Using hundreds of clips from Japanese, vintage American and Spanish-language science fiction features in conjunction with non-fiction footage, Craig Baldwin's TRIBULATION 99: ALIEN ANOMALIES UNDER AMERICA is a surreal, satiric mock-documentary that explains some of the salient features
of American political life since 1949.
With a fast but deadpan narration and frequent banner intertitles redolent of the National Enquirer, Baldwin affirms the invasion of Earth by refugees from a far-off intergalactic explosion, and these extraterrestrials are not nice guys, having become lizard-like from having mated with snakes
under the ice of the South Pole. They created the hole in the ozone layer to facilitate the flight of flying saucers from their secret base, and naturally a whole range of cataclysms, from tidal waves to killer bees, can be traced to the aliens.
To illustrate these points, Baldwin uses sequences from both famous features like 1953's IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE and 1956's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and what looks like a Spanish-language version of an "invisible man" story. There are also what seem like clips from features about political
events during Ronald Reagan's administration and some unspeakably cheap spear-and-sandal epics. Beside their ecological weapons, the core-dwellers have also fabricated copies of humans to wreak havoc. Not only were Jacobo Arbenz and Salvador Allende such creations, but Baldwin states that, to have
survived numerous CIA assassination attempts, Fidel Castro, too, cannot possibly be human. The same alien origin explains the assassination of John F. Kennedy by an alien Lee Harvey Oswald, since surely no normal man could have fired enough shots quickly enough to have killed a president and
wounded a governor.
Beside these artificial beings, the demons from space can also use the ancient powers of vampirism to transform local American partners like General Noriega into monsters, and it was no accident that, during the Granada invasion, a group of American medical students were endangered, declares
Baldwin: They were being coerced into reanimating the corpse of Jim Jones. As the final struggle between earthlings and their invaders will reach a crisis in 1999, the Panama Canal will be flooded with liquid plutonium in order to impede the alien's progress north. (Atomic radiation is their one
and only Achilles' heel.) That this will also mean the planet's doom -- the polar ice caps will melt and drown the continents -- is of little concern, since a technological "Rapture" will be organized, as exemplified by stock footage of the old Northrup "Flying Wing."
Craig Baldwin's wonderfully wacky stew of hollow-earth theory, UFO-ology and paranormal politics is aimed, in his words, to "appeal to alienated art and youth subcultures." Far from seamless, his cinematic collage makes little attempt to appear credible, and that is part of the satire, since the
voiceover confidently brooks no skepticism. Even the film's political posture uses absurdity, since it not only accepts the simple-minded optimism of the United Fruit Company, but deduces that rebellion is a manifestation of the demons hiding within the earth's center. Consistently entertaining,
since the mix of familiar and obscure film clips alone rivets attention, Baldwin has fabricated a DUCK SOUP for the final decade of the 20th century.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Using hundreds of clips from Japanese, vintage American and Spanish-language science fiction features in conjunction with non-fiction footage, Craig Baldwin's TRIBULATION 99: ALIEN ANOMALIES UNDER AMERICA is a surreal, satiric mock-documentary that explain… (more)