"It Came From Another World!" (2007) by Jeffrey Long
Originally posted at: http://bmovieshelf.blogspot.com/2013/07/it-came-from-another-world-2007.html
I recently watched "The Monster of Phantom Lake," the very first movie in the Mihmiverse – a series of micro-budget tongue-in-cheek movies made as parody homages to the classic 1950s era campy Drive-In B-Movies, where the creator Christopher R. Mihm makes a new one of every year. Even though each movie acts as kind of its own separate stand alone movie, there are recurring characters that pop in and out of them occasionally, with small dialog references to previous movies once in a while, so it's because of that fact that I've decided to watch all of them in the order that they were released, although (from my understanding) that's not a MUST and you are able to view them in any order you can manage to get your hands on them in. So the next movie up for me to watch and review in the Mihmiverse is "It Came From Another World!"
I already discussed at length in my review of "The Monster of Phantom Lake" just what kind of approach is taken with these movies and what kind of angle Christopher R. Mihm hopes to achieve, so if this is your first foray into that world then I suggest going and reading the first little bit of that review before reading this one, just to get a better understanding of what exactly these movies are trying to accomplish. This time, with "It Came From Another World!," we move away from the mutant lake monster genre of the first movie and right toward a more Global plight – alien invasion!
Rock and Roll-loving, pipe-smoking, Professor Jackson from "The Monster of Phantom Lake" returns here, searching for his friend and colleague, Dr. Frank Frasier, who has gone missing while investigating a crashed meteorite in the forest (the same forest as "The Monster of Phantom Lake," I believe! Which being back in such a familiar location actually kind of had me longing for a sequel to that movie at some point down the road). Unfortunately his lovestruck student who he ended up in a romantic relationship with by the end of the previous movie is nowhere to be found here, and in her place we have another woman who Professor Jackson is actually set to marry, although it's implied that she's also a student of his so not sure why they didn't just go with the other character from the previous movie that we're already familiar with, since this one is essentially just a far less interesting carbon copy. Even if they couldn't get the actress back, they could have had a different person playing that character - after all, they have the same actors playing multiple characters from movie to movie, so having two actors playing the same character isn't that much of a stretch.
In addition to Professor Jackson, we also have the two hilarious and always-awesome cops return from the previous movie - ya know, the ones that prefer to paddle in a canoe to get around instead of using a squad car? With the excellent Abbott and Costello style chemistry with one another? That totally stole the show in the first movie despite only being in two scenes? Yeah, those fine fellas! Although no explanation is given as to how they survived their apparent deaths in the previous movie, especially since that one ended with the implication that one of them had mutated into a new algae monster, but hey – no complaints here! I love them so much, I'm just glad they're back! In this outing they team up with Professor Jackson to scour the remote woods for the missing Dr. Frasier and together they all end up finding the crashed meteorite as well as a strange-acting Dr. Frasier with some memory loss and, once back in the city and trying to readjust to normal life, occasional blackouts. It's not long after that, that they discover the truth – Dr. Fraiser has been taken over by an extraterrestrial entity that came to Earth in that meteorite and plans to first overtake Dr. Fraiser's body, and then the world! This of course means more screen time for the Canoe Cops then they had in the first movie, which is always a great thing in my books! The more of these two, the better! There's also a hilarious cameo by the surviving nerdy loner teen of the first movie, during one of the scenes of Dr. Fraiser's alien entity-induced blackouts.
