It's always welcome when you come across a movie you were expecting to hate and end up falling almost, kinda, sorta in love with it. That just happened to me with Hot Tub Time Machine, MGM's forthcoming the-plot-is-the-title flick starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke. I went into it in kind of a bad mood and walked out, much to my own dismay, with a can't-hide-it grin on my face. Sure, it's got some rough spots and jokes that don't so much hit as they do collide, but it averages out more good than bad and ultimately got me wondering one thing. What are some other sci-fi comedies I can throw some left field love to? Not the big titles we all grew up with, but the smaller, more under appreciated flicks that never got their 15 minutes of Back to the Future fame.
Admittedly some never deserved it, but I'm a sucker for movies everyone else hates.
The creature feature send up is an easy target but not an easy hit. Try to recreate the stilted acting and cheesy effects of the mid-1900's era sci-fi and you'll almost always come off as too self-aware. Try to take a stupid premise too seriously and you'll almost always end up with a film that belongs in the Walmart bargain bin following a Syfy channel premiere. You'd be surprise how rarely the balance is struck, but for me Eight Legged Freaks nailed it with a big, toothy smile.
The small town folk are likeable without being too goofy, the effects are cheesy but never actually sloppy, the actual giant mutant spiders become characters in their own right, and the whole thing is a hell of a lot more entertaining than, say, Evolution.
Bonus: Not only is Eight Legged Freaks about toxic waste born super spiders that run around eating people (and laughing!), but it has both Kari Wuhrer and Scarlett Johansson to boot.
Of the five titles on this list, it's perfectly understandable why Jake West's Evil Aliens isn't as household a name as Back to the Future, because, well, EA packs more bodily fluids into single shots than most movies do throughout their run times. That's why I'm actually surprised at how fond I am of this intentionally crude independent sci-fi/horror/comedy mash-up from the UK about a TV crew who are forced to team up with a redneck family to fight a group of space invaders. Normally I hate splatter comedies that aren't named Dead Alive, but Evil Aliens has enough of Peter Jackson's insane spirit infused in its every ounce of gross that I can't help but like the messy thing.
20th Century Fox are morons for not being able to figure out how to market Mike Judge's sci-fi comedy about a dystopian future brought down not by the follies of war but by how absolutely stupid most people on Earth are. It's easily the funniest flick on this list, if not the funniest of its niche ever produced. (Yep, I used the E word.) Every day it seems like Idiocracy becomes less a riff on how culturally bereft America's growing generations are and more like a hilarious/horrifying prophetic vision of the inevitable.
Bonus:Idiocracy is one of the few R-rated, pure sci-fi comedies around.
Now we're getting into dark comedy territory with South Korea's Save The Green Planet. It's certainly not for everyone, though not in the same fluid-spewing sense as Evil Aliens. STGP is just plain weird. It seems innocent enough with its plot description of a guy who thinks the world is about to be invaded by aliens and he's the only one who can stop it, but once it calls into question whether the man is indeed a hero or just batshit insane, it's darker side takes over and most people don't know whether to laugh of cringe. I love it, though, and if you dig film oddities unlike any other, you'd do well to track down a copy.
Bonus: Despite what the title implies, there's no environmental agenda in sight; just old fashion Asian lunacy.
I know I'm cheating a little here by including a TV miniseries in an otherwise all film list, but because The Lost Room was never picked up for an actual season, I'm willing to count it. It also happens to be largely unseen even though it's not only the second best miniseries Syfy has ever produced (Battlestar Galactica takes top spot, of course), so overall quality is more than enough reason to bring it up. Plus it's my list and I can do what I want.
A cop comes across a motel room that seems to exist outside of space and time and soon learns that all of the objects that were once in the room are now highly sought after underground treasures that bestow upon their owner a special power. Thing is, most of these special powers have no practical use (the pencil, for example, creates a penny from 1961 whenever the eraser is tapped on a desk), but a handful are rather mighty and there are people who'd kill to reunite them all to create an unprecedented source of power.
It sounds silly, but damned if The Lost Room isn't charming as hell and brimming with imagination. Don't let who produced it and where it aired scare you off. This is one of the few things Sci-Fi has gotten right in recent years (which is why it's no surprise that they'd follow up a good decision with a bad one by never extending it to a full series).
Bonus: It stars Peter Krause, a man who can do no wrong.