reviewed by Greta Christina
Sometimes I think they make movies like this just for me to review. I go to a horror movie where the alien monsters try to wipe out the human race by screwing as many of us as possible, a movie where sex is the vector for transmitting the rampaging alien cooties and the good guys need to stop the bad guys from ever getting any, a movie with lines like "They're going to fuck us out of existence!" and I think, "Did they make this just so I could write it up for the Spectator?"
The first Species movie was a classic in its own way, a near-perfect example of American pop-culture sexual high weirdness. In case you don't have every word I've written for this publication tattooed on your brain or saved in a fireproof strongbox for future generations (you ungrateful bastards!) and don't remember my review of it, it centered on an alien-human hybrid -- a young, blonde, female, muffin-breasted, ultra-dishy alien-human hybrid -- who spent most of the movie trying to find a man to fuck her so she could get pregnant and propagate her icky scary species and wipe out humankind in the process, and who tended to kill anyone who got in her way by shooting a thick, slimy tentacle down their throat. It seemed to have been created with the sole purpose of capitalizing on men's fears of women in general and of women's sexuality in particular. It was one of the first movies I ever reviewed for the Spectator, and I still have very fond memories of it.
So I went into Species II expecting more of the same, more oozing 12-foot twat-like alien chrysalises and more twisted vagina dentata motifs and more charmingly gratuitous tit shots. But Species II is a rather different kettle of eels. Oh, sure, there's some icky, scary, gross-out stuff about women. There's some truly repulsive pregnancy imagery (lots of alien babies swelling up like Jiffy-Pop inside women's bellies and shooting straight out of said bellies like human cannonballs). There's a few pulsating twat-like chrysalises, just for old times' sake. There's even a clone of Sil, the original alien fuck-monster from Species. But in Species II, the girl alien, Eve (Natasha Henstridge) is a whole lot less threatening. She's locked up in an ultra-high-security government research facility, and she's been genetically engineered to be more human, with dormant alien DNA and less of a sex drive, and they keep men away from her to keep her from getting all worked up. (This despite the fact that Species's original Sil was a classic example of the fuck-anything-that-moves bisexual, and seduced and killed at least one woman during her rampage. But I suppose expecting consistency out of this series may be asking a bit much.)
No, Species II really isn't a vagina dentata movie. It's still definitely a sexual horror flick -- but the scary, violent, out-of-control sexual bugaboo isn't women's sexuality. It's men's. The horror and the gore centers almost entirely on exaggerated and horrificated images of male sexuality. And as if that weren't enough, there's some way seriously twisted racial stuff about black male sexuality thrown in, just to make the whole thing even more of a socio-politico-sexual swamp.
The story is pretty simple. Manned mission to Mars brings back alien-infected astronauts along with the rocks and soil samples. Said aliens try to fuck, propagate, and overrun the planet. One alienoid astronaut in particular, Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard), a Senator's son and football hero and big tough good-looking manly All-American type, runs around fucking any and every woman he can. At some point, he links up with Eve through the telepathic airwaves; they realize in a flash that their love was meant to be, and jump through all sorts of plate-glass windows and machine-gun fire and Harrison Ford sliding doors that snap shut just a moment too late to stop them, so they can make babies with each other that will be *much* more powerful and icky and unstoppable than the half-alien babies Patrick's been making with all these human chicks. Actors from the last Species movie who haven't been able to get work re-form their old alien-fighting team, to track down the scary astronaut and stop him from fucking.
The movie is stuffed full of exaggerated stereotypes about the male libido. Once Patrick is infected with the alien fuck-monster genes (yes, I know, you can't be "infected" with genes, let's just pretend this makes some scrap of scientific sense and move on, shall we?), he is 100% driven by his libido, unable to think of anything else but getting laid, doing all his thinking with his dick. Even though all the astronauts ave been strictly instructed not to have sex for ten days after they return to Earth, Patrick is off chasing tail the first day out. At a big important benefit dinner where he's supposed to give a speech, he's off in the wings schtupping a horny socialite. And despite warnings from his father the Senator (James Cromwell) not to let his sexual desire ruin his political career -- "I have seen too many young men with promising careers piss it all away on a piece of ass," and "Keep your dick in your pants and your eyes on the prize" -- he continues to risk scandal to the space program by disappearing from the government and the press in order to hunt poontang. As the alien infection (read: his dick) grows stronger and more in control, he descends entirely into the sexual vortex, spending all his time and attention on finding women and fucking them, moving from socialites and astronaut-groupies and other women that he might possibly think of as girlfriend material to a series of street prostitutes that he clearly wants nothing from other than their twats and their wombs.
His libido isn't just out of control, though. It's also violent, brutal, and destructive. Patrick's alien libido doesn't just get women laid -- it gets them killed. Whether they're torn into pieces by slimy tentacles shooting out of his back, or ripped apart from the inside by alien babies that sprout up from his sperm like mushroom clouds, or choked to death by a giant alien tentacle-dick shoving into their mouths in a lethal blow-job, no woman survives a night with Patrick and his alien monster penis.
Interestingly, at the beginning of the movie while there's still some human left in him, Patrick can't remember any of this. He just blacks out; he has no recollection of the extremely gruesome sex and birthing scenes, and can't even recall having had any nookie whatsoever. And once he finally realizes what's going on, once he becomes aware that his blackouts have been consistent of violent and murderous sexual escapades, he tries to blow his head off. It doesn't work, of course; the alien just reconstructs his head and gets on with the show. But I found it a very telling example of the whole "thinking with the little head instead of the big one" concept, the idea that a man's penis has a mind of its own, entirely unconnected with the actual thoughts and desires of the man its attached to. As the alien infection progresses, Patrick basically becomes his own out-of-control dick that does his thinking for him.
