This film is often mentioned in the same breath as, ummm, whatever that last one I just watched was (Galaxy of Terror) because they're both by Roger Corman, they were released about he same time, and they're both Alien rip-offs. Although Galaxy of Terror is more ripping off the "exploring strange planet" aspects of Alien, and this one is more of the "monster on the ship" aspects of Alien. And they're both cheesy fun. This one is co-written by Jim Wynorski, whom lovers of classic avant-grade films will recall as the auteur behind Return of Swamp Thing.
So we're on some spaceship. The captain, Mike, is in hypersleep, like the protagonists of some other film you may remember. He is watched over by a robot that talks in Speak n' Spell vocoder voice. Alarm bells are sounding, and it would seem that the ship is under fire from, you know, whoever, which causes Mike to launch into a cheapo space battle in which none of the ships are ever seen in the same frame together, and none of the lasers actually seem to hit their targets. Once that's over we learn that it will have absolutely no bearing on our story whatsoever, and we can move on.
So Mike is called to some planet where he is needed, for some reason. Actually, I'm not sure what anyone needs a space pilot to do, given their situation, which is that they've been doing genetic experiments and and one of them, Subject 20, has gotten loose. It is now a weird five-pronged bag of flesh hanging in a little contained area. I have to say it was creepy and menacing like that. Mike also meets ever-coughing scientist Timburon, angry scientist who is concealing something Hauser, future victim Earl, and dewy hot sexpot Tracy, as well as preening sexpot Margaret. She looks like a member of Abba, wears her collars flipped up and her neckline low, and is the rare space scientist who moves around the grubby industrial ship in high heels. You know, there's no reason for space scientists to skimp on glamour.
Anyway, so they know this thing is deadly and is just waiting to strike. Still, it's probably safe to open up its containment area and stick your head in, don't you think? Well, one of them learns the hard way that it's not, and now the beastie, which looks very much like a liver at this point, escapes. Earl goes after it, saying "This is it, you goddamned dinglehopper!" Meanwhile, night has fallen, and Margaret is feeling lusty for frisky space-pilot man-hunk Mike, whom she invites into her chamber. Meanwhile one of the guys watches them on a monitor, and meanwhile Tracy is changing into skimpy sleepwear and getting into bed. Now you thought I was joking about this film being avant-garde, but your doubts will melt away as you witness the shockingly innovative editing here, which tries to boost the energy of the film by flashing quickly between all parties involved. Until you realize it's just senseless.
So it would seem that the body of the moron who stuck his head into the thingy is mutating into this big nasty flesh-paste. It's a bit more gory than I was expecting from this film. Then Tracy wakes in the morning and decides to walk around the nasty industrial ship in a teensy top and big sunglasses. She lays in the steam bath or something, staring alluringly at the camera with breasts exposed. Who should happen in but Mike, fresh from pounding Margaret, who is immediately called into service by space seductress Tracy, who needs to big hunky man to help her forget that her boyfriend of just yesterday is now decomposing flesh-paste. They are then attacked by the monster, which is big now, and Margaret realizes what they were doing together, and that Mike is like the wind, and can't be held by nobody.
Then they suit up and go outside, which, surprisingly, looks like Southern California. They find one of those cocoon-things outside, and destroy it, but when they get back, what should be sitting right there chilling by the door but their monster. Now it looks like a big shiny black spider with a mouthful of nasty teeth, and it kills Hauser post-haste, escaping inside. Around now it is revealed that the monster came from splicing alien DNA with... HUMANS!!! I personally could never have seen a horrifying twist like that coming. They have also determined that the flesh-paste their bodies turn into once bitten is a sort of protein shake for the alien, which is essentially farming them for food. Oh well, time for a topless shower!
Yes, the two women repair to the shower, where they caress each other's bodies as they discuss making an attempt to communicate. I'm sure it is an unquestionable fact of life for you that men just want to hunt and kill, while women want to try to COMMUNICATE. They also decide it would be a good idea to communicate while nude under sheer robes that reach just below their hips, and barefoot. Look, they JUST came from the shower, okay? It's not like they had time to get dressed. Margaret goes up to the computer, which the toothy alien sits just atop, and taps in a message. She gets an answer back! We CAN communicate across interstellar species! But this moment of triumph for human-alien relations is dampered when the alien responds to "Can we coexist?" with a tentacle through Margaret's body. In fact, we see it go up between her legs and come out her shoulders, inviting us to imagine the worst possible route it took to get there.
Meanwhile, the robot, who was shot and essentially destroyed, is suddenly fine. Then coughing man--we knew he must have been ostentatiously coughing throughout the whole movie for a reason--does a little self-biopsy, gets some lung cancer bits from his own person, and sees that they are lethal to alien cells. So he invites Mike to try his hand at surgery, bravely giving up his own life in the process--so moving!--and Mike comes away with a handy tumor snack. Now he just has to feed it to the alien, which he does fairly handily. The alien starts puking and dies a few seconds later. Problem solved!
Again, one of those situations in which, if you don't watch a lot of bad movies, you might find this one agreeably ludicrous and amusingly sexed-up. If you do watch bad movies, however, it might just be more of the same. Funny, bizarre, ludicrous, but nothing really you haven't seen before. There are a number of fun elements, but still, if you want horrible / amusing sci-fi, I would only watch this after having seem Starcrash, Laserblast and Space Mutiny. This will do you in a pinch, but there are many more horrid sci-fi cheapos out there to get to first.
If you're a bad sci-fi aficionado. If not, there are better bad sci-fi movies to see.