Zeegrade Reviews

Zeegrade Reviews
Movies for scumbags.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

UFO: Target Earth (1974)

     If someone were to ask you, "Is there a mildly retarded version of 2001: A Space Odyssey that can cure my insomnia?"  Yes ... yes there is.  Filmed over two weeks around Atlanta with a $70,000 budget, UFO: Target Earth is one of the dullest science fiction films to disgrace the genre.  First time director Michael DeGaetano seems to think that merely pointing a camera in the direction of his wooden actors and filming asinine conversations is all that is needed to compel his audience to watch further.  Even more galling, there isn't even a fucking UFO in the movie!  Let's get this anal probing started.

     UFO starts out like a mockumentary as a reporter documents several locals and their respective encounters with what they believe to be alien visitors.  They include:
  • A professor who was "blown" by an object outside his stalled car
  • An old woman who saw something fly quickly, stop and hover
  • A couple that was abducted and examined by extraterrestrials 
  • Two ranchers claim a cigar-shaped craft caused a small airplane to crash
Get all that?  Don't worry if you didn't because these cases have nothing to do with our story.  Opening credits time and I have to admit, I liked the folksy "Between the Attic and the Moon" that accompanies the only real "evidence" provided by this film.

"You flew 200 light years in THAT?"

The song reminds me of the awesome bumper music that Art Bell used to play on Coast to Coast AM.  I'm always a skeptic but that doesn't mean I'm not open to the idea of aliens existing in the vast reaches of the universe.  Anyway, a voiceover informs us that the mannequin with humanlike qualities is Alan Grimes, a "teaching fellow" at the University of Gainesville who is about to overhear a phone conversation that will change the course of his life.  Alan somehow is able to eavesdrop on a conversation between two military personnel concerning two blips on the radar and a 15% drop in capacity at the Buford power plant.  One of the men wants to scramble some jets to investigate because he "feels" that something is out there.  No wonder our military budget is so high.  Alan hangs up, clearly riveted at this conscious shattering revelation.  THERE ARE TWO BLIPS OUT THERE!!!  A red phone rings and General Gallagher answers it.  He confirms the deployment.

"I need a strike team to burn these curtains."

     Alan flashes back to one night when he was a child complaining about the light "like a star" hurting him and looking at him naked.  His mom refers to it as his "waking star" and adds that everyone has one.  From which body orifice did you pull that one from?  Is this a southern thing?  I thought I was being fondled at night by ghosts until I realized the spirit had a five-o-clock shadow and smelled like bourbon.  Snapping back to reality, Alan calls Dr. Mansfield and urgently asks to speak with Vivian tonight.  Surely, she must know something important, right? 
     Vivian is a neurotic who believes that she has an extrasensory connection to extraterrestrial beings energy.  Sorry Vivian, I didn't mean to be so "dimensional".  What was so critical that Alan had to speak with her immediately?  The hell if I know!  This is how the short scene ends:
               (Alan stops recording the conversation) 

       Alan: "Listen, uh... I have to make an appointment.  Do you have some time tomorrow?"
Vivian: "I don't know."

Scene immediately fades to black
Thank god he spoke with her as soon as possible!  This happens quite a bit.
     Alan arrives at the Planetarium to speak with Dr. Wheeler who is giving a lecture about comets and how history has chronicled them as harbingers of great change.  Alan asks Wheeler what his opinion is of UFOs and the doctor simply tells him that there has to be a scientific explanation for whatever visual phenomena is being experienced.  He invites Alan to the observatory later that evening to see a real UFO.  Get a room guys.  We arrive at said observatory and Dr. Wheeler bloviates about how aliens have become a part of our modern mythology and is preferred at times over more mundane explanations.  UFO: Target Afternoon Nap.  Can we move this thing along?

"Allow me to show you the effects of gravity on my scrotum."

