I love bad movies - I really do. That said, I need to cleanse the palate a bit after Monster A-Go Go (I'm still glad that film was made - but...) So, I decided to breakout "a" special edition of the 1991 classic There's Nothing Out There. I say "a" special edition, because evidently there is a special two-disc edition with an additional director's commentary released in 2011. However, that edition appears to be out of print now. I will be writing based on the 2001 Image Entertainment DVD.
You may recall a little film titled Scream from 1991. In fact, for a time Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson almost single handedly revived the flagging horror genre with the Scream franchise. For many horror fans, what made the first film was Jamie Kennedy's portrayal of Randy, who, because of his extensive knowledge of horror cinema, made everyone aware of the "rules".
But, what if I (and many others) were to suggest this brilliant, self-referential device had been used years earlier, and equally as well? It's not a suggestion, it is a fact. And this same self-aware, comedic approach is what makes Rolfe Kanefsky's There's Nothing Out There the genre classic it is today.
The film begins like many other late 70s to late 80s horror films. A cadre of teenage kids (one of the few failings of this film is everyone looks about 35) head to an isolated cabin for spring break. The seventh (the third wheel so to speak) is Mike (portrayed by Craig Peck) and he begins to explain the "rules" once they pass a horrible accident scene on the way to the cabin. Mike implores the others that nothing good can come of the rest of the trip. However, three couples looking for fun in the woods won't be dissuaded from heading to the cabin. Once there - Mike continues to explain to Doreen, Jim, Stacy, Nick, Janet and David (Portrayed by Wendy Bednarz, Mark Collver, Bonnie Bowers, John Carhart III, Claudia Flores and Jeff Dachis respectively) that certain events and environments are certain indicators that few will survive.
And how right Mike is as the cabin is now part of an extraterrestrial's hunting (and breeding?) ground.
The frights and the laughs begin almost the instance David and Janet decide to take a stroll through the woods - and virtually every standard horror film convention is made fun of in the next sixty minutes.
Originally, I rented this on VHS not long after I had seen Scream, and was struck by certain similarities in the "rules" gag. But, I was also very pleased by how well the camera work and many of the special effects belied the picture's modest budget. Additionally, considering the director and cast were just starting their careers - the acting was better than acting I've seen recently in major theatrical releases (ahem....Evil Dead remake).
This film was the first screenplay by Rolfe Kanefsky, who has gone on to write 40 additional produced screenplays and directed 21 films (including several from his own screenplays). Several of his screenplays have gone on to be directed by one of my favorite directors - Dave DeCoteau. In my world this what we call "living the dream"!
So, if you are a fan or horror/sci-fi/comedy films - by all means start off the new year by checking out There's Nothing Out There. It is currently available for streaming at Amazon. Afterward, be sure to check out other Kanefsky films! And by all means, if you get a chance to pick up either version of the special edition DVDs do so and listen to the commentary.
There's Nothing Out There IMDB Link