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Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star
(1986)

Director: Peter Hunt   
Cast:
Ricky Paull Goldin, Sydney Penny, Keenan Wynn


In a number of my past reviews, I have touched on topics that are more fantastic in nature than usual. These fantastic topics have been stuff that I have observed in various movies over the years, fantastic things like ghosts, vampires, and zombies. In these past reviews where I have discussed such things, I have generally stuck to discussing as to their possibility of really existing, and if I personally believe that they could exist. This includes the topic of aliens, which I last discussed in my review of Evil Aliens. What I have not discussed, however, when it comes to topics such as aliens, is how I would personally react if I came face to face with one of these fantastic creatures. Well, if it was a zombie, I would simply walk away - they would be too slow in their shuffling to catch up with me. If it were a vampire, I would make a cross with my index fingers and shove it in the vampire's face. But what about aliens? What would I do, for example, if I were to get up one morning, open the curtain, and see that a flying saucer had landed next to my building? Well, I would wonder how such a large craft would be able to land smoothly in my densely-packed neighborhood. Seriously though, I am pretty sure I would be seriously freaked out. I would probably immediately drag out a suitcase, quickly pack it, and get out of the area right away. While it's true that at that point there would be nothing indicating that the occupants inside the craft had done anything bad, there would also be no indication that they would be good in nature as well. Better safe than sorry.

If it ever came to interacting with aliens on my part, I would wait for them to contact me instead of being the one to initiate contact - I learned from sources such as The War Of The Worlds that even a peaceful gesture such as a white flag could be misinterpreted, or the aliens may just be mean bastards at heart. You may now be asking that if aliens did make the first gesture - and it appeared to be a peaceful one - what would I do if I was the one that they made the gesture towards? Well, I admit that since I am a very curious person, I would be very interested in the idea of direct contact with the inhabitants of another world. But even then, would a human be able to relate to an alien? For that matter, would an alien be able to relate to a human? Just think about it for a minute. For one thing, evolution on their planet would almost certainly mean that the aliens would not look like human beings. Well, it could be argued that there are plenty of human beings that have been able to relate to their pets despite looking very different. And the aliens, since they have the technology to travel to other planets, would have the extra advantage of being intelligent - making it a lot easier to communicate with. Let's say that human beings and aliens would be able to relate to each other on a fairly easy level. Could this eventually lead to something more? I'm talking about two different species falling in love with each other. Hollywood has tackled this topic several times, but when you look at this topic in stuff like Star Trek, you will see that the humans and aliens look pretty similar. It's not that far removed from interracial dating.

I think that in real life, a human/alien relationship would prove to be difficult, especially if the "plumbing" is different, which I suspect it would be. For once, I would like to see such a difficult relationship tackled, but for now we have to settle for alien romance like the kind found in Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star, where the aliens look human. Here's the plot description from the back of the video box: "Ready of not, here they come. Hyper Sapien: People From Another StarThe elders say the strange, blue/green planet isn't ready for visitors. But Robyn and Tavy intend to prove them wrong. They're setting their sights on planet Earth. Set your sights on Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star, a movie treat that, like E.T. The Extraterrestrial and *batteries not included, delivers fun for everyone. Sydney Penny (Pale Rider, Bernadette, The New Gidget) and Rosie Marcel play Robyn and Tavy, the young intruders who land in Wyoming and live an adventure even outer space can't match. Ricky Paull Goldin (Lambada, The Blob, Kate And Allie) provides friendship and a pedal to the metal when events turn against the visitors. And Keenan Wynn, in the last of his 200+ films, is a wily gramps eager to welcome anyone from anywhere - providing it results in a good poker game. Also dealing himself in is Kirbi the Tri-Lat, a far-off stowaway from far off. With three arms, three eyes, and a knack for stirring up three times more mischief than seems possible, cuddly Kirbi is the most adorable - and smart alecky - otherworldly creature this side of Alf, made irresistibly real through the wizardry of a team of animatronics experts. There's life out there and they've finally found us. Isn't it time you found them? Enjoy Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star."

