The Hunger Grows (Alligator 2: the Mutation, 1991)

Over ten years after the original Alligator came the sequel. Now, the first film was about an alligator that was flushed into the sewers, fed on dogs full of growth hormones and was mutated into a giant alligator. It was defeated by a cop and his love interest zoologist.

Meanwhile, the sequel follows a police Detective David who is investigating disappearances that seem tied to a nearby lake. With help from his scientist wife Christine, he discovers there is a giant mutant alligator living in the lake. An unscrupulous land owner is trying to force locals out of their homes to build condos or something. He is a shady dude. So, like this is a totally different movie with a new plot. Really.

So, yeah, this was a direct to video attempt to cash in on the name recognition of the original and even reused footage from the film (shots of the alligator swimming and eye closeups). It pretty much follows the same story as the first, but there are small tweaks I genuinely like. David and Christine have a pretty nice relationship. Their marriage is not in jeopardy, and they seem to really like each other. Richard Lynch has a fun role as the mercenary badass initially hired by the bad guy to dispatch the gator. I like David, he is portrayed as “One of the Good Ones”, a cop who has a sincere love and respect for the community he serves. This makes him quite likable.

The effects are okay, but largely hokey. I am not sure why this is the mutation…this gator seems pretty much the same as the previous gator…which also was a mutation. This film is pretty much on par with the original, more of a remake than a sequel. It is kind of fun, though not any kind of classic.

Space Suckin’ (Lifeforce, 1985)

When I planned this post, Tobe was still with us. In October, I will be exploring some other Hooper films.  But my thoughts go out to Hooper’s friends and family.

lifeforce_posterSet in 1985, the international space shuttle the Churchill is observing Halley’s Comet.  They discover an object hidden in the tail of the comet, only to discover it is a giant spaceship.  The craft is full of corpses of strange humanoid bat creatures…and then there is the weird part.  Three beautiful humans encased in crystal coffins.  The Churchill goes silent, and is only discovered after it appears to be adrift.  It is found with only one remaining crew member (Col Tom Carlsen) and the beautiful young woman.

Col. Colin Caine is trying to determine what has happened, but a new threat arises when the beautiful girl awakes and we discover she is a life draining energy vampire.  Seducing a young guard, she dramatically draws his life energy out, leaving a desiccated corpse.  It all created a domino effect as it turns out those she drains are not dead, but now lesser vampires.  They can return to life briefly, but without regular energy infusions, they die permanently.  Caine and Carlsen start trying to track down the Space Girl (this is actually how the character is credited) who is moving through London psychically, while her body is hidden away.

The visual effects in Lifeforce are very strong.  The corpse monsters (and there transformations) are especially cool sequences.  There is a sequence where the Space Girl reaches out to the leads building a blood body that is effective (though the two bodies are clearly dummies).

The cast is good, with Railsback’s Carlsen being a seemingly dubious character who seems more obsessed with the Space Girl rather than stop her.  The film aims to be pretty epic, but can veer into some real campy territory.  Most notably, although the beautiful young actress Mathilda May only appears as the Space Girl for about ten minute or less?  She is naked for about twelve of those minutes.  Sure, by Game of Thrones standards, that seems quaint…but it was a pretty big deal at the time.

There is a goofy charm to the film, and most of the strengths are the presence of British Thespians such as Frank Finlay and Patrick Stewart (who shares an on screen kiss with Railsback).  Hooper has certainly made weirder films (*cough* the Mangler*cough*)

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