Extra Terrestrial Visitors [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Severin Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (21st May 2023).
The Film

In the dead of night, a trio of poachers drive deep into the Shasta National Forest to make a quick buck by stealing eagle eggs. When Sam (Frank Sussman) sees a meteor crashing down behind the trees, he leaves Burt (Return of the Evil Dead's Frank Braña) and Matt (Iguana's Guillermo Antón) behind and takes the truck in search of the landing site, happening upon a cave carved into the Earth by the impact where he finds a nest of large eggs. When Sam cracks one open and discovers the alien contents, he destroys the others in disgust, incurring the wrath of the mother. Another witness to the crash is young Tommy (Beatriz's Óscar Martín) who lives at the Rangers Refuge with his mother Molly (Face of Terror's Concha Cuetos) and his forest ranger uncle Bill (Code of Hunting's Manuel Pereiro). In the morning, Tommy sneaks out to the cave where he finds the one surviving egg which he takes back with him and hides in his room as a hopeful addition to his menagerie of woodland friends cuddly, creepy, and crawly.

Also visiting the forest are rocker Rick (Mystery on Monster Island's Ian Sera), his backup singers Sharon (Buenas noches, señor monstruo's Nina Ferrer), Kathy (Sara Palmer), and Tracy (Maria Albert), producer Brian (Monster Dog's Emilio Linder), and infatuated stowaway groupie Lara (Siesta's Susana Bequer) who Rick invites along to the annoyance of girlfriend Sharon because Lara happens to the daughter of one his label's executives. When Lara storms away from the group after much taunting by Sharon, she runs right into the arms of rape-minded Matt and then is frightened by the monster and falls into a ravine. With the snow coming down fast and an unnatural fog sweeping through the forest, the group seek help for Lara at the Rangers Refuge. After spotting the creature themselves, Burt and Matt try to capture it for profit things go fatally wrong. Meanwhile, the egg has hatched and Tommy forms a friendship with the rapidly-growing alien he names "Trumpy" unaware that its angry mother has homed in on it and will kill anyone in its path.

Starting out early in production as an alien-on-the-rampage horror movie and changed at the behest of the producers into something more "wholesome" to cash in on the success of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, director Juan Piquer Simón's Extra Terrestrial Visitors is a seriously lop-sided film that would have been better had it stayed a more adult horror film; which is not surprising given that the producers were Dick Randall and Faruk Alatan who already ripped off Superman: The Movie with Simón in Supersonic Man and Friday the 13th in Pieces. The alien "Trumpy" looks like a more anteater-esque variation on A.L.F. but and its telekinetic antics are not cute enough to make up for just how utterly annoying young Tommy is, and Trumpy's lookalike mother is not scary enough to terrify nor are the attacks gory enough to satisfy older viewers, and the result will likely be too feeble for both children and adult alike. The climax apes the Spielberg model as Tommy and Trumpy flee into the woods in disguise, and the "bittersweet" ending – which almost anticipates Harry and the Hendersons – might have been actually moving had the film actually made Rick less of a jerk at any point in the film (one wonders if he was meant to survive when this was originally a horror film). The film's special effects are a mix of in-camera stop motion and visual effects footage recycled from the Space: 1999. Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the film to eagle-eyed exploitation viewers are the fact that Tommy's bedroom is the same location or set seen in the prologue of director Simón's infamous slasher Pieces and Tommy attempts to teach Trumpy to play by breaking out a jigsaw puzzle (although not a nude one), but Extra Terrestrial Visitors is a car crash in the admittedly batty filmography of Juan Piquer Simón.


