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Film: Alien from L.A.

Plot

Wanda Saknussemm (Kathy Ireland) is a nerdy social misfit with large glasses and a squeaky voice who lives in Los Angeles and works at a diner. After being dumped by her boyfriend for "not having a sense of adventure", Wanda is informed via letter that her father, an archaeologist, has died. She flies to northern Africa and while going through her father's belongings, she finds his notes about Atlantis, apparently an alien ship that crashed millennia ago and sank into the center of the Earth. Wanda comes across a chamber beneath her father's apartment and accidentally sets off a chain of events that ultimately cause her to fall into a deep hole.

An unharmed Wanda wakes up deep within the Earth to find Gus (William R. Moses), a miner whom she protects from being slain by two people. Gus, who has a very strong Australian accent, agrees to help Wanda find her father, who she believes is alive and trapped underground. Wanda soon discovers that both she and her father are believed to be spies planning an invasion of Atlantis. During her adventures, Wanda's appearance changes from nerdy to attractive (by removing her glasses and using a steam vent to clean her skin). People from the surface world are referred to as "aliens" by Atlanteans, and when Wanda is overheard talking about Malibu Beach by a low-life informant (Janie Du Plessis), she soon becomes a hunted woman and must dodge efforts at capture, both from the mysterious "Government House" and from thugs in the pay of the crime lord Mambino (Deep Roy). Much mention of Wanda's "big bones" are made during these sequences.

Wanda's efforts at escape are aided by Charmin (Thom Matthews), a handsome rogue who (briefly) assists her flight and falls for Wanda. She is ultimately captured by the evil General Pykov (Du Plessis again), who wants to kill both Wanda and her incarcerated father. The Atlantean leader decides to free Wanda and her father, provided they remain quiet about Atlantis. Gus shows up and helps the duo escape while fighting off General Pykov and her soldiers. Wanda and her father board a ship that takes them back to the surface and the film ends with Wanda on the beach, wearing a bikini and a sarong. She refuses the advances of her ex-boyfriend and is soon reunited with Charmin, who inexplicably appears on a motorcycle.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1989)

This was a sequel to Alien From L.A., though not originally. According to the credited director (Rusty Lemorande): "Only the approximately first 8 minutes of the film were written or directed by me. The remainder of the film is actually the sequel to Alien In LA which was tacked on and renamed Journey to the Center of the Earth in order to fulfill contractual commitments by the production company to foreign distributors."

Kathy Ireland appears in a very brief cameo at the end, though Janie Du Plessis returns. The main plot involves a group of kids getting lost underground during a volcano eruption, wandering around for a long time doing nothing, and then some of them winding up in Atlantis.


Alien From LA has examples of:

  • Atlantis
  • Beautiful All Along: Wanda, just pray that she never speaks.
  • California Doubling: This was filmed in South Africa (which explains the accents - South African accents and Australian accents are similar), although as some scenes are set in Africa it's a part-aversion.
  • Cute but Cacophonic: Kathy Ireland.
  • Disappeared Dad
  • Dull Surprise: Kathy Ireland; Trope Namer
  • '80s Hair
  • Hollywood Nerd: Wanda
  • Karma Houdini: Bizarrely, hardly any of the villains get dealt with properly, with Kathy simply running back to the surface and leaving Atlantis to continue to suffer under them. (Though in the sequel movie, peaceful contact and trade between Atlantis and the surface is established).
    • Besides "Patches" getting knocked cold with a bitchin left hook.
    • Wanda's boyfriend gets dumped by Wanda after he'd dumped her earlier in the film.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Everyone in the film reacts to Wanda's/Kathy Ireland's voice. It stops being anything other than kinda mean-spirited pretty quickly.
  • Nerd Glasses: Wanda
    • Losing them doesn't hamper her in any way, and she doesn't replace them after escaping. It isn't clear at all why she even has the things except because the film vainly tries to make Kathy Ireland look nebbishy and unattractive.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The ridiculous and inconsistent Australian accent employed by Gus.
    • Also, while lying drugged on a table, Wanda loses that annoying squeaky voice for a while and starts talking a bit seductively in Ireland's real voice.
  • Panty Shot: Unfortunately for any peeping toms out there, Kathy is merely wearing some rather boring bloomers.
  • Rummage Sale Rejects: Everyone that lives in Atlantis.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Wanda, complete with the inevitable bikini scene. Because it's Kathy Ireland.
    • But she still has an annoying voice.
  • Shout-Out: Wanda's surname, Saknussemm, refers to the character Arne Saknussemm from the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
  • Totally Radical: "Bitchin'!" "Crazy!" and so on.
  • Unfortunate Names: Charmin.
  • You Look Familiar: The actor who played Loki in this movie also played the obnoxious Watney Smith in Outlaw of Gor.

The sequel Journey to the Center of the Earth provides examples of:

  • Executive Meddling: and how. See the quote from the (credited, but not actual) director.
  • The Power of Rock: How the Atlanteans are defeated, leading to peace and trade with the surface.


AKIRAFilms of the 1980sAlien Nation
Agent for H.A.R.M.Mystery Science Index 3000 The Amazing Colossal Man

alternative title(s): Alien From LA
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