In 1977, people could hardly believe that Elvis Presley had died. Some people today still cannot believe it and think he is living as an old man somewhere, likely next door to Lord Lucan and Glenn Miller. Or he is saving humanity from ancient Egyptian mummies like in 2002’s Bubba Ho-Tep, the absurdist cult Comedy that put a new spin on the King.
Following in that film’s footsteps is another Comedy that aims to be out of this world – Elvis from Outer Space. Written and directed by Marv Z. Silverman and Tracy Wuischpard (Alyssa Milano’s Teen Steam 1988), it became available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and other digital platforms from July 7th, 2020 through Giant Pictures. So, is it worth catching?
Where, it turns out, Elvis (George Thomas) did not die in 1977. Instead, he was whisked away to Alpha Centauri to perform for the aliens on Planet Gleebus. But, after 30 years, he gets homesick and wants to reunite with his lovechild Linda (Dianna Renée: Alien Reign of Man 2017, A Prayer for the Damned 2018).
The aliens work out a deal with the CIA, who promptly break their promise and imprison the King. With the help of Agent Messina (Diane Yang Kirk: NCIS: Los Angeles series, SEAL Team series), he breaks out and goes searching for his daughter. His best leads take him to Las Vegas, where he finds the perfect cover identity – an Elvis impersonator. Can he find Linda before the CIA catch him again? Or will his space-grown body give out before then?
The bad news starts quite quickly. The effects are quite atrocious, as butt-headed aliens stiffly cheer a green-screened Elvis. They look like they were rushed off cheaply in Poser 3D, and their spaceship comes out of a mid ’90s Discovery channel documentary. That said, the direction is not much better. The cheap lighting makes the cast stick out against the screened backgrounds, while failing to illuminate much of anything during the night scenes. It does better during the day on actual sets and locations. Even then, the framing and editing gets clumsy. Still, it is stable enough for viewers to understand what is going on visually. If they did not, the scene by scene narration would keep them on track.
In fact, big chunks of the dialogue are spent explaining Elvis’ backstory, the deal with the CIA, what ‘Memphis Rising’ is, etc. The narrator, Big M (David Heavener: Prime Target 1991, Angel Blade 2002) has some character as a rival impersonator. Thomas gives it socks as Elvis, enough to rival Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco 1997, Loser 2000) and his role as a mobster for best performance. Still, that is not a high bar to clear when the rest of the acting goes in one ear and out of the other.
How about the plot? Well, the neatest thing about it is how it got around not having any actual Elvis songs on the soundtrack and why everyone sticking to 1970’s Fat Jumpsuit Elvis. Still, for a Comedy, it is not very funny. There are no particularly memorable lines or remarks. All it has is its quirky premise, which is played largely straight. Even then, the drama is either shuffled off into the exposition, or not developed enough for viewers to care.
It does not help that this is actually a repackaged, re-release of Silverman’s earlier film Memphis Rising: Elvis Lives from 2011. The scenes are largely the same, with the same cast, but with altered names and 10 minutes’ worth of cuts. The extra 9 years have not done it any favors, nor any disservices really. The film is already set in the past (2007), and its effects were bad enough back then too. As backhanded of a compliment as it is, the film’s combo of modern-ish stuff and outdated guff has made it fairly age-resistant.
Ultimately, Elvis from Outer Space– either in its original 2011 form or its new 2020 release- is disappointing. The film’s direction is weak, the special effects are really bad, the acting falls shorts, and it is not funny. Bubba Ho-Tep backed up its goofy premise with funny jokes and quips. With all that considered, Cryptic Rock gives this film 1.5 out of 5 stars.