There is something unashamedly joyous about watching a deliciously over the top B-movie that not only knows and accepts what it is, but that embraces the genre so enthusiastically as to be almost, almost artful in its creation and existence. Brett Piper is a filmmaker who understands this - he relishes the challenge that a low budget brings, and has an instinct for what works.
With a career that includes titles such as A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990) and Queen Crab (2015), Piper’s oeuvre is unmistakable. Whether writing or directing, he is drawn to the type of B-movie fare an aspiring filmmaker will have grown up on, and he largely channels that spirit, adding his own personal exuberance.
Battle For The Lost Planet (1986) is not only one of Piper’s best, but is likely one of the best intentional B-movies you could watch. Ropey visual effects, clay modelled monsters that appear childlike in their conception, and characters that are as unrelatable as they are entertaining, this is a film that thrives on its genre heritage. The loose plot follows ‘loveable rogue’ Harry Trent (Mitler) as he finds himself stranded in space for several years, returning to an Earth overrun by alien pig-monsters. Only Harry can save the world, accompanied of course by a scantily clad damsel.
Coupled with Battle For The Lost Planet on this Blu-ray is the sequel - of sorts - Mutant War (1988). Set soon after the events of its predecessor, the character of Trent is really the only continuation, as our Mad Max-esque hero helps reunite a young woman with her family. Cue more beasties and baddies.
These films' influences are not subtle. Everything from the aforementioned Mad Max series through 10,000 Million Years B.C. (1966) to the greatly unappreciated Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone (1983) are not only referenced but at times blatantly copied. As Piper does so with tongue wedged firmly in cheek, you accept and enjoy these moments rather than become irritated by them, with further goodwill generated from the films being cleverly written with great humour. There are issues, of course there are, but apart from some rather suspect politics that don’t sit well in today’s world, these are largely excusable.
The extras contained are not particularly engaging, although a frank interview with Piper is interesting. But that’s not why you buy the Blu-ray. These are two films from one era paying homage to another era. These are beer and pizza movies, ones to watch with your mates, and ones to enjoy for what they are. But don’t be mistaken, there is skill to be seen here. Making films so blatantly genre-specific takes commitment and talent, and is something Brett Piper excels at. Do yourself a favour and spend a Friday night in his company; you won’t regret it.
BATTLE FOR THE LOST PLANET / CERT: UNRATED / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: BRETT PIPER / STARRING: MATT MITLER, DENISE COWARD, JOE GENTISSI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW