Thursday, January 27, 2011

THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE - 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

"We don't know anything about this creature other than it, like everyone else, hates a mouth full of shaving cream."

I remember seeing director Rolfe Kanefsky's horror spoof, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE on a Prism VHS back in 1992 or '93 and feeling that I'd discovered something kinda special. When Image Entertainment released it on DVD ten years ago, I snatched it up, and was pleased to discover that it held up as a smart, funny, self-aware parody of the genre. Now, it's been re-issued as a 2-disc "20th Anniversary Special Edition."

A group of college students - three couples, and oddball loner Mike (Craig Peck) - head for a cabin in the woods for a weekend of drunken revelry. But Mike, a die hard fan of horror movies, soon recognizes that he and his friends are experiencing all the early warning signs of being in a horror flick, and when a small alien beastie with a mouthful of sharp teeth and a yen for nubile human females shows up, only Mike is even remotely prepared to deal with the menace.

Self-referential horror flicks are a dime a dozen since SCREAM, but Kanefsky's low-budget flick did it first - and in some ways, better. Like many of the films that he's having some fun with, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE was made on a very small budget with an inexperienced cast. This gives it a little extra resonance and honesty that the slick, big-studio "meta" horror flicks that came along later lack. There's an ingenious quality to the movie that infuses it with a certain plucky energy and likability. It's rough around the edges, but very entertaining.

Troma's 2- disc "20th Anniversary Edition." is a pretty decent package. Disc one contains a solid, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks like it might be the same one from the 2001 Image disc. Considering that the movie was shot on Super 16mm 20 years ago, it looks remarkably good, with virtually no evident print damage or notable dirt/debris. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The feature can be played with a short intro by the director, a short intro by Troma head, Lloyd Kaufman, or without any intro at all. There are two commentaries - one from the original DVD release by Kanefsky, actors Craig Peck and Mark Collver, and prop men John Kim and Gene Masse. It's a bit of a rambling mess, but the participants do share some amusing anecdotes from the shoot. The second commentary, new to this edition, has Kanefsky going solo, and it's much better; informative and entertaining.

Also on Disc 1 is a new interview with Kanefsky, apparently shot in his bedroom, where he shows off the original alien prop, and discusses the history of the movie. There is also the film's trailer (with optional director's commentary), and the usual batch of lame "Tromatic Extras."

Disc 2 contains a number of supplements, some of which are ported over from the original 2001 DVD release, and include 2 amusingly cheap short films by Kanefsky (with video intros), original cast screen tests, deleted scenes, a music video, unused title animation footage, outtakes, and a still gallery - most of which are accompanied by the director's commentary. I cannot imagine any way that the making of this flick could be any more thoroughly documented.

I like the movie quite a bit - it's ambitious, clever and a lot of fun. There's no question that it's also more than a bit cheesy (not an adjective I'm fond of, but it's appropriate here), but that's a large part of its charm. For genre buffs with a sense of humor, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is recommended. If you're already a fan, and own the earlier DVD, you might want to upgrade.

BUY: There's Nothing Out There (Two-Disc 20th Anniversary Edition)