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Species II (1998)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Natasha Henstridge, Marg Helgenberger, Justin Lazard, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Madsen

Written By: Chris Brancato

Directed By: Peter Medak

The Shot

A surprise genre classic is followed up by a cheap, cringe-worthy knock-off that fails to either capture or even understand what made the original great.  On the other hand, some of the original cast members are back, including Natasha Henstridge, so if you’re a Bad Movie Night connoisseur who remembers the Age of Blockbuster, you know what you’re getting into when you press “play” on Species II.

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


You knew what was in the box was bad, but you grabbed it anyway.  You knew the score going in.  Could be worse, really.

Pairs Well With...


It’s cheap and it’s plastered all over this flick already anyway, so why not?

“How the hell does she know how to drive?”

“Her favorite show is ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’”


Once upon a time, Species surprised sci fi / horror audiences the world over by turning out to be one of those genre classics that even the people who made it didn’t see coming.

The Suits, of course, took notice, and therefore they didst decree: “Let there be a sequel!”  And lo, there was a sequel, and they didst name it Species II…

…and it was not good.

And really, save for the fact that someone decided to invite three people back from the first flick – most notably Natasha Henstridge – the studio didn’t exactly go out of its way to try.

Oh, where to start with this mess.

One place the incoming viewer doesn’t need to start is with the original Species film: it is absolutely unnecessary as a prerequisite to either enjoy or understand Species II (either of which may or may not be lost cause anyway).  Three character names and partial sketches aside, the script for this sequel effectively ignores everything that happened before and makes up its own stuff as it goes along.  So never mind replies back to SETI signals!  Now it’s something about nasty DNA that’s been hiding out on Mars for a billion years or so.  Or whatever Peter Boyle is raving about when he’s supposed to be a scientist-turned mental patient watching a live broadcast of the first manned mission to Mars.  Sponsored, of course, by Miller Lite.  (And other corporate co-conspirators.)

Needless to say, the world’s most boring white guy (Justin Lazard) manages to dig up said DNA during his whole two hours-ish on the Martian surface (while the black guy and the woman are left in orbit, of course, and never allowed to land).  Anyone want to guess who gets turned into a horny half alien?  Anyone?

Why yes, that is the one major thing that the writer of Species II decided to keep from the first flick (which he had nothing to do with); if you think about it, it had to be.  Because alien sex was what made the whole thing special to begin with, right?  Right!  Ergo!  The movie’s deadly alien must be stopped from having sex and reproducing at all costs… or, failing that!  Since of course they’ll fail at that and quickly, because sequel and one-upsmanship – the fast-maturing offspring must not be allowed to reach adulthood… and come to think of it, the newly arrived deadly alien really shouldn’t be allowed to have sex with the cloned female alien the good guys have under wraps on Earth for experimental purposes, because the resulting pure strain offspring would be really, really bad news for humanity…

Sounds like it should all count for a cheesy kind of fun, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, no.  Instead of embracing this flick’s inherent cheesiness (made even cheesier by its bottom line – we’ll get back that in a moment), the powers that be go for lazy one liners that rarely do anything but fall flat and instead put their primary focus on horror elements that just don’t play well because 1) the direction for those scenes is not nearly powerful enough, 2) the production values for those scenes are too cheesy, and 3) by the time one gets to the horror stuff, the story’s gotten too ridiculous to work as a thriller.

And speaking of thrills…

As noted, the sexual aspects of the original Species not only set it apart, but also went a long way to making the movie fun.  The makers of Species II, however, do not appear to have understood how that worked, so for their project, they just went for “more sex scenes and more boobs.”  Except they changed the formula some more by making the horny alien into the world’s most boring white man, with the emphasis here being on the word “man.”  In the original film, the sex-driven alien female brought with her a sense of agency and empowerment and the sex really didn’t get creepy until post-coital tentacles showed up.  Here, the male-driven sex starts creepy and eventually devolves into full-on assault, and that, folks, is not entertainment.  Not even cheap entertainment.  Horrific, yes, but not in the right way.

Now if you’re looking for something that’s horrific in the funny sense, how about those visual effects?  These were bad enough in the 1990s; they’re absolutely hilarious upscaled from DVD to 4K now.  Indeed, they’re the funniest thing about Species II, and in a film where the only fun is that which the savvy Bad Movie Night connoisseur brings to the table going in, anything good’s gotta count.

Because really, the screenplay is lost cause, and Marg Helgenberger is pretty much all by herself acting (Natasha Henstridge sneaks some in, too, but it looks like the director would prefer she didn’t), and the whole kids in the barn thing is just not right.

With all of that said, have I seen worse?  Yes, yes I have, but that doesn’t change the fact that a classic like Species deserves a way better follow up than the cheap train wreck that is Species II.  I can't bring myself to hate it, but there’s no way I can recommend spending any amount of money on this as a standalone – not even three bucks – though if you’re a Bad Movie Night aficionado and you can catch it streaming for free or maybe pick it up on the cheap as part of a bigger box set… well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, November, 2016

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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