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Plot: Spaces Babes crash-land on Earth. Hilarity ensues!

Apparently quite a few people are longing for the halcyon days when exploitation cinema catered to every discerning taste that Hollywood couldn’t or wouldn’t. In this day and age of superheroes and multiverses something like this is a breath of fresh air. Space Babes From Outer Space, if the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway, is a tribute to 1950s/60s science-fiction. Whereas the most accomplished and best remembered examples of the form were tightly-scripted and smartly written cautionary tales warning about nuclear annihilation and the importance of foreign relations usually in the guise of Cold War parables and Red Scare metaphors Space Babes From Outer Space has none such lofty or heady aspirations. As the scion of StarCrash (1979), Galaxina (1980), and Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) Space Babes From Outer Space has one thing on the mind and that is… boobs. Instead of pushing some or any kind of important message Brian K. Williams has made it his sole mission to have as many girls as humanly possible shake their boobs for the camera. Channelling the spirits of Russ Meyer, Andy Sidaris, and Jim Wynorski (which is pretty damn impossible considering Wynorski is still alive) Space Babes From Outer Space is just as outrageous and kitschy as its title suggests. Besides, the title just rolls off the tongue. Williams might just have made the favourite movie of every horny 15-year-old edgelord Redditor.

The creative force behind Space Babes From Outer Space is the husband-and-wife team of Brian K. Williams and Ellie Church. Williams and Church are the mavens behind the Indiana-based boutique production company Bandit Motion Pictures and with Space Babes From Outer Space they have taken to producing nouveau retro exploitation on the model of Bring Me the Head Of the Machine Gun Woman (2012), Plan 9 (2015), The Love Witch (2016), and Commando Ninja (2018). Williams has been employed in just about every aspect of filmmaking before venturing out on his own. He’s an associate of and frequent collaborator with James Bickert from Work in Progress and both men seem to be on similar missions and creative plateaus. If interviews around production are to be believed Williams had an old script idea that he and Church reworked after a particular memorable night of heavy drinking. As with many of these ventures Space Babes From Outer Space was the subject of a successful crowdfunding campaign and delivers exactly what you want it to. According to a 2018 Idol Features interview with Church, and co-stars Alyss Winkler, and Allison Maier Space Babes From Outer Space was allegedly helmed in a brutal 10-day production schedule. Not only did it include principal photography but also the usual behind-the-scenes interviews and a glossy photo shoot. Written by Williams and co-produced by Church and Winkler Space Babes From Outer Space stars nobody you know or have ever heard of and “a bunch of strippers” from the Indiana nightclub scene. Considering how short the production time Space Babes From Outer Space looks incredible.

Exploring some remote quadrant of deep space Space Babes Carrieola (Ellie Church), Vanassa (Allison Maier), and Ragyna (Alyss Winkler) suddenly find themselves under attack by their sworn enemies, the repugnant Scrotes. In their desperation they open up a wormhole and are transported to that mythical planet they heard so much about, this Earth. Having sustained considerable damage to their ship they accidentally crash-land into a farmhouse somewhere in the wilds of Indiana. With their power cells depleted during their impromptu escape the three Babes need to find a source of energy to recharge their vessel. Marooned on a planet they know nothing about and in search of enough sexual energy to return home, the Babes deduct that they are left with no other option but to make first contact with the planet’s lifeforms. This happens quicker than they think when kind-hearted, socially inept Charlie (Brian Papandrea) comes to check out the ruckus and is instantly smitten with buxom blonde Carrieola.

Like any redblooded male Earthling Charlie is pleasantly surprised to find a trio of comically large-breasted Babes in pastel-colored spandex leotards in his home. Carrieola almost immediately ravages him once she her sensors detect his arousal. He’s charmed by a girl this straightforward and with the three insisting that they’re “not from here” he figures they must be tourists. His father Chuck (Josh Arnold) and mother Margo (Susan M. Martin) are happy enough to see Charlie finally bring a girl home. The way Charlie sees it the quickest way for the Babes to harness the sexual energy they require is to take them to the nearest stripclub, Night Moves. As luck would have it two strippers were just fired and before long Vanassa and Ragyna are gyrating around the stage. Things seem to be going their way until the Scrotes (Shane Beasley and Arthur Cullipher) launch a frontal attack on the Space Babes and each and every Earthling that happens to be in the crossfire. As the night deepens and the Scrote attack reaches its apex it will be up to Charlie to save his Space Babes from peril and imminent death. Charlie and the Babes manage to make it back to the barn and the Babes are able to recharge their vessel, only then does the malign Scrote Daddy emerge. Fated, championed and now hailed as their tellurian savior Charlie’s transported to the capital as an emissary of Earth and tasked with repopulating Titty City in what’s described as be an eternity of fornication with all of the planet’s most bosomy Babes. Would you believe this unbelievable tale is all a bedtime story that little Charlie (Drake Carter) is told by his foulmouthed grandfather (G.P. Bailey) while his mother Flow (Kelsey Carlisle) is called in to work the evening shift at Booty Bettie’s Fish and Tits?

