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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Spacemen & Go-Go Girls Double Feature
Spacemen & Go-Go Girls Double Feature
Tempe Entertainment // Unrated // December 19, 2006
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Bill Gibron | posted January 19, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Product:
You have to give Canadian filmmaker Brett Kelly credit. It's not every struggling artist who would allow his less than successful efforts to see the light of day, let alone permit them to be marketed as clever, campy comedies. As a director, Kelly conforms to the 50/50 school of cinematic savants. On the one hand, he has made some excellent outsider efforts (My Dead Girlfriend, The Feral Man). But then there are those films that should have stayed under wraps (the rather weak Bonesetter series), viewed only by those with a real passion for the man's past catalog. In this regard, Tempe has released The Spacemen and Go-Go Girls Double Feature, a DVD showcasing two of Kelly's short schlock homages. While weak in execution, there is still something strangely likable about this pair of peculiar efforts.

The Plot:
When the planet Uranus runs out of fuel, it sends two volunteer spacemen to Earth to locate a new supply. Turns out that mistletoe is the energy source of choice, and obtaining it is not that difficult. However, the interstellar travelers didn't count on interference from those notoriously nimble crime fighters, the Go-Go Girls. But once the gals learn the extraterrestrials purpose, and their lack of holiday spirit, they do whatever they can to teach the duo the true meaning of Christmas. Later, when a horrible murderous fiend escapes from a Uranus prison, our pair of planet-hopping heroes return to Earth, and with the aid of the Go-Go Girls, try to capture the craven creature who looks just like...the Easter Bunny.

The DVD:
Purposeful kitsch is almost impossible to achieve. The elements that make a movie cheesy or tacky are more or less unplanned and usually unwanted by the people they plague. Indeed, most filmmakers will argue that badness derives directly from ambitious pretension, not pre-planned crappiness. Therefore, it takes a special mindset to make the leap into premeditated mediocrity. This is the motion picture mountain that writer/director Brett Kelly sets up for himself with the awkwardly titled cinematic pair, Spacemen, Go-Go Girls and the True Meaning of Christmas/ Spacemen, Go-Go Girls and the Great Easter Hunt. Wanting to recreate the psychotronic vibe of such noted filmic freak shows as Ed Wood, Russ Meyer and Ray Dennis Steckler, Kelly can't quite come up with the bad movie goods. It's not that these efforts don't have the same stale smell of a Ratfink a Boo-Boo or Bride of the Monster, it's just that the director and his casts aren't trying very hard. Causal consideration of such an artistic conceit just won't work here. Instead, you need expertly realized rankness, amateurish acting that identifies its thespian weakness and plays it as straight as the most serious speculative fiction. Instead, what we have here is a genial bunch of film geeks giving it their fair to middling best. The fact that it almost works says something about Kelly as a filmmaker, and the fervent fandom of his friends.

Spacemen, Go-Go Girls and the True Meaning of Christmas gets things going with an interesting, if rather narrow novelty. We meet the aliens from Uranus (including an over the top interplanetary leader seemingly lifted out of a John Waters version of Buck Rodgers) and watch as their public domain stock footage spacecraft travels to Earth. There they meet the members of the Go-Go Girl Detective Agency, and it's here where SGGGATTMOC faces its first real challenge. As actresses, our dancing damsels in retro outfits are more or less adequate. As examples of '60s psychedelic showboating, their frugging fails miserably. Unfortunately, they just don't look or play the part. One of the hardest things to do for even the most masterful Method performer is to capture the mentality of an era gone by. Contemporary artists are so lost in the current pop culture stream that its hard to wade back and relive a bygone dynamic. So we never really believe the Go-Go gang (including Brinke Stevens, phoning in her role as the girl's leader). It's not just that their boogying belies their post-millennial make-up. They just "feel" foreign to the entire Peace decade. Still, Kelly keeps things light and loopy, delivering just enough dumb dork humor to help us hobble over the more mediocre moments.

