- the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
- Anything trying to be better than Airplane!
… and thus spoke Zarathustra and every single critic of this film. Satire has been around since the first caveman made fun of his friend to the other primates around the monolith. Ever since the Zucker team hit the skies with their massive hit Airplane!, Hollyweird has depleted the resources on this Earth to make you laugh at something lampooning something else everyone loved. Why should the Ridley Scott 1979 haunted house in space Alien be any different? Thus Zarathustra gave us the Leslie Nielson starring satire The Creature Wasn’t Nice! (a.k.a.) Starship! (a.k.a.) Naked Space! (The movie has titles like the beast has two million eyes!). Remember, in space, no one can hear you LAUGH!
Lensed in 1983 under the original title of The Creature Wasn’t Nice! this satire really reached for the stars in ambition. Not only did they harness stars like Leslie Neilson (back on the upswing and possible because the cult show Police Squad! bombed), Cindy Williams (Lavern & Shirly; Happy Days), Gerret Graham (Phantom of the Paradise; Police Academy 6: City Under Siege), and Patrick McNee (The Avengers; A View to a Kill), the film has the distinct honor to be the first film set in outer space where an alien sings “I Want to Eat Your Face” to its several hearts content. The humor comes and goes, and honestly, the jokes either weigh heavy with gravity or strike like a fiery asteroid. The cast does the best they can given the material (Neilson takes it seriously as always, which makes it inherently funnier) but it is very clear they had no idea where this was going and it shows (as murky as The Milky Way).
The plot is very similar to the source material it rips off. A group of astronauts on a long, long mission to a place far, far away bring an alien on board and that’s when the zaniness begins. As the crew begins to go missing one at a time (in between musical numbers of course) it is up to the remaining brave crew to take a small step toward satire and go where no comedian has gone before… the Oscars (jk, no way this film won an Oscar). The results plummet sometimes like the Mars land rover, but do offer a good chuckle or two for curiosity sakes.
Floating in at 88 minutes by director/star Bruce Kimmel (who went on to direct classics like The First Nudie Musical and Prime Suspect), the film went through its own bit of rough turbulence re-entering the atmosphere. The producers took the film away from Kimmel, re-edited and re-titled it Starship! to cash in on the connection to Airplane!, and dumped it on network TV where it was seen by very few. They retitled the film again in the DVD era to cash in on the success of The Naked Gun! franchise with the new moniker Naked Space! Recently there was a special edition DVD in which Kimmel got to present his director’s cut, and thank goodness the eagle has landed! You can also find this out-of-this-world classic streaming on YouTube and others. So, go ahead, look towards the skies, pour yourself a bowl of Face-Os, and get lost in space with this sci-fi classic that will take your breath away!