If the plot synopsis wasn’t enough of an indication Space Babes From Outer Space is a free-for-all reach-around of plot elements borrowed from Barbarella (1968), Zeta One (1969) and 2069 – A Sex Odyssey (1974) with a dose of the puerile humour of Meatballs (1979), Porky’s (1981) and Revenge Of the Nerds (1984). Since this is a nostalgia-driven feature it lays on the references and puns on pretty thick too. First, there’s a portal-jump plot contrivance is straight out of Vampirella (1994) and the Babes crash into a farmhouse just like Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985). In tradition of kitsch as Flesh Gordon (1974) the Babes’ aerodynamic spacevessel is, of course, boob-shaped replete with a virgin-white console decked out with tinfoil, colorful lightbulbs and (what else?) an ovary-shaped steeringwheel. The comparison to Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957) and its economic ship/cockpit design is easy and obvious. The Scrotes are penis-shaped monsters modeled on the Rock Eater from Galaxina (1980).

Of the three Church comes to closest to resembling the late Dorothy Stratten in and as Galaxina (1980). Obviously that was the biggest inspiration behind Space Babes From Outer Space and if the costumes don’t sell it, Church certainly will. Daddy Scrote is an abomination somewhere between the pleasantly clumsy Ordric from Galaxina (1980) and the overzealous Lord Crumb from Bad Taste (1987). The fish-out-of-water comedy is very much in vein of Sorceress (1982) and the much expected (and usually odious) slapstick does, thankfully, not materialize. The Spaces Babes’ formal greeting is worth a chuckle or two. While not all of the jokes land (some of them are just plain vulgar) the Babes’ names are a hoot by themselves. Carrieola is an obvious contraction of Carrie and “areola” (or breast tissue), Ragyna may not be an anagram the way Angvia was but the idea is pretty much identical. Unbelievable as it may sound, Vanassa doesn’t have any superpower emanating from her ass. For shame, mr. Williams, for shame. Which is perhaps a good time as any to discuss where Space Babes From Outer Space falters.

The cringy dialogue is way too try-hard in its edginess and while the barrage of double-entendres, racy witticisms, and unrelenting sexual innuendo from the Babes is both cute and side-splittingly hilarious; the constant profanity and expletive-laden banter is not. A strategically-placed F-bomb can completely liven up a static scene, constant profanity is cheap, juvenile and speaks to a dire lack of imagination. The dinner scene in particular is cruel and unusual torture for exactly that reason. Equally frustrating but true, wall-to-wall frontal nudity and an avalanche of jiggling boobs of just about every shape, size and form grows exhausting too. While we’re about the last to complain about female nudity in a feature some moderation would perhaps have helped here. As producer and headlining star Ellie Church abstains from any nudity and has the most dialogue. As such the brunt of the nudity falls on Winkler and Maier who wonderfully rise to the occassion. Since the majority of the cast is best described as “a bunch of strippers” it almost makes you wish they dug up Julie K. Smith or Ava Cadell for the matronly role of Sandy and hired a recognizable (more cross-marketable) name like, for instance, Ava Addams, Jelena Jensen, Bella Brookz, or Korina Kova for the kink-specific role of Momma Milk. If TomCat Films can afford Veronica Ricci and Rene Perez veteran Jenny Allford certainly the average adult star must be within an indie’s reach.

