Friday, September 25, 2020

Gosti iz galaksije (1981)

... aka: Gäste aus der Galaxis (Guest from the Galaxy)
... aka: Monstrum z galaxie Arkana (A Monster from the Arkana Galaxy)
... aka: Visitor from Galaxy
... aka: Visitors from the Galaxy
... aka: Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy

Directed by:
Dušan Vukotić

Hotel desk clerk / budding science fiction writer Robert Novak (Žarko Potočnjak) is busy working on a novel tentatively titled "Monster from the Arkana Galaxy." Too busy, if you asked his frustrated hairdresser girlfriend Biba (Lucie Žulová), who's feeling neglected now that he's so focused on his writing and annoyed at the bizarre changes in her boyfriend, like his wearing a plastic astronaut helmet to get the creative sci-fi juices flowing. Robert's latest opus involves the inhabitants of the Planet Tugador, Tugadorians if you will, who live deep within a distant galaxy called Arkana. With their godlike powers and advanced technology, the aliens are able to easily traverse the universe and now have their sights set on exploring Earth. White-haired, laser-eyed Village of the Damned-style child aliens Targo and Ulu, along with their statuesque robot helper Andra, decide to take their ship out to snoop around our planet. And that's where Robert has left off thus far. He may have gotten a little further if he wasn't constantly interrupted by Biba, his photographer neighbor Toni (Ljubiša Samardžić) and Toni's overbearing mother (Věra Kalendová), whose latest life-shattering crisis involves Toni's dislike of her dog.

Late one night while he's recording parts of his book to add a new monster "toy" character to help with the book's commercial appeal, strange voices come over Robert's tape recorder. They announce themselves as Ulu and Andra, and they ask him to meet them on a nearby island. Robert borrows Toni's boat and heads on over. He then follows a flashing blue light and, low and behold, Andra (Ksenia Prohaska), Ulu (Jasminka Alic), the bratty Targo (Rene Bitorajac) and his toy (called "Mumu"), are all there, having somehow managed to materialize in the real world. When Mumu transforms into a big monster that looks like a mutant, patchwork elephant / anteater, Robert runs off, hops in the boat, takes off and immediately goes and seeks professional help.

During a consultation with a psychiatrist, Robert tells a bizarre story about when he was a baby and willed his widowed father to grow breasts and feed him when they ran out of milk. It seems Robert may possess the rare gift of "telurgy," a term in parapsychology referring to an individual whose will is so strong they can create something material out of nothing. Robert even manages to will a copy of his book into existence, only the pages are blank because the story is still being written as we speak. The aliens continue to communicate with him over his recorder. Robert can't tell if he's losing his mind. He asks Biba to accompany him to the island, where she soon becomes a believer herself when they run across the aliens, robot and their blue spherical spacecraft. They also get a demonstration of the alien's powers when they reverse time, remove the island caretaker's heart and temporarily shrink Biba to cube form.

Despite being Robert's creation, the emotionless aliens are quick to diminish him as lesser. He's merely a mammal; primitive, on the lower end of both the evolutionary scale and consciousness and one who wastes too much energy on emotion. Either way, he asks them to stay on the island for the time being. However, word quickly gets around town that aliens are there, causing both curiosity and a panic. A kid finds an alien finger and throws it into a meat grinder. Toni wants to get pictures of them to help his photography career. Townspeople scour the caves looking for them and strip off all their clothes to prove to them they aren't carrying weapons. After the aliens blow up a boat, they come to the mainland to live with Robert. Andra tries to prove her credentials as a domestic with her vacuum cleaner arm attachment and ability to generate food in her stomach and squirt coffee and cream from her fingertips. Just touching her creates feelings of ecstasy. Perhaps having them around won't be so bad after all. On second though...

Targo screws everything up by slipping Mumu into Biba's bag, which she then brings back to her apartment building. It transforms into a monster, kills both of her sisters (after squirting green slime all over them) and then makes its way downstairs where it crashes a wedding reception, decapitates several people (including tearing a head clean off with its tongue), bites off someone's hand with a fanged mouth that sprouts on its stomach (in a bit predating the famous defibrillator scene in Carpenter's THE THING), rips off a leg, crushes a head under its foot and does all kinds of other odd things (including mutating, growing horns and expelling toxic green gas) before setting the whole place on fire using its trunk as a flamethrower! The above somehow manages to be almost completely bloodless, is scored by an oblivious old blind man playing the accordion and is entirely played for laughs.

Bizarre, one-of-a-kind sci-fi / horror parody seems a bit unfocused at times and is all over the place with its tone but it's also imaginative, surreal, often very funny, oddly charming, extremely entertaining and filled with weird, colorful special effects of varying degrees of quality, some of which were done by Czech stop motion master Jan Svankmajer, who also designed the creature. The acting, locations and electronic score from Tomislav Simovic (which is now available on CD) are all very good and genre fans should find plenty to enjoy here.

Vukotic made dozens of short animated films from 1951 until the mid-70s but very few feature films. He was instrumental in helping to form the production company / animation studio Zagreb Film, where he worked for four decades, and won an Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film in 1961 for Surogat / "Ersatz"; becoming the first foreign animator to do so. He'd be nominated a second time for the same award for his 1964 animated short Igra / "The Game". Visitors came late in his career and would be one of his last projects.

While the cult potential for this title is huge, it has yet to get a cleaned up DVD or Blu-ray release. It's also never been officially released in America nor are there any with legit English subtitles (the version I found had fan-made subs). As far as I know, there were only a couple of VHS releases; in Germany (from C&T Videofilm) and Spain (from Polygram Video). It's way past time for someone out there to rescue this from obscurity.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...