Today’s feature is an E.T. knockoff called Extra Terrestrial Visitors, through it is better known by many as The Pod People.
The Pod People was directed and co-written by Juan Piquer Simon, who was also behind such films as Slugs: The Movie, Pieces, and The Rift. His co-writer was Joaquín Grau, who previously worked with Simon on Los Diablos Del Mar and Mystery On Monster Island.
The film featured two credited cinematographers: Ricardo Navarrete, a camera operator who worked on Solarbabies, Conan The Barbarian, and Guns of the Magnificent Seven, and Juan Mariné, who shot Pieces and The Rift for the director, Juan Simon.
The editor for The Pod People was Antonio Gimeno, who also cut The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman, Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires, and Slugs: The Movie.
The memorable music in The Pod People was composed by the duo of Michael Demer and Librado Pastor, neither of whom have any other significant film score composition credits.
The effects work on the film was done by Pedro Camacho (Slugs: The Movie, Pieces, Zorro) and Basilio Cortijo (Battle of the Bulge, The Trojan Women, Cthulhu Mansion).
The plot to The Pod People is immensely complicated, and follows a number of different threads. The main plot follows a young boy who discovers a mysterious egg in the woods, which he takes home with him. It soon hatches into a juvenile alien with telekinetic powers, leading to an assortment of shenanigans. Elsewhere in the woods, a traveling rock band comes across the adult alien that laid the egg, leading to an entirely separate series of shenanigans (that involves a lot more murder).
The movie was featured under the title of The Pod People in the third season of the cult television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which has significantly contributed to the film’s popularity, and spread the use of The Pod People as its primary title.
Speaking of which, The Pod People is known by a ton of different release titles: Extra-Terrestrial Visitors, Tales of Trumpy, The Return of E.T., Visitor, and The New Extraterrestrials among them.
The reception to The Pod People online is significantly poor, likely due to its popular association with Mystery Science Theater 3000. It currently sits in the IMDb Bottom 100 with a rating of 2.1, and has a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 15%.
The Pod People suffers immensely from a lack of focus, as it tries to balance two movie concepts that are diametrically opposed to each other. When it comes down to it, this movie should either have been primarily a child-friendly romp with a baby alien, or a cut-and-dry sci-fi alien slasher, but not both. This is clearly a case where the crew assumed the flick could be everything to everyone, but it just couldn’t pull it off.
The music throughout The Pod People is absolutely awful, but it is also probably the single biggest reason the movie is so memorable. The ambient synthesizer tones that play throughout the film are only matched by the ridiculous rock tune, “Hear The Engines Roll Now,” and MST3K crew managed to have fun mocking all of it.
To the crew’s credit, the alien designs in The Pod People are certainly not what you would expect, and wind up looking genuinely unique without breaking the budget of the movie. The elephant-Sasquatches are still cheesy without any doubt, but you aren’t going to confuse them with any other movie monsters out there.
Bad editing and poorly paced screenwriting combines to keep The Pod People from ever getting a steady flow or rhythm to it, which makes it all the harder to sit through. The two main plot threads take a long while to converge, and the movie bounces between them a bit too much until they do ultimately wind up combining. I’m sure the crew didn’t realize at the time just how jarring it would all wind up being, but you would think that the editing would work to salvage the product moreso than it did.
As far as plot details go, I still don’t understand why Trumpy is telekinetic. The power doesn’t come into play at any other point, apart from to showcase some cheesy effects, and I can’t think of any practical use of the power for an adult alien. Trumpy’s mother also never seems to use it, which brings into question whether the adult aliens have the power at all.
Overall, this can be a pretty fun bad movie to watch if you have the patience to get through the halfway point. Once the two main plot lines converge, the pacing gets more bearable through to the conclusion. That said, without the MST3K commentary, the stretch of the movie between “Hear The Engines Roll Now” and the plot convergence is nearly unfathomably boring. That said, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode on the movie is one of their best, and is worth checking out.