Everyone knows the classic exchange from Airplane!
“Surely, you can’t be serious.”
“I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”
But how many of you know this even more classic exchange from the movie spawned out of a desire to capitalize on the success of the Leslie Nielson high-flying comedy?
“Rozinski, you need to be asexual!”
“I am asexual … a sexual fiend!”
Despite the fact that Rozinski should clearly be arrested, this is just one of the countless one-liners and screwball jokes that the majority of humanity has somehow completely missed. And it’s a damn shame.
I remembered vaguely watching a movie called Spaceship with my older brother sometime in the early ’80s, and even then I understood it was one of the funniest movies ever made. So imagine my surprise when I walked into a record store during my college years, and discovered a used DVD (who the hell traded that in???) that appeared to be that movie that I had long since given up ever seeing again, albeit with a different title slapped on the cover.
Naked Space, originally known as Spaceship (take your pick of which franchise they were trying to capitalize on), and even more originally known as The Creature That Wasn’t Nice, is ostensibly a parody of Alien.
Released in 1983, Naked Space was written and directed by little-known Bruce Kimmel, who really didn’t do much in the film world after this opus. And who can blame him? When you come up with lines like “Science is my pie,” there’s no further upside to your career.
The plot follows a group of space explorers who are terrible at their jobs, but somehow stumble unto an unexplored planet that is home to an alien life form. Beginning as some kind of jelly, it eventually grows into a show-tune singing, one-eyed red monster that wants to eat everyone’s faces.
The budget was clearly low, yet they still snagged Nielsen, plus Cindy Williams of Lavern & Shirley fame, and British actor Patrick Macnee — who seems to be the most committed to his character.
The film was apparently widely panned when it came out, but it surpasses even some of the greatest of Leslie Nielsen-driven comedies.
Where they couldn’t bring in high-profile cameos or product placements, they opted for some of the purest forms of comedy. One of my all-time favorite moments is when they, for no apparent reason, hold a crew talent show. While there are only six members of the crew, there is a theater set up with dozens of chairs, and a full light show to boot.
These are the kinds of details that make Naked Space so entertaining.
If you’re a fan of Leslie Nielsen — or just things that are funny at all — this one’s well worth a watch. And lucky for you, the entire thing is posted on YouTube and apparently, no one cares whether it’s infringing on any copyrights.