The FFOW! series takes a look at that vast library created by the proud and the passionate: fan films. Whether the budget and talent is astronomical or amateur, FFOW! celebrates the filmmakers whose love of comics, books, movies, video games, and TV shows inspires them to join the great conversation with their own homemade masterpieces.
In the wake of Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction on the good ship Prometheus, the director proved that the legacy of Alien still has a firm grip on the face of popular culture. This week we take a look at a sci-fi fan film inspired by that original 1979 beast, and it deserves a legacy of its own.
According to his YouTube channel, Rob Hampton was a child of the ’70s who used to produce original films with “his silent Super-8 camera and whatever friends were available to help shoot and act.” One such film is Starbeast, which shares not only the same title of Dan O’Bannon’s original Alien script, but the same story.
Directed and animated by Hampton, who in his words “saw Alien four times in 1979,” the film follows the crew of Star Cruiser One. They land on a mysterious alien world to search for the crew of a wrecked spacecraft. Instead, they find a terrifying monster. Only after it kills them one by one can the last survivor decide whether to sacrifice everything and destroy this evil.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT
Sound exciting? It gets better.
Before they embark on the planet’s surface, the crew puts on disguises to resemble a group of parents and relatives out enjoying a casual Labor Day stroll. Clever. To heighten this disguise, only one of them carries the gun. Yes, THE gun. No sharing allowed. However, he’ll be sure to aim it anywhere he’s looking or at anyone to whom he’s talking – one can’t be too careful on this alien world.
When Al and Tom (not Captain Al or Lieutenant Tom) investigate a mysterious water tower, they discover the scattered skeletal remains of a Biology classroom. Wait, no – this is the lair of the Starbeast! It is a creature that teleports through the air, strikes without warning, and keeps its Taekwondo uniform stain free. The blue creature with the pitchfork? That is the Starbeast. There is no place to hide now.
All teasing aside, the standout sequence is the battle between the Starbeast and Friendlycavetrollbeast. (I assume that is its name). After the Starbeast is thrown on its head, it rises to its knees, shakes off the dizziness, and rubs the pain off its brain to keep fighting. In those few seconds, this plastic doll really comes alive.
I could go on, but I don’t want you to miss out on discovering this jewel for yourself. This is a joyous little film to see. What we have in Starbeast is a remnant of Super-8, in-camera moviemaking. Though the revamped credits and the impressive music and sound effects have been added thirty years later, the original footage deserves acclaim for its painstaking animation and use of simple make-up and models. The end result is fun entertainment in three minutes. This is backyard blockbusting. This is the same sandbox in which today’s top directors used to play. It belongs in a museum.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT