Every weekend, we pick a movie you can stream that dovetails with an event from the previous week. Old, new, blockbuster, arthouse: They’re all fair game. What you can count on is a weekend watch that sheds new light on the week that was. The movie of the week for October 30 through November 5 is Pod People (1991), which is actually Extra Terrestrial Visitors (1983) as enhanced by Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s available to digitally rent on Amazon.
We’re in the home stretch of this election, which reminds me of its early days, when we were all still laughing at the idea of Donald Trump making it more than a couple of months into the primary. During the GOP debates, I kept having this nagging memory tugging at the back of my mind — some movie I’d seen, some character I half-remembered.
At last, one day I knew what it was: In college, one idle Friday night with friends, I’d watched Pod People, the MST3K version of Extra Terrestrial Visitors, a truly terrible movie from 1983 about, well, extraterrestrial visitors.
And because the long arm of a certain GOP presidential candidate can reach back into history and make everything about himself, it’s sort of about Donald Trump, too. (No, but for real.)
Clearly an attempt to capitalize on the success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Extra Terrestrial Visitors tells the heartwarming story of a young boy named Tommy who likes to collect “specimens,” which is a pretty creepy thing to call your pets. One day he finds an egg. When it hatches, a baby alien with a big snout emerges, and grows very quickly.
The young alien looks like an anteater, and can suck up peanuts with his elephant-esque trunk; he also can bend space and time with his fingers and fling things around the room with his mind. The rest of the story involves villainous poachers, and a startling number of people and aliens are killed, including the young alien’s mother. It is a very bad movie, of the sort that uses footage from an unrelated film for its credits.
But the key point here is that Tommy, noting the young alien’s schnoz, nicknames him “Trumpy” (because I guess it’s sort of trumpet-like), and that allows Tommy to say things like, “Do you know what play is, Trumpy?” or, “Trumpy, you can do magic!”
But Trumpy is actually pretty murderous and dangerous, about which the movie seems a bit too blithely unaware. The MST3K crew pointed that out a few times. (Tommy’s declaration of Trumpy’s ability to do magic is followed by, “It’s called evil, kid.”)
At one point, the crew even riffs that Trumpy is “named after Donald Trump!”
But the kill shot comes in the glorious line delivered by the riffing MST3K characters — glorious in the context of the movie, anyhow — “Trumpy, you can do stupid things!”
That was the line that had been ringing in my ears, and once I heard it, I took to the internet to discover I was not the only one. Trumpy memes exist, and this is my personal favorite.
(It appears to have originated with the owner of this Facebook page.)
Also, a rock band sings a song in the movie with the hooky chorus “Idiot control now.” I am not joking. You can watch it all here:
And here is the MST3K crew’s take on the song, which appears in the film as well:
Anyhow, if you’re looking for a way to stave off a last-weekend-before-the-election panic attack, I recommend dropping three bucks on Pod People, probably accompanied by a fine beer and some potatoes (you’ll see), maybe in the form of chips.
Trumpy, you can do stupid things.
Watch a short compilation of clips from Pod People here: