Revenge of the Teenage Vixens From Outer Space:
Investors, check this out. Digital video processing programs have a plug-in called 'film look' which makes your shot on video subjects look somewhat like they were originally shot on film. Meanwhile DVD releasing companies are running out of classic movies to repackage, now mining the depths of '80s features to foist on the public. I'm working on a digital video editing plug-in called ''80s independent film school graduate look,' which makes your subject look like it was shot on 16mm for little money while you were in film school and it took you four years to complete the movie. If you're interested in that kind of thing.
The teenage vixens here have a pedigree similar to that which my plug-in will emulate, and that's not a bad thing, though to delight in such a movie is usually an acquired taste. Our vixens seem to have little over which to seek revenge, but nonetheless they come from space to a high school in small town America anyway. While here, they commence to romancing all the boys at school and to teaching the girls a thing or two about '80s fashions. Maybe it's the girls who will seek revenge when they look back at their yearbook pictures.
For a movie about teenage space vixens who exact their curious revenge by turning victims and even entire towns into produce, (pickles, carrots and squash - it's the showcase of the movie) Revenge is surprisingly sentimental. As a purported riotous sex comedy it's a mild PG trifle, but that's OK. The things that keep this labor of love ticking are both the quality of the performances and the honest script. To have both assets working at such a relatively high level for a pretty silly movie that was filmed over years instead of weeks is miraculous.
At the core are the relationships between the heroine and her brother, and her boyfriend and his father - with friends, hangers-on and vixens making things a bit spicy. Lisa Schwedop renders Karla as a believable kid sister searching for adolescent love while fending off the hussies who would squeeze dry her uncool boyfriend Paul (Howard Scott, also excellent). Meantime Paul contends with teenage rivals and his dad (Julian Schembri) the science teacher. Throw in a mean girl (Amy Crumpacker) and you've got a pretty accurate depiction of high school life circa 1985. The actors even look like high schoolers.
Revenge is hit-or-miss concerning comedy - sometimes either ham-handed or undercooked, but at least not ironic or smirking as one might expect. And where's the sex? Where are the topless babes? This is no Porky's; the best we get is an ejaculating daisy. But if you brace yourself to enjoy a naturalistic sci-fi spoof wherein all the gems are reminders of what it was like to be a teenager, you'll have a pretty good time.
Not sure what source was used for mastering this, but my guess it was your uncle's VCR, the one with a partially melted case where he misguidedly placed that burning candle. It's a fullscreen, 1.33:1 ratio presentation. Some horizontal banding, mild, fuzzy lighter areas - mostly in the night scenes - will draw the discerning viewer's attention, as will a number of squelches - like if your old CRT picture tube suddenly almost shut off. For a movie that saw a good deal of life on video store shelves and late night TV, it seems odd that a better source wasn't found for encoding. Other than that, the usual not-too-bright colors, semi-soft picture and film grain will let you know this is an indie release from decades past.
Sound: The audio is nothing to shout about, but not too bad. No Dolby present, on the monaural track.
Extras:Sovereign Distribution did a decent job putting together this DVD, though they shoot themselves in the foot by releasing it with a cover design that looks like it was drawn with colored pencils by a freshman in high school (appropriate to the content of the movie, I know, but a look that will cause most eyes to pass right on by). Despite the awful cover, there are some nice extras, foremost of which is the Director/ Producer/ Writer Commentary track where Jeff Ferrell and Michelle Lichter lay it all out; from the ultra-low budget, their all-volunteer cast and crew and which parent's houses or cars were used to how Gilbert Gottfried and USA Up All Night gave the movie new life. The commentary is quite low key, but for mega-fans of the movie, very informative. There is an additional 15-minute Mini Commentary track from the Vixen with the long straight hair. This interview track seems also to have been conducted by the high school student who designed the cover. She asks good basic questions and the Vixen gives nice insight into the lengthy production as well as perspective from a non-professional about the nascent moviemakers' process. A short deleted scene has no audio, but a commentary track explains why. Brief filmmakers' bios offer amusing explanations of their post-Vixen careers. A gallery of trailers reveals where Sovereign's heart is, including releases of documentaries about an anti-gay-rights initiative in Oregon and also one about Jesse Helms - both clearly critical.
Revenge of the Teenage Vixens From Outer Space promises outrageous comedy as a sci-fi sex-comedy spoof. Outrageousness is certainly present, but in mild (tuber) form. Comedy is mostly low-key also (except for the tubers). As for the sex, one tantalizingly chaste, almost-topless scene and an overeager daisy is about it. Yet, what is delivered is lots better than most self-conscious spoofs, a delightful, sincere and amusing teenage reminiscence with lots of spacey eye shadow. The natural non-Hollywood performances and a bunch of silly charm will refresh you.Rent it to enjoy with some popcorn on a rainy night.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com