Species II is a 1998 American science fiction horror thriller film directed by Peter Medak. The film is a sequel to Species (1995) and the second installment in the Species series. The film stars Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge, Marg Helgenberger, Mykelti Williamson, George Dzundza, James Cromwell and Justin Lazard. In addition to Madsen and Helgenberger reprising their roles, Henstridge also returned for the sequel as a new character. The plot has Patrick Ross, the astronaut son of a senator, being infected by an extraterrestrial organism during a mission to Mars and causing the deaths of many women upon his return. To stop him, the scientists who created the human-extraterrestrial hybrid Sil in the original Species try using a more docile clone of hers, Eve.

Species II
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Medak
Written byChris Brancato
Based onCharacters
by Dennis Feldman
Produced byFrank Mancuso Jr.
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
Edited byRichard Nord
Music byEdward Shearmur
FGM Entertainment
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co.
Release date
  • April 10, 1998 (1998-04-10)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$19.2 million[1]

The film was theatrically released on April 10, 1998. Compared to its predecessor, the film was panned by critics and was a box-office bomb, only grossing $26.8 million worldwide, and $19.2 million domestically. Despite this, a made-for-television sequel, Species III, was released in 2004.

Plot edit

While participating in a human mission to Mars, astronauts led by Commander Patrick Ross, Anne Sampas, and Dennis Gamble collect soil samples. While returning to Earth, the soil thaws and releases an alien substance that contaminates them and causes a brief contact gap with mission control. The trio return to Earth to public celebration, but an institutionalized former scientist, Dr. Cromwell, reacts to their return with violent panic. They are examined and quarantined to prevent them from engaging in sexual activity for ten days. However, Ross ignores this and has sex with two women. To his horror, the pair undergo accelerated pregnancies and die giving birth to human/alien hybrids, which he hides in his father's remote shed.

Meanwhile, under military supervision, scientists led by Dr. Laura Baker have created a more docile clone of Sil named Eve in an effort to understand the alien life form and prepare for defense should it ever arrive on Earth. While in isolation and undergoing tests, Eve shows signs of great physiological excitement every time Patrick has sex. At the space center, Patrick sneaks into the lab and kills Dr. Orinsky, who was trying to contact Dr. Cromwell about the astronauts' blood samples. Analysis of the corpse reveals the presence of alien DNA, similar to, yet distinct from, Eve's. Baker reunites with former colleague Preston "Press" Lennox to contain the new threat and contact Cromwell, who reveals Mars was rendered uninhabitable by an alien species, he was institutionalized to silence his opposition to the Mars mission, and Orinsky tried to call him to confirm his fears.

Press and Laura find Sampas as she has sex with her husband, only to suddenly become impregnated with an alien newborn, which kills the Sampases before Press and Baker kill the creature in turn. After government agents determine Gamble was not infected, the latter joins Baker and Press in their mission. Concurrently, Ross awakens to find his fiancée dead, having given birth to another hybrid. Horrified, he commits suicide, but his alien DNA takes over and regenerates his body before going on a killing spree to produce more offspring.

The scientists activate Eve's alien DNA so she can telepathically track Ross. Picking up on this, he gives himself up to Press and Gamble to infiltrate the lab and reach Eve as she goes into heat. However, he is chased off by Laura, Gamble, and Press. That night, Ross commands his offspring to form a cocoon so they can reach their adult stages and repeat the cycle on a global scale. After Baker discovers Gamble resisted infection because of his sickle cell trait, she plans to kill Ross with Gamble's DNA as the alien lacks immunity to human genetic diseases.

As Eve escapes to find him, the team track her to Ross' nest, where she and Ross mate until they are interrupted by Press. The team kill most of Ross' offspring. Baker pleads Eve to help them, but a betrayed Ross seemingly kills her. Press uses a pitchfork to draw Gamble's blood and use it on Ross, killing him. While the military arrive to escort the team away, Eve is loaded into an ambulance, where she is joined by Ross' remaining offspring while her womb rapidly swells.

