Saturday, May 27, 2017

175. Fugitive Alien

175. Fugitive Alien (1986)
Directors: Minoru Kanaya, Kiyosumi Kuzakawa
Writers: Keiichi Abe, Bunzô Wakatsuki, Yoshihisa Araki, Hiroyasu Yamamura, Hideyoshi Nagasaki, Toyohiro Andô
From: Sci-Fi Invasion
Watch: Mystery Science Theater 3000
During an invasion of Earth, Ken, a Wolf Raider, accidentally kills one of his comrades and has to seek protection from the very humans he was attacking.
This is episode 0310 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 so I watched that version. Those familiar with the show will know, if not this episode, at least the style of “movie” that this is. Fugitive Alien is edited together from episodes of the Japanese TV series Star Wolf (which itself is based on the American novel trilogy of the same name so translation issues abound). The movie starts with Ken, a member of the evil Wolf Raiders of planet Varna attacking the Earth. Ken refuses to kill a child (coincidentally also named Ken) and, in the process of stopping his comrade and best friend from killing the kid, kills his friend.

Ken flees, is picked up in space by the Baccus III, an Earth ship, and, after some initial scrapes, joins the crew. Then it’s space adventures for all of them, starting with getting a job from a planet being threatened by the Varnan Wolf Raiders. While there, Ken gets arrested, breaks out, meets his former lover who’s the sister of the man he killed and has been sent to kill Ken, reconciles with her, then inadvertently kills her, too. TO BE CONTINUED. But not on this blog.

As I said, I watched the MST3k version and the episode itself is shorter than the uncut film so there are probably plot elements I’m missing. That said, it’d be difficult for this to be anything but plot. The key dramatic moments from several episodes are spliced together to make this movie so what I’m sure was a multi-episode arc of crewman Rocky being suspicious of Ken’s origins, attacking Ken, leaving the ship, and coming back is handled here in the span of about 5-10 minutes while other things are also going on.

It’s fine, a Saturday afternoon diversion. The effects are all right for mid-70’s TV, which is what this is despite the movie being released in the mid-80’s, but they’re not great. You have some nice kitbashing with the ships. They look like a mix between Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and aren’t too bad. Unfortunately, the visual effects surrounding them never rise to that level. As I said, though, it’s fine background noise, easily riffable as MST3k demonstrates, and is offensive neither morally nor aesthetically. You can find the MST3k version on Shout Factory TV or via Hulu if you have a subscription.

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