“What in the heck is beyond space? Parking lot, maybe?”
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, returns to DVD, and she’s brought two gigantic monsters with her. Gamera and the Creature from Beyond Space are here as well.
It’s time for another go around with B-movie trash-talking with two episodes of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, in which Elvira (Cassandra Peterson, Elvira’s Haunted Hills) first rose to fame. This time, it’s off to Japan for space women, annoying children, and stock footage galore with Gamera Super Monster on Disc One, followed by a shadowy conspiracy and a lot of starched shirts in They Came from Beyond Space on Disc Two.
Gamera Super Monster was created by a financially troubled studio as a last-ditch means to stay out of bankruptcy. It was advertised as a super action epic, in which the heroic giant turtle Gamera battled every one of his enemies from all of his previous films. In reality, almost all of Gamera’s screen time is footage from his other films, making this explosive finale to the big guy’s original adventures nothing more than a clip show. The producers filled in the gaps with a ridiculous plot about an ear-bleedingly annoying little kid who befriends a group of “space women” as they are hunted by an evil “space woman.” Stock footage from Star Blazers and Galaxy Express 999 also appears for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Following a plot that’s, shall we say, similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, ordinary folks are being replaced with super-intelligent emotionless aliens from the moon in They Came From Beyond Space. For as headachy as the Gamera flick was, at least it moved along at a quick pace. This one is way too talky for an alien-invasion thriller. Don’t get me wrong; I love dialogue-driven movies. But a dialogue-driven movie has to have good dialogue, and not just a bunch of 1950s-era paunchy guys with irreparable hair and stuffy suits slowly droning page of exposition. By the time the story finally gets somewhere and way-cool actor Michael Gough (Batman Returns) shows up, the audience will be too comatose to care. Also, the aliens are from the moon, which, as Elvira reminds us, is hardly “beyond space.”
Aahh, Elvira. That’s why you’re interested in this two-disc set, isn’t it? In Movie Macabre, Elvira pops up before each commercial break to comment on the film. Although the attitude and the atmosphere is all camp, I have to admit that a lot of her witticisms got me laughing. She has an easy job making fun of the Gamera movie. With all the insane crap going on, there’s no shortage of targets for wisecracks. Elvira has an understandably tougher time riffing on the other film, which is dull beyond space. Of course she gives it her best go.
The video quality here is more or less terrible. Both films are full-frame, with scratches and grain everywhere. Elvira’s host segments are a little better, but they suffer from too much early ’80s video haze. The 2.0 sound is decent, but not exactly heart-pumping. If you’re really into the whole “torture yourself” thing, you have the option of watching both films without Elvira’s host segments.
Basically, if you like Elvira and her cheesy brand of humor, you’ll dig this two-disc set. If you’re a die-hard fan of the Japanese giant monster genre or seeking intelligent, metaphor-laced science fiction, then avoid at all costs.