“Never judge a cute li’l alien by its appearance.” That’s the motto of Dr. Grordbort Presents: “The Deadliest Game,” a production created by the Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand.
The seven-minute film was produced by 11 students over 22 weeks and was based on the retro-future world created by writer and artist Greg Broadmore.
The first thing we see in the independent production is an image of an old-style rocket that has landed on a bizarre alien planet.
Emerging from the vessel is a steam-powered vehicle that looks like a cross between a mechanical elephant and an Imperial walker from Star Wars.
The leader of the expedition is Lord Broadforce (played by Geoff Houtman), who’s wearing a safari hat and sporting a bushy mustache.
Seated next to him is Millicent Middlesworth (Morgana O’Reilly), a reporter sent to cover the events of the day.
And finally, driving the odd contraption is Caruthers (Simon McKinney), a mysterious man who has a small brown derby on his noggin.
“His Majesty’s Society for the Study of Off-World Species prides itself on the thoroughness of its expeditions,” the big game hunter says.
“As a co-founding member, it has been my rare pleasure to lead several of these fact-finding missions,” he continues, noting that he’s actually surprised it’s taken the Earth press this long to cover the organization’s activities.
“Well, there was a war on,” Middlesworth states.
“I’d hardly call that skirmish on Phobos a war,” Broadforce counters. “You see, Miss Middlesworth—.”
“Actually, it’s Ms.,” she states after cutting off the adventurer in mid-sentence. “Ms. Millicent Middlesworth. Or you’re more than welcome to call me Millicent, Lord Broadforce.”
If the hunter heard his companion’s comment, he doesn’t acknowledge it.
“You see, Miss Middlesworth, wars don’t make men great. Men make wars great,” Broadforce states.. “That’s how it was in my day.”
“You fought in the Venusian Wars, didn’t you?” the reporter asks.
“Indeed I did,” he responds. “Bagged over 20,000 Venusian doomsquad troopers on my own.”
“By doomsquad troopers, don’t you mean unarmed villagers?” Middlesworth inquires.
“Well, precisely,.” the adventurer states. “It’s when they’re unarmed that they’re at their most dangerous.”
“They weren’t doomsquad troopers; they were villagers,” she charges.
“Yes, they lived in a village,” Broadforce replies impatiently. “Even doomsquad troopers have to live somewhere.”
“Yes, but—,” the reporter begins to ask before she is cut off and motioned to be silent by the hunter.
“Right here, Caruthers!” he tells his companion.
“Right you are, Sir!” Caruthers replies.
“Take a look over there,” the hunter whispers as he points to a long-limbed animal walking nearby. “Isn’t she magnificent? That there is a long-necked togmite, one of the most beautiful creatures on this planet. Very rare.”
The trio gazes at the animal until a ray gun blast from Broadforce severs its head from the rest of its body.
“Get that for me, will you, Caruthers?” the adventurer casually asks his assistant.
“Certainly, Sir!” he replies. “Be my pleasure.”
With that, Caruthers releases a smaller elephant-like machine that walks over to the creature, gathers up its head, and brings it back to the larger vehicle.
“You said it was rare!” Middlesworth exclaims.
“It is,” Broadforce replies before stating that it will be preserved forever by the Society.
“You shot it in cold blood!” she responds.
“Had to,” the hunter replies. “Vicious brute. It was him or us.”
The group continues its journey, but as time goes by, the reporter loses interest in what she considers a random slaughter of native animals until a small, blue butterfly-like creature floats toward her.
“Come here,” Middlesworth coaxes the insect. “You’re so cute.”
But just as it nears the reporter, Caruthers blasts it to pieces with a red ray gun.
“You’re welcome,” he says as Middlesworth recoils in disgust.
Before long, the group approaches a cave, and the big game hunter tells his companion to “pull back on the steam” until the vehicle comes to a total stop.
Moments later, a small, sad-looking blue animal with several eyes waddles into view “A double-crested winkie!” Broadforce says in astonishment. “This will be a real prize for the collection.”
While he and Caruthers decide which weapon to use, the reporter slips out of her seat and approaches the cute little critter.
“Good Lord, woman!” Broadforce exclaims. “What are you doing?”
Caruthers jumps down to the ground and says: “I’ll take care of this, Sir.”
“This is a beautiful, innocent creature,” Middlesworth shouts. “It deserves to live, not to be slaughtered and mounted in a box.”
“That is a dangerous animal, Miss Middlesworth,” Broadforce says. “Step away.”
While the hunter and the reporter argue, the small blue creature quietly reveals the rest of its body, and with each passing moment, it becomes bigger and more deadly.
“Ma’am, