Review of "Destination: Outer Space"
By Jason D. Wittman
Some time ago, a friend on a website for speculative fiction writers said she had a spare DVD of a movie that some friends of hers had made, and that she would send it for free to anyone who wanted it (oh, and would that someone kindly write a review). I figured what the hell, she sent me the DVD, and now I'm reviewing it here.
"Destination: Outer Space" is a homage to those old, cheaply made science fiction movies from the 1950's that used to appear on late night or Saturday afternoon TV, and more recently found a home on "Mystery Science Theater 3000." (There a lot of such homage going on these days. For instance, there's "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra," which I highly recommend, and "Alien Trespass," which I have not seen.) That should tell you exactly what you're in for here, so if you're not into cheap 50's SF movies, do not watch this one.
Our hero in this instance is one Mike Jackson (played by Josh Craig), whom we first meet on the shore of a lake somewhere in Wisconsin, sitting on a lawn chair, fishing pole in one hand, beer bottle in the other. (One gets the distinct impression he has had several beers already.) He tries to open another bottle of beer, drops the bottle opener on the ground, and in the process of retrieving it (which takes several minutes), he manages to lose the fishing pole.
So how, you might ask, is he different from any other Wisconsinite? Well, the answer to that arrives in the form of Mike's former best friend, who tells him that his father is recalling him from early retirement (which had something to do with some fiasco on Mars) to be test pilot for a highly experimental faster-than-light spacecraft. Mike accepts the mission, there is a malfunction, and he finds himself light-years from Earth in the middle of God-knows-where.
Needless to say, Mike encounters many alien races in his new environs. Among the first is a not-unattractive space pirate who is basically a female Han Solo who talks like Yoda. She captures Mike to sell him as slave labor, but he escapes from her ship (the Eon Eagle), and...well, to tell more would spoil the story.
Part of the fun of this movie is trying to figure out what was used to make all the spaceships and other hardware (I do believe a meat grinder was involved in the Eon Eagle's construction). But another part is counting which classic movies are referenced here. "Star Wars" references are abundant, but there is also a very brief cameo by the mother ship from "Plan 9 from Outer Space." There is also an Interocetor from "This Island Earth," as well as an alien from that movie. And there's a robot whose head slightly resembles that of Marvin the Paranoid Android in the British miniseries "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
I enjoyed this movie, personally, because it shows yet again that a movie does not need a big budget to be entertaining (and a big budget movie can still be bad -- witness "Battlefield Earth" and "Dungeons & Dragons"). And "Destination: Outer Space" is not the only movie made by Saint Euphoria Pictures. There are a least four more (their previews are available on the DVD), and they are all homages to 50's SF. But they are all tongue-in-cheek homages, and that leads me to my next question: would the folks at Saint Euphoria ever consider making a serious homage movie? Something along the lines of 1962's "Carnival of Souls," which, while obviously low budget and not without its flaws, was still an honest and not-entirely-unsuccessful attempt at genuine chills. We could use more of that kind of horror movie, I think (and much less of the Freddy Krueger and "Friday the 13th" remakes). Perhaps Saint Euphoria would be so kind as to make at least one?
Thanks for reading.