Cast edit

Development edit

Writer Chris Brancato was working with MGM on The Outer Limits, and knew the studio was interested in making a follow-up to Species. He pitched an idea to executive Greg Foster where this time two hybrid alien women would strike. Foster liked it, but once Brancato went to Species producer Frank Mancuso Jr., he asked to "approach this from a different angle, so that we don't have a tired retread of the original, as sequels often are". So with that in mind, Brancato took inspiration from The Manchurian Candidate, where "somebody on a mission comes back, apparently a hero, but actually with some terrible demon inside", and as "the notion of a grand, unexplored place was the planet Mars", he made the first astronaut on Mars – as according to NASA scientists consulted by Brancato, human exploration of Mars was "a possibility – just a very expensive one" – be infected by alien DNA. Mancuso approved the idea, and thus Brancato explored how this new villain was one "for whom we can briefly feel a strange, Wolf Man-like sympathy – he's not responsible for having been turned into a monster" and had him face an alien woman similar to Sil, raising the doubt on whether they would battle or mate. As Natasha Henstridge was unconfirmed to return, Brancato wrote the new female, Eve, as if it was "either Natasha or a similarly beautiful woman".[2] Henstridge still liked the script enough and the idea of working with director Peter Medak to sign for the sequel.[3] Brancato decided to bring back two of the surviving characters from Species, Michael Madsen's Press Lennox and Marg Helgenberger's Dr. Laura Baker feeling they "were essential to bring the audience back in", but knowing Forest Whitaker was probably too busy to return as Dan Smithson, he wrote a similar African American character in the one eventually portrayed by Mykelti Williamson.[2] Mancuso had another script done simultaneously to Brancato's, which reportedly explored the cliffhanger ending of Species where a rat was infected after eating Sil's remains.[3] Mancuso brought in Peter Medak, responsible for the 1980 horror film The Changeling.[2]

The nature of the alien species is explored to a slightly greater extent in the second film. A professor claims that they originated in the Large Magellanic Cloud (also called the Magellanic Galaxy), due to it apparently being the only other place carbon-based life forms have been discovered. It is also stipulated that they were a "cancerous" race that visited Mars millions of years ago and annihilated all life on its surface (which is described in the film as being Earth-like at that time) before leaving a remnant of their own DNA in its soil. This DNA was intended to be picked up by other visitors so that their species could continue to infect other inhabited planets.

The Species basically appear to be bipedal (humanoid) forms. Unlike other aliens in the Species series, however, Patrick Ross has two types of alien forms: mating form and combat form.[4]: 30–31 [5]: 59  Patrick's alien form for copulation is bipedal, humanoid, and male version of Eve's,[5]: 55 [4]: 24  while Patrick's alien form for combat (so-called 'Fighting Patrick') is quadrupedal, bigger, and more 'brutish' in appearance than Eve.[4]: 30  His second stage appearance is also similar to the xenomorphs of the Alien films; both were designed with input from H. R. Giger.

Release edit

Home media edit

Species II was released on VHS and DVD on October 20, 1998.[6]

Reception edit

Box office edit

The film ranked number four on its opening weekend behind City of Angels, Lost in Space and Titanic, with earnings of $7.4 million.[7] Domestically, the film grossed only $19.2 million[1] from its $35 million budget.[citation needed] It grossed $26,817,565 worldwide,[8] making the film a major commercial failure.[citation needed]

Critical response edit

The film received worse reviews than its predecessor. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 9% at based on 34 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Clumsily exploitative and sloppily assembled, Species II fails to clear the rather low bar set by its less-than-stellar predecessor".[9] On Metacritic the film has a score of 19% based on reviews from 13 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale.[11] At the 1998 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film was nominated for Worst Sequel but lost to I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.[citation needed]

Dwayne E. Leslie from Box Office Magazine gave the film 1 out of 5 stars calling it "a sequel that doesn't measure up", also heavily criticizing the film's predictable and open ending.[12] Joe Leydon from Variety magazine called the film "a half-baked rehash". He praised the special effects and technical aspects of the film but added "that's not nearly enough to camouflage the inherent crumminess".[13] James Berardinelli described the film as awful but added "there's enough blood, gore, simulated sex, and bare flesh to prevent it from ever becoming boring".[14]

In a 2004 interview, co-star Michael Madsen expressed his opinion on this film saying that "Species II was a crock of shit. There are a number I'm not very proud of. The movie studios can't mind that much, as they haven't contacted me to tell me off about it. I'm honest – if I've made a bad movie, I want my fans to know what they're letting themselves in for".[15]

