Friday, April 29, 2011

DVD Review: There's Nothing Out There! (1992)

Dearest friends, it is I, the Duke of DVD, once more entering into sexual congress with all that is MAD in cinema, an unholy coupling that will spawn wretched, unnameable things best put down with alacrity, lest they grow in power and finally destroy the world in a black tempest of wanton deviancy. I have traveled far and wide, my dearest subjects, and delved into many a’ forgotten hole, in order to mine the choicest of stinky nuggets for your cinematic pleasure.

From the top of Bihor Massif in the west Carpathian Mountains, to the lowest valleys of forgotten islands in the South Pacific, I’ve searched. I’ve made profane trades with entities whose names I cannot commit to this page, in exchange for the best of the worst, the sort of movies that burrow under your flesh and deposit night-black eggs, which gestate unknown to you, until such time as you are devoured from within, your eyes becoming black orbs as your tongue swells, your sphincter loosens, and blackened blood pours from your gaping mouth.

I do this, my friends, so that you don’t have to. So that you may sit in your mud-dobbed hovels, a sheep’s-dung fire warming your wizened, twisted hands as you gulp down the few spoonfuls of watery gruel that serve as your only meal that day. Knowing that a glimpse of my written word is the only thing sustaining your will to live, I take it as a sacred duty to risk life and limb in order to procure movies to watch that no mere human is capable of. What monstrosity do I have for you today?

Journey with me, let us find out... (MORE MADNESS)

Today’s brilliant masterpiece comes to us from the studio known for brilliant masterpieces: TROMA! That’s right friends, the Duke is once again traipsing down that sunny, rainbow-hued hallway that is Tromaville, my face stuck in a grim rictus as clowns are sodomized and fetuses explosively abort before my unblinking eyes. I can’t look away, and neither should you, oh no! Let the filth and badassery wash over you in a wave of uncontrolled ecstasy.

Schooooool's Out For-EVAH!

There’s Nothing Out There!, directed by Rolfe Kanefsky, is a pioneering movie, my friends. A full 6 years before Scream, Nothing featured a character whose knowledge of horror movies not only helps save the day, but a few of his friends as well. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s start from the beginning.

The movie opens in a place none of us will ever set foot in again, unless we’re visiting inner Cambodia: a VHS rental shop. A mousy girl named Sally is working the counter when a masked robber enters the store and begins chasing her. Somehow (it’s not clearly shown or explained) she gets tangled up in VHS tape, which has come unspooled...somehow. She falls out the back door in an attempt to escape both the assault and the tape tangle, and we’re led to believe she gets hung by the tape during the fall. All of this is for naught, though, as we cut to see it was all a dream, and Sally is merely falling asleep while driving at night on a dirt road out in the boonies!

She of course runs off the road and hits a tree. She appears to be unharmed for the moment, as both she and we watch a glowing green ball descend from the sky and land in a nearby mud puddle. Out of the puddle comes our film’s alien menace, which basically consists of a giant mouth, two eyes, and two long tentacles. It moves itself along the ground by scooting. It wastes no time checking out the planet it just landed on and instead tries to kill Sally. We cut away, so more about Sally later.

Mike demonstrates his "O" face before a horrified audience.

It’s the start of summer, and a bunch of horny teens sit on the edges of their seats, watching the clock count down the final seconds until summer break. Quicker than you can say “Wake me up before you GO-GO!” the bell rings and they are out the door!

A small group of friends quickly hatch a plan to stay a few days at a cabin, owned by the parents of Nick, a goofy, slightly dorky goober who is dating Stacey, a brunette who, while slightly horsey in the face, has a nice rack and spends nearly half the movie either showing her tits or wearing a bikini. The party includes two more couples. We have Jim, the obvious jock of the group, who cares only for sex and beer, naturally. He’s hooked up with the requisite blonde, named Doreen, who loves showering and generally being naked. The other couple are the nerdy and monstrously lucky David and his chick, an accented exchange student named Janet, who as we find out later has very nice breastesses. Finally, we come to Mike. Mike is the star of the show here, folks. Mike loves horror movies. He worships them. Why he agrees to go is a mystery, but we’re glad he does. Mike doesn’t have a girlfriend, but this turns out to be a good thing. Let’s find out why!

The youths head out, driving on a dirt road through the woods, heading to Nick's family’s vacation home. Along the way, they pass Sally’s partially destroyed car, which the police are investigating. We find that Sally is missing. Mike starts in: “This is just like that one horror movie I saw! Guys, we’re making a mistake, we shouldn’t be going out here!” This is Mike. Constantly. The dude never shuts up with his Debbie-Downer-esque rant. Try and imagine what it would be like, having Mike along with your group. Every time you want to go outside to skinny-dip, Mike’s there like some mad doomsayer prophet, quoting every horror movie cliche in the book, trying to warn you.

