We all know the key to making something science fiction: Just take any old thing and stick it in space. It works every time! Got a bunch of dinosaur drawings but have to make a scifi cartoon show? Just put the dinosaurs in space! Or hey, how about race cars — but in space! Now you've got Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It's time to celebrate every tale spawned by a pitch meeting that included the phrase "It's X — but in space!" We've got ten of the most memorable and unlikely right here for you.
Dinosaurs . . . in space!
Dinosaucers, a cartoon show from the 1980s, was all about a bunch of nice dinosaur aliens called Dinosaucers who come from a planet in "counter-orbit" to the Earth where dinosaurs became intelligent. (See the amazing "extended theme" from Dinosaucers above.) They team up with a band of nice human teenagers to fight some evil intelligent dinosaurs — and meet some unintelligent Earth dinosaurs in the process. One of the Dinosaucers special powers is that they can de-evolve into giant-sized dinosaurs to fight. The three of you who saw the Super Mario Bros. movie will recognize this plot device. Special fun fact: Coke owns the rights to Dinosaucers, but apparently has never used this for the powers of evil.
Hell . . . in space!
Hellraiser Bloodline, one of many less-than-stellar sequels to the original (and amazing) Clive Barker flick, takes our familiar hell minions (you guessed it) into space! Set in the future, the movie poses the all-important question of what would happen if you opened a hell dimension portal — while on a spacehip!
Orcs . . . in space!
Warhammer is a miniatures game, a comic book, and a phenomenon. Basically the premise is that all your favorite D&D monster classes have been transported into space. Swordfights — in space! Orcs — with spaceships! Nothing could go wrong.
Lesbians . . . in space!
One of my favorite randomly-generated films from the brain of John Carpenter is Ghosts of Mars, starring Natasha "Species" Henstridge, Ice Cube, and Pam Grier. The plot is simple enough. A future Martian colony discovers an ancient Martian hoozit that turns everybody into Burning Man zombies. The Martian police force is called in to investigate, and that's when we find out that Mars is a matriarchal society run by lesbians. I love that you can have lesbians in space, but that's not even the main point of the movie. Instead, it's all about shooting the shit out of those zombies. Go, Ice Cube!
Evil clowns . . . in space!
The title pretty much says it all: Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This flick from the late 1980s was clearly the result of a coke-fueled pitch meeting where some studio exec literally did scream, "Wait, wait, let's do scary clowns . . . BUT FROM SPACE!!!" Then somebody did another line and said, "That's craaazy!" And that line, my friends, became the tagline on the poster. Guess what the plot is? Aliens who look like clowns kill a bunch of people.
Fantasy Island . . . in space!
Oh Ron Moore, beloved creator of the new Battlestar Galactica, what possessed you to pitch a show that is basically Fantasy Island in space? FOX just greenlit Virtuality, Moore's post-BSG TV project, for fall. The plot? A bunch of astronauts zooming through space for a long time need to stay focused and not go nuts, so NASA provides them with cyber-holo-pods where they can jack in and live out any fantasy they want. I predict that every week, we will get a new fantasy and a lesson. Sadly, there will be no dwarves yelling, "Da spaceship holopod! Da spaceship holopod!" before each fantasy starts.
Civil War reenactments . . . in space!
Look, I love space-western TV series Firefly, but I have to admit the show is one giant Civil War reenactment. They talk in funny frontier talk, steal cattle, and visit frontier planets that look like Scarlet O'Hara's bum. And of course several of our main characters fought in a civil war against the Man and lost. So yeah, it's the Civil War . . . in space!
Hello Kitty . . . in space!
Every kid always dreamed of sending Hello Kitty's perky little whiskered face into the wide reaches of the cosmos, and that's why anime Tamala 2010 is so satisfying for everybody. Especially because Tamala, the Hello Kitty-esque hero, is a punk rock weirdo who winds up hanging out with gay hustlers in a bar on another planet.
Vampires . . . in space!
Lifeforce is one of those movies that brings all the goodness into one place: The bad guy is a naked lady alien space vampire who wanders around sucking the "lifeforce" out of anyone who gets in the way of her lithe undressed limbs. I think there might be some kind of deeper message about fear of aging, but really it's all about the naked vampire alien making out with science dudes until they wrinkle up into freaky husks. It's directed by Tobe Hooper, who brought you the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, so it's gotta be good.
Pregnant men . . . in space!
Oprah never saw Enemy Mine, which is why she was so shocked to meet real-life pregnant man Thomas Beattie. If she'd seen the Dennis Quaid-meets-pregnant-alien-dude flick Enemy Mine back in the 1980s, she would have known that sometimes a guy just has to give birth. Actually, the alien in Enemy Mine comes from a race of non-gendered lizardy people, but since we've thought of the character as a guy up until the time he becomes pregant, there's definitely a shock when he pats his belly and starts crooning to the unborn fetus.
(Thanks, Erin, for the funny line!)