Creature (1985) — Ferris Bueller’s Dad fights a xenomorph

“We found… a child’s butterfly collection… but some of zees butterflies… were not too friendly.”

Justin’s rating: Has anyone ever tried hugging it out with angry aliens?

Justin’s review: It feels like it’s a good time to cover another one of the countless Alien knock-offs, so let’s head back to 1985 and check in with a little movie called Creature. Don’t worry, we won’t stray far from the 1979 original at all, here.

In this slavish copy, some U.S. astronauts/archaeologists discover a pod on the moon of Titan that contains a very old and very surly alien. Somehow the alien kills one and then controls the other to pilot his ship into an Earth space station, destroying everyone. So in response to all of this nuttiness, the U.S. sends a new ship out to investigate, captained by Ferris Bueller’s Dad. Oh, I’m sure he has a real name, but trust me — when you see him, you’ll be calling him “Ferris Bueller’s Dad” for the rest of the film. You feel bad for him, because he’s wrangling a crew that comes off as experienced and mature as a gaggle of first-year summer camp counselors. At least Ripley brought back a squad of Colonial Marines with her.

As they investigate what’s going on in this newly discovered alien laboratory, the crew of the Shenandoah also have to contend with competition from a ship sent by West Germany. Yup, this was Cold War cinema at its finest.

Another interesting development for this movie is with the creature itself. While it moves as fast as a kid asked to do a full sheet of math homework at 2:30 p.m. on a school day, the alien does have the ability to infect humans and turn them into its willing slaves. “Mind-controlled zombies” automatically takes your movie up a full notch in my review scale, if I had one.

Creature’s biggest weaknesses are pretty significant, as it asks us to plod slowly through a dull plot and listen to actors who mouth unconvincing dialogue and even forget lines from time to time. So the full weight of interest is carried by the visual design, which sometimes admirably steps up to bat. The spacesuits and sets are kind of nifty, aided by shadows and dim lighting that give a lot of atmosphere.

Also, aside from seeing what a more generic Alien knockoff would look like, a good reason to see Creature is that it had the same special effects team working on it that did Aliens a year later. So it’s not a total waste of time, even though you don’t need me to tell you that settling for a lesser version when you have the real thing isn’t going to be for most people.

Didja notice?

  • Clearly, the far future where the USA and West Germany are space rivals has come into being
  • The guy stopping to contemplate that waking up really old creatures will make them cranky
  • The movie’s titled “Creature” but the title card says “The Titan Find.” Bit of an identity crisis there.
  • Wow that was an abruptly out-of-nowhere love scene
  • Falling dead people courteously stashed in lockers!
  • Sound effects courtesy of Star Wars

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