All posts by qwipster

V – The Original Miniseries (1983) | Kenneth Johnson



The people of Earth are visited and befriended by a human-like race from outer space inhabiting massive spacecraft, 50 of them measuring three miles in diameter, hovering over cities throughout the world. These newcomers speak Earth’s languages fluently, though they have distinct electronic-sounding voices and are so sensitive to light that they frequently wear sunglasses. They’re called the Visitors by the people of Earth. They’ve come to our planet for resources that we can manufacture for their people to survive in exchange for their vast knowledge of technology and medicine. They become celebrities welcomed by humans worldwide.

Manufacturing ramps up while the Visitors take over media outlets, shaping public opinion for their cause against the world’s scientists and any others who might figure out how to stop their domination, registering them to track their whereabouts, and imposing their influence upon the world. Revealed within the tale is that the Visitors are a race of carnivorous reptilians donning elaborate human disguises to suck the Earth completely dry of its water and to harvest humans for food. Kenneth Johnson writes, directs, and produces. Marc Singer, Faye Grant, and Jane Badler star.


Alien Nation (1988) | Graham Baker



Set in the near future of 1991, it’s been three years since the landing of an actual flying saucer landed on Earth, containing a species of aliens (dubbed “Newcomers”) who had been genetically engineered as slave laborers.  The Newcomers are smarter and physically stronger than their human counterparts, which makes them more suitable to perform certain jobs, and the backlash against them from the human population is escalating daily.  In this environment, Detective Sergeant Matt Sykes (James Caan) has his partner killed by one of the alien “slags”, making it his mission to take down the ones responsible.  He voluntarily requests to be partnered with the first Newcomer police detective, Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) – Sykes calls him “George” instead, and while they haven’t been specifically assigned the homicide case, Sykes won’t stay off of it, employing Sam’s help as needed in order to get to the bottom of the underworld slag crime syndicate. Directed by Graham Baker from a script by Rockne S. O’Bannon and an uncredited James Cameron.


Stranded (1987) | Tex Fuller



In the story, five escaped alien refugees come to Earth like a bolt of lightning and find themselves in a remote North Carolina Victorian-style farmhouse inhabited by a newly-orphaned teenage girl Deirdre Clark (Ione Skye) and her grandmother Grace (Maureen O’Sullivan). Suspicions are high, resulting in the aliens taking casualties in a gunfight with the local yokels. They just want to be left alone and leave peacefully. But police are surrounding the house, just barely able to contain the gin-toting locals out for revenge for these aliens killing one of their own. Joe Morton and Flea also appear.


The Brother from Another Planet (1984) | John Sayles



A mute extraterrestrial resembling a black man (but with feet that have three toes) crash lands his spaceship near New York City. Not understanding where he is or what people are saying, he finds his way to Harlem’s 125th Street. Although derided as either crazy or homeless, others discover his worth when he can heal broken electronics and human injuries with a single touch. A concerned social worker helps him get a job as a repairman. Hobnobbing with patrons at a local bar, the Brother finds a dangerous world outside of junkies, thieves, and thugs. Bounty hunters from his homeworld are after him. After discovering a boy’s heroin overdose, he uncovers a Wall Street drug ring. Joe Morton stars in this John Sayles film.


Starman (1984) | John Carpenter



An alien race intercepts Voyager II, a space probe describing Earth, effectively inviting aliens to visit. These aliens take Earth up on the offer, sending a scout pod to see what we’re up to. American fighter jets greet it and the alien scout crashlands up in the American backwoods in Wisconsin. Using DNA found in the hair in recent widow Jenny Hayden’s photo album, he transforms himself into the likeness of Jenny’s dead husband, a house painter named Scott (Jeff Bridges). Now, not-Scott must get to a rendezvous point at Meteor Crater, Arizona to get back to the mothership before he dies, but SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and the FBI want him to experiment on.  The alien has no choice but to kidnap Jenny (Karen Allen) to assist him.  John Carpenter directs.


