July 26, 2013
Roger Christian and Christian Piers Betley
Christian Slater as Col. Gerard Brauchman
Brendan Fehr as Dr. Lance Krauss
Amy Matysio as Ava Cameron
Michael Therriault as Bruce Johns
In the year 1995 a wormhole opened in a film studio vault sucking up every copy of a cheesy straight-to-video sci-fi movie and then vanishing. In 2013 the wormhole opens again, depositing the movie into the offices of RLJ Entertainment. That movie was Stranded.
We are Stranded with the crew of the US Moonbase Ark, 3 men and one woman drilling into the Moon’s surface looking for….. something. Without warning the base is hit with a devastating meteor storm that causes major damage. Ava Cameron volunteers to don the only remaining space suit left undamaged in order to fix some the leaks and seal off other parts of the station with the airlocks. After wrestling with a particularly stubborn piece of meteorite Ava does not return empty handed, finding a rock fragment that appears to have some sort of spore growing on it. Quite how she figures this out isn’t clear because it just looks like a rock. Though the crew are safe for now they are also at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning which apparently causes dizziness, nausea and hallucinations Dr. Lance Kruss (Brendan Fehr who is having a stellar year between this and 13 Eerie) takes a look at the rock and upon breaking it open discovers a fast-developing spore that can reproduce by itself. While placing a sample of the spore into a machine to be scanned Ada cuts herself on a broken test tube. She promptly passes out in a hallway and awakes hours later to find herself six months pregnant. Dr. Kruss thinks it’s a huge cyst that appeared overnight but we know the truth, she’s pregnant with an evil alien baby with a mouth that hinges open like those mutant vampires in Blade 2! Believing she’s delirious from breathing carbon monoxide her crewmates don’t believe her but the alien is growing and soon it’s not just the cold emptiness of space the crew has to worry about.
While I was having fun up there joking this movie was from 1995, it’s really not too hard to believe. Produced in Canada, Regina Saskatchewan to be exact, Stranded looks like it was produced on sets used many times over for made for TV sci-fi movies in the early to mid 90’s. All grey tunnels with random flashing lights are the order of the day, you will believe that a futuristic moon base control panel would consist of a couple of computer case fans and one of those unfolding book lights they give away for free when you join a book club! There’s a chance you might recognize the name of the director. His name is Roger Christian, an actual co-Academy Award winner for set decoration for Star Wars. More recently his most prominent piece of work was none other than the Scientology crapfest Battlefield Earth. Riding that wave, Stranded sees both director and cast sleepwalking through an exceptionally terrible script. As I watched I pictured the director working on a crossword puzzle during takes, glancing up long enough to say “action” or “cut” with all the enthusiasm of a fast food fry cook.
The film is also filled with rampant stupidity, from Ava’s infection to the crew members unwilling to even consider the possibility that her condition has anything to do with the alien spores they found. Ada is put in “lockdown” in a room to avoid contamination and then people are in and out of that room literally every two minutes. “Carbon Monoxide” is blamed for everything in order to try and generate suspense as nobody is bright enough to put two and two together and figure out the real cause of anything. In fact, when Christian Slater’s character attempts to keep Ada locked away to avoid further contamination he is met with anger and hostility. Due to the lack of budget and small sets characters are forced to just walk from room to room shouting at each other over and over again. Even for a genre that is filled with people making bad decisions in order to keep putting themselves in danger these characters would still be considered drooling idiots.
To make matters worse the “monster” that is terrorizing the cast is hilariously awful. It begins as an awful puppet baby that makes noises sort of like a cricket then transforms into a clone of one of the crew, naked and covered in goo.. While we are spared full-frontal nudity the reaction to seeing this actor’s ass waving around in the camera probably does not cause the kinds of scares the makers intended. By the time the creature becomes something actually sort of menacing-looking that might actually be a threat to someone the movie ends. Yes, they show the final form for this alien and then immediately go to credits. What the hell happened? They ran out of money? They expected to make a sequel? Or is it maybe just a middle finger to anybody foolish enough to watch this dreck all the way through?
There’s no sugar coating it, this movie is an absolute stinker from start to finish. The cheesiness might appeal to some but even at a mere 84 minutes this movie feels endlessly padded, totally unoriginal and has one of the worst endings in recent memory. Utterly dire, avoid.