SOMETHING IS OUT THERE
For all its popularity back in the day, Something is Out There is not a particularly original story. It is a variant on the humans hunt alien nasty scenario that had been endlessly imitated by a number of B-budget movies throughout the decade since Alien (1979). Indeed, it feels exactly like someone had spun the previous years The Hidden (1987) out into a mini-series. The Hidden was one of the better Alien-copied films, featuring a partnership between a regular detective (Michael Nouri) and an alien law enforcement official (Kyle MacLachlan) come to Earth to hunt another alien that hops between human bodies. Something is Out There also came out less than a year after the hit of the Mel Gibson film Lethal Weapon (1987), which featured a constant sparring comedic relationship between a cop and his partner and you suspect much of the human cop-alien partner relationship here has been conceived in a similar vein.
What succeeds in making Something is Out There work amicably is the rapport between the two central characters without this, it would simply be a regular alien monster movie. Joe Cortese plays with a rugged, rough-edged charisma that is highly appealing. He ends up giving the show a sense of humour in his delivery that makes it work past the rather ordinary story. The surprise is that, while Cortese has remained consistently working, he has never gone onto anything else of note when he clearly had the leading man appeal that propels him well ahead of many of his contemporaries. English actress Maryam dAbo had come to attention as the Bond girl in the previous years The Living Daylights (1987). She brings her class and elegance to bear on the role here, her studious seriousness making for some appealing fish out of water comedy especially amusing are the scenes with her getting drunk on coffee. Similarly, she, despite the eminent capacity to do so, never went on to do much subsequently other than appear in a handful of tv movies.
Rick Baker, who was regarded as the No 1 makeup effects artist of the day, has been brought on board to deliver the creature effects. These offer some entertaining scenes of ordinary people suddenly sprouting standard Giger-type claws and tentacles from all over their body (although the nitpicker in me kept wondering how a creature that is about the size of a truck manages to compact itself to fit inside an average human body).
Director Richard [A.] Colla worked almost exclusively in television where his other works of genre interest included the Gene Roddenberry tv pilot The Questor Tapes (1974) about the awakening of an artificially intelligent android, the tv movie The UFO Incident (1975) about a supposed true-life alien abduction, and the theatrically-released pilot for Battlestar Galactica (1978).