The Curator of Schlock #264 by Jeff Shuster
Not for kids.
Streamline Pictures was instrumental in bringing state of the art Japanese animation to the United States back in the early 90s. It wasn’t marketed as anime like it is now. There was no existing audience for Japanese animation like there is today. A man named Carl Macek brought features stateside for distribution under his Streamline Pictures label. These features were often dubbed in English and released on videocassette. On cassette cases you’d often find a “NOT FOR KIDS” sticker fixed to the box featuring a caricature of a confused, freckle-faced young boy. These stickers always disturbed me, my mind conjuring images of young children being irrevocably scarred by witnessing animated sex and violence. NOT FOR KIDS stickers also elicited my feelings of guilt over not watching something more wholesome, but I couldn’t turn away from the exotic nature of these curiosities from Japan.
Which brings us to tonight’s feature, 1987’s Lily C.A.T. from director Hisayuki Toriumi. How does this film earn the “NOT FOR KIDS” label? Well, it’s basically an Alien knockoff with a little bit of John Carpenter’s The Thing thrown in. And we can forgive the movie for this since Alien basically ripped off It! The Terror From Beyond Space. The movie begins with members of the Sincam corporation getting ready for cryostasis aboard the starship, the Saides. Sincam employs people from all over the world. The crews mission is scope out some planet that’s twenty light years away, meaning the crew will be away from Earth for about forty years.
That’s a long time. Heck. If you do two missions, that will be eighty years. Think about all that could change. You’ll come back to Earth, ask for a cool, refreshing Coca-Cola Classic only to discover that New Coke has made a triumphant comeback. Talk about a waking nightmare.
Crewmembers have different reasons for wanting to leave the Earth for forty years. One blonde-haired jock type wants to use the money he earns from the trip to do some serious damage when he gets back while he’s still young enough to do some serious damage. Nancy Strauch (voiced by Julie Maddalena), the daughter of the President of the Sincam corporation, is taking the journey so she can get revenge on the best friend that stole her boyfriend. She’ll show up back on Earth all young and pretty when her friend is old and wrinkly. I don’t think Nancy thought this out. Captain Mike Hamilton (voiced by Mike Reynolds) keeps going on these trips because he’s too out of step with the times whenever he comes back to Earth.
There are also a couple of “time jumpers” mixed in with the regular crew. Time jumpers are fugitives that board starships hoping to hide out from the law for forty years. What else? There’s an alien bacterium absorbing members of the crew into a monstrous mass so that’s creepy. There’s also an evil robot sent by the corporation that’s disguised as a cat. So the crew of the Saides has a lot to worry about. Will they survive? I’m sure at least one of them will. That’s how these Alien movies tend to go.