E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982) | Steven Spielberg



E.T.: The Extraterrestrial starts in a forest outside a California suburb. An alien spacecraft lands, and several extraterrestrials emerge, gathering flora samples.  Suspicious humans arrive, the aliens escape, leaving one behind.  He hides in a backyard shed, discovered by a 10-year-old boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas). Startled and scared, Elliott hides the alien, whom he dubs “E.T.,” in his room, and they become friends. E.T. determines to find his way back to his world by gathering the materials necessary to build a transmitter and “phone home” for his kin to come back and get him, as he appears to be growing weaker the longer he remains on Earth.  However, Earth’s scientists aren’t going to let such an extraordinary creature get away quickly. STeven Spielberg directs. Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote also appear.


Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) | Steven Spielberg



Richard Dreyfuss stars as Muncie, Indiana electricity lineman, Roy Neary, one of many people in the world to experience a close encounter with a UFO.  Others experiencing the phenomenon exhibit the same odd behavior — radiation burns and an obsession with a mountainous shape. Roy’s obsession strains his relationship with his family, who think he is mentally ill. The eyewitnesses are compelled to converge at a location where the US military also plans for a close encounter of the third kind. Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Cary Guffey, and Melinda Dillon also appear in this influential film written and directed by Steven Spielberg.


The Abyss (1989) | James Cameron



Virgil ‘Bud’ Brigman (Ed Harris) is the lead foreman of Deepcore, an underwater oil drilling rig 2,000-feet deep. Deepcore receives word of a downed US Navy nuclear submarine in the area near the Cayman Trough. As Russian subs are close by, foul play is suspected. The crew must escort Bud’s soon-to-be ex-wife Lindsay (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the project engineer for Deepcore, and a crew of Navy SEALs for a rescue mission.  A hurricane cuts communication outside, effectively leaving Navy SEAL Lieutenant Coffey (Michael Biehn) in command. Psychosis from pressurization makes Coffey unstable and paranoid, viewing the various neon-colored NTIs (Non-Terrestrial Intelligence) in a nearby abyss as enemy Russian vessels that must be destroyed. James Cameron writes and directs.


DeepStar Six (1989) | Sean S. Cunningham



The plot of DeepStar Six involves a team of eleven scientists working for the US Navy is constructing a facility stationed six miles beneath the surface of the ocean for the launching of nuclear missiles. They discover they are building atop what appears to be a vast underground cavern. The Navy might scrap the project if they don’t complete it before their six-month stint is up. Once they destroy the cavern, they discover that they aren’t alone down there, as some strange and massive prehistoric arthropod creature begins to attack their undersea vehicles. Nancy Everhard, Greg Evigan, Miguel Ferrer, Taurean Blacque, Nia Peeples, and Matt McCoy star.

Erratum: Apologies to Harry Manfredini for calling him “Henry” in this episode.


Leviathan (1989) | George P. Cosmatos



Scientists on the last few days of their stint in a deep sea mining operation stumble upon a mysterious Russian ship, “Leviathan”, which has sunk and perhaps was ambushed by their own navy.  They loot some cargo on board and inadvertently bring back the remnants of a genetic experiment gone awry, which they also set loose upon their own vessel, to gruesome and nightmarish results. Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Richard Crenna, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, and Hector Elizondo appear in this film directed by George Cosmatos.


Humanoids from the Deep / Monster (1980) | Barbara Peeters



In a small coastal fishing village called Noyo in northern California, the residents are set to celebrate their annual salmon festival. The festival has been on the decline of late because the fish population has dwindled, leaving the town suffering  Doug McClure plays a fisherman and trusted community leader named Jim Hill (Doug McClure), doing what he can to keep harmony among his neighbors. Vic Morrow is the town’s more aggressive type, twisting whatever arms necessary to get a company to establish a cannery in town. Anthony Pena is among the Native Americans protesting the cannery planning to exploit his tribe’s land.

