A parody of monster movies, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is not as clever as it imagines, and risks boring all but the most tolerant viewers. It opens as pretty Sally (Lisa Grant), a videostore clerk, is stalked by an unseen monster. She escapes in her car, only to be captured in the woods by the creature. Cut to seven friends--three cute couples and Mike...read more
A parody of monster movies, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is not as clever as it imagines, and risks boring all but the most tolerant viewers.
It opens as pretty Sally (Lisa Grant), a videostore clerk, is stalked by an unseen monster. She escapes in her car, only to be captured in the woods by the creature. Cut to seven friends--three cute couples and Mike (Craig Peck), a goony loner who's seen every horror movie ever made--deciding to
spend the weekend in a deserted house in the country. Are they perturbed when they pass Sally's abandoned car in the forest? Not on your life. Mike's endless warnings about monsters and madmen, delivered in a jokey but half-serious manner, quickly begin to wear on the nerves of his friends. But
there is, in fact, reason for concern. A green monster is lurking outside the house, waiting to kill the boys and mate with the girls.
Its first victims are intellectual nerd David (Jeff Dachis) and Brazilian beauty Janet (Claudia Flores), who make the mistake of going for a romantic walk after dinner. Beautiful but stupid Jim (Mark Collver) and Doreen (Wendy Bednarz) are next. By the next morning, only Mike, Nick (John Carhart
III) and Stacy (Bonnie Bowers)--who's thoughtfully changed into her little striped bikini--are left. Nick goes off to town, so only Mike and Stacy are at home when the monster strikes again. They elude it by constructing clever traps with mirrors and shaving cream, and when Nick returns they
manage to destroy the creature once and for all. They pick up a hitchhiker--the dazed Sally--as they drive off, but when they realize she may be under the monster's control, they abandon her by the roadside.
Horror parodies operate on the assumption that there's something inherently funny in exposing the shabby structural conventions of the vast majority of horror movies, no matter how many times it's demonstrated that that's just not so. Stripped of their thematic allusiveness and visual complexity,
oneiric imagery and mythopoetic underpinnings, good horror movies aren't funny; they're just bad horror movies. THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is a bad horror movie hiding unsuccessfully behind the excuse "But it's supposed to be a joke."
First-time director Rolfe Kanefsky is clearly intimately familiar with the horror genre, and THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is a serviceable pastiche of that most cost-effective horror movie narrative: limited cast is terrorized in a deserted location. It's even occasionally funny. Mike's rant about
those cats who seem to appear from nowhere to make people jump ("... what do they do, hang from the ceiling by their little claws?"), for example, is sure to get a chuckle from habitual horror moviegoers who have always wondered that very thing. But on the whole, THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE is crude
and obvious; the low budget ensures that it's ugly as well. In addition, there's a faint air of contempt about the whole business, and it's off putting. "Look how stupid horror movies are," it seems to be saying. But since the only people who will get the joke are people who watch horror pictures,
how stupid does that make the movie's viewers?
There's a difference between movies that poke intelligent fun at generic conventions and movies that use them for a cheap laugh. John Landis's AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, Joe Dante's THE HOWLING and even Kathryn Bigelow's NEAR DARK are excellent examples of the former approach, while THERE'S
NOTHING OUT THERE is a textbook illustration of the latter. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations.)