It's not a party until the inaugural tick-check.

However, if something were to truly go wrong--say a masked psychopath attacked, or a mutant came flinging turds--you’d want someone like Mike in your corner, someone who knew how to handle fucked up situations due to his consumption of slasher movies. Finally they arrive at the spot. I was expecting some rustic cabin in the woods, but instead it’s actually a nice vacation home that’s beside a half-decent swimming hole. Not long after our crew arrives and settles in, a van comes barrelling down the road, filled with punks. Literally, punks. Mohawks, piercings, blaring punk music, anarchy symbolism. The whole bit. Normal movie convention calls for these people to rudely intrude on the non-punkish kids, assert their dominance, and then finally die horribly to the movie’s menace. Not here, folks! Director/writer Rolfe Kanefsky is bucking tradition already! The punks stop their van all right, and strip immediately, girls getting topless while the guys dive into the pond next to the vacation home. Frolicing ensues, until one of the kids in the house notices the commotion. Nick is alerted, and he orders the punks to leave, as this is private property. Instead of becoming indigent, the punks simply apologize, put their clothing back on, and leave! The alien shows up, crawling through the weeds, but doesn’t get a chance to eat any of the punks. They simply drive away, and right out of the movie for good. Amazing!

The teens waste no time in getting biz-ay, much to the increasing horror of Mike, whose doom and gloom prophesies increase in both frequency and volume. He starts to come unhinged when David and Janet go off for a walk, at night, and don’t return. We see the couple, wandering through the woods, when the alien attacks by latching itself onto David’s face and chomping in with a huge, cartoonish “CHOMP!” sound effect. While David is being killed, Janet runs in horror and ends up knocking herself out on a tree.

"How in hell did I get semen on my back?  Oh yeah..."

Meanwhile, Doreen takes a ludicrously long shower, before finally boning Jim. Nick and his girl Stacey hook up as well for the nasty, while Mike sits on the other side of the wall contemplating horrors unseen as they bang away behind him. The alien, meanwhile, uses one of his appendages to gain entry to the house, and manages to eat some chicken, which Stacey had cooked previously. When the couples are done constructing double-back beasts, they discover the missing chicken, and instead find some green slime on the skillet. The tension mounts, and Mike’s blood-pressure is through the roof!

Mike outfits himself with a baseball catcher’s face-mask, a pair of hockey gloves, and a wooden baseball bat. The alien interrupts Doreen and Jim in the midst of humping and attacks Jim, who doesn’t see the alien and unfortunately thinks that Mike did it. The others come in and they all end up locking Mike in the basement (with the alien, no less) because they think he’s playing a game on them. Jim and Doreen head out and go skinny-dipping, which leads to a hilarious scene in which the stalking alien steps on a rake lying in the yard, which slaps him right in the face, driving him off and sparing Jim and Doreen.

All those years of enduring ruthless sodomy via lacrosse-team hazing rituals finally pay off.

Back in the house, the alien attacks Mike, who busts a water pipe in his flight attempt. We cut to the next morning without seeing what happened to poor Mike. The others go to let Mike out, only to find the basement partially flooded. Nick, furious, leaves to head to town to find a plumber, while the others finally realize that David and Janet never returned from their walk the previous night. Having nothing better to do, Jim and Doreen start to fuck again, and once again get interrupted by the alien, who suffocates Jim by holding him up against the wall and covering his nose and mouth with a slimy tentacle while Doreen watches in horror. She tries to run, but the alien shoots fucking green lasers out of its eyes, right into Doreen’s eyes. She collapses onto the floor.

A Face Only Your Mother Would Love

Doreen wakes up a little later, seemingly none worse for the wear, and Jim’s face melts, though no one but Mike witnesses it. Now that everyone knows about the alien, steps are taken. Doors are locked, etc. The alien is driven out by some shaving cream, which Mike squirts through a door keyhole into the alien’s mouth--not at all suggestively. Shaving cream is repeatedly used as a weapon from here on out, much to my eternal glee. Here comes one of the best exchanges of the movie, and one which vaulted this film from 2 Thumb Up status into the pantheon of 3 Thumbs:

Mike: “That thing out there is NOT reality!”
Stacey: “So, you’re saying we’re in a movie?!”
Mike glances directly at the camera at this point.
Mike: “That’s a distinct possibility.”

