It All Happens In The Dark

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Did you know? The nervous systems and reproductive systems of cows are almost indentical to humans.

                                                                                                                                                      Endangered Species (1982)

“Recovering” alcoholic ex-cop, Ruben (Robert Urich) leaves the big, bad city with his teenager daughter (the great Marin Kanter) in tow and heads to Podunk, Colorado to try and be the father he never was. Ruben has a friend in the newspaper business there, and the friend is played by Paul Dooley who I only mention because I recognize his from a guest starring role on The Golden Girls. Second GG reference today!

Well, there is all kinds of cattle mutilation happening in town, and the freshly minted sheriff, Harriet ‘Harry’ Purdue (JoBeth Williams, looking a lot like Jena Malone) is trying to figure out just what the frack is going on.

Ruben hits it off pretty well with Harry by feeding her lines like ‘Honey, I’ve been shot at more times than you’ve been laid’ and I can tell they’re crushin’ on each other. He even shows up at her house drunk and after deciding to take a shower, pulls her in with him. So she punches him in the stomach, you can still see these two people are meant for each other. Now, if I was drunk I can tell you the last place I would be going was to anyone’s house that wears a badge, but I guess the whole being intoxicated thing doesn’t lend itself to making good decisions. The teenager daughter, too, has taken up with someone in uniform. Seems it runs in the family.

Alien shenanigans really give me the willies. Cattle mutilations, abductions stories, extraterrestrial visitors – scary! THAT sequence in Fire In The Sky is the only thing I remember from the film and that memory is still vivid enough seventeen years later to have me avoiding the film.

Endangered Species sort of but not really pulls a bait and switch on us. We see long black tubes with mandibles attached to the ends coming out of the night to clamp onto cows and whisk them away. We get some really 80s computer graphics, and lots of aerial shots looking down onto fleeing herds, some lights in the sky, an an apeshit soundtrack that sounds like R2D2 on crystal meth at Karaoke night. But as the film unfolds we find it is not aliens at all – no, it is the government doing secret experimentys.

There is also a very Roswell-ish military base located at the edge of town which promises certain and sudden death if anyone trespasses. There is a lot of “investigating” alone that goes on out there after dark. I kind of wasn’t creeped out anymore once we see inside, and the guard is not paying attention to the cameras (of course) but playing cards and singing “Dream Weaver.”

After newspaper man finds out too much he ends up dead. Ruben decided to get some payback and “start World War Three” so he shoots out one of the surveillance cameras. After he has accomplished this, he gets back in his car to make his getaway and of course it won’t start. Note to self: Always leave the car running when you’re spooking around top secret military bases, especially if you are going to fire guns at them.

As a helicopter chases him, he stumbles onto someone’s farm and hides among the cows. This is a good way to get his head blown off, I think, as the cows are making a ruckus and every farmer in town has already made it clear to the sheriff they will shoot to kill if they see anyone messing with their livestock.

Ruben eventually steals a jalopy that looks like the one the Creeper tools around in, someone gets poison put on their toothbrush! Their toothbrush! And, oh, wow – I did not see this coming – intestines a-flyin. You got me Endangered Species, you got me good and I love you for it.

I just wish I could love you more. What kind of ending was that? What happens now? Will Ruben and Harry realize they have a precious and true, true love together? Will Ruben stop drinking? Couldn’t we have had just one prank call from Indrid Cold? C


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