In the far-flung future N.T.I., a multinational corporation, send a team of scientists to investigate an ancient alien laboratory unearthed on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. On their way the crew of the spaceship Shenandoah receive a distress call from another ship stranded on Titan belonging to rival German conglomerate Richter Dynamics. Despite butting heads with mission commander David Perkins (Lyman Ward), Captain Mike Davison (Stan Ivar) and first officer Beth Sladen (Wendy Schaal) choose to investigate. Unfortunately the ground collapses beneath their landing site, stranding the Shenandoah in a cavern. When radio communications fail, a search party including New Wave hair-styled Susan Delambre (Marie Laurin), boyfriend Jon Fennel (Robert Jaffe), physician Dr. Wendy Oliver (Annette McCarthy) and monosyllabic security officer Melanie Bryce (Diane Salinger) venture outside to contact the Germans. What they find instead are a heap of dead bodies mauled by a slobbering alien beast that claims Susan's life too. In the grisly aftermath the lone survivor of the German expedition: Hans Rudy Hofner (Klaus Kinski, uh-oh...) makes contact. Hofner identifies the site as some kind of galactic menagerie and insists none of them will leave here alive.
Also known as Creature, The Titan Find had its original title restored for its 2013 DVD release. Under either title ranks among the most blatant Alien (1979) rip-offs released in the Eighties. How the filmmakers escaped a lawsuit is a bigger mystery than any you will find in the plot itself. It is notable solely for a brief albeit welcome cameo from everyone's favourite bug-eyed madman Klaus Kinski. After a period of international art-house stardom with all those Werner Herzog movies, Kinski went back to slumming it in B pictures. Partly through laziness though also as a means of raising funds for his long-cherished musical biopic Paganini (1989). Here Kinski makes his big entrance sneaking out of the dark to fondle co-star Diane Salinger's boobs. Which while an inexplicable means for his character to introduce himself to a group of strangers, reinforces the star's long cultivated off-screen image as a degenerate perv.
Nonetheless, Kinski's wry, self-amused performance is among the very few enjoyable aspects of Creature. Derivative from start to finish, what the movie does not steal from Alien it 'borrows' from Lifeforce (1985), a film that for all its flaws was at least never dull. Co-written by director William Malone and Alan Reed (whom Wikipedia hilariously misidentifies as the actor of the same name that voiced Fred Flintstone!) the script features some snappy dialogue but is laden with inconsistent logic. It glosses over a plethora of inscrutable plot details, from Susan's early premonition of her own death to Bryce's ongoing suspiciously strange behaviour and Hofner's sheer creepiness. Malone, who graduated from cheap monster movies like this and his debut Scared to Death (1980) to slick, big-budget though no less schlocky horror films like the remake of House on Haunted Hill (1999) and FeardotCom (2002), seems content to just keep bumping folks off.
Also lifted from Alien is a cynical distrust of cold-hearted manipulative corporations. However, despite a prologue establishing the rivalry between German and American groups, this intriguing angle is solely there to excuse Kinski's accent. What is more the film contradicts its own cynicism as corporate 'stooge' Perkins ultimately proves braver and more resourceful than ostensible hero Davison. Elsewhere, whereas Alien had two significant female characters including Sigourney Weaver, Creature assembles a varied roster of women: Diane Salinger of Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985), Twin Peaks actress Annette McCarthy, the striking Marie Laurin (strangely set-up for a bigger role in the story than she actually lands) and Wendy Schaal who went on to become a voice actress on American Dad and stock player in Joe Dante movies. Most notably The 'Burbs (1989).
Malone takes a note or two out of Mario Bava's book and swathes everything in fog, particularly at the climax which melds Alien with its part-inspiration Planet of the Vampires (1965). Despite the limited budget the film looks pretty good with evocative production design and special effects work by Robert and Dennis Skotak, who went on to work on Aliens (1986), that is solid, even pretty ambitious. The score by Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker goes a long way towards maintaining a creepy, ominous atmosphere. Sadly these few laudable aspects are in the service of a movie that is muddled, multiply derivative (it has the audacity to have the heroes reference Howard Hawks' original The Thing from Another World (1951) when they come up with their plan) and worst of all, sinfully dull.
Wendy Schaal voices Francine on American Dad!, not Family Guy. As I mentioned in my review of this, she shares the screen with someone called Stan and someone called Klaus, both names of main characters in the cartoon (!).
8 May 2018
So Seth McFarlane is a fan of Creature? I corrected my mistaken credit for Wendy Schaal. Sorry about re-treading old ground with this review. I plain forgot to see if you already covered this. I have changed the title back to The Titan Find. That way we have reviews available for those searching under either title.
8 May 2018
Excellent idea, and it's not a problem. I bet Wendy has a couple of good Klaus stories.