It’s time to check back in with ol’ Brett Piper.
Many of you may remember that just earlier this year, his They Bite was my 150th B-Movie Enema article. It had much fanfare surrounding that momentous occasion. I had balloons. I had ice cream cake. It was good times. No one celebrated with me and I just sat there covered in balloons eating a giant ice cream cake all by myself, but, nonetheless, it was a grand time. Just sitting there. Contemplating my life. Crying into my DQ cake.
Also, if you go way WAY back, he directed one of the movies that I can safely say beckoned me back to writing, Drainiac. Just one of those little movies you discover one day that makes you want to do something more with your free time. While I should probably admit that neither movie is technically all that superb, both are charming in their own ways. Drainiac is a neat little haunted house/possessed… pipes(?) movie. It featured a small cast and definitely gave me fond memories of the late 90s. They Bite was obviously influenced by something like Humanoids from the Deep and maybe a little bit Creature from the Black Lagoon. However, it also played up a boner comedy angle by having a porno film crew involved as well.
It was only a matter of time before Brett Piper and another favorite here at B-Movie Enema Industries, Vinegar Syndrome, crossed paths. Last year, VS released a two-pack of Piper’s sci-fi flicks. This week, we’ll take a look at that first one, Battle for the Lost Planet! For this movie, we meet a master thief by the name of Harry Trent as he gets lost in space for some time only to return to Earth to find it taken over by vicious alien overlords!
This is early in Piper’s career and, with it being the mid 80s and all, I want to see some cheesy effects and cool stop-motion creatures! According to the back of the box, this movie, and its sequel, Mutant War (which I will cover at a later date), is chock full o’ Harryhausen nods and inspiration. Me personally? I really just hope they are completely over the top and mix in the really bad with evil, big-toothed creatures that just miss the mark and come out looking adorable.
The movie opens with an elderly man on a California beach. He looks at a giant space ship that is crashed in the ocean. This old man is Harry Trent and he’s recounting how he saved the world.
I like how, right out of the gate, this movie is aspiring to some neat ideas. I see you, Brett Piper. I see you.
We flash back to when Trent was younger. He’s being chased by some dudes and he slides under a door. This is a nice little bit of world building. Trent is running away after stealing some top secret data tape. He’s a bit of an idealist. This future has a lot of computerized things. Lighters let people know where they can go buy a new one once it is out of fuel. Even the cigarette cartons will talk back to people. It’s all a little dystopian. Trent and the guys chasing him were at a bit of a standoff with him inside a building, and the chasers on the outside. He’s able to escape by stealing a space shuttle.
However, in order to get out of the hangar, he had to ram the shuttle through the doors which has caused some damage to its guidance system, among other things. As he flew off into the void of space, he passes a fleet of invading aliens heading for Earth. Not being a total dickbag, Trent wants to warn Earth of their approach, but the on board computer states Earth is already aware and trying to contact the alien fleet.
The alien invaders are some pretty gnarly pig face guys. Much like the Klingons from Space: 1999, they are only interested in donuts and various Turkish delights. Nah, I’m kidding, they fucking rain down death and lasers on Earth. As if it isn’t bad enough already to watch his home planet burn, his ship is aimless and just flying in a straight line. Harry is in decent shape, though. The computer states that they will have life support forever as it is designed to be. Trent, though, recognizes that while he will be kept alive, he will go insane alone.
I have to say I’ve very much enjoyed these early moments of this movie. Trent is basically left entirely with himself. The deal is that the ship had to fly all the way to the sun, then slingshot back around to return to Earth. This takes years. There’s this nice moment when the computer tells him he’s the only human who will likely ever literally see the surface of Mercury. What we see is him looking out onto the barren planet and these little bug creature guys looking back. It’s neat. More importantly, it’s charming as all get out. Another thing I like is that while this is set in the future, there are lots of references to present day things. Like a list of contemporary actresses he thinks is hot. His room is littered with empty cans of Schlitz and so forth.
When he is approaching Earth, a ship spots him. On board, two humans, now basically reduced to slaves of the invading pig guys, fight each other over whether they should contact Trent or if they should report him to the overlords. This leads to a fist fight between the slaves and, ultimately, they self-destruct. Trent carries onto Earth and find as barren a place as possible to land. There, he gets attacked by some mutant people. Trent ultimately gets saved by a woman named Dana who is part of a small colony of others.
Dana takes Trent to the “Old Man”. He’s a one-eyed, kinda wise, man who leads this little community of people. They are shocked to hear he has no idea who these aliens are because there’s no way anyone could possibly be on Earth and not know who the invaders are or what happened over the past five years. They want Trent to take them to the shuttle he was in. The Old Man tells Trent that the invaders are only really interested in astronomy and warfare. They only know enough biology to effectively torture humans. Some, like the ones that attacked Trent before Dana saved him, are experiments.
As it is, Trent is actually well known to this group of people. He apparently stole an important tape of data that could create a neutron-90 bomb that could target specific genetic types or specific DNA code and wipe out everything sharing that type or code. It’s basically an ultimate weapon. Dana enlists some people in her group to help develop the actual weapon.
I find it kinda funny that Dana’s ultimate plan is to commit genocide. Well, maybe not total annihilation of the alien race that came to Earth, but it is a total annihilation of those on the planet. I believe that still qualifies as genocide. I mean, sure, these alien dudes (and, yes, I know what their race’s name is, but I have zero idea how to spell it) are super bad news. They have all the tech, they seemingly are stronger, more violent, and certainly more sinister, but normally the heroes don’t rejoice in the idea of genocide, even to cruel overlords.
