When it comes to genre films from the 80s, I have a special place in my heart for sci-fi and horror. This decade produced some of my all time favorite films, including ALIENS, THE THING, and several others. Along with these classics, a slew of lower budget titles were also released; some were good, but most were not. HORROR PLANET actually falls into the ‘good’ category, although I have to confess I am surprised. I’ve heard many bad things about it over the years, but I didn’t get to check it out for myself until the fine folks at Cheezy Flicks were kind enough to send me a copy. I’m very happy to report there’s not much cheesiness in this film, and fans of lower budget sci-fi horror flicks should be happy here.
If you are not familiar with HORROR PLANET, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cheezy Flicks:
A six man, six woman planetary exploration team is investigating possible origins of a remote, desolate planet’s apparently long-vanished civilization – so far, however, nothing has been found but a silent, lifeless world. Or so it seems. Unbeknownst to the explorers, a strange alien creature has been waiting patiently in stasis for millions of years, biding its time until conditions are suitable to breed… and its time has finally come. When the creature is accidentally awakened, it viciously assaults one of the crew members, and the horror that follows is more terrifying than anyone’s worst nightmare. Especially for one unfortunate crew member with more than her own life to fear…
I need to clarify a few things before I move on with the review. First off, keep in mind HORROR PLANET is a lower budget film. The estimated budget is only $2 million, which is peanuts when compared to the ALIEN budget, which is estimated at $11 million. Obviously, you can only do so much with a small budget. Secondly, there is a popular misconception that this film is a ripoff of ALIEN. Not so once again. This film was greenlit for production around the time that ALIEN started filming. It was released later, which is why many people think it’s a ripoff.
HORROR PLANET is obviously dated, and it does not have the dark, gritty feel that ALIEN does. But what it lacks visually, it makes up for with intensity. Once things start happening, the film takes off like a missile and never slows down. This is a major aspect of what makes the film so good for me.
The acting is very good as well. I am particularly impressed with Judy Geeson’s performance as the main character, Sandy. Geeson is a great Scream-Queen, and she puts her lungs to good use here, especially during the ‘birthing’ scene. Wow…this woman can wail!!
The special effects are pretty good for the time period as well. While I found the alien a bit underwhelming, it still looks good nonetheless. And the gore is not bad, either; there’s a particularly nice and gruesome scene of a woman trying to saw her own leg off. We get to see a bit of it, and I like how the effects team put it together.
Even though it’s touted as a ‘cheezy flick’, I didn’t find this one very cheesy at all (and that’s a good thing!). It’s a fairly well-made science fiction horror hybrid that has a lot of heart and showcases some up-and-coming talent of that time (this was Robert Pugh’s film debut, for example, and he went on to portray Craster in GAME OF THRONES). I recommend giving this one a look. It is available now.