The corporation has been experimenting with ways to escalate the growth of fish in the area. Ann Turkel is a scientist named Dr. Susan Drake who led the experiments, which involved tinkering with salmon DNA so they’d grow large and increase spawning activity. However, the experiment goes awry after prehistoric coelacanths begin to consume these genetically altered salmon. Their offspring evolves quickly into humanoid sea creatures that emerge out of the ocean, attacking landlubbers with an overwhelming desire to feed on mammals and procreate with human women.

Directed by Barbara Peeters for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.


Piranha II: The Spawning (1981) | James Cameron



The story for Piranha II doesn’t connect to Piranha save for a reference to fish used as bioweapons for a top-secret U.S. Army experiment.  Those experiments continued into cross-breeding piranhas with grunions and flying fish to make them dangerous in both air and water. A ship has sunk and a container of their eggs breaks open in the area near Club Elysium, a posh Jamaican resort, on the verge of their annual Fish Fry Beach Festival, when the grunions hatch and walk upon the shore.

That’s where Anne (Tricia O’Neil), a marine biologist, works as a scuba instructor. Anne’s separated husband Steve (Lance Henriksen) is a cop in the seaside town. Steve’s a little jealous when Anne enters into a fling with a mysterious resort resident, Tyler Sherman (Steve Marachuk). When human bodies are found in a gruesome, half-eaten state, they suspect other summer frolickers are in danger.  Too bad Club Elysium won’t shut down the highly attended festival.

James Cameron’s directorial debut.


Piranha (1978) | Joe Dante



Bradford Dillman stars as Paul Grogan, a reclusive alcoholic living in a cabin out in the woods in an undisclosed part of the United States. He’s visited by a skiptracer named Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies), who is out to find a couple of backpackers who have disappeared without a trace. Their search leads them to an abandoned Army research facility solely inhabited by a strange scientist, Dr. Hoak (Kevin McCarthy). Hoak has been keeping up the research on “Operation Razorteeth,” where mutant carnivorous piranha fish became bioweapons they can use to destroy the coldwater river systems of North Vietnam.  The war ended, and the research stopped, but the scientist wouldn’t abandon it. A mishap sees the piranha drained out into the nearby river, where they begin to wreak havoc on anyone unlucky enough to be in the water with them. Joe Dante directs this Roger Corman production from a script by John Sayles.


Jaws: The Revenge (1987) | Joseph Sargent



The Brody family, not led by the widow Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), continues to experience shark attacks, starting with when Ellen’s younger son, Sean. While mourning the loss, Ellen visits her other son, Michael (Lance Guest), in the Bahamas, where she meets the rascally Hoagie Newcombe (Michael Caine). Meanwhile, the same shark that got her boy appears off the coast of the island, and Ellen has to take it down or never escape the shark’s wrath. Mario Van Peebles also appears in this Joseph Sargent film so bad that it killed off the Jaws franchise once and for all.


Jaws 3-D (1983) | Joe Alves



Jaws 3 sees the sons of Sheriff Brody now in Florida, as eldest son Mike (Dennis Quaid) has laid the foundations for a two-year project to bring an underwater structure in the lagoon at Sea World to life.  The younger brother, Sean (John Putch) is also visiting, although he is still suffering from a strong phobia about getting in the water, brought about from his harrowing near-death experiences with sharks from his youth.  He has reason to fear, as it appears that a young Great White shark has entered the lagoon and is terrorizing the pre-opening day adjustments, having gotten through the filtration system, and begins snacking on whatever it can find.  However, when one of the crew ends up viciously chomped, it appears that a much larger shark must have been responsible, as they shudder to realize that the young shark’s mother, a massive 35-foot long Great White, has also passed into the park, hungry for the taste of human flesh and underwater Sea World structures. Joe Alves directs. Lou Gossett Jr., Bess Armstrong, Simon McCorkindale, and Lea Thompson also appear.