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If I had all the time in the world, I’d write up more detailed essays on some of the films that Alien inspired. That said — I’d be upset at myself were I to not inform you, dear reader, of these homages. Or ripoffs. You can say ripoffs, if you wish.
This British/Hong Kong film was financed by Run Run Shaw of the famous Shaw Brothers, who would also foist 1979’s Meteor into our theaters, if not our hearts. It’s directed by Norman J, Warren, who was part of a new school of 70s British horror, pushing the boundaries of explicit sex and violence much further than the Amicus and Hammer studios of the previous decade.
Inseminoid has been criticized for bad sets, poor acting and bad special effects. In truth, all things you truly need to make a great genre film. But right there in the title, you know what you’re getting: someone is getting inseminated by something from space, so if that’s what you want, you’re gonna get it. To quote the amazing tagline of Pieces, “It’s exactly what you think it is.” Not to be outdone, but the marketing team for the film created a lurid ad campaign, complete with a direct mail campaign that put this message right into normal people’s mailboxes: “Warning! An Horrific Alien Birth! A Violent Nightmare in Blood! Inseminoid at a Cinema Near You Soon!”
Trust me — I’m not normal myself — this is no film for normal folks. It’s full of weird pregnancy scenes, alien baby twins that kill at will, disembowelments, murders with scissors and so much more. It has a sadly glacially pace and is horribly acted, so it doesn’t achieve the scummy heights of Xtro. It will, however, give nightmares to those expecting children (and anyone rationally sane).
Luigi Cozzi, director of Star Crash and the sublime Hercules and Hercules 2), helmed this gutbuster, which stars Ian McCulloch of Zombie Holocaust, Zombie Flesh Eaters and Zombi 2. Hey — throw in a score from Goblin and you’re pretty much set.
A certified Video Nasty because of scenes where bodies explode and spray showers of blood, this one’s all about alien eggs making their way to Earth and a giant cyclops that controls minds.
Alien 2 Sulla Terra, also known as Alien Terror and Strangers, hit theaters as an unofficial sequel before the trademark to the phrase Alien could be registered. It features music by Oliver Onions composers of music to so many beloved films, from Torso and 2019 After the Fall of New York to perhaps the greatest song ever from the greatest film ever, Yor Hunter from the Future, which you can read more about right here) and stars Michele Soavi (who would go on to be a horror force of his own directing The Church and Cemetery Man).
20th Century Fox was enraged by the title of the film and attempted to sue director Ciro Ippolito $10,000,000 for using the word alien in the title. Luckily, a British lawsuit pointed out a novel from the 1930s with the same title. Speaking of lawsuits, Ippolito later tried to sue the producers of 2005’s The Descent for stealing the plot to this film.
This films ends as all great Italian horror movies should, with the entire Earth decimated, no hope and even the main character simply kneeling down to give up, as a title card exclaims, “… Ora Puo Colpire Anche Te,” or “You May Be Next.” Let’s scream an emphatic positive yell to movies that end on a downbeat note! Speaking of sadness, there was almost an Alien 3 which was to be directed by Bruno Mattei. Oh what could have been!
Here are some more films that get way too close for extraterrestrial comfort:
The Deadly Spawn (1983): Also known as Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn or The Return of the Alien’s Deadly Spawn
Creature (1985): This flick features human alien Klaus Kinski and special effects from Robert and Dennis Skotak, who would later work on Aliens.
Spaceballs (1987): Not a true ripoff, but a fun spoof on the Alien dinner scene is in this film, including the same actor, John Hurt.
Deepstar Six (1989): Is it simplistic to refer to this film as Alien underwater? Or simply being honest?
Leviathan (1989): Making Alien underwater once? Shame on me. Do it twice? Shame on everyone.
Parasite (1982): A young Demi Moore tries to help a man who has attached a parasite to his stomach. Yum!
Scared to Death (1981): An cop comes out of retirement to solve a serial murder case, only to learn that it’s the work of the Syngenor (SYNthesized GENetic ORganism). The monster design is so good, Syngenor came back for a film titled after the creature in 1990 that has nothing to do with the film that inspired it.
Lifeforce (1985): This piece of cinematic insanity comes from Dan O’Bannon, one of the co-writers of Alien, and Tobe Hooper, who was savoring that sweet, sweet Cannon Pictures three film deal. Sure, it’s all about space vampires, but so many folks just write it off as an Alien clone. Trust me — I’ll definitely be writing much more about this film soon.
The Critters series: Those big bad teeth had to come from somewhere, right?
Split Second (1992): In the far future of 2008, Rutger Hauer and Kim Cattrall face a Giger-ish monster.
Star Crystal (1986): In which the alien GAR faces humans before everyone just decides to get along, then the actress who was Daphne’s voice on Scooby-Doo sings the closing theme, “Crystal of the Stars.” Bonus: she also appears in 1973’s Duo-Vision freakout Wicked, Wicked.
Pitch Black (2000): Vin Diesel battles winged toothy xenos on a planet under total eclipse. And no one is unmoved!
Species (1995): Scientists create a really hot woman who must rapidly reproduce, then turn into an alien designed by Giger himself! Well. if you’re gonna rip it off, go with the original. That’s what I always say!
I’m certain there have been some missed space monster classics here. So by all means, comment and let me know what’s not there! Do you have a favorite Ripley-off of your own?