on-pastel-blue swimsuits were rounded up and dumped into a big fleshy pile of sun-baked sand and fetishistic amounts of volleyball.

I'd like to be attacked by alien space babes and have close encounters of the 69th kind.” While not quite living up to its modest potential, particularly due to the preponderance of extensive beach party filler sequences and an exceptionally limited use of the 'beach babes from outer space' angle, Beach Babes From Beyond nonetheless manages to have a decent amount of fun along the way. Certainly exceeding what lesser genre-hopping filmmakers would ever bother to achieve with such material or budget, DeCoteau's film still finds opportunities to dial-up the B-movie silliness, particularly when it comes to Sally (Linnea Quigley, Murder Weapon, gamely diving into her somewhat limited screen time), who is a swimsuit design tycoon living in a mansion permanently populated by swimsuit models, a photographer with convoluted 'artistic' reasons for topless snapshots, and a sleazeball lawyer by the name of Hassler (Albert Andrukaitis), who has a fondness for exceedingly oily fantasies.

It's quite amazing just how important the film manages to make swimsuits out to be, rooting it right into the heart of the, albeit quite meagre, plot. The bikini contest is sabotaged by swimwear-eating acid, while Sally deviously goes so far as to steal Xena's swimsuit designs … but what's even barmier is that the intolerably greasy Hassler actually takes the moral high ground when it comes to swimsuit IP theft! These are some of the most enjoyable elements of the film, and its a shame more wasn't done to explore these super silly corners of the plot. However, one does have to admire just how laid back the California beach life is, so easy breezy in fact, that definitive proof of extraterrestrial life and interstellar travel barely raises an eyebrow, and doesn't seem to necessitate a call to the government or an attempt to ally the two worlds for the benefit and future of all mankind!

I wonder if they've eaten – I'd hate to be lunch.” Slipping beneath the potential of what it could have been, like so many surfer dudes pulled under by a rip-tide, Beach Babes From Beyond does occasionally dazzle with its scrappy B-movie charms, but, certainly in this 'uncut' form, the funk of filling a Cinemax-shaped void does it few favours in the long run. Still, with this much tie-dye and day-glo splattered across the screen, it's hard not to kowabunga your beach buns into the party.

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