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Species III (2004)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

SPECIES III (2004)

Starring: Sunny Mabrey, Robin Dunne, Robert Knepper, Amelia Cooke, Christopher Neame

Written By: Ben Ripley

Directed By: Brad Turner

The Shot

Yes, it’s an undeniably cheap direct-to-video title that plays fast and loose with the material that came before and sometimes feels like Cinemax After Dark meets The ABC After School Special, but for those who remember trolling the bottom shelves of Blockbuster Video in search of midnight entertainment, Species III is surprisingly not bad.  If midnight movie cheez is your thing, you could certainly do worse.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEEZ-ITS.

Factory pressed midnight movie snack fare.


Pairs Well With...

MILLER HIGH LIFE.

When it comes to cheap beer, you could do way worse.  Have several on hand when you press “play.”

“You don’t want the tongue.”


Once upon a time, Species took sci fi fans by surprise and became a cult classic.

A few years later in 1998, The Powers That Be made a truly awful direct-to-video sequel that most who remember prefer to forget, and that, most believed, was the end of the franchise.

Never underestimate the lure of potential dollar signs attached to an existing property.

I admit being extremely skeptical as I approached Species III.  Much as I loved the first film, the follow-up was pretty awful, and it was hard to imagine that an even cheaper threequel was going to be much better.  I lost even more hope upon learning that the Executive Producer wanted to target a “younger audience” with this chapter and that the iconic designs of H.R. Giger were going to be chucked in favor of a retouch by some other guy.  To be honest, I pressed “play” fully expecting to hate this movie.

The first several sequences did little to dissuade me from my predisposition.  It turns out that Species III picks up exactly where its predecessor left off… and quickly renders all of the heroes’ efforts in that film moot.  It then goes way off into left field and pretty much shreds whatever was left of the first picture’s lore while also spitting out a large of the second, by way of heading to a small college town where a professor decides to treat a newborn (but very quickly maturing) alien girl as a member of an endangered species.

But then a funny thing happened on the way toward the end of the movie’s first act.  Despite the fact that Species III was looking every bit as cheap as I expected it to be and carried an atmosphere that can best be described as Cinemax After Dark meets The ABC After School Special, in surprisingly short order, I found myself actually liking it.

With that said, I’m not going to pretend that Species III is a “good” movie from a critical standpoint, but from a pure midnight movie/rainy day guilty pleasure entertainment perspective… yeah; it’s not bad.  Its plot is ridiculous (and even moreso when one tries to reconcile it with what came before), the pacing is glacial, and the background odor of “cheaply produced direct to video” is very, very strong, but let’s face it: if you ever trolled the bottom shelves of Blockbuster Video after 10pm back in the day, I guarantee that you’ve paid for and enjoyed much, much worse.

And yes, in case you wondering, the means by which the movie’s creative team decided to most strongly make Species III resemble anything that might have spawned from the universe of the original Species is indeed flagrant and frequent casual female nudity.  Most of it comes from this film’s successor to the characters of Natasha Henstridge: the alien Sara (who take her name from Sara Lee cheesecake because why the hell not), whom one can think of as “granddaughter of Sil.”  (She’s played by Sunny Mabrey, who is very obviously trying to emulate the comfortably nude performance of her predecessor but with less natural charisma... which still more than that exhibited by most of her clothed costars.)  If only her story made more sense… but oh well, right?

Indeed, the more I think back on Species III, the more I’m convinced that the very elements that make the picture a critical train wreck are what make it cheesily entertaining: the bizarre combination of the After School Special storyline with the Cinemax After Dark trappings is just too fascinating to ignore, despite slow pacing that would otherwise invite the viewer to give up and go to sleep.

And if that’s not an essential element to the success of the cheesy midnight movie, what is?

I can’t tell you that Species III is a good movie… but I’m also not going to call it a bad one.  Just don’t watch it when the sun is shining – that would be unspeakably wrong – and pretend the “play” button contains an admonition that reads “two drink minimum.”

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, December 31, 2016

Last Review of the Year


More From The Bar! | Species II | Iron Sky | Hangar 18 |



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