While the first movie was already a pretty damn good parody of the campy 1950s Drive-In B-Movies, this one does so even more successfully, right from the in-your-face eye-catchy title all the way to some of the hilarious scenes that could have easily been lifted from any straight-faced movie of that era but done to comedic perfection here, such as when Dr. Frasier is writing in his journal when he witnesses the meteorite crash and insists on writing about it excitably before actually getting up to go investigate, or Professor Jackson's basement laboratory that I'm sure would have looked high-tech for the time but was purposely made to look cheap and bad here, complete with all the dials, nodes, cardboard, tinfoil, and antennas you would expect. Oh, and of course the deep-voiced, Joker-smiling, eye-bulging evil alter ego of Dr. Frasier when the alien entity is in command of his body – you seriously can't get any campier then that, even if you tried! Well, except for maybe the final climatic fight between Professor Jackson, with the help of the Canoe Cops, and Alien Warlord Dr. Fraiser, complete with some awesomely-placed famous "Star Trek" dialog at the end.
I also felt this movie improved on the first in the area of its runtime. Sure, it's still a tad bit too long for its own good (only a couple minutes shorter then the first and still longer then the average Drive-In B-Movie of the era), but unlike "The Monster of Phantom Lake" where the algae monster didn't even show up until an hour into it, with very little before that having anything to even do with it, this movie uses each and every scene to intelligently keep moving the main plot forward so there wasn't really any place for unneeded filler scenes that would just drag the movie down, and thus even though the movie is only a couple minutes shorter then the first, it feels like it goes by at a much quicker pace.
Where this movie didn't improve though, is with the character of Doctor Jackson himself and his very grating purposely-bad William Shatner impersonation. I get it was meant to be part of the joke, especially with his jerking head movements factored in, but it only came across as annoying and I was pretty much done with it before the first scene of him was over. Now, it was present in the first movie as well, but it wasn't done nearly to the level that it is here, making what was bearable and even kind of funny when done in moderation there, just annoying and headache-induing when cranked to the max this go-around. Also missing was his hilarious awkward chemistry with his female companion. As mentioned above, the presence of the main female character from "The Monster of Phantom Lake" was greatly missed here, and having her replacement character just be bland and boring only added to the effect of her absence.
As mentioned in my review of the first movie, these self-produced DVD discs are stacked right up with tons of excellent bonus content, which is quite surprising seeing as how these are not only micro-budget, largely fan-funded titles, but the overall price for each DVD is so cheap that it blows my mind we get so much with them! This go-around we have the usual introduction to the film by Horror Host Dr. Ivan Cryptosis (which I personally could do without, but I know there are lots of people out there that love that sort of thing), two Blooper Reels (one of which is just about 15 minutes long and the other, while shorter, deals strictly with just all the issues they had with the props for the bulging eyeballs), two Deleted Scenes, a Photo Gallery of tons of Behind-the-Scenes photos, and of course the full length Audio Commentary by Christopher R. Mihm and lead actor Josh Craig. You certainly get a good amount of bang for your buck with this, although it would have also been nice to have the actor who played Dr. Fraiser on the commentary as well, only because he did such a phenomenal job in this movie with playing duel characters, it would have been great to have some of his input as well. That's of course in noway a detractor to the set though, just a personal wish is all.
There are a few personal quirks in this entry that annoyed me greatly, but the amount that it does right vastly outnumbers those, and it even manages to improve over the first movie in a couple key areas, making this the...logical...next step of evolution for the Mihmiverse movies. If they continue this trend, then the next movie, "Cave Women of Mars," should totally blow me away and get a perfect score. Add to that even slightly more bonus features then "The Monster of Phantom Lake" had, and it's a pretty safe assumption to make that "It Came From Another World!" was a nice step up for me from the already-good package that was the first movie.
Seeing as how 99% of the advertising for this guy and his movies come from simple word of mouth from the fans, then be sure to get the word out there on these movies and hopefully we can snag in a few other fans that may not even realize these exist. You can order these on DVD (and even BluRay for the latest couple!) over at his official site which is filled with all sorts of other goodies as well (including a monthly newsletter in addition to a very laid back, yet informative, podcast). Hell, there's even an excellent deal on right now – Buy Three Movies, Get One Free, which seeing as how there's currently eight of these titles, if you do that twice then that is the perfect way to catch up with all of them and in the end save some dough – that's how I did it!
8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward