• Alien Beasts



    Released by: Massacre Video
    Released on: Fall, 2015.
    Director: Carl J. Sukenick
    Cast: Neal Dealosi, Joe LaPenna, Mark Torreso, Abe Sukenick, Carl J. Sukenick
    Year: 1991
    Purchase From Massacre Video

    The Movie:

    Have you ever honestly felt as if you’ve hit the bottom of the barrel? Carl J. Sukenick’s shot on video feature Alien Beasts is just that – the bottom of the barrel. Most of the movie was made on his parents’ front lawn and/or kitchen table and the whole thing really does redefine low budget movie-making. At the same time, the fact that this is clearly such a labor of love for Sukenick is completely endearing. Those who read Fangoria in the early nineties may recall seeing ads for the movie in every issue for quite a while there. That’s how Sukenick got the movie out – he basically self distributed it on tape via mail order for years.

    Written and directed by Sukenick, the movie also finds him playing the important role of… Carl J. Sukenick, the man in charge of a special division of the C.I.A. that is responsible for some sort of national security issues. While Carl heads out into the streets of suburbia to fight crime, Abe (played by Carl’s father, Abe Sukenick), keeps watch over the headquarters, a monotonous task that seems to be made up of sitting at a kitchen table staring blankly at something off screen and trying not to look into the camera.

    With that out of the way, we’re introduced to Neal (Neal Dealosi), an agent that was sent out into the field to take care of some business but who turned out to be a traitor. Neal also mutated into something more human than human after being exposed to a blast of deadly radiation. A few other agents, presumably from Carl’s division of the C.I.A. are introduced – Sara Shell (Sara Victor), her husband and fellow agent Mark Shell (Mark Torreso) and their daughter Sheila (played by… Sheila) but things quickly go wrong and they’re murdered. From here, a small group of enemy agents wreak havoc with Carl’s organization, stealing weapons and such. At one point one of the female enemy agents hangs out with her knockers exposed – this proves to be a bad move as it attracts the attention of a would be rapist named Joe (Joe LaPenna) but Joe winds up getting blasted by radiation as well. Soon enough, he too is a mutant and Carl has no choice but to send the rest of his team out into the dangerous suburbs to take them out once and for all. All the while, Abe monitor’s things on the security system monitors.

    This movie features a lot of fights on someone’s front lawn, presumably Abe’s. Video generated text informs us that some of the enemy agents are working for Iran. Cheap gore effects are executed with a disturbing lack of style in what may or may not be a community park. A woman in a mask (it doesn’t come off) takes a long, long time to get suited up, only to have her breasts fondled. Things go from color to negative and then back to color while Carl sits on a couch, smoking, and rambles on about sector 12, offering one of his agents some hand grenades and a gas mask. Abe stares a remarkably blank stare, over and over and over again and a monster in a dime store Halloween mask shambles around like a zombie under what appears to be a bridge. The music sounds like it was recorded on the camcorder this was shot with by playing it from a tape deck off screen. Carl yells at people a lot, because he’s in charge, and more people fight on that same front lawn, before going around the corner to the backyard for remarkably inept martial arts. Security cameras become inoperable for long periods of time. Then… rapid fire cuts – ABE/Fight/ABE/Monster/ABE it’s fucking ABE all over the place! Slow motion jump kicking, the monster under the bridge explodes (maybe?), a severed head possibly belonging to a mutant is showcased against a green tablecloth, the music stops. Carl’s narration fills us in, over and over again in bizarre and haunting repetition, how a mutant monster survived. This makes no sense, but God damn it all if it isn’t a fascinating look into the mind of the man who made it.

    We get some neat stop motion and illustrated animation at the film’s finale, some weird claymation bits and a scene where a mutant hand is hacked up with an axe. It’s kind of like Mr. Bill on crystal meth. Joe LaPenna would, at one point earlier in his career, handle some effects work for Tales From The Dark Side, and he’s credited with some of the effects here and to be fair, even when the effects are obviously being done on the cheap they are at least creative, amusing and bizarre enough to get your attention.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Most of this was shot on consumer grade VHS, fullframe (some bits were shot on film but it was all seemingly edited on top), and that’s exactly how it is presented. It looks, as you can see from the screen grabs below, like a VHS tape. Which is fine – you can’t make a tape source look like something more than what it is. Keep your expectations in check so that the periodic tape rolls and fuzzy, soft picture quality don’t bother you.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono audio mix is on par with the video in that it’s as good as it’ll likely ever get but completely limited by the source materials. While there is some hiss present throughout, you won’t have any trouble understanding the narration and the dialogue bits. They come through clear enough work.

    Oddly enough, Massacre Video have given this movie a pretty legit special edition release, complete with a bunch of extra features, starting with Mutant Massacre 2. This is not quite the same movie as Alien Beasts, though it would be easy to confuse the two. Alien Beasts runs exactly 1:14:31 while Mutant Massacre 2 has a running time of 1:15:20. It starts off with some different opening credits that play out over the effects footage used at the end of Alien Beasts. From there, Carl starts narrating things, he's not feeling well and has a fever. Abe stares at... something. We learn how the radiation storms came and everything went berserk, while Carl says ‘ummm’ a lot on the audio. He then talks about how the cleanup crew are assessing the damage from the radiation storms and cleaning up the dead bodies of the agents that were killed. Carl is thirsty, oh boy is he thirsty. ABE FUCKING STARES..... but Carl's water was good. Some backyard fight footage and effects footage recycled from Alien Beasts is used here again, and the same music is used over and over and over again, but the levels are more consistent this time around. Weird and very primitive computer effects are superimposed over a mysterious figure hanging out and not moving in the backyard. Text screens aplenty... AFTER THEIR MEETING, JOE NOTIFIED CARL THAT THERE WERE TRAITORS ON THEIR MISSION. A video, taken by Joe three hours before his meeting with Carl, is shown as evidence. It wasn't ever transmitted because there was a meteorite storm. A woman named Ronda is on the mission with Carl but she is an enemy traitor!

    Recycled gore effects. Recycled topless lady with the mask on. Recycled backyard fight footage. Recycled zombie monster under the bridge footage - but yet, it's not the same movie as Alien Beasts. The text bits give it a different context even when it's showing us the exact same thing and somehow this one is even more insane and more scatterbrained than Alien Beasts. The fact that almost every line of text and dialogue is repeated on the audio at least three times make the repetition here mind numbing. It’s a different movie, yet it’s almost the same movie. Watch this back to back with Alien Beasts and see if you survive. If I did it, you can do it too.

    Also found on the disc is an interview with Carl J. Sukenick himself. This was conducted in December of 2014 when the deal to release this material was inked, and the meeting was recorded with the encouragement of Sukenick himself. Three and a half minutes of this meeting is included on the DVD and here Sukenick talks about how he’s made movies since 1985 before going on to talk about including his mother in some of his films, using his father in his movies, how he sold the movies out of the back of Fangoria, shooting the movie in New York while living part time in Florida. Sukenick admits here that he has some medical issues, and that definitely comes through here, but the guy is so enthusiastic about his work and about talking about his work that you can’t help but like the guy. This is a short piece, it looks like it was shot on a cell phone, but it’s fascinating. Really, we’d all benefit from hearing more from Carl, it’s a shame we didn’t get a commentary here.

    Also on hand is an interview with director Marcus Koch, the same man who made 100 Tears (possibly the best scary clown with a giant cleaver movie ever) and who just so happens to be a big fan of Sukenick’s work. At just short of three minutes this is a quick piece, but Koch is obviously legitimately fascinated by this picture and by the man who made it as he talks about how he got a hold of the movie and his thoughts on the picture.

    If back rubs and towels are your thing, then be sure to keep digging around the menus until you find the ‘Rare Behind the Scenes footage from Sukenick’s Space Psychos 4. This is basically just under five minutes of Carl on a couch groping a buxom actress as he tells her how everyone outside is ‘dying of radiation poisoning.’ She rubs his back with a towel, they kinda-sorta make out, and his bright blue pants shine like the sun before he sends her off to the bomb shelter for her own safety. But she doesn’t go, she just rubs his back with a towel some more as he grunts out ‘oh yeah’ over and over and over again.

    Rounding out the extras on this first disc are trailers for Nick Palumbo’s Nutbag and Sukenick’s The Toxic Retards, a still gallery (featuring a completely unexpected spread eagle shot from one of Carl’s starlets!), static menus and chapter selection. There’s also an Easter Egg on here that is twenty-one seconds of naked ladies, one of whom is a dwarf and who dances with someone who might be Carl, strutting about. This is a trailer for promo spot or something for a movie called Cannibal Retards that doesn’t seem to be actually available from anywhere on this planet.

    Now, for most people that would be enough but this is a two disc set and on that second disc we get Carl J. Sukenick's original Mutant Massacre! Again, this could easily be confused for Alien Beasts or Mutant Massacre 2 but it’s not, it is its own beast clocking in at 1:12:10.

    A video generated MUTANT MASSACRE title appears over footage of the monster under the bridge that we're by now very familiar with. We can hear people off screen saying 'where is he?' and 'he's coming' and then we cut to a quick gore clip, some stills, some negative footage of ducks and yeah, that music is back and louder than ever.

    SECURITY CAMERA DESTROYED BY RADIATION! INCOMING VIDEO CODED MESSAGE!
    SECURITY CAMERA DESTROYED BY RADIATION! INCOMING VIDEO CODED MESSAGE!
    SECURITY CAMERA DESTROYED BY RADIATION! INCOMING VIDEO CODED MESSAGE!

    I guess there was a second energy storm, see, and it knocked out the security system. But the security camera system is now back online and all cameras are fully functional. So that's good, because the special weapons base is under attack and we need to use the security system to keep searching for enemy agents. Carl meets with Joe to figure out what happened to point man Neal. ABE! He shows up and stars at something off camera. Something is happening in sector 15 - ABE! There's a monster under the bridge again and then ABE! Iranian enemy agents are up to no good. The Shell family is back, there are ducks and the words HI-FI show up on screen.

    Some guys wander through the park in bad makeup. A guy gets dragged under the bridge. It's summer, then it looks like fall and after that the women in the mask shows us her guns again. Mileage! She's got nunchucks. ABE! The masked woman fits a masked guy inside a room with an American flag hanging proudly in the background. The guy grabs her breasts and then we're back under the God damned bridge again. Then the front yard. A mutated Neal gets into trouble. ABE! More incoming video coded messages are played. Blood shoots out of an eye. Carl talks to Joe. Some people die, the girl gets fondled again, negative footage, video coded messages - it's all here. Plus.... ABE!

    Both discs fit nicely inside a clear plastic DVD case and hey, we even get some nice reversible cover art that allows you to display either the Alien Beasts cover or the Mutant Massacre 2 cover. The world is truly your oyster. This release is also limited to five hundred hand numbered copies.

    The Final Word:

    The very fact that Alien Beasts has been given a DVD release, let alone that it’s been teamed with sister features Mutant Massacre and Mutant Massacre 2, is pretty shocking. This is some seriously niche stuff, about as obscure as you can get within the realms of a commercial release. The very definition of ‘endurance test cinema’ these are so scatter brained and all over the place that they probably don’t make any sense to anyone who isn’t named Carl J. Sukenick but for those who need to see some of the most mind boggling movies ever made, well, here you go.