The unidentified flying object Wheeler shows Alan through the telescope is nothing more than a comet.  Alan is about to confide in Wheeler a "curiosity" he has (don't ask) but before he goes into detail the scene fades to black.  He must have asked for a reach around because Dr. Wheeler is adamant about associating his academic standing with UFOs.  He believes it's an electrical anomaly and adds: "What the hell do we know about electricity?"  This guy is a doctor?  Alan obviously quips that it's a power source to which Wheeler retorts, "So is imagination".  George Lucas couldn't write dialogue worse than this.  
    The train to Minutiae Town keeps chugging along as Alan meets Vivian at a local dive bar.  She tells him about this oppressive feeling she has been experiencing and wonders if it was emanating from him.  Alan is interested to know the impression Vivian senses from him.  Instead of verbalizing it she begins to have a psychic orgasm as the obnoxious song blaring through the bar slows down considerably.  She gasps that the "stars" are so bright causing Alan to flash back again to that night when he was a child.  
     An agitated Alan is in the home of Dr. Mansfield where we have the same dead-end conversation between science and myth that happened minutes ago with Dr. Wheeler.  Alan refers to an explosion of UFO sightings (thanks for the invite DeGaetano) after his meeting with Vivian and asks for her help in acquiring some equipment he feels might be useful.  Mansfield seems reticent until Alan ends the scene with this bizarre non sequitur: "When the circle's drawn, they're joined".  The fuck does that even mean?    
      Frustrated by his lack progress, Alan bursts open Vivian's bedroom door, tears off her skirt and penetrates her from behind.  She moans that his energy needs immediate release.  He chuckles lustily and whispers in her ear, "Do you see stars now?"  Sorry, I just wanted to type something fun.  Back to the grind.  Alan and Vivian take the Mystery Wagon to see General Gallagher under the guise of "joining their equipment".  O-kaaay.  Instead of discussing anything of substance that might advance the plot a millimeter we are treated to a conversation about the military's phone lines and communication cables.  Another useless fucking scene from Cyclops DeGaetano.  
     Meeting later at a park bench, Alan ironically confesses to Vivian that Gallagher will be useless in their investigation.  Vivian reports that during her interviews with the locals that there have been UFO sightings around a lake near the Buford power plant that go back years.  There also is now a strong military presence at the plant when some of the steel beams appeared to have been blistered from a high heat source around the time of the power outage.  Conveniently, Alan dismisses any chance of photographing any evidence of these burns now that the Army is there.  Nope, let's just stay here at the park and film another dull conversation.  Instead, let's head to Dr. Mansfield's lab!  She agrees to allow Alan to use their computer to evaluate the results of his interviews.  How, in 1974, is this possible and what information can you extrapolate from some yokel who saw a light in the sky?  You really know what captivates an audience, DeGaetano.  MOAR INTERVIEZ!

I love watching professionals ply their trade.

You can clearly see the boom microphone slide towards whoever is speaking.  Easily, the most entertaining scene nearly thirty-five minutes into this dog.  The interviewee gives an account of when she was a child during an eclipse a "piece" of it fell into the lake nearby.  Since then, as many as seven light sources have appeared in that area over the years.  This, of course, is the one piece of evidence that proves Alan's theory.  A splitting of the lights creating "an energy force with a flight pattern".  Where the fuck did you come to that conclusion?  The doddering fool merely said she saw lights by the lake!  Nowhere did she describe specific sequences they were following!  How do you make a factual conclusion based on anecdotal evidence?  We have no clue who this lady even is for fuck's sake!  Did you write your script on a Waffle House napkin, DeGaetano?  
     Back at the lab the computer is printing out Alan's data on his fix points and they're "wild, man, really wild":


The all-knowing supercomputer determines with all the "data" that Alan should place his sensors on the opposite end of the lake furthest from their camp.  As they begin to setup the sensors, Vivian starts to feel a sense of déjà vu and accuses Alan of binding her soul to his technology (who speaks like this?) which he assures her he's not.  While Alan begins setting up his sensors on the other end of the lake, Vivian hears a creepy voice calling out her name through the walkie-talkie.  She drops it and runs deeper into the woods.  When she doesn't answer Alan returns to the campsite and begins to search for her along with the newly arrived Dr. Mansfield and her assistant Dan.  When the trio finally locate Vivian, her demeanor has changed:

Vivian's attempt at camouflage was unsuccessful. 