Only in the isolated scene here and there (be it through amateurish scene composition, cinematography, or wobbly acting) does the feature betray its independent roots. The overall production value, acting and cinematography is surprisingly decent for a crowfunded feature like this which, sadly, isn’t always the case. At least nobody’s expected to do accents here. In Amazon Hot Box (2018) it was impossible to tell whether Church’s accent was supposed to be German or Russian, for one. Since this is supposed to be a 1950s sci-fi throwback we’ll never understand the black metal kid gag during the dinner scene. The Scrotes are funny enough by themselves but they never really pose much of a threat the way the aliens in Bad Taste (1987) did. Space Babes From Outer Space caters to a bunch of fetishes but the actual sex (and erotica) is pretty limited. This actually looks like a semi-professional product which is not something that can be said about the median TomCat Films or The Asylum flick. We can’t wait for Brian K. Williams to take on the Andy Sidaris spy-action romp, the Albert Pyun cyberpunk action, the Cirio H. Santiago topless kickboxing movie, a Jean Rollin lesbian vampire epic or a Pete Walker knickers and knockers terror-suspense spectacular. If Space Babes From Outer Space is any indication, Bandit Motion knows their exploitation and it’ll be interesting to see what they produce in years to come. Hopefully they’ll pick up Rene Perez babes Eva Hamilton, Stormi Maya, Nicole Stark, Emily Sweet, Spring Inés Peña, Sierra Sherbundy, Omnia Bixler, Gemma Donato, or Raven Lexy along the way.

Plot: vacationers run afoul of escaped masked serial murderer.

It’s been a strange and confusing journey going from the barely there slashing of Playing with Dolls (2015) to the functional competence of Playing with Dolls: Bloodlust (2016) only to arrive at the utterly minimalist and brutally utilitarian Playing with Dolls: Havoc. Rene Perez is a director with authorial intentions, dangerous enthusiasm, but rarely the means to realize his visions. Since debuting in 2010 Perez has become something of a successor to Albert Pyun as he churns out several micro budget epics every year. Along with The Dead and the Damned (2011-2015) his Playing with Dolls (2015-2017) franchise has proven resilient despite its rampant banality and overall redundancy. None of the installments are particularly strong by any metric one chooses to employ and it’s anybody’s guess why Rene chose this to expand upon. After Playing with Dolls: Havoc the ongoing franchise was duly rebranded to the much shorter Havoc with the next sequel simply dubbed Cry Havoc (2019) arriving a scant two years later.

Under any of the usual circumstances the slasher is the easiest of horror subgenres to produce and direct. In its most typical and standardized form there’s little that can go wrong, although that occasionally does happen as Dutch-Belgian slasher Intensive Care (1991) went on to prove so historically and catastrophically. Rene Perez always stacks his movies with beautiful women and compared to the surrounding entries the women in Playing with Dolls: Havoc (2017) are not as pneumatically-enhanced as they usually are. Nicole Stark, Wilma Elles, and Malorie Glavan (a poor man’s Melissa McCarthy) all are normally proportioned and Glavan is the rare plus size actress in Perez stock company. A nice change of pace, all things considered. This movie’s prerequisite ditzy blonde is Playboy Croatia and Venezuela Playmate (October, 2015) and Penthouse Pet of the Month (March, 2022) Stormi Maya (not sporting her usual aphro puff) who – in tradition of Alanna Forte and Elonda Seawood before her – gets to show off her impressive fake ass titties. Like Russ Meyer, Pete Walker, Andy Sidaris, and Jim Wynorski before him Rene Perez loves large breasted women, especially if they are platinum blondes. Any day now we’re expecting Rene to helm that long awaited LETHAL Ladies derivate (one we’d very much would like to see) with roles for Forte, Seawood, Maya, and other assorted bosomy Perez babes.

Platinum blonde Annabelle (Stormi Maya) follows clues and is rewarded with stacks of money until she reaches her destination point. There she’s attacked by known mass murderer Prisoner AYO-886 (J.D. Angstadt) who the Echo para-military unit securing the caves simply refer to as Havoc. As Havoc breaks free from his chains and escapes into the densely forested region that the caves are in the soldiers embark on a perilous quest to contain the situation to the best of their ability. Much of which will prove fatal. Meanwhile married couple Sara Curry (Nicole Stark) and her husband Timothy (Kyle Clarke) have retreated back to the country to spent a romantic weekend at their remote luxury cabin. Coming along are maintenance man Bob (John Scuderi) and housekeeper Alicia (Malorie Glavan). In another part of town Mia (Wilma Elles, as Jade Ellis) is experiencing car trouble and soon finds the vehicle and herself stranded near the cabin. Mia’s unexpected intrusion brings to light long simmering problems in the couple’s marriage and before long all three are at each other’s throat. What they don’t know is that Havoc has escaped into the nearby woods and soon will be at theirs…