Things improve a little with Spacemen, Go-Go Girls and the Great Easter Hunt, mostly because previous ancillary character Dixie Pixiestick (actress Anne-Marie Frigon is a hoot as the voluminous Velma in Kelly's Mystery machinery) gets a co-starring role here. The brainy sprite is just so gosh-darn perky and pleasant that we can't help but fall for her stocky smart aleck stereotype. The rest of the babe brigade still suffers from the year 2000 tone of their existence. The chief difference is the decision to move the narrative from Canada to Easter Island, thereby allowing a bevy of loin-clothed ladies to line up and do that whole bone brandishing thang. Some of this material is very funny, especially when the villain – a mutant Hellbeast with a horrible thirst for human flesh that just so happens to look like the Easter Bunny – sits around and waves off his attackers with a cool costumed paw. At half the length of the previous film (Christmas is 33 minutes while Easter is 18) Kelly makes the wise decision to strike while the satiric schlock iron is hot, and then make a quick beeline out of the buffoonery. This makes Spacemen, Go-Go Girls and the Great Easter Hunt far more fun, since it recognizes its own limitations and makes the most of its obvious liabilities. Together, this DVD gives us a glimpse into what one struggling filmmaker feels is a valid way to spend his time and talent. Some may fault Brett Kelly for conceiving and creating such crud, but there is a sweetness and knowing naiveté that tends to soften the stumbles. While far from perfect, The Spacemen and Go-Go Girls Double Feature is silly, stupid entertainment.

The Video:
Offered in a 1.33:1 full screen dynamic, the Spacemen and Go-Go Girls Double Feature is no great shakes in the image department. The transfer is clean and crisp, but the incredible low budget make-up of these movies gives away their optical ordinariness every step of the way. There are defects to be sure – grain and bleeding, mostly – but overall, the visuals here are presentable.

The Audio:
Complete with camcorder recording technology and lots of ersatz garage band bravado, the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix provided is perfectly acceptable. All the dialogue is easily discernible and the shoddy sci-fi sound effects are rendered with a nicely noxious flair.

The Extras:
Packed with added content, Tempe tricks out this digital presentation with lots of beneficial bells and whistles. First up are cast and crew commentaries on all four films. FOUR films you say? Yes indeed, since Kelly has permitted this DVD to include his original versions of the Christmas/ Easter efforts. It's interesting to note the difference between the lead actresses. The current editions have what appear to be college age gals who only nominally appear like '60s sex kittens. The original Go-Go gals fair no better in the period department, but have a decided Canadian stripper stance to their performance. Aside from that, the only other difference is the lack of an extended running time. The plots, and most of the jokes, are just the same. As for the alternate narrative tracks, they are goofy little exercises, Kelly and friends ripping each other (and the films) for their obvious flaws. Aside from some minor making-of footage (only 3 minutes worth) and a collection of Tempe trailers, the differing takes on the material provide the most compelling DVD supplements.

Final Thoughts:
It is really hard to hate what filmmaker Brett Kelly is doing here. Unlike other independent directors who believe everything they commit to film is an apple of cinematic gold, he understands the lame logistics of what he's trying to accomplish, and never strays beyond a certain basic benevolence. So for what he was trying to do, and a single sequence where our space travelers take jobs at the male equivalent of Hooters (to go any further would ruin one of the DVD's best jokes), the Spacemen and Go-Go Girls Double Feature easily earns a Recommended rating. If you go into this set expecting nothing but good-natured goofiness and some attempted old school schlock, you will more or less enjoy yourself. But if you really want a space spoof that satisfies with more than just a reminder of the ridiculousness of the past, then you'll need to focus your filmic facets elsewhere. In the hit or miss career of Brett Kelly, these works are hard to categorize. As true examples of moviemaking magic, they obviously fail. As genial indications of a director's love of the artform, they are a great deal of fun.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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