SPECIES (1995) gets a bad rap. Hey, the bad rap is just because it's got huge flaws and an overly sexy plot. Say what you want about the script and directing the whole thing movies very fast and well. The dialogue is laughable in spots but it's good to laugh, sometimes. THE ASTOUNDING SHE-MONSTER, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, PLAN NINE --they are laughable too, and look at the love they get! Every so often, you see, whether intentionally or not, a film's unique badness DNA mutates into something profound, commenting on the human, experience in ways more mainstream, 'better' films--chained up in groupthink, second-guessing and censorship--will never be able to. But a certain breed of science fiction and horror film, unintentionally, gets deep into the reasons we, or at least I, love movies. In short, they are powerful myths made all the more resonant for being told by an excited eight year-old rather than a dry college professor.
Sil (Natasha Henstridge) is a fast-growing hybrid of human DNA and alien DNA growing up in a drab, stern environment (the lab) like Jane Eure, who escapes... on a train! Looking to breed with any man not encumbered by faulty genes, and at the rate her kind respawn, she could repopulate the city within a few months, like a virus. As the scientist who tried to gas her with cyanide before she bolted, Fitch (Ben Kingsley) would say, "She's... that fast." You would think such a dire threat would get call out the national guard, or at least inspire proper tailoring, but Fitch moseys around Sil's bloody trail in an oversize suit jacket and black T-shirt, sooo 90s, with a 'hand-picked team' of four civilian consultants. Sociologist Stephen (Alfred Molina) is set up as a somewhat lonely / horny but friendly guy - ever trying to score with ladies at the hotel but then settling for the platonic company of the 'hand-picked' telepath, Dan (Forest Whitaker), whose empathic statements are always comically obvious, such as "her eyes are in front... her eyes in front so she can judge the distance to her prey." There's also the MILF-ish Dr. Laura (Marg Helgenberger) and tough guy Preston (Michael Madsen) who forge the only non-dysfunctional relationship in the film.
For the unattractive nerd trio of Dan, Stephen, and Fitch, Syl's chosen killing floor --LA--is a hostile, uncaring place. When Pres asks a club owner if any playas left with any hot blondes before they got there, and notes she'd pick "only prime players, no assholes," suddenly the whole depressing shill of night life is felt in the bones. For Sil, this nerd quintet are the assholes, a gaggle of merciless cockblockers with the power to call down air strikes on her car or trace her use of stolen credit cards before her current victim can even get, as they say, the tip in. Ain't that always the way?
With its 'mobile population' and sun-baked lonesome, Los Angeles bends and shifts to accommodate Sil's killing/sex spree, with the team of humans scrambling after her the way the mainstream ugly America follows hipster artists into gentrified neighborhoods, eager to live in thriving artistic center, and in so doing turning said 'hood into just another overpriced chain store strip mall, forcing the young artists to be on the road again, ever searching for a sanctuary from the tedium of the country's Fitches.
Don't all of us have sexual fantasies with people we know are bad for us, that are continually prevented from coming true by cockblocking friends, the law, our parents, lack of a condom, no erection, sudden eruptions of crying, and our own latent good sense. Wouldn't we all have to take Henstridge home if she threw herself into our arms? Would knowing the truth about her make any difference? Sil's allure is a Venus Flytrap genetic con job, but such a concept is particularly apt in an age where unattractive metallic mutants hide behind other, sexier Facebook pics? Just watch SPECIES and then CATFISH and then kill yourself, probably.
We live in an age of media saturation: models smile blandly on every available screen and page, this is only natural. Our fantasies are never meant to come true. It's best to look that gift horse in the mouth and search for retractible fangs, but we never do. In an age of digital surface only L.A. has depth, since it's where the beauty goes to be pixelized, so the zombie Angelinos Sil encounters never dare register as more than easily dispatched cliches and in her aching beauty Henstridge's Sil embodies that ghost image of Los Angels better than anyone. You're seduced by the surface, then gutted by the ugly CGI banshee within; you get a five minute window to mate with 3-D perfection, and then you're suffocated by the digital Giger tongue. Welcome to Blu-ray!