Species hit theaters the summer after my freshman year at college. It was the only summer I came home for the entire break. It looked like a fun little sci-fi flick, so one random Sunday I decided to catch it at a matinee. My 16-year-old sister begged to come, so I let her and her friend Andrea tag along. I remember very little about the film except it was terrible and I felt very awkward sitting next to two teenaged girls while staring at Natasha Henstridge’s naked breasts.
Shout! Factory is putting out a nice looking Blu-ray of the film this week and I thought it would be fun to revisit it without the accompaniment of 16-year-old girls (and I watched it after my own six-year-old daughter had gone to bed). I can now definitively say that it is still a very bad movie and Natasha Henstridge is still very naked.
Beyond Natasha Henstridge’s naked breasts, Species also has Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker, and Michael Madsen (all of whom thankfully keep their clothes on, more or less). That’s a lot of talent wasted on a limp script and pretty lame direction.
Ben Kingsley plays Xavier Fitch, a scientist working with SETI who before the film begins sent a message into space containing basically everything a malevolent alien species would need to destroy or enslave the human race. When a message comes back giving instructions on how to make an endless supply of clean energy, the scientists figure the aliens are helpful creatures which is why when their next message contains info on how to create a human/alien hybrid, they get to work making babies.
Only one baby survives but with its rapid growth and homicidal tendencies, Fitch decides to kill it when she’s just a little girl. Of course this doesn’t go well, the little girl escapes, turns into Natasha Henstridge, and sets out to make babies of her own. When a naked and very willing Natasha Henstridge cannot find a willing sex partner in the whole of Los Angeles and this is not the most unbelievable thing about your film, you may have some script problems.
Fitch puts together a ragtag team consisting of an anthropologist, a biologist, an empath, and a killer-for-hire who set out to catch and destroy the alien. All of those great minds working together can only come up with the plan consisting of sitting at a local night club and hoping she shows up. When not one but three scenes of your film, including a celebratory night out when your characters mistakenly think they’ve killed the beast, all take place in the same night club you might have budget problems.
Blood, gore, and more naked breasts continue for another hour before Natasha Henstridge finally morphs into her alien form. Created by HR Giger, it looks like a cross between Xenomorph, Brigitte Helm in Metropolis, and the Bride of Frankenstein. Poorly lit mayhem ensues until the final showdown, which neatly sets itself with a sequel.
Shout! Factory has done a nice job with this set. The video looks quite nice. It's a new 4K transfer and it's well done. Colors look good and I didn’t notice any compression issues or artifacts. The poorly done CGI looks even poorer in high definition but that’s not their fault. It's a two-disk set with the first disc containing the movie plus two informative and entertaining commentaries (the first includes director Roger Donaldson, Michael Madsen, and Natasha Henstridge. The second has Donaldson back with some of the creative crew).
Disk two includes interviews, still galleries, an alternate ending, some other little featurettes, and two short documentaries on HR Giger’s designs (the first of which is billed as a making-of feature but they spend the bulk of it talking about Giger - clearly they knew what was what with this stinker of a film).
If I were to watch this film with my sister and her friend today, I think I’d be more embarrassed that I’d picked such a lousy film rather than seeing Natasha Henstridge’s naked breasts over and over again. But hey, what do I know? The movie was quite a success spawning one theatrical sequel, two direct-to-video sequels, a novel, and a comic book series. Clearly there are fans and for those of you who like it, this set is for you.