Sheer. Genius. I rewatched this segment a few times, to bask in the glory. Major, major props to Rolfe for that bit of writing, and to Craig Peck, who played Mike so well.

"You guys do what you want, but I for one do NOT plan to die with clothes on!"

Meanwhile, the exchange student Janet wakes up from running into the tree, and heads woozily back to the house. Stacey and Mike help her back in, just as the alien attacks. Once again, it is thwarted by Mike’s use of shaving cream, which leads to this fantastic line by Mike: “We don’t know anything about that thing except, like everything else, it hates a mouth-full of shaving cream!” Suddenly, Doreen goes batshit, obviously controlled by the alien’s influential eye-beams. She attacks everyone in site and starts helping the alien. The alien is running rampant, and attacks Janet, ripping open her shirt (underneath which she isn’t wearing a bra-- VIVE LA FRANCE! or wherever Janet is supposed to be from). Doreen manages to bust Janet’s head with a bat, which kills her, before being driven into the patio door, which shatters, letting loose a shard of glass that decapitates Doreen!
Tonight on "Big in Japan": Bullfrog Bukkake

Stacey and Mike hide out in the basement, boarding up a window, and drive off the alien with shaving cream once again. Nick finally returns, shouting about the plumber being there any minute and asking where everyone is. He goes in the house and sees the destruction all over, and starts freaking out. The alien attacks him. First, Nick throws the family cat at the alien, which does no good. (Wherever the alien hails from, it is clearly not the planet Melmac.) Nick looks up, sees the fucking boom mike from the sound guy, and swings on it (there’s even a little Indiana Jones music played here as he does so!) over the alien’s head. He makes good his escape and finds Mike and Stacey, who fill him in on the goings on.

They all pile into Nick’s car and attempt to escape, but the alien jumps onto the car’s hood, and begins shooting green eye lasers at them. They are wise to this by now, and avert their eyes. Mike finds some mirror shades in the back seat, puts them on, and deflects the eye beams right back at the alien, which launches it off the car in a puff of smoke! All of this is for naught, though, because Nick stupidly drives the car off into the water. Meanwhile, the plumber shows up and promptly gets murdered by the alien. The teens head back into the house for the final confrontation.

"Lights out? Uh-huh. Now where's my Radio of Love?"

Under the direction of Mike, they gather all of the light bulbs in the house, and crank up the gas in the stove. They also position mirrors about the kitchen. The alien shows up right on cue, ramming into mirrors because it’s stoopid or somethin’. Stacey uses the light bulbs to distract it while Mike spreads shaving cream (again! I love it!) on the floor. They eventually lure the monster into the open oven, and slam shut the door, the fire builds and builds until finally the oven explodes, killing the alien! Great success!

The teens leave, heading out in the plumber’s van. As they go down the road back to town, a dirty and discheveled Sally wanders out of the woods, flagging them down. They give her a ride as she tells them about being attacked by something in the woods after her car wreck. Suspicious, the others eye her, until one of the points out that she has green eyes! Not listening to her pleas for help, they force her out of the van and drive off into the night, once more leaving Sally stranded. Poor Sally! Fin.

"HANsel? HanSEL?"

Ahh Troma, how I love thee! It’s movies like this, dearest friends, that keep me coming back for more. It has everything: Cool alien effects, frickin’ laser beam eyes, rampant and gratuitous nudity, excessive shower scenes, and humor galore.  The obvious love for making film is prevalent through the whole affair.  None of the actors (in my humble opinion) phone it in, and a lot of care was given to the writing and such.  The DVD set that Troma sent out is fantastic as well, giving tons of extras, so much so that it's spread to a second disc.

Really, you just can't go wrong with There's Nothing Out There!  It has everything, and more, that you could want from a Troma-esque feature.  3 Thumbs Up!


Tenebrous Kate said...

Oh Duke, you have captured so much of the magic of this under-appreciated movie! I have a soft spot in my heart for "There's Nothing Out There!" and the character of Mike especially. I am truly stupid with delight over your review--thanks for reminding me of how fun this flick is! Gotta seek out my own copy now :)

Slushing Brooks said...

Wow, alot of detail in this review !!

Nicole Hadaway said...

If ever I'm having a downer day it's always nice to know I can stop on over here and all becomes right with the world again -- thanks for the lyrically awesome review!!!

The Duke of DVD said...

@Kate - Mistress, your kind words and praise make me blush like a choir boy taking his first sip of communion wine behind closed doors after hours with only the encouraging priest present.

@Brooks - I do tend to gush when the spirit moves me. "The spirit" being Lloyd Kaufman's beneficent visage.

@Nicole - I am most pleased to have brightened your day!

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