Rudy Schwartz's Reviews

Good character actors are a dying breed, given the inexorable trend toward replacing all of them with interchangeably boring pretty people. One of the good ones died recently, so it was in Charles Napier's honor that my wife and I recently pulled Alien Species out of the Mill Creek 50 Movie shitpack entitled Nightmare Worlds. Normally, we'd pass over 90s sci-fi schlock like this in favor of lower budget fare like Night Fright with John Agar. But the fact that Napier was listed as the featured star motivated me to queue it up, while my wife stared blankly at the drapes with a sense of dread.

Napier frequently played heavies and tough guys, and was memorable for his manly, square chin. (Wikipedia defines "chin" as "the lowermost part of the face.") But when the subject of cinema chins comes up, as it so often does, Kirk Douglas is usually the first name that pops up:

Dinner guest #1: Hey! How about chins? You know ... Hollywood chins! Got any thoughts about that?

Dinner guest #2: Boy, I sure do! How about Kirk Douglas? Now there's a guy who had quite a chin, wouldn't you say?

Dinner guest #1: Amen, brother! You've got that right! Kirk Douglas! Now that guy had a chin, I tell you what!

Dinner guest #2: These bulgur squares are delicous! Is that cardamom I'm tasting?

Assuming everyone at your social event isn't an asshole, it is at this point that dinner guest number three calmly tips scalding bowls of soup into the laps of dinner guests one and two, and unleashes an indignant, profanity laced rant on the matter of Charles Napier, with specific emphasis on the merits of Napier's chin relative to the lowermost part of Kirk Douglas' face. And if your guest is well prepared, he has also brought along visual aids, such as the images to the right which contrast what U.S. President William Howard Taft might have looked like in alternate chin universes.

Of course, no such outburst would be necessary had dinner guests 1 and 2 seen Russ Meyer's Supervixens, in which Napier stabs and stomps Shari Eubank into a bloody pulp, climbs out of the bathtub (with chin protruding), and then tosses in a live electrical appliance, leaving Eubank writhing in a warm, bloody stew. Kirk Douglas? Oh, he had his moments I suppose, but please, let's maintain some proper historical perspective, shall we?

Fortunately, my wife was completely wrong about Alien Species, because it, like, totally rules. Napier is, like, only in the first half hour of the movie, but he gets to call his brother-in-law a dumbass and get pestered by a TV news reporter, and later on there's a bunch of other less talented people getting chased around a cave by aliens who have landed to use humans for food and labor, and one of them looks a little like Johnny Depp, and says really hilarious things like "We must not be in Kansas anymore" and "I feel like I'm in a really bad episode of the X-Files!" Then a nerdy guy somehow manages to decode the aliens' remote control unit with his laptop even though he totally doesn't have any, like, USB ports, so he can, like, disable the alien defense shield, and the Johnny Depp guy can blow them up with the bazooka that just happened to be in the nerdy guy's car. So the other aliens freak out and just leave, but the Johnny Depp guy is pretty sure they'll eventually come back, so they'd better get the nerdy guy's laptop over to the Defense Department, but they're, like, worried that, like, the Defense Department might, like, not be there anymore. The End.

Filmed entirely in Clovis, California, Napier's absence from the bulk of the film is most likely explained by an urgent dental cleaning appointment back in Los Angeles, or perhaps some disturbing linen stains in his room at the Clovis La Quinta. Although he'll likely be better remembered as the space hippie on Star Trek, or as the guard who gets strung up by Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, he always raised the bar a little wherever he showed up, even when cast with high school drama troupes in bowel movements like Alien Species. He will be missed.

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