Extra Terrestrial Visitors may have had limited theatrical release by Cinema Shares International in 1984 but it was licensed by Cinema Shares for VHS release in 1985 under the title "The Unearthling" but under its original export title on VHS in Canada around the same time. In 1990, Film Ventures acquired the film for television distribution, retitling it to "Pod People" and replacing the entire title sequence with a montage of clips from the Don Dohler regional flick The Galaxy Invader; and it was this version that it reached the widest audience from 1991 onwards as part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 lineup (indeed, it is difficult to find the "Pod People" version without the MST3K treatment). Apart from a German-language-only DVD under the title "Return of E.T." and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 stateside, the film has been been largely unavailable in unmolested form (apart from an unauthorized DVD probably ripped from the Canadian VHS release). Severin's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray from a 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative, therefore, is the best the film has looked digitally, sporting fine detail in scenes not hindered by the heavy use of fog and diffusion while the glowing red gel lighting is no longer a smeary mess and the foggy exteriors are no longer a noisy blue but a cooler slate.


Audio options include original mono English and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks and optional English SDH subtitles for the English dub – the film was acted in phonetic English – and English for the Spanish dub. The post-dubbed dialogue is always clear while some exaggerated foley during Trumpy's alien power sequences and the electronic passages of Librado Pastor's score have much more presence than some of the recycled music tracks which include excerpts from Pastor's score for Satan's Blood presumably sound a bit more muffled due to the source recordings.


Extras start off with the 2014 documentary by Luis Esquinas titled "The Simon's Jigsaw: A Journey into the Universe of Juan Piquer Simón" (101:22) – previously included on Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray of Cthulhu Mansion – hosted by Lone Fleming (Tombs of the Blind Dead) in which Simon's surviving collaborators – among them actors Linder, Antonio Mayans (Oasis of the Zombies), Hilda Fuchs (Hundra), and Jack Taylor (Female Vampire), cinematographer Juan Mariné (The Rift), effects artists Colin Arthur (Edge of the Axe), Basilio Cortijo (Slugs: The Movie), Domingo Lizcano (Mucha Sangre), and María Luisa Pino (Red Sonja), director Carlos Puerto (Satan's Blood), and editor Pedro del Ray (The Craving) – as well as contemporary filmmakers like Victor Matellano (the Vampyres remake) note Simon's mainstream and literary influences, but makes the case for Simon as an innovator in Spanish cinema which had special effects technicians but not the kind of Hollywood-type effects houses and specializers until required for Simon's effects-heavy films. The film follows a loose chronology from Fantastic Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Satan's Blood – with Puerto crediting Simon on letting him come up with a concept within a set of budgetary limitations – through his "bigger" films like Supersonic Man for which the crew had to consult with the effects artists of Superman: The Movie for the flying rig and front projection system, Pieces, and The Rift.

New to this release is "A Weekend in Hell" (14:23), an interview with actor Linder who recalls his drama school days, touring with the company of Lindsay Kemp, some of his more illustrious Hollywood and British actors in early film work, and meeting Simón who cast him in a bit part role in Pieces which became the first of six collaborations. In "Composing the Cosmos" (19:02), composer Pastor recalls studying piano at a conservatory in Dijon, playing in a band and then in a pub, and appearing on television and ads as a musician before Simón hired him to score some television ads before his first feature work in the Simón-produced Satan's Blood. He recalls the challenges of scoring that film – along with the usual "weird things happened making a Satanic movie" anecdotes – and noting with this and Pieces that scoring horror movies was more of a challenge for him than other genres, noting that Extra Terrestrial Visitors was an easier assignment, including writing songs for Sera which were recorded and mixed in England.

"A Private Concert from Librado Pastor" (8:41) features Pastor playing two tracks from Satan's Blood and one from Extra Terrestrial Visitors on his KORG keyboard, while the Film Ventures alternate "Pod People" opening credits (2:17) are also included without the MST3K overlays and chitchat.


Also included in the package is a reversible cover with the litigious alternate title "E.T.: The Second Coming" and a soundtrack CD single (15:34) featuring four tracks by Pastor including one of the songs sung by Sera.


Extra Terrestrial Visitors is a car crash in the admittedly batty filmography of Juan Piquer Simón.


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