A great sex comedy makes its characters’ introduction to intercourse feel like a venture into a surreal world. They stumble over expressing their sexuality as if they are speaking a foreign language. The humor — and heart — of the genre rests in how it depicts this eventually natural part of life as initially awkward and alien.
Space Babes from Outer Space elevates this theme to amusingly heightened levels, as it revolves around a human trying to explain sex to beings from another planet.
The latest release from Bloomington, Indiana’s Bandit Motion Pictures, the film is a charming fish-out-of-water comedy that follows three alien women as they scour the earth in search of the only fuel source that can power their ship — sexual energy! A shy, sensitive farm boy named Charlie (Brian Papandrea) takes them to the only sexual fueling stations he knows — the strip clubs in the pervy pockets of his rural town.
Although it sounds like a sleazy, sexist spectacle, Space Babes emerges as a wholesome, heartfelt celebration of sexuality.
Fortunately, the exposition revolving around sex comes from a warm, well-intentioned source. Charlie gently guides the space babes through the world of sex and realizes he still has a lot left to learn. Together they unearth the tenderness that can lie beneath people’s raw, primal desires. They look beyond lust and discover the meaning of love. Like Fast Times at Ridgemont High or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Space Babes reveals that its characters’ prurient curiosity ultimately comes from a place of purity and innocence.
“I wanted to make a film that had the heart of the ’80s, back when sex comedies were fun, sweet and had a cupcake kind of quality,” said writer-director Brian K. Williams.
Williams was inspired by the films he stayed up late to watch on the USA Network variety series Up All Night, which aired from 1989 to 1998. Like that show, Space Babes is a patchwork of pulpy delights — Barbarella-esque space women, a ship shaped like a breast, men devolving into primitive creatures called the Scrotes.
Space Babes is the third part of what seems to be Bandit Motion Pictures’ sex trilogy. (The preceding films, Harvest Lake and Plank Face, explore sexuality amid the backdrop of backwoods horror.) All three films seduce viewers with familiar genre trappings and then turn our expectations upside down. They delve into deep, meditative, elemental territory.
“Our films change your perception of what’s normal,” said Ellie Church, the lead actress and co-producer of Space Babes. “They make you wonder in a way you never thought you would.”
Several Indiana filmmakers seem to be doing this kind of work and flying in the face of genre conventions. Take Joshua Hull’s raunchy superhero satire The Impersonators. Or Bobby Easley’s The Devil Dogs of Kilo Company, a stop-motion World War II film made with miniature sets and more than 400 toy soldiers.
The point is: The Hoosier film scene isn’t playing it safe. It’s producing the kind of beautifully bizarre movies Williams would sneak down to his basement to watch late at night when he was a kid.
Indiana may not seem like a cool, sexy movie state, but it’s churning out plenty of strange, subversive slices of cinema. If you’re scrolling through Amazon or Vimeo, take a chance on Space Babes from Outer Space and experience what we like to call “Midwest Movie Magic.”