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Species (1995) and Nemesis (1992) are two films that I grew up with and associate very strongly with the VHS format. There’s something about movies like Species, the sleazy kind of science fiction movie, that I sometimes feel nostalgia for. There’s also something about the grain of magnetic tape that seems to amplify the visual aesthetic of films such as Species.

I always think of The Hidden (1987) when I watch Species. There are a lot of similarities in terms of premise and their indebtedness to horror film, but I think that The Hidden is a little more fun. This is most likely due to the fact that The Hidden has no pretensions about being something other than a sleazoid video store staple. 

Species, on the other hand, attempts to address how men/society seek to exert control over female bodies and sexuality. That’s a terrific subject for a science fiction film (I’m thinking of Under The Skin), but director Roger Donaldson and company spend so much time caressing, fondling, and fetishizing Natasha Henstridge with the camera that any social or political commentary is completely undermined. Instead, Species is just another film perpetuating the idea that a sexually assertive woman is a danger to masculine identity and potentially patriarchal society as a whole.

I am, however, a really big fan of Donaldson’s Sleeping Dogs (1977) and Smash Palace (1981); but most of his other films that I have seen don’t particularly work as well as they should. Similarly to Species, I find that No Way Out (1987) and Thirteen Days (2000) try to bite off more than they can chew. Of these three American films of Donaldson’s oeuvre Species is definitely my favorite because, though it is incredibly flawed, its entirely disposable approach to spectacle is so grimy and fun that it’s like junk food for the eyes.