THE KILLINGS AT OUTPOST ZETA (1980)
Article 5100 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Robert Emenegger and Allan Sandler
Featuring Gordon De Vol, Jacqueline Ray, Jackson Bostwick
What it is: Monster movie
When three expeditions to an isolated planetary outpost lose contact with Starfleet, a fourth expedition is set out to find the reason. It is discovered that the earlier expeditions gave rise to a dangerous rock-like life form.
For me, most of the Sandler/Emenegger movies have gotten by because the stories were unusual enough to stave off the problems created by the plodding direction and extreme low budgets. The problem here is that the story isn’t all that unusual; it’s your typical “monster on the loose” story, and it requires the ability to generate suspense, and this requires the ability to change gears in the mood and the flow of the story. That is what doesn’t happen here; once the monsters manifest themselves, the scenes still retain the same low-key, understated mood of the expositional scenes. One of the biggest problems here is the score Robert Emenegger; it’s evocative and moody at first, but it underscores practically every scene in the movie and the lack of variety makes it nearly impossible to change the mood. This, combined with the fact that the special effects are just barely passable to begin with, gives the movie a dreary, tired quality; it’s hard to get involved in the story. I’d have to say this is the least successful of this team’s movies.