31 Days of Halloween: Pod People
Let’s get one thing straight. This movie is a dumpster fire. It’s not just garbage, it’s flaming garbage. There are few, if any, redeeming qualities on display here, making the whole thing nigh unwatchable. It occasionally does that thing where it’s so bad it’s funny, but it manages to circle all the way around again to being dull and terrible. So why write about it? Simple: MST3K.
Pod People was the first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 I ever saw, and after that, I was instantly hooked. Joel and the bots won my heart with their dry humor and ability to find joy in the endless flaws of this shitty, shitty movie. Because of this, Pod People has become one of my favorite “horror” movies. Horror is in quotes for a reason, because while it is a movie about an alien monster running around murdering people for no good reason, it’s also so much more.
Pod People centers around 3 groups of characters; the poachers, the family, and the rock group. The poachers are a trio of idiots who spend time in the woods finding eggs or something to sell on the black market. I don’t really know what poachers do, but these guys are seen stealing some eggs at one point, so that’s what I’m going with. The family consists of a perpetually awful/drunk old man, a woman who appears to be his wife, and a kid who is either the son or grandson (it’s pretty vague) of one or both of these other people. Then there’s the rock group which consists of some dude, three girls who act as backup singers, Rick, the lead singer with a perpetual chip on his shoulder, and some high-as-a-kite moron girl dressed like a hippie whose only purpose seems to be to annoy other cast members and fall off a cliff at some point. Alright. Those are your characters. Let’s see if I can sum up this shit show.
The movie starts with the poachers in the woods stealing eggs. Then, a meteor of some sort falls in the woods, and one of the guys decides to go and look into it instead of getting a ladder or something like he was asked. He finds the meteor, and it’s glowing. He enters the meteor because of reasons, and sees that it’s full of giant eggs. Naturally, he grabs a stick and starts breaking them, again because of reasons, and sees that they’re full of some weird looking alien things. He hears a loud noise, and something hairy kills him. Which is fine, because he wasn’t at all likable.
Next, we meet the family. The kid, Tommy, is obsessed with gathering specimens for his bug collection. Since he seems to live in a cabin in the middle of what can only be described as the foggiest forest in the history of everything, I guess bug collecting is the only thing he can really do with his time. His mother, Molly, tells him to eat his breakfast in a typical motherly fashion, and the old guy, let’s call him Shithead because I can’t remember his name, drunkenly walks by Tommy and yells at him for calling his centipede its scientific name instead of just centipede. I think he’s carrying a rifle in this scene, but that might just be my mind playing tricks on me. When I picture Shithead, he always seems to be holding a gun. This pretty much sums up who these folks are. And now that we’ve established another group of unlikable characters, it’s time to see if the movie can go for the hat trick.
The height of fashion
When we’re introduced to the rock group, they’re in a recording studio performing the most terrible, canned piece of elevator music you’ve ever heard. Something to the effect of “Feel the engines roll now” or some garbage like that. Did I mention this movie was a dumpster fire? This is the trash that started the blaze. Anyway, Rick and the No-Talents (that’s what I’m calling their band) finish recording the song, and everyone’s happy. Then the camera lands on Rick. The producer asks what he thinks. Rick smiles and says “It stinks.” To my knowledge, this is the only time Rick smiles for the duration of the movie. After about 2 minutes of listening to these people talk, it’s clear that they are by and large the least likable folks in this movie. Way to go, Pod People. Anyway, they all decide to go on a camping trip into Fogwood Forest. The one dude, let’s call him Numbnuts, is dating one of the backup singers. Her dating Numbnuts seems to be her only purpose, so I won’t bother mentioning her beyond this point. Rick is dating one of the other backup singers, let’s call her Bitchface, and is clearly cheating on her with the moron girl who is dressed like a hippie for some reason. The other backup singer, let’s call her Slutrag, is single, obsessed with finding a man, and believes that going on a camping trip with two couples sounds like a great way to meet a park ranger and generally spend some quality time as an annoying 5th wheel. Of course, things get extra wacky when Rick decides to invite his other girlfriend, let’s call her Fuckwit, along for the festivities for some dumbass reason or another, which makes Bitchface and Slutrag understandably upset. None of this is going to matter in the end though, because this is a horror movie, and pretty much everyone is going to die.
Now, as the story goes, this movie was originally planned as a straight up monster-killing-folks movie, but after the unbelievable success of ET, last minute script changes were administered to give it a friendly alien character. In all honesty, there was no saving this movie, but the shoehorning of the friendly alien certainly doesn’t help. Now, as we’ve already established, there’s an angry alien running around killing people. Sure, it could just be pissed at that one dude for breaking all those eggs, but who really knows, right? The thing doesn’t talk, and the movie certainly isn’t going to tell us, so it’s best to just roll with it. Anyway, with that information in mind, let’s continue.
This is seriously how foggy it is in the woods in this movie.
Tommy decides to go outside to collect more specimens, when he happens along the meteor. He enters the meteor, presumably because of reasons, and nabs one of the eggs, but not before being spooked by the dead body lying next to it. Still, he takes the egg and runs, being extra careful to not tell anyone in a position of authority, because keeping an alien egg you found next to a dead body in a meteor you found in the woods is a great idea. I hate this kid. Anyway, he takes the egg home, hatches it in his room, and thus Trumpy is born. You can see in the pictures, he looks kind of like ALF with an elephant trunk. Tommy names him Trumpy. (Roll with it), keeps him hidden in his room, and feeds him a shit ton of food. Trumpy grows to full size in what seems like an hour, at which point Tommy discovers that he can “do magic things” like walk on the ceiling and make his electronic game of Simon come to life. Seriously, the scene where Trumpy starts performing his magic may be the most embarrassingly stupid thing ever caught on film. It simply must be seen to be believed.
Meanwhile, on the best camping trip ever, Rick and Fuckwit walk into the woods to gather firewood or make out or something, when Fuckwit is encountered by the angry alien (who looks just like Trumpy) and falls off a cliff. The angry alien gets bored and wanders off (I think. I honestly don’t remember), and Rick goes for help. Numbnuts, Bitchface, Slutrag and Rick grab Fuckwit and try to find help. Naturally, they find the cabin where Trumpy and Tommy live, and hilarity ensues.
The most plaid cabin on Earth
The evil alien kills more people, Numbnuts goes out with Shithead to try and stop it. They find the poachers freshly killed by the evil alien, who promptly kills Numbnuts, and is shot by Shithead in the process. This only seems to make him more angry, so Shithead flees to break the bad news to the rest of his brood. Bitchface is killed in the shower or something, Fuckwit dies in her sleep, presumably from the fall or something, Rick takes one of Shithead’s many guns to hunt the alien, confuses Trumpy for the evil one, Tommy stops them from killing him, and he wanders off into the woods to live alone. In the end, the evil alien is killed by Molly, Shithead is killed by the evil alien, as is pretty much everyone else except Tommy, Rick, Molly, and maybe Slutrag. I honestly don’t remember what happens to her. She probably dies though. The end.
So, what we have here is a movie where the hero is a shitty rock singer with a bad attitude, an idiot kid raises an alien in his bedroom, and another alien runs around killing people. It makes little to no sense, and is an affront to movies and people everywhere. If you manage to track this steaming pile down in its original format, do yourself a favor and run it through a wood chipper as soon as possible. Save the world from having to contain another copy of this abomination. However, if you manage to track down the MST3K version, get some friends together, pop some popcorn, turn down your lights (where applicable), and prepare to laugh, because this movie exists to be made fun of.
Seriously though, watching this movie with friends is one of my favorite pastimes, and there’s no better time of year to do it than Halloween. It’s a shitty monster movie, which makes it fit right in with the season, and in the right company, it’s an absolute blast. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s one of MST’s best episodes. Everyone’s completely on point, and the jokes they come up with are some of the funniest in the entire series. So when you’re with your friends this Halloween, and you’re looking for something scary to watch, add Pod People to the rotation. You won’t be disappointed