Friday, 15 July 2011

Retro review: Norman J Warren's Outer Touch (aka Spaced Out) (1981)

British horror legend Norman J. Warren made this low budget sci-fi sex comedy as a way of cashing in on the trends at the time - Star Wars was big, and the ABC type cinemas were still showing the UK sex films of George Harrison Marks and the like. As a fan of Norman's horror output (Terror, Satan's Slaves and Prey especially) and his other venture into sci-fi Inseminoid (produced by the legendary Richard Gordon) I was keen to check this out, and since it's release on DVD I now get the chance to!
The film starts with a Brad and Janet type couple, Oliver (Barry Stokes) and Prudence (Lynne Ross) in a parked car being spied on by Cliff (Michael Rowlatt), who looks like his day job is a comprehensive school PE teacher by his dress. Sad thing is, though he's not got going to get any jollies since Pru is rather frigid, and keen to hold off any hows your father until they are married. Then, she tells Oliver, "you can have it as often as you want, well Saturday anyway"
On the other side of the park, Willy (Tony Maiden) is sneaking around to find a quite place to "read" his copies of "Bouncers" magazine, and have a quick knuckle shuffle. Willy it must be said looks like Robin Askwith playing Harry Potter.
The peace of the park (well these characters are the only ones there) is disturbed when a UFO lands and they all decide to board to have a look around. The aliens are all female, in fact they have never seen a male before and a curious to examine them. These aliens are quite amiable and even have an hospitality room complete with food, drink and an advice dispensing Wurlitzer (voiced by Bill Mitchell, who had voiced the famous Carlsberg ads - probably the best voice in the world -he was also the narrator in The Beast Must Die).
The aliens decide to head back into space when they feel threatened by a Earth forces - a herd of cows, giving them time to get to know the men further. It's quite apt that the aliens look like Maya's poor cousin, since the spaceship effects were lifted from Space 1999! They are led by the Skipper (Kate Ferguson), a feisty warrior type, the medical examiner, Cosia (Glory Annen - star of cult fav "Felicity") and Partha (Ava Cadell, who went on to be a sex therapist and founder of Lovelogy University, obviously utilising skills displayed here) and all very nice they look too. There's also a sardonic and camp ship's computer, not dissimilar to HAL9000.
There's quite a few good moments in the film, it's not nearly as cringe-worthy as some so called sex comedies, and for fans of the genre, there's some things to watch out for:
While looking through the rooms on the ship, Willy picks up what looks like a Tusken Raider's Gaffi Stick (I've noticed these in other films too, so guessing there were a few left over in the stock cupboard of the UK studios!). Willy is stripped and examined by Cosia, (taking measurements that keep increasing.. ahem) and is scanned with what looks like a toy light sabre, I'm pretty sure its exactly the same one I used to have as a kid. There's also some familiar friends' framed pictures on the walls!
It's interesting to see Barry Stokes doing his thing here, I always get him mixed up with the other Barry, (Evans) but Stokes only really did one other sex comedy, "The Ups and Downs of a Handy Man" (1976), which was another that wasn't too bad! He eventually gets his girl though, and in true British fashion, keeps both glasses and socks on throughout.

There was an American version released with the Wurlitzer voiced by Bob Saget, which from the trailer I've seen makes it a little more acerbic. There was also apparently a little more nudity added, but in all fairness, there's enough on show in the UK version to keep most hard happy. It's also amusing, if not belly busting funny, which is more than most of these types of films are. Only for fans of this genre really,  but an entertaining 80mins none the less. Go get yourself a copy, invite some mates round, get some beers and enjoy. That's what these films are for. (no tissues required) Follow it up with Inseminoid and you have a great double bill!
5 out of 10 but a lot of fun.

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