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Bad Movie Tuesday: Transformations (1988; aka Alien Transformations), a mildly exploitative Sci-Horror B-movie about a gooey alien STD.

October 30, 2018

MY CALL: Every bit as silly and bad as the movie poster suggests. But this honestly is a very fun B-movie with good pacing and a lot going on, including several classic SciFi callbacks/riffs. Lots of boobage–but nothing morally reprehensible. MORE MOVIES LIKE TransformationsFor films delving deeper (and far more seriously) into STD horror, consider Shivers (1975), Species II (1998), Contracted (2013) or It Follows (2015). For more low budget Sci-Horror, check out the following Alien/Aliens rip-offs: Contamination (1980; aka Alien Contamination), Alien 2: On Earth (1980), Scared to Death (1980), Galaxy of Terror (1981), Forbidden World (1982; aka Mutant), Inseminoid (1982; aka Horror Planet), Parasite (1982), Xtro (1983), Creature (1985; aka Titan Find), Star Crystal (1986), Creepazoids (1987), Blue Monkey (1987), Nightflyers (1987), Deep Space (1988), The Terror Within (1989), Shocking Dark (1989; aka Terminator 2, aka Aliennators), The Rift (1990), Xtro 2: The Second Encounter (1991), Dark Universe (1993) and Zombies: The Beginning (2007).

This is one of those films I’d never heard of until someone posted a random movie poster image on Twitter to perk my interest. So here I am going into this movie totally blind, save that one image…

The opening score is surprisingly inspired and it feels like the opening to a family-friendly science-fiction adventure film a la Star Wars (1977). The sets are of adequate quality as well considering a humble 80s budget. But once the dialogue starts, this film pulls the veil and lets you know it’s more B-movie than “film”—and it knows exactly what it is. Because you know what? B-movies are fun!

Not five minutes into the movie and a slimy insectoid and reptilian man-in-a-rubber-suit monster is skulking around Wolfgang’s (Rex Smith; Faerie Tale Theatre) spaceship only to reveal itself as a mysterious woman (Pamela Prati; Ironmaster)—appearing on his spaceship like an interstellar stripper-gram—who gets naked right away for their sex scene. But this isn’t just any cheap gratuitous nudity. No, sir! She starts to mutate mid-coitus into a beaked monster (i.e., mostly human with a few prostheses) covered in open sores. She’s like an anthropomorphized STD! Then she disappears, as if it was nothing more than a wet dream. And like a dream, that monster’s boobs will haunt us throughout the film. No, really. Flashbacks of boobs persist… like breasty PTSD.

The future seems cool. Medical bays have drinks with colorful swirly straws, cantina-bars filled with roughian criminals, and security personnel have a Star Wars-y look to them. Wolfgang crash lands on a prison mining colony/planet (like Enemy Mine?) Hephaestus-4. This world looks a lot like a hostile world in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994).

Now Wolfgang is the horny infected with open wounds (or some malformation) on his back as he infects some woman in this penal colony. He looks like he has genital warts with an oozy discharge on his hands. This movie is gross. LOL.

Not much really happens between the opening lady/monster-sex scene and the very end in terms of special effects. There are some dumb side plots: Wolfgang agrees to help Miranda (Lisa Langlois; Happy Birthday to Me, The Nest) get off the planet; a devil-fearing priest (Patrick Macnee; The Howling, Waxwork) fears the arrival of a beast from the Abyss and thinks Wolfgang is the Devil; and miner-prisoners Calihan (Christopher Neame; Lust for a Vampire, Dracula AD 1972) and Antonia (Cec Verrell; Hell Comes to Frogtown) want to use his ship to escape their mining sentence.

That old guy’s pendant looks like a mix between Weyland Yutani and Star Trek.
And, is it me, or do these two prison miners look like two Colonial Marines?

The cheaply executed shots of spaceships feel almost deliberately comical and the dialogue is at least equally laughable. However, some shots using models were actually quite good for the time! Between the modelwork and the scoring, I feel like this B-movie received some serious care.

When he finally starts to transform Wolfgang’s hands become long and gangly like Nosferatu, he rips guts out of a goon’s back and his body pulsates and mutates. He then becomes a large, slow, clunky humanoid with a combination of scales and exoskeleton dripping in goo. His transformation reminds me of The Fly (1986). Sadly, it’s almost boring how easily this monster is defeated when it’s lit on fire. But at least it’s disgustingly gooey.

For his first and only feature film, director Jay Kamen succeeded in making a mildly exploitative B-movie. For those that care it features a typical repetitive dose of nudity, some violence against women (typical of the era), and surprisingly good pacing. I think most B-movie fans will enjoy this despite the more minimalist special effects. Sci-Horror fans delighting in cheap Alien/Aliens rip-offs will probably enjoy this even more.

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