I know, I know. I keep saying that I’m not going to waste my time on Asylum movies anymore. I asked for one movie and so far they have sent me eight. I sent two to a couple of guys who were gracious enough to lend me their time and talent to write reviews and they promptly stopped writing reviews for me after sitting through a pair of particularly vile and misleading mockbusters. But hey, I just wrote a review of the classic, The Day The Earth Stood Still, I might as well as add some contrast and put the abysmal qualities of The Asylum on parade for a laugh.
If you’re just joining us, you can get an idea for how The Asylum rolls by watching the trailer reel at the beginning of The Day The Earth Stopped. A bullshit fantasy flick starring Jurgen Prochnow, who must not have anything better to do (You were in Das Boot, man! What the fuck?), a raunchy sex comedy whose trailer is loaded with tits, a High School Musical knockoff from The Asylum’s feel good christian movie arm, Faith Films called Sunday School Musical and then an ultra-violent Death Race rip off starring Insane Clown Posse, pro-wrestler, Raven and a car-wars pair up named Vagina-mite. Anything for a buck, y’all.
Where the recent remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, which trades its metaphor for atomic weapons in favor of hitting you over the head with a reminder of your personal carbon footprint, The Day The Earth Stopped, clearly intended to cash in on the Day remake hype, sticks to the original plot fundamentals as most of The Asylum’s remake mockbusters tend to do. That doesn’t excuse it, though. This is still a steaming pile of shit.
Six hundred and sixty six giant god damn robots descend on earth from space and hang out in conspicuous locations such as London, Paris, Moscow and Los Angeles where our story takes place. A government task force sets up shop in a warehouse and does their best to get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile, a smaller alien craft crashes in the woods, emerging from it are two nudes. An Abercrombie and Fitch model and a stripper, both of whom thwart the military’s attempts to capture them using magical tai chi moves until they’re taken into custody by a haggard looking C. Thomas Howell and his meathead buddy. The stripper, who stripper walks (that exagerrated porn star gait that involves crossing one foot way over the other in a sultry motion) everywhere, turns out to be an emissary from a distant planet sent to force mankind to prove its worth to this race who suspects that its development of nuclear weapons poses a threat to everyone else in the galaxy (somehow). So it’s up to a very tired looking C. Thomas Howell to sneak her away from the Vincent D’Onofrio lookalike contest winner in charge of the military task force and find a way to prove the value of human life before sundown when all the giant robots around the world will eradicate us all and then go home.
I just wish they’d have pulled the trigger earlier on and ended the movie early.
By Asylum standards, The Day The Earth Stopped is head and shoulders above its contemporaries. The trademark quality of any given Asylum movie is a tremendous amount of filler. Extended scenes of people running or walking punctuated by cheesy special effects and more filler until a reasonable runtime comes together to qualify the movie as a feature. You get plenty of that here, as well, but rather than the usual running/walking faux action filler, you get a lot of concerned looking people in suits and lab coats staring grimly at laptops, blueprints and whiteboards while guys in black fatigues run around behind them with a purpose. However, where any given Asylum movies’ pretense that there’s an actual feature to be seen on the DVD ends with the box art, The Day The Earth Stopped actually has some plot points and set pieces that are alien to their usually shoddy productions. There’s actually something going on here. But when The Soul Man breaks the super-stripper alien out of confinement, it’s back to the grind and usual running aimlessly until the credits roll. They nearly had an interesting low budget feature going on here.
There are far more effects shots in this movie than you may be used to in an Asylum feature and the giant mecha that threaten to destroy us all are actually pretty cool looking. Their nasty vaporize effect is also neat but that’s where the fun stops. Performing magician, C. Thomas Howell occasionally seems to be having fun starring in and directing his second feature for this desperate outfit but it’s not like the guy was best known for his acting chops. Unfortunately, he’s probably best known for donning black face and starring in the most obliviously offensive comedy made in the 80’s and I’m not talking about Ishtar.
And if it’s not sad enough that C. Thomas Howell is looking kind of sick these days, former brat pack badass, Judd Nelson shows up for the pivotal moment of the movie where he, looking like a reasonably skinnier Kevin Smith, gets to look worried about his wife, who is in labor, look relieved when his child is born and then panic stricken when his wife dies in labor. He also gets to spew the film’s schmaltziest line which follows more magical tai chi.
As usual, it’s a train wreck. It’s better than most Asylum features but not by much. Maybe with Howell behind the camera, a man with actual film set experience, there’s a degree of competence absent from other Asylum productions. Though I suspect that I might be giving the movie and the man far too much credit. The Asylum hopes that as you walk through Blockbuster Video, or blindly browse the shelves at Best Buy, you’ll see this title and think, “Hey! Didn’t this just come out in theaters?” followed by you purchasing it under the pretense that this is a save the planet feature starring Keanu Reeves. If you’ve read the comments on our review of Journey To The Center of the Earth, you’ll know that this tactic actually works sometimes.