SPECIES: THE AWAKENING
At least by the point of Species: The Awakening, the Species series has gravitated to the place it naturally belongs the realm of the B-budget dvd-released monster movie. Species: The Awakening is an absurd film but has a wild surrealism that makes it undeniably watchable. Much of the film is conceived around a series of bizarrely surrealistic special effects set-pieces Ben Cross being pursued through Mexican back alleys by a nun with piercing blue eyes (Marlene Favela) who is trying to grab him with a four metre-long tongue; he getting a ride with a taxi driver (Marco Bacuzzi) who then manifests a long prehensile metal jaw and starts trying to stab him with his tongue. The climax of the film gives us a showdown between two Giger-ized alien women creatures who even come replete with red lipstick, high heels and nipples as part of their biology who fight each other, jabbing tongues through each others heads, spitting out projectile spikes and hacking shards off the others body. It is all slickly produced and photographed, even if everything present takes place in a B movie plot that is only premised around the provision of creature effects.
After coming to fame in the classy Chariots of Fire (1981), Ben Cross has done far too many of these cheap B movies throughout the 1990s and 00s. Here he at least proves a reliable trouper at the game. Dominic Keating, another British actor best known as Malcolm Reed on tvs Enterprise (2001-5), gives an awful performance. Keating plays to the gallery in outrageously fake Australian accent and if nothing else gives the film a dose of loud, cheesy vulgar ham that somehow suits the film quite well.
As with the previous entries, there is a bizarrely exaggerated misogyny underlying everything. This is made unsubtly clear from the mythology lecture that Helena Mattson gives in the opening scenes where she (dressed in a sizzling power-suit) talks about Zeuss punishment to man for stealing fire being women. Moreover, once Helena Mattson gets the stem cell injection and the alien DNA asserts itself, she swings between cliched sexual extremes. Up until then, she has been portrayed as the standard science-fiction movie girl next door/hot chick. After she gets the alien in her, she immediately propositions another girl for sex, starts talking trash and goes out dressed to kill seeming all Bad Girl. There seems an underlying sexism in what the film assumes here that studious innocent Girl Next Door types are desirable, whereas women in charge of their sexuality and determined to enjoy it without apology are evil.
Director Nick Lyon has become a specialist in low-budget genre fare, having also made the likes of Grendel (2007), Annihilation Earth (2009), Zombie Apocalypse (2011), Rise of the Zombies (2012), Foreclosed (2013), Bermuda Tentacles (2014), Hercules Reborn (2014), Stormageddon (2015), They Found Hell (2015), Earthtastrophe (2016) and Isle of the Dead (2016).