SPECIES arrived in theaters on a planet near you in 1995, hell-bent to procreate. With a viable cast, blood-gloppy special effects and a fresh-hot take on intergalactic sex literally embodied by 20-year-old stunner model-turned-actress Natasha Henstridge, nude and voracious (last time I was consulted, a good thing), the dumb but watchable sci-fi-horror hybrid was a success, spawning a host of specious sequelae. *
A team of government scientists regret their splicing of human DNA with samples of genetic matter from contacted aliens, who they naively assumed to be friendly (scientists in science-fiction movies apparently have never seen a science-fiction movie). The being that results grows at a fantastic rate, escapes from the lab, assumes the outward form of a beautiful woman, and goes on a mating rampage through Los Angeles. Let’s see here–a gorgeous and ruthless blonde bombshell screwing a trail of desolation across L.A.—could that be possible?
A Create her/Find her/Kill her situation. The team is led by Ben Kingsley (as ‘Xavier Fitch’, not all that comforting a name), and includes Michael Madsen (standard shrugging mode), Forest Whitaker (the ’empath’), Marg Helgenberger (for backup sex scene and needless subplotting) and Alfred Molina (too nice a supporting player to live). Not all of them will make it, a given in a gig like this; the only question is how horrible will their deaths be? The young version of ‘Sil’ is played by Michelle Williams (14 at the time), but in short order the undressed-to-kill, New Improved Model of Sil is given over to the eye-popping Ms. Henstridge, who attacks her debut role with commensurable ferocity and unabashed candor in displaying her clothes-optional self.
Screenwriter Dennis Feldman came up with idea seven years before the movie form was released, directed by Roger Donaldson. It’s proficient popcorn, even with the slumming cast doing what they can with the idiotic human talk in the script. The design of the monster that exists underneath the skin of sexy Sil was undertaken by H.R.Giger, famous for his work on the creatures in the Alien films, while Steve Johnson is credited with “creature and special effects makeup”. Appropriately ominous what-have-we-done? soundtrack is by Christopher Young. Running 108 minutes, brewed for $35,000,000, it harvested $113,374,000.
* Coming in a strong #30 in ’95, the lusty girl-monster from outer space bred Species II three years later with Hensbridge, Madsen and Helgenberger reprising their roles and getting a critical shellacking and box-office under-bite. Species III turned up as a TV flick in 2004 (Henstridge doing a cameo), as did Species: The Awakening in 2007, sans Natasha. There was also a novelization, followed by comic books.
Crackers and Cheese Dept—Natasha Henstridge made quite an impression here, and though peppered with subpar junk, her copious output since—as of 2020, 47 feature films and TV flicks as well as dozens of TV shows, and the leads in 4 series– shows that like her debut survivor in Species, the one-time native of Springdale, Newfoundland possessed the killer instinct required to navigate Los Angeles and the movie business.
For purposes of edification, we quote her: “I was about 12 years old when I started getting boobs. I never tried to hide them because I started to realize the power I had with them.” Better than any dialogue in the movie. But then we didn’t watch it for its literary aspect.