And at one point in the movie, even though he's getting all the sex he could possibly want just by paying for it, he sees an ordinary, "innocent" (read: non-prostitute) woman in a supermarket and decides to go after her, and when she can't be seduced in two minutes, he drags her off screaming to a parking lot and tries to rape her. Now, this makes no sense at all in terms of the plot. He's trying to breed as many alien-babies as possible, he doesn't care who the mommies are as long as they're healthy -- so why wouldn't he keep on fucking prostitutes? Why would he take the risk of exposing himself to the local cops and to the Feds who are tracking him down by dragging a screaming, struggling woman out of a supermarket, through a parking lot and into a van in broad daylight? But it fits absolutely perfectly with the monster cock theme. Patrick's alien libido is an exaggerated version of the stereotype of men's libido's, and one of the most powerful and frightening images of out-of-control male desire is that of the rapist.
But Species II isn't just a straightforward fear-flick about men's sexuality gone wrong. There's some very, very weird stuff going on about race and sex in this movie as well.
Of the three astronauts that go to Mars, one (Patrick, the main alien bad dude) is a white guy; one, Anne Sampas (Myriam Cyr) is a white woman who turns alien but dies very early on in the story; and one, Dennis Gamble (Mykelti Williamson), is a black man. After the alien infection, all three of them are going on about how horny they are and how much they want to get laid. But the black guy is doing so in a very racially stereotyped way, going on and on about booty this and booty that. Interestingly, when he's talking about Mars and space programs and DNA and other science geek stuff, his dialogue is pretty standard bland American English, with your standard bad-sci-fi techno-speak and your standard bland American movie-actor accent. But when he's talking about sex and women, all of a sudden his whole way of speaking shifts over to urban black English, with lines like, "I'm gonna get me some a' that booty," and, "The brother just cain't get no booty, can he?" (Just to clarify, I don't have anything against urban black English. I'm no language purist, and I think any form of language that communicates effectively to its intended audience is totally legit. I just find it fascinating that the screenwriters decided to emphasize Gamble's blackness during the moments when they had him talking about sex and what a horny guy he was.)
However, as it turns out -- warning, plot point giveaway coming up, as if you care about not having this nitwit story spoiled for you -- Gamble isn't infected with alien DNA. He isn't one of the scary rampaging uncontrolled alien penis-creatures. Now, my first reaction to this was to stand up and cheer, and part of me still wants to. You've got a football-hero Southern-Senator's-son whitest-of-the-whitebread white guy, and a horny, booty-talking urban black guy -- and for once, the violent, rampaging, sexually-out-of-control despoiler and rapist who must be destroyed at any cost isn't the black one.
But think about it for a minute. Since Gamble wasn't infected with alien DNA on Mars, he is therefore booty-obsessed and unable to think about anything other than getting laid completely on his own. The white guy needs to get infected with the horrible monstrous alien disease to become obsessed with sex and not be able to talk or think about anything else; the black guy does it just fine all by himself.
As if that weren't racially and sexually twisted enough...it turns out that the reason Gamble didn't get sucked up and infected by the alien is that he has a genetic flaw. Specifically, he is a carrier of -- wait for it -- the sickle cell anemia trait. He doesn't have the disease, but he could pass it on to his offspring, which is why the alien goo passed him on by. Now, there's nothing in the plot that states that it has to be sickle-cell and nothing else that protects Gamble from alien infection -- any other genetic flaw, like hemophilia or color-blindness or something, would have done just fine. But as you no doubt know, sickle-cell is a genetic disease that's mostly carried by black people -- and it's a disease that's often associated in our collective consciousness with blackness itself. In other words, the reason he can't be infected with the alien horniness disease is that he's black.
What's more, the way they finally destroy all the alien-infected astronaut's skanky offspring (oops, sorry, I guess I shouldn't have told you that the aliens get destroyed in the end, I'm sure you never would have guessed that on your own) is by poisoning them with some sort of alien Raid made from Gamble's defective sickle-cell-trait blood. And Patrick himself, who is a mite tougher than his baby chrysalis doodads, can't be poisoned by the defective-DNA roach spray, and has to be killed by a direct infusion of Gamble's blood, which is somehow more concentrated and more poisonous than the sickle-cell-in-a-can cooked up by the scientists. Yup -- the white guy's sexuality, as intense and overpowering and out-of-control and could-possibly-destroy-all-life-on-the-planet as it is, can be poisoned to death by a black man's blood, blood carrying a black man's black disease.
This is beyond twisted. This is Corkscrew City. The black guy is obsessed with getting laid and can't get booty off his mind -- but his blackness protects him from being infected with the *really* bad horniness disease, and not so incidentally allows him to be one of the story's good guys. His blackness is the savior of the day, the weapon that protects all humankind from being destroyed -- but it's also the biggest, baddest, scariest poison around, the poison that ultimately destroys the white man's libido. It doesn't make a scrap of sense to me, and I've been making a living making sense out of this sort of socio-politico-sexual cinematic mess for four and a half years. Any readers out there who have any insights on what the hell this all means are cordially invited to let me in on it.
Copyright 1998 Greta Christina. Originally published in the Spectator.