She growls at them to get away from this place.  Alan remarks astonishingly that she's become "a whole other person" (oh, gawd!) when they are warned not to enter the circle by threat of death.  Vivian pleads that "they" are controlling her and that she can't touch them.  Mansfield consoles her and brings her back to the campsite.  Still no fucking aliens.  Later the evening, Mansfield — through all her scientific based skepticism — suddenly theorizes that an alien ship crashed into the lake where the occupants have remained alive and have on occasion sent out satellites to secure power via the Buford plant and monitor the environment.  Vivian rightly asked why haven't they simply left if they possess such high technology when Mansfield posits that perhaps they haven't been able to repair the damage that will allow them to generate the power to leave Earth's gravitational pull.  Alan chimes in that Mansfield couldn't possibly believe that theory and she agrees with the stipulation that they have to assume all possibilities in order to conduct their investigation.  Even if it's fantasy?  In that case, why not start looking for a magical dragon cave nearby?  
     The following evening, Mansfield is bedridden with dizzy spells, however, the investigation continues.  Some electrical equipment is active along with two televisions when Dan excitedly reports to Alan that a high energy level has been detected in the lake.  While the equipment hums, blips, and whirs something appears on the television compelling Alan towards it:

You cheap son of a bitch.

Dan and Vivian become concerned at Alan's fixation with the image and they attempt to disconnect the equipment.  Vivian suddenly has an epiphany (which she doesn't share to the audience) and pleads to Alan to take them with.  The "aliens" finally make their grand appearance:

Aliens: Target Laughable

Since they are energy beings, this is the form that the take based on Alan's preconceived fears.  The alien asks Alan to cast it aside before Mansfield rises and babbles about how our fears create the forms we see.  Uh, we got that already.  I'll spare you the metaphysical gobbledygook spouted by the alien and tell you that they have waited over 1000 years for someone like Alan.  He walks in a daze towards the lake and as he does he starts to age rapidly.  The alien tells him that they need his imagination in order to free themselves from the lake.  Imagination?  Really?  One thousand fucking years in a lake because no imagination?  Why didn't you just look for this guy?

Alan is given a choice: Give them the power and die immediately or refuse and watch the planet end during his lifetime.  After some poorly imitated graphics reminiscent of the 2001: A Space Odyssey finale, the alien returns to tell him that only three others in all of mankind have ascended with them.  Alan, now aged considerably, somehow fights off Dan and shuffles deeper into the water to become the fourth.  Dan dives back in to retrieve Alan, however, instead he drags out only a skeleton:

Dan locates the sole audience member.

Now, "beyond the jaws of darkness" a beam of light is seen traveling through space.  The ending incorrectly quotes the wrong verse from the book of Revelation (The Apocalypse of St. John) that by no means clarifies anything.
     Let me get this straight: Formless energy beings crash into Earth periodically, making themselves captives on the planet until they can find someone with the imagination to free them ONLY if they agree to sacrifice their life?  What in the galactic fuck would be the purpose of that?  Don't these asshole have better things to do than come all this way to basically beg for change for the bus?  Why the fuck would you build a vehicle that runs on a fuel so rare that you're completely fucked if you run out?  Now that I think about it, why did they need spaceship to begin with?  Aren't they formless beings?  Can't they just float the hell out of here?  I guess Formless Light: Shittiest Movie Ever would have been too honest, huh?  Another thing: How have they been waiting for 1000 years?  The old lady clearly told Alan and Vivian that she saw something fall from the sky and into the lake when she was a young child.  How old is she?  Were you just making shit up as you went along DeGaetano?
     I'm not sure if he was trying to make an intellectual film with science fiction aspects to it or DeGaetano is just completely clueless on how to write a coherent script.  If ever a job needed to be outsourced it was that.  By the way, if UFO is in your title there better damn well be a UFO making an appearance at some point during the film.  Instead, we get one tedious talk-heavy scene after another without any attempt of compelling the audience to watch until the end.  Frank Capra once said "There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness."  Thankfully, Frank never watched UFO:Target Earth, otherwise he would have plucked his own eyeballs out of their sockets.  All copies of this movie should be tossed into your nearest lake.  The deeper, the better.   



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