The behind-the-scenes goings on concerning Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star are pretty interesting. The movie was made by the short-lived '80s production company TaliaFilm II, which had been started by actress Talia Shire (Rocky) and her producer husband Jack Schwartzman. While their company's first effort as one of the production teams behind Never Say Never Again was successful, their next three filmmaking stabs, all family films, were disasters. The BMX movie Rad bombed mainly due to rotten distribution, the Crusade movie Lionheart with Eric Stoltz received even less distribution than Rad, and while Hyper Sapien did apparently get theatrical distribution (I found the image of the poster online), it doesn't appear to have been much of a release. To add insult to injury, it took four years after the film's completion to get a release on video. I wouldn't mind seeing a documentary about TaliaFilm II and all of its behind-the-scenes trials. It would probably be a lot more entertaining than Hyper Sapien, a movie that gives me very little to get hyper about. I'll get on the few positive things about the movie first. I did enjoy the backdrop of the movie, which was filmed in and around Calgary, Alberta. The outdoor scenes look more wild and untouched by civilization than in many other movies. Another thing I enjoyed were the moments with Keenan Wynn. He not only brings a likeability to his role as the grandfather, but he successfully tackles the challenging aspect of his role as being believable as someone who not only is open to the idea of aliens, but will welcome them into his home and practically adopt them.

I was also impressed by the animatronic special effects used to portray the alien "pet" Kirbi. When the creature is shown close-up, it really does appear to be something that is truly alien and not of this world. Unfortunately, this design of the creature to be something that is not similar to anything found in our world goes too far and ultimately backfires. To put it bluntly, Kirbi is ugly! The closest way I can describe this creature is to have you imagine a hairy spider like a tarantula that's the size of a dog, and missing several legs and eyes. Not exactly a creature that kids will warm up to, enough so that I truly believe younger kids will be seriously freaked out when they see it. Older kids and adults may not feel this way, but they will note the poor superimposed special effects used to portray the creature when it is zipping across the landscape at top speed. In short, this creature is not something that any audience member will warm up to. In fact, except for Keenan Wynn's character, I couldn't muster that much enthusiasm for any of the other characters in Hyper Sapien. I'm not saying that this was due to any seriously bad acting by any member of the cast, though I will note that no one seems to be having that much fun in his or her role. That's probably due to how the characters have been written. The teenaged Robyn and the pre-teen Tavy, for example, run away to Earth in the first few minutes of the movie; we learn almost nothing about them beforehand, so we don't get to feel their frustrations with their life on the moon, or at this point feel comfortable seeing them break the rules and depart from their society.

The screenplay does later try to explain their motivations for running away to Earth, but the explanations will likely sound hollow to even the smallest viewers. Would children believe that a couple of minors would permanently run away from their loving family in order to enjoy stuff they have observed on Earth radio and television signals, with what they've seen being stuff like MTV and Ronald McDonald? I didn't buy it. Also, I did not buy the fact that once they are on Earth and start traveling through the wilderness, it is revealed they ran away with no definite plans as to how they would eat, find shelter, and make a living. And while these sisters are two characters, the screenplay only seems to have material for the older Robyn character and doesn't seem to know what to do with the younger Tavy character; in fact, the screenplay seems to realize this towards the end, writing out Tavy completely and not having her participate in the climatic action. By the way, it's a wonder when the action does start to come, because after the beginning when the two sisters land on earth, practically nothing happens for the next hour. Not just practically nothing that advances the story, but practically nothing that is exciting, intriguing, or full of wonder or awe. The movie has a premise, but doesn't have any idea as to what to do with it except for throwing in a police chase near the end, and that's resolved with a feeble deus ex machina gesture. It should probably come as no surprise then, that the movie's three credited screenwriters not only had no previous screenwriting credits, but they never had any other credits as of this date. I wonder how they managed to sell this asinine script. If you've been as unfortunate to have seen Hyper Sapien as I have, don't you agree that a documentary on how its screenplay got sold and filmed would be a lot more interesting?

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: Earthbound, Seven Alone, Star Kid

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