Starring The Mancunian, The Stud, Blofeld and an Alien
Journeying beyond their usual Manchester social clubs and boozer settings, this finds the GBH double act of Director David Kent-Watson and lead man/writer Cliff Twemlow looking up to the stars for inspiration. Currently only available on DVD in Germany, where presumably the sight of North West observatory Jodrell Bank being passed off as a NASA style space base will go unnoticed, Firestar: First Contact is essentially Kent-Watson's version of Alien, set in 2022 with Cliff (acting under his latter day pseudonym Mike Sullivan) and Oliver Tobias playing world weary astronauts blasting UFOs in space and on their days off partying hard in Manchester. In a cheeky move Cliff gives himself an "and introducing" credit, even though he had first appeared in front of the camera nearly thirty years earlier chatting to Elsie Tanner and Len Fairclough as an extra on Coronation Street.
On a return trip to Earth, trouble men Twem and Tobias receive a dressing down from their boss Charles Gray -always a good bet for sinister authority figures roles- who never the less takes an unhealthy interest in the star shaped object the pair have discovered in space and soon sends Cliff's motley crew space bound once more, where a none too pleasant surprise awaits them. Slow to start, off the wall incidents like a scene set in a 2022 Manchester club where nothing appears remotely futuristic apart from a robot barman, and the very funny moment where the voice of the spaceship's computer mocks Cliff during a sex scene, hold the interest until an Alien finally makes an appearance and starts polishing off the crew in very nasty ways. Pretty soon after Firestar generates into the bloodiest of all the Twemlow/Watson films, severed limbs litter the spaceship, a luckless crew member has his heart ripped out, as well as a scene that should be captioned "in space no one can hear you scream especially if you're a female astronaut taking a bath". With familiar faces like Kent-Watson regular Brett Paul (a.k.a. Brett Sinclair) and John Wyman (who once played Cliff in a film) all meeting sticky ends, its left to everyone's favourite former doorman/library music composer to square off against the green, bug-faced alien, seemingly a distant cousin of the killer moth in Blood Beast Terror.
In retrospect Kent-Watson didn't really have the budget to do the space age scenario justice, but gives it his best go. The end credits reveal the film was actually shot at Laser Quest, a sci-fi themed amusement attraction in which members of the public went around zapping each other with light guns, a safer variation on paint ball if you will, which had conveniently just opened up shop in Manchester at the time and access to which may have been the chief inspiration for Kent-Watson to go all space opus. Yet while Firestar struggles to deliver on a technical level, the ultra gory last half hour arguably reprieves it and with a script that proves an excuse for the multi-sex, multi-racial cast to run around with Laser guns, swear, and end up dunked in slime and Kensington gore, a good time seems to have had by all. Sole exception possibly being Oliver Tobias who after being built up as one of the main characters early in the film gets strangely sidelined when his character is left earthbound and with nothing much to do other than twiddle his thumbs at 'Solar Command' (a.k.a. Jodrell Bank), rather like the kid who had to stay in and do his homework instead of playing out at Laser Quest with his mates.
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