In the DVD commentary director Peter Medak praised the films' special effects. He expressed his opinion that audiences had too much expectation as this was a very different sequel due to not continuing from the story with the alien-infected rat that survived the finale, which hinted at a sequel in the 1995 original. Medak also admitted being uncomfortable with the amount of nudity in the film but said it was for the purpose of the story.[citation needed]

Merchandise edit

To coincide with the film, McFarlane Toys released an Eve and Patrick (in their alien form) action figure as part of their inaugural series of Movie Maniacs action figures. Both action figures came with a replica of the film's poster with skulls and bones base. Eve came with an alternate head.[16] Two Eve action figures were produced which was dubbed the PG and R rated version. The R rated Eve action figure (in her alien form) had nipples on her breasts while the PG figure didn't. The R rated figure was released only in comic book and other collectable stores while the PG figure was released in toy stores.[17]

The film's soundtrack on CD includes a track by B.B. King, one by Apollo 440, and 9 score pieces composed by Edward Shearmur.

Novelization edit

As with the first film, Yvonne Navarro wrote a novelization based on the original screenplay which gives plot and character details not seen in the film.[18][19] For example, the book tells how, due to limited knowledge of the outside world, Eve does not know if Superman is a real life personality or not. It is also hinted that she was able to learn a degree of martial arts by watching old action movies.

In the film, Eve is shot by soldiers, but after being briefly incapacitated her body regenerates and she continues to escape. Soldiers continue to shoot at her, but Eve manages to run past them; why she is unharmed is left unexplained. The book explains that her skin adapts (in a way similar to how her body adapts to the gas test earlier in the film), becoming bulletproof.

Other details in the book that do not appear in the film include an earlier escape attempt by Eve, and Patrick discovering new senses in a restaurant with his fiancé. In the novel, the debutante is a young, sexy, brown-eyed blonde, whereas in the film, she is an older woman who is a brunette. The debutante's sister in the novel isn't her sister but her best friend from college who often engaged in sexual games that involved seducing men.

The order of events in the novel differs from their order in the movie. For example, Patrick does not encounter the debutante at the fundraiser until after Orinsky is killed by him, and Cromwell is not visited by Laura and Press until they discover Orinsky's corpse.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Species II (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  2. ^ a b c Howard Johnson, Kim (June 1998). "The Origin of Species". Starlog: 76–80.
  3. ^ a b All About Eve, Starlog 251 (June 1998)
  4. ^ a b c "Making Species 2" (PDF). Cinefantastique. May 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-07-12. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  5. ^ a b "Origin of the Species" (PDF). SFX. May 1998.
  6. ^ "'Mercury Rising' and 'Deep Rising' due on video". The Kansas City Star. September 11, 1998. p. 106. Archived from the original on April 8, 2023. Retrieved April 8, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.  
  7. ^ "City of Angels' Takes Wing in Heavenly Opening Weekend". Los Angeles Times. 13 April 1998. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  8. ^ "Species Franchise Box Office History - The Numbers". www.the-numbers.com. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Species II (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  10. ^ "Species II". Metacritic. Retrieved 2021-01-01.
  11. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on April 13, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  12. ^ "Species II review". Boxoffice.com. Archived from the original on 2010-01-06.
  13. ^ Leydon, Joe (13 April 1998). "Species II". Variety.
  14. ^ James Berardinelli (1998). "Review: Species II". ReelViews.net.
  15. ^ Tim Inghman (18 June 2004). "Michael Madsen review". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  16. ^ "SPAWN.COM >> TOYS >> MOVIES >> MOVIE MANIACS 1". archive.org. 2 January 2010. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010.
  17. ^ Squires, John (9 September 2016). "Remembering McFarlane's Movie Maniacs Toy Line". Bloody Disgusting!. There were even "rated R" variants of Leatherface, Jason, and Eve
  18. ^ "Yvonne Navarro: Writer & Illustrator -- Stuff for Sale". yvonnenavarro.com.
  19. ^ "Species II: The Official Page for the novel by Yvonne Navarro". yvonnenavarro.com.

External links edit