This is the alien invasion movie that bowlers have been waiting for! The original Alien was a pretty good little film. It had atmosphere, cool monster, gooey special effects, and even a cyborg! But it left a lot of us keglers feeling like it was that spare we had to settle for after failing to pick up the strike in the tenth frame. Sure, you had an alien on the rampage in deep space and all, but where in the heck was all the bowling? How much more dramatic would it have been if the alien was trying to eat Ripley while she was in the middle of trying to bowl 300? Crud! I just soiled myself thinking about the tension!
Thankfully, director Ciro Ippolito (along with an uncredited assist from the co-writer of Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat , Biagio Proietti) knows that for the audience to truly connect with the characters, they must walk a mile in their sweat-stained bowling shoes!
But Ciro also realizes that a crackerjack climax at the old deserted bowling alley will only work if he builds toward it. You can’t just go giving your bowling alley showdown away in the first reel! That’s the sort of thing that you have to crescendo to. And what better way to do that than with the judicious use of stock footage?
Ciro knows that some bowlers might have to take their non-bowling friends to this movie, so he throws them a bone by having us watch a bunch of old film of astronauts shaving in their space capsule, mission control guys staring at screens, exterior shots of radar stations, and even some battleships at sea.
It’s all inexpertly and absent-mindedly spliced together with a sequence taking place at a TV studio that finds Thelma attempting to discuss her adventures in a cave. I’m not going to soft-peddle things for you, some of you out there are going to need a wrist support for your brain to fully comprehend what’s happening with this one.
Thelma’s TV interview is cut short when her telepathy starts acting up. Next thing you know, her boyfriend drives her to the beach to meet a guy.
Who this guy is or what he’s doing other than telling Thelma that everyone’s got problems, I have no idea. He does put his boots on once he gets off his boat, which could conceivably pass for plot development in an Italian movie. That is, if we ever saw this guy again. We don’t. But who cares! Next stop is the bowling alley!
The bowling alley is where we meet Thelma’s friends. After a dramatic strike is bowled resulting in the winning of a bet, we leave the bowling alley! Now it’s time to go explore a cave!
Before that can happen though, we somehow manage to work in another trip to the beach, where a little girl finds a mysterious blue rock. Thelma’s Spidey-sense is tingling again, but she doesn’t know what it’s all about and leaves the beach.
Meanwhile, the little girl’s mom finds her daughter with her face turned into a big steaming pile of red gristle, but still able to talk! Okay, so we need to beware of these strange blue rocks. Got it.
At the local cave supply store, one of Thelma’s pals, Burt, is urinating on the outside of the building when he notices a blue rock! Oh no! Just zip up and get out of there, Burt! But Burt picks up the rock and gives it to Thelma.
Once in the cave, the blue rock starts to pulsate. Before any of you start questioning just why in the world Thelma would pack a big rock to take with her into the cave, I would like to point out that someone else in the group brought a typewriter!
The rest of the movie deals with the survivors trying to escape from the cave before an alien creature can kill them. Thelma’s telepathic powers start firing up again, this time accompanied by some green light coming from her eyes and it isn’t long before she is locked in mortal combat via a stare down with an alien-possessed friend. Any qualms I had about how much I really understood about what was happening were quickly dispelled by an exploding head.
Thelma and her boyfriend escape the cave and go after help, but become increasingly worried when they discover an abandoned police cruiser as well as no one at the cave store!
The phone lines are also dead, so they head into the city, but it’s deserted as well! Well, it was deserted except for the car behind them whose headlights you could plainly see as they drove into the city, but that might have just been Ciro running late to that morning’s shoot and really, how much help would he have been?
Ciro wisely avoids the typical bowling alley climax clichés such as someone getting bowled down the lane into the pins or an alien having a bowling ball heaved into its intergalactic nuts. What we get is Thelma running around screaming while the scene is shot for some reason through a red filter.
Even better is when Ciro goes with the point of view shot of the monster which looks a like we’re staring out of a giant colon!
Though not terribly prolific, Ciro assures himself a place alongside the greats like Umberto Lenzi when he concludes his movie by having the phrase “…you may be next!” plastered across the screen.
Also notable for the musical work done by the Oliver Onions (really those sneaky De Angelis brothers from Yor, the Hunter from the Future, 2019: After the Fall of New York and other essentials) which manages to be the usual bad thumping synthesizer tunes, but with the added bonus of some folk-type songs and acoustic guitar numbers.
And the guy peeing all over that building? That would be Michael Soavi, director of Dellamore, Dellamorte. I thought by how he handled his golden shower scene here that he was destined for bigger things, like maybe going number two on a demon in his next movie, but directing’s not a bad gig either.
© 2014 MonsterHunter