As before the opening setpiece has nothing to do with, or will have no bearing on, everything that follows, nor will it ever be referenced again for that matter. While Playing with Dolls: Havoc is by far the most technically solid entry thus far - even if it takes a few liberties with what little previous two episodes took ages to establish – there’s plenty of wasted potential abound. Prisoner AYO-886 or Havoc has been reduced to a brute, mute force of nature and this chapter would probably have been far more effective as a siege horror movie in tradition of Night of the Living Dead (1968) or The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976). The sense of isolation is palatable and while the occupants of the cabin do their fair share of bickering amongst themselves, it’s never the reason why they end up butchered in short order by Havoc. Havoc still has the tendency to become practically a ghost whenever the script paints itself in a corner. Moreover Perez’ screenplay categorically refuses to offer any explanation for anything. Why hasn’t law enforcement gotten wise to the case yet? Why does nobody come looking for any of the previous victims? Who is Havoc and why does he kill? By what criterions does Havoc let his victims live? What became of or happened to the elderly Dane that owned the cabin in the original? Even by lowly American slasher standards Playing with Dolls: Havoc has treacherously little story. On the plus side, it’s also the first Playing with Dolls chapter wherein Richard Tyson and Marilyn Robrahm are unaccounted for. His Scopophilio is never mentioned by name, but only referred to as “the master”. Probably for the better too as Perez had no interest in developing said subplot further as it slowly started bogging the franchise down.

The only thing besides Stormi Maya (and her willingness to take her top off) that Playing with Dolls: Havoc has going for it is the special effects work from Marcus Koch and Oliver Poser (as Oliver Müller). Koch and Poser provide mostly gratuitous fountains of blood and even a few admittedly good looking prosthetic effects. Most of it will probably appeal to fans of masters of gore Olaf Ittenbach, Andreas Schnaas, and Alex Chandon. Stormi Maya Jellison is the third curvy African-American girl (preceded by Alanna Forte in tbe original and Elonda Seawood in the first sequel) in as many episodes and like the other characters here her cold opportunist doesn’t remotely deserve to die as gruesomely and bloodily as they inevitably all do. Of all the Playing with Dolls episodes up until this point this set of characters was by far the most sympathetic.

The dismantling of the victims takes a turn for the creative while Perez’ writing remains as thin as always and his direction finally seems to approach what can be cautiously called competent. Perez could probably built a steady career with either The Asylum or TomCat Films and at this point it would be interesting for him to try his hand at different genres. The whole jilted lovers main plot is something out of a classic gothic horror and Nicole Stark would have been stellar as a Barbara Steele surrogate. With access to Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley the plot would have worked as a Castle Of Blood (1964) or Nightmare Castle (1965) reworking, either as a period piece or in a contemporary setting. Perez would be the ideal candidate to give Blood Of the Virgins (1967), The Devil’s Wedding Night (1973) or Nude For Satan (1974) a much-needed make-over.

You have admire the tenacity and sheer force of will that Rene Perez puts into each and every one of his mini-epics. Like Albert Pyun before him Perez is never shy about imitating a popular brand or doing his own demented take on an established formula. Perez had the cojones to helm Death Kiss (2018) and The Punished (2018), his take on Death Wish (1974, 2018) and The Punisher (1989, 2004), respectively. In all honesty, we tend to like Perez’ take on classic European fairytales far more than the rest of his repertoire at this point. The Wishing Forest (2018) seems to be the halfway point between his fairtytale yarns and Playing with Dolls. While working on the fringes of cinema can have its benefits there’s more than enough precedent in America alone that a lack of budget not necessarily precludes a lack of talent and resourcefulness. Lloyd Lee Barnett’s Ninja Apocalypse (2014) was able to do a lot with very little and Benjamin Combes’ Commando Ninja (2018) not only was the perfect throwback to over-the-top 80s action, what it lacked in budget it made up in sheer inventiveness and enthusiasm. Neither of which Playing with Dolls has displayed three episodes in. There’s not many ways to do a slasher wrong, but Rene Perez has apparently done just that. If Playing with Dolls: Bloodlust (2016) had a pulse, then Playing with Dolls: Havoc sees Perez’ beast lumbering around with blood on its hands and murder on its mind.