Salutations horrorphiles! Well we've spent another Tuesday and that means it is once again time for the Terror Tuesday report. Terror Tuesday, for those new to this segment, is a celebration of crazy, cult horror hosted by the world famous Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. Every week, master of disaster Zack Carlson bludgeons our senses with some of the rarest, most inexplicable films imaginable...or unimaginable in many cases. The crowd is composed mostly of Drafthouse mainstays and horror film fanatics.
For my part, each week I will breakdown the film shown as well as gage the audience reaction to said film. So far we have narrowly escaped the Gates of Hell and had our eyeballs roundhouse kicked by Raw Force. This week we venture into the world of late 80's sci-fi/horror featuring a staple of the decade: Mr. Dolph Lundgren. Willi survive I Come in Peace? Or will Dolph finally break me?
Just describing the plot of this film should give you some idea as to its greatness. So an alien life form crashes on Earth and the humanoid being begins to murder innocent people. Well, technically the first batch of his victims is comprised of high-end drug dealers so the innocence there is debatable. He actually steals their heroin and proceeds to force-feed artificial euphoria to any Joe Blow he can get his hands on. He then shoves a not-so-small metal spike into their skulls and extracts their endorphins. A rouge cop, Lundgren, investigating the murder of his partner by the drug dealers, ends up embroiled in the subsequent supernatural murders as well. Turns out there are actually two aliens in town: the murderous, endocrine-harvesting maniac and another that seems hell-bent on taking that baddie alien down. Turns out the evil alien is collecting endorphins because they are a very rare, very expensive drug on his home planet. That's right, the bad guy is an extraterrestrial drug pusher! The second alien, or the "good alien" as he is so called in the end credits, is essentially a space cop sent to stop the "bad alien."
This movie was a truckload of fun. It is a horror film in only the most technical sense; with sci-fi being the more noticeable seasoning. But ultimately I Come in Peace suffers from a clear case of actionitis. It's a very common condition among films made during the collapse of the 1980's. What happened is that as the chronological curtain was falling on the 80's, all of the cheese that defined the decade was actually compressed, concentrated and injected into all remaining genre films; causing a swelling. This film is so butch I'm surprised the screen wasn't wearing a UFC belt buckle and chewing glass. Sure, it has horror elements; murder scenes and sliced throats. But those moments are few and far between and are so brief that they seem like an afterthought. Luckily, along with the sci-fi elements, we are treated to a cavalcade of guns, explosions, and spinning kicks to compensate for the minimal horror elements.
The aliens look like Brian Bosworth's interstellar cousins and seem as though they've been subsisting on a diet of steroid sandwiches for about twenty years. The reason for the title is that the "bad alien" rasps out the phrase, "I come in peace," before he disposes of a victim. This choice of words is really ironic...the first six times you hear it; triumphantly losing its sting after that. The weapon of choice for "bad alien" is so over-the-top awesome that it'll make your frontal lobe explode! It's a projectile device that fires small discs at high velocity. Basically, the guy kills people with CD's! Yes, apparently the writer saw the burgeoning compact disc technology as something to be feared and worked that paranoia into the script. Also, I have to say, it's incredibly hard to take any villain sporting a fanny pack seriously, even if it is filled with the brain juice of the people he's killed.
Say what you will about Dolph "Drago" Lundgren, but the guy's ability to be unintentionally entertaining is unsurpassed in the 80's. He oozes bulk from every pore and, though he never seems fully on the ball mentally at any point, I like that they decided to make him an insightful detective as well as a blunt instrument of destruction. That being said, as macho as he is in I Come in Peace, they give him some very strange character traits. Sufficed to say it's not every day that you see a tough, bone-shattering hero cop drinking wine, listening to pop music, and harboring an appreciation for hotel artwork the size of a drive-in theater screen.
The one-liners Lundgren gets to play with are phenomenal! Even when Dolph trips over the delivery, which isn't often, they are still golden. You could, and frankly I feel have a moral obligation to, create a drinking game based on the shards of dialogue he uses to conversationally stab ne'er-do-wells in the face. Some favorites include:
Fed: "The difference between you and me is that I'm a team player."
Dolph: "You're team sucks!"
"If you take that from me, I'm going to hit you ... very hard."
"Fuck you space man!"
Bad Alien: "I come in peace!"
Dolph: "You go in pieces."
That last quip is the money shot to the film's orgy of cheesiness. If you are interested in seeing I Come in Peace, and why the frankfurter wouldn't you be by this point, you may run into some difficultly tracking it down. It was released in many places under the name Dark Angel and is not available on DVD here in the states. You can track down a used VHS on Amazon if you are lucky, and I can assure your efforts shall not go unrewarded.
The crowd loquaciously devoured every last chunk of awesome served up by the antics on screen. I guess it didn't hurt that the movie was filmed just a few hours away in Houston. There are some truly painful missteps throughout the film that perfectly allowed for side-splitting hilarity. The 1980's was a glorious cesspool of crappy cinema and, though the audience is composed of folks that are first and foremost horror geeks, you don't attend Terror Tuesday unless you are a fan of schlock-tastic films of all varieties. As I said, I Come in Peace is not entirely devoid of horror elements so it still works very well. By the time Lundgren vocally punched the bad guy with that final pun, the audience response was nothing short of tribal. It was one of the best times I have ever had at a Terror Tuesday event.
Next Week: Day of the Animals (77)