Species

An alien hybrid escapes containment and hits the LA clubs for some procreational activities in this 1995 sci-fi/horror that they should have called Sex Predator.

Itself a hybrid of Rabid and Alien (and featuring another H. R. Giger creature), Species is a sexist, schizophrenic sleazebag of a movie; the Donald Trump of films. One moment you’re watching softcore porn, the next an Alien sequel. One moment the film feigns compassion for the alien (Natasha Henstridge), the next it lusts after her body and her blood. This starts with Sil (that’s her name) imprisoned as a child (Michelle Williams) escaping a gas chamber and fleeing alone and afraid, before growing into an adult body and walking around naked because it was the ’90s. That we saw her as a child not 5 minutes ago seems totally immaterial to the filmmakers, who imagine her in sexy situations while having her hunted down and killed for having the audacity to become a woman; the species to which the title appears to refer.

There are three vaguely interesting aspects to this movie: the first is that there are two Oscar winners in the team tracking her down, which comprises Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Marg Helgenberger and Forest Whitaker as an empath who sees a bloody corpse next to an alien cocoon and senses: “Something bad happened here.” Deanna Troi eat your heart out. The second is that the brilliant Under the Skin follows a significant chunk of its plot, including the bit where the alien goes clubbing; but Jonathan Glazer (who has his own Ben Kingsley connection) flips it to the alien’s point of view instead of that of teenage boys. Thirdly, the original Chupacabra sighting was attributed to the eyewitness watching this movie and believing it to be real. So at least it convinced someone.

Splicing together sci-fi and sexploitation requires a healthy amount of humour; without the camp of Barbarella or the Hammer Horror-on-steroids quality of Lifeforce, Species is a dour, depressing warning against the power of female sexuality and relying on CGI in its embryonic form. In attempting to sympathise with and exploit Sil at the same time, the film tries to have its cake and eat it and ends up choking on its own vomit.

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