June's Really Bad Video
(But I Liked It!)
By Elmo (Confused) Spludd

Yeah, call me confused this time around. Here I am, the guy that goes on and on about Really Bad Video. And believe you me, I watched one yesterday. It was Really Bad. It was so Egregiously Bad, I watched it again. Yes, I am Very Confused.

The source of my deep personal turmoil is this flick called Starship Troopers. I'd been wanting to see it ever since the first promo clips were shown on the tube. They didn't show much.

Just enough to get me keenly interested: Ugly spider-like aliens attacking heavily-armored space guys with Uzis. Nuff said, this was definitely my kind of movie.

So I finally got hold of Starship Troopers on vidcassette, took it home, and popped it in the old meatgrinder. Did I say "meatgrinder"? Gee, what an apt metaphor. I'm not exaggerating-- Starship Troopers is without a doubt the bloodiest gorefest I've ever seen on any size screen. In the first couple of minutes dozens of space guys get ripped to shreds by giant insectoid creatures with scads of razor-sharp appendages and really nasty attitudes. To their credit, the brave space cadets manage to blow away a few of these nightmarish critters with peculiarly unspace-like machine guns that fire about a hundred rounds a second. But, as the commander of the infamous cockroach army in the underground comic strip Fat Freddy's Cat was fond of saying, "There's plenty more where they came from." And the body count on both sides gets a hell of a lot higher before the humans run out of ammo and the bugs run out of-- well, more bugs.

Okay, at first glance this is an extremely idiotic motion picture. The basic plot line could have been concocted by any mildly imaginative 8-year-old. You've got these horrible, nasty, hostile alien bugs who live in a galaxy far, far away. For no reason that anyone bothers to explain, they start pelting the Earth with meteors, apparently by spitting at them, knocking them out of orbit, and sending them hurtling millions of light-years across the galaxy to drop on top of teeming humanoid metropolises such as (I'm not making this up) Buenos Aires. The human race has no choice, of course, but to mount a massive invasion of the ugly bugs' star system and wipe them out. The remainder of Starship Troopers is a graphic depiction of this all-out intergalactic human vs. bug genocidal war.

Neither side in this apocalyptic struggle is even remotely interested in taking prisoners. It's basically just kill, kill, kill, for slightly more than two hours. Seems the fate of the universe hangs in the balance, so there's no room for diplomacy.

What's odd about Starship Troopers, and contributes more than a little to my confusion, is that along with this insane comic-book violence, which, by the way, is perfectly okay with me, comes a certain vision of what society might be like in the future which is at once attractive and disturbing.

Genetic engineering apparently has become a commonplace, because all the human-type creatures in this flick are just about as close to perfect specimens as you'll find this side of Blue Lagoon. Of course, there is only One World, creatively referred to as the "Federation," which seems to be a combination of Plato's Republic and Time-Warner. It is a thoroughly militarized world, in which the full rights of citizenship are tied to military service.

It is a genderless world, in which young men and women share showers as well as barracks. It is a police state, in which criminals are arrested in the morning, tried and convicted in the afternoon, and executed in front of TV cameras in the evening. It is a media state, with a slick propaganda machine that is a campy cross between the Movietone News and the World Wide Web. If I had to describe this world of the future in terms the layperson could understand, I would say that it's composed almost entirely of Nautilus machines, shopping malls, Prozac, and shell casings.

With all these obvious hints of techno-savvy fascism staring me in the kisser, I suppose I should have felt some rumblings of liberal-humanistic discontent, but what the heck-- all I could think of was, "Yeah, troopers, go kill them bugs!"

And I've got to tell you, folks, the special effects in this thing are Un-Frigging-Believable. I had to pick my lower jaw up off the floor more than a few times watching some of these scenes. You have never, ever seen anything like what you'll see in Starship Troopers.

Still, I felt kinda funny at the end. Confused. It's like waking up in the morning realizing you're lying next to someone who's not even close to your idea of the perfect date. Yikes.

But darn, it was gooooood while it was happening.

So why's this Really Bad Video? Well, my buddy Joe Bob Briggs always says, "Don't let the plot get in the way of the story." In this case, though, I couldn't help myself. During the brief time-outs in the bloodletting, bug-splattering, and spectacular effects, these nagging questions kept popping into my head. Like, okay, so the human race can send huge starships filled with all sorts of magical gadgetry halfway across the universe in the blink of an eye to do battle with these evil bugs-- and their idea of strategy is to drop hordes of foot soldiers down on the surface of the planet to shoot at them with machine guns?

This is why I'm so confused. There's absolutely no reason for this except to set up these awesome battle scenes in which the valiant space-age Marines are sliced, diced, decapitated, and disemboweled by swarms of alien monsters.

The whole thing is about as stupid and pointless as anything can be, and I loved every minute of it.

Does this mean I'm gay?


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