While trying to get to Richmond where the supplies are to build the bomb, Trent and Dana get shot down by some aliens and they are forced to go on foot. Before they head out, Dana decides to sex up Trent. But she gets dragged away by a bitchin’ stop-motion monster. Like any good, bitchin’ stop-motion monster, Trent has to fight it off with a torch. But when Trent gets knocked out, Dana grabs the torch and gets free. Some nomadic peoples led by a pot farmer come to help Trent and Dana get away.
They find out that they are about 40 miles west of Richmond, Virginia. He says that Trent and Dana have to be careful because they have to travel through “Mad Dog Kelly’s” kingdom. He’s carved himself out a nice little plot of land and gained quite a few followers. When Dana and Trent get found by Mad Dog Kelly’s people, naturally, they are a biker gang. After Trent kicks the shit out of a couple guys, and Dana kills one, Mad Dog comes to mete some justice. Out comes this dude that looks kind of like Dollar Store Gene Simmons with a hot babe. He kind of seems like just some businessman schmuck before the aliens came and that is awesome.
Granted, I was being a bit snarky with that call that Mad Dog was some sort of schlub, but when one of his guys talks out of turn, Mad Dog calls him over, and that guy for sure was some sort of office jerk because he can’t start his bike for shit. As it turns out Mad Dog Kelly does end up taking a shine toward Trent – probably because he is a celebrity. Mad Dog is one of those rogues that is living in the moment. He is kind of like a Negan character. He provides through force. He is the quite literal patriarchy. He gets what women he wants, and they are there for sex. I… On principal I’m not a total fan, but if these ladies are happy, who am I to argue?
More importantly, if push comes to shove, where can I apply for this job?
Alright, enough bullshit. This scene turns kind of amazing. So Mad Dog has his bitches give Dana a makeover so she looks like one of them. He then tells his dudes to take her to be “initiated” which is scumbag for “super raped”. Trent doesn’t have none of that shit. he challenges Mad Dog for dominance. He first demands to know the rules. Mad Dog doesn’t believe in rules, but lays it down – kill him and Trent makes off with the girl and if Mad Dog kills Trent, what does Trent care what happens next? Now, this is where it gets really awesome. Trent adjusts the rules by saying that if he wins, he gets the girl and Mad Dog owes him a favor. Mad Dog says no way to that shit, but Trent says if he doesn’t agree, he won’t fight. He eventually relents by saying, “Alright alright… If you kill me, I owe you a favor.”
That’s some classic Bugs Bunny shit right there. I fucking love it.
Trent forces Mad Dog to yield, thus winning the battle. Mad Dog tells Dana and Trent that he knows where the Neutron-90 is, but he never worked on it. He doesn’t even know if the stuff would even work on the aliens. Mad Dog is specifically concerned about what happens after the aliens are gone. Humans will have a weapon of unbelievable power, so how can anyone believe we’d always have everyone else’s best interests in mind? Eventually, Mad Dog relents and takes them to the stronghold that was built on top of the secret installation.
Mad Dog, his babe Toni, and Dana and Trent get inside the facility and try fighting off the hordes of alien guys. They encounter Dr. Isaac Hoffenstein. He’s basically the last person alive who knows as much about Neutron-90. He was the co-creator of the weapon. Hoffenstein takes the quartet to a room where the weapon is. The problem, though, Hoffenstein never had the proper access to the alien physiology. Mad Dog tells Hoffenstein that he should just reverse engineer it. Tell the computer all about humans and every other Earth creature, and tell it to kill everything that doesn’t belong.
The computer says it will take about 15 minutes to program everything. It’s not enough time to hold back the aliens. Mad Dog’s lady gets killed. Dana and Trent are cornered and they start making out in front of the firing line which confuses the aliens, but buys the last bit of time for Hoffenstein to activate the Neutron-90 weapon and turn all the pig aliens into bony skeletons. We get one of those scenes I really love in these types of movies where we see all the aliens all over the place dying and crashing their little pew pew planes.
What a goddamn treat this movie was. It even ends on a pretty good joke of Harry Trent giving a big, triumphant speech about how it will be up to them to make sure man never gets to such destructive power ever again only to find that Hoffenstein, Mad Dog, and Dana have all walked away. This is a very well made movie for what I can only assume was a super small, shoestring budget. Piper’s lighthearted tone is there, but I was real excited to see his creature effects. It was charming and fun. I also loved the final battle that reminded me of so many Doctor Who episodes when a ragtag team of insurgents, led by a firebrand (in the Who show, it would have been the Doctor) are fighting snout-nosed aliens in what looks to be an abandoned warehouse.
And you know what’s best? Battle for the Lost Planet has a motherfuckin’ sequel! Yes siree bob it does! That’s something I will be eventually getting to because it does have the same lead actor playing Harry Trent, Matt Mitler, and he’s traveling the post-apocalypse and having to deal with those mutant dudes the aliens were creating.
Mutant War will have to wait until 2020. We will be busting into the final month of 2019 with yet another Italian Zombie flick. This time Troll 2‘s Claudio Fragasso helms Zombie 4: After Death that somehow still connects to the classic Zombie franchise started by Lucio Fulci. We’ll sort that all out next week, same Enema Time, same Enema Site!