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Audiences Get Slimed in 'Species II'


So much carnage, so much waste, so many stomach-turning examples of inhumanity to man--and that's just the acting and the careers being turned to French-fried guacamole in "Species II," a horror film that shows how little you can do with an unlimited supply of brown gelatin, lo mein and some space-age weaponry that seems to have been fashioned out of $19 hibachi sets.

But that's not the fault of the actors. No, they're indictable on myriad other charges. Marg Helgenberger, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Madsen, Teutonic love goddess Natasha Henstridge and George Dzundza (all but bursting out of his army uniform)--you can just imagine them jockeying for top billing: "I don't want it! No, please, you take it!" Then there's Peter Boyle, who's shown twice in an insane asylum, raving about how he told them not to go to Mars! Then we never see him again. Maybe he got better.

"Species II" takes no prisoners, and gives no joy, not even the ambiguous amusement of watching a film made by people who know how bad their movie is. If only we'd felt somehow that you knew it was bogus when the Mars mission crew returned and, infected with space slime, began having sex with earthlings and reproducing aliens, and Eve (Henstridge), the reconstituted space Valkyrie, began to get hysterical about mating with a fellow space creature, and the military guy (Dzundza) started fouling things up, and Dr. Laura (Helgenberger) started saying: "This is awful. This is awful." If only there'd been a sign, a gesture that said you were sharing our pain. But no.

Director Peter Medak, in recycling the original's tale of a lethal alien in curvaceous female form, has adopted an interesting tack: Bore the audience to such an extent that when one of those snakey, slimy, blood-burping space atrocities pops out of a character's womb, you're completely caught off guard. It's a cheap tactic, but given the tactical advantage, it's the kind of thing that could catch on.

In some ways, "Species II" is the perfect cheap date movie (and if an ad saying that appears somewhere with my name attached, I'm suing): The creepiness will keep you close, the sex scenes are rampant and the bodies beautiful (until they burst open), and there's no chance anyone's going to want to dine out when it's over. In fact, the best advice to give anyone who wants to see "Species II"--other than "don't go!"--is "don't eat!"

* MPAA rating: R, for strong sexuality, sci-fi violence/gore and language. Times guidelines: gross and grosser.


'Species II'

Michael Madsen: Press

Natasha Henstridge: Eve

Marg Helgenberger: Laura

Mykelti Williamson: Gamble

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents an FGM Production. Directed by Peter Medak. Producer Frank Mancuso Jr. Screenplay Chris Brancato. Executive producer Dennis Feldman. Director of photography Matthew F. Leonetti. Production designer Miljen Kreka Kljakovic. Editor Richard Nord. Running time 1 hour, 35 minutes.

* In general release throughout Southern California.

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