Microbudget indie film company Bandit Motion Pictures are very much following their own path. The partnership between filmmakers Scott Schirmer and Brian K Williams produced two of the most unique and impressive horror movies of 2016: the erotically-charged Harvest Lake and backwoods nightmare Plank Face, both directed by Schirmer. However, as should be apparent from the title alone, Space Babes from Outer Space is one giant leap in a different direction. This time around directing duties go to Williams (previously responsible for grindhouse movie Time to Kill), and the largely serious tone of Bandit’s last two efforts goes out the window in favour of a raucous sci-fi sex comedy which, thirty years ago, one could easily envisage Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer taking the lead roles in. And if you’re in any way an admirer of the work of that iconic B-movie trio, you will surely find plenty to enjoy here.
After a prologue scene framing the story as an ‘adult fairy tale’ told by a dirty grandpa to a boy way too young to hear so sordid a story (that’s right, it’s The Princess Bride of sex comedies), we meet the Space Babes themselves. Bandit regular Ellie Church is joined by Allison Maier and Alyss Winkler as the gloriously named Carrieola, Vanassa and Ragyna, three extra-terrestrial ingénues who are forced to take refuge on Earth when their spaceship (which just happens to be shaped like a giant boob) comes under attack by their mortal enemies, the evil Scrotes (who just happen to be bulbous and wrinkly with random spiky hairs poking out all over the place). Parking alongside a remote farmhouse, the Space Babes scan the area for energy that might serve to refuel their downed craft, and find an ideal source brewing in the loins of hapless farm boy Charlie (Brian Papandrea). However, one man’s mojo isn’t quite enough to bring their voluptuous vehicle back to full strength, so at Charlie’s suggestion the Space Babes head over to the local strip club in hopes of tapping into the vast supplies of sexual energy buzzing around those parts. Vanassa and Ragyna quickly find themselves new employees of the sordid establishment, whilst Carrieola and Charlie find themselves quickly developing feelings for one another… but of course, the Scrotes are hot on their shapely tail.
If this all sounds profoundly crass and silly, well – yeah, that’s clearly rather the point. If you’ve seen Harvest Lake (which, again, I thoroughly recommend – it can be purchased at the link at the bottom of the page, or find it on Amazon Video where Plank Face is also available), it’s fascinating to note that while that film was a largely sombre contemplation on the nature and power of the sexual urge, Williams and Schirmer had initially cooked up the premise as a sex comedy. As such, it seems fair to suppose that Space Babes From Outer Space goes some way to suggesting what that film might have looked like had they taken that direction.
By extension, it seems strangely appropriate that Jason Crowe, whose character had the most interesting arc in Harvest Lake, is here cast as an especially sleazy strip club customer who winds up the butt of just about every bodily fluid gag available. And yes, as you might expect, there are more than a few bodily fluid jokes on show here, much as there is a staggering abundance of sexual innuendo in the dialogue: take one of Ellie Church’s earliest lines, “I don’t want to get teste but we may have taken on a bigger load than we can handle” (or something very close to that, I can’t quite recall as I was sniggering too loudly at the time). And not for nothing, but Space Babes from Outer Space also has a hell of a lot of tit shots. You might think this would go without saying, but it’s surprising how many ultra low-budget indie movies in recent years have tried their hands at an exploitation format, but wound up leaving nudity out of the mix completely. Williams’ earlier film Time To Kill, also largely set in a strip club, showed that he had no such qualms about putting naked women centre stage, and Space Babes does this time and again, most notably in a (cough) somewhat explosive final act sequence.
Still, even though there’s nothing inherently shameful about a film boasting nothing but bare breasts and dick jokes, it would be unfair to suggest Space Babes from Outer Space doesn’t have anything more to offer than this. There are some more thoughtful moments which prove surprisingly effective, notably some dialogue between Charlie and Carrieola about the nature of the male sex drive, and a locker room chat between strippers which challenges preconceptions about customer behaviour. Not that all the more dialogue-heavy sequences are a roaring success; an awkward dinner table scene with Charlie’s redneck family falls a bit flat, and Charlie and Carrieola’s burgeoning romance feels a bit overwrought at times, particularly in the final scenes which feel a little more drawn out than they really need to be.
All in all, though, these are very minor quibbles about what is a hugely entertaining bit of cheap and cheerful fun, harking back to a style of filmmaking which would seem to have long since died out. The film’s 80s influences are made all the more blatant by the soundtrack, heavy on synth and guitar-driven glam metal and power balladry. It also plays its ultra-low budget to its advantage; while it looks a great deal better than a lot of cut-price indie fare, the cheapness of much of the FX, sets and costumes is all part of the joke, notably with a spaceship cockpit (fnar) that’s straight out of Plan 9 From Outer Space, and the ridiculous rubbery creations the Scrotes, which might have walked straight off the set of Troll 2 if that film had been about giant sentient ball-sacks instead of goblins.
I’m dubious as to whether it’ll be to the taste of everyone who enjoyed Harvest Lake and Plank Face, but I can assuredly say that Space Babes from Outer Space is one you don’t want to miss if you enjoy trashy B-movies filled to bursting with lo-fi charm, low-brow humour, and tits. Especially the tits.
Space Babes from Outer Space is available now on region free Blu-ray from Bandit Motion Pictures.