Originally titled The New Extraterrestrials and then The Pod People and also called Extra Terrestrial Visitors, this 1983 French-Spanish science fiction film was originally intended to be a horror flick about a homicidal alien out to do some murderin’ but, because of the success of Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, the film was tweaked a bit in order to try and cash in on that film’s success. There’s still a murdering alien but the murderous alien has a little baby that ends up becoming friends with a human child. However, like so many films that attempt to cash in on features that end up becoming adored to the point of universal praise, the knock-off misses all of the things that make the source that it is robbing from so endearing.
Where do I even begin with this one? From a technical standpoint, the film suffers greatly because of crummy music, uninteresting camera and editing work and some really bland and forgettable acting. Heck, even from the standpoint of comically bad B-movie attire, the acting in this film isn’t even bad enough to be fun and amusing. Sure, the little boy that befriends the alien can be funny sometimes because his character is literally exposition incarnate as he spells each and every thing he and the alien are doing but, however, besides this, the movie is really just a muddled mess of sub-standard filmmaking…a.k.a. your basic, generic B-movie that you would see on Mystery Science Theater 3000—wait, that’s because this film was on MST3K! I really should have just watched that version instead.
Like other films that tried to cash in on the success of E.T., The Pod People (or whatever the heck you wanna call it) lacked drama, emotion and heart. What you get instead is a scrambled mess of one-dimensional characters, a story that feels like it was made up on the spot, an atmosphere that confuses boredom with tension and terror, undeveloped plot-threads and some absolutely needless sexism and disrespect to women (there is literally a scene where a woman laments that she is too ugly and has to up her cooking game in order to get a man – it’s kinda hard to watch that scene in 2016). Then, as if to garnish this half-ass E.T. rip-off, you get the joy of some lame stop-motion “magic” from the alien that befriends the boy. Finally, the film comes equipped with its own drinking game. The alien child that befriends the boy is named “Trumpy” by the child because he has bad hair, is terrible with all business investments he attempts, has tiny hands, is extremely sexist and very obviously racist and has a face that can only be described as “punchable.” Actually, that’s not true. The kid names the alien “Trumpy” because he has a snout like an elephant and all cartoon elephants’ trunks make noises like a trumpet…I guess. Anyway, the rules to this drinking game are to take a sip every time the kid says the word “Trumpy.” Don’t make it a big sip though because the kid says the name so often that dying of alcohol poisoning is a real and serious risk with this drinking game.
The Pod People or whichever other title it wants to go by is a very uninspired rip-off that would have realistically just been another generic killer alien B-movie but ended up becoming a little more noteworthy because it so shamelessly tried to nuzzle in on the success of a far better movie. Of course, the film still went into obscurity and it barely achieved cult status after MST3K riffed it. This aside, it’s impossible to not see how unapologetically and shamefully it tried to cash in on Spielberg’s classic. Even the director would go on the record to say he was dissatisfied with the final results of the film and how the producers wanted to make it a dollar store brand E.T.
Rev. Ron likes to eat Reese’s Pieces (or Reesee Piecies, if you’re Jason Mantzoukas) and one time he flew a bike across the moon…he also likes to lie a lot and review movies. You can read more of his reviews on his blog at RevRonMovies.BlogSpot.com. And you can follow him on Twitter (@RevRonster) for more of his movie-based boasts/lies.