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Article Archive >> Entertainment

Movies from the Black Lagoon: Dead Space

Movies from the Black Lagoon
Dead Space - 1991, Rated R
By Tom Doty

In the future a scientific team, assigned to fighting a deadly space disease, accidentally creates a monster in this low budget charmer from the prolific Roger Corman.
In the nineties Corman bought a new studio and proceeded to remake all of his films for the growing 'direct to video" market. Here he offers a remake of "Forbidden World, "which was itself an attempt to cash in on the successful "Alien" franchise.
The flick starts with a scientist accidentally exposing himself to an experiment (which looks like an enormous pile of breakfast cereal glued to carpet shavings). Apparently we will become pretty lax about safe laboratory conditions in the future. Be that as it may we now have an excuse to bring in space hero Kriegar. He's a butch troubleshooter type that we first meet while lounging on his ship in a thong. His trusty robot sidekick, Tinpan, awakens him. His assistant announces that the scientist colony is in trouble but first they must engage in a dogfight with three enemy ships that popped up for no reason other than to have a fight scene.
This sequence actually works, as well it should because they use the same footage that appeared in the previous version of this film, Actually this dogfight scene also turns up in several other Corman projects such as: Battle Beyond the Stars; Galaxy of Terror; and, even, Not of This Earth (which doesn't even take place in space but does manage to cram this footage into an opening montage that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie).
Kriegar arrives on the planet just in time to witness the victim from the start of the film mutate into a worm like creature. It then proceeds to mutate into a larger and larger critter while whittling down the cast of characters. The goofiest stage is when it is puppy sized. That version of the monster has to be held very closely by its victim in order to simulate an attack-it doesn't work very well.
The largest version of the bats is pretty impressive however. Unfortunately it can't move well so the director tries camera tricks to compensate. It mostly works but I can't recommend this film if you have seen the other version as they are shot the same way and there is no variation in the scripts.
That said this version boast more elaborate effects and a pair of fine actors. Marc Singer (star of the original "V" series as well as "Beastmaster") is a decent Kriegar. He certainly looks rough and can handle arch dialogue as well as the physical stuff. Bryan Cranston is also good in an early role as the lead scientist who is suffering from the disease that they are seeking a cure for. He is miles away from the kind of work he'd deliver as another dying man on AMC'S " Breaking Bad," but everyone has to start somewhere.
Corman's films almost always returned a profit. There's a lesson to be learned here for our troubled economic times. Perhaps it's time we let a B-Movie Producer take a whack at our economy. He couldn't do any worse than a B-Movie star.
Best Lines: "My problem is I can't believe I slept with such a worm."
"How much trouble can a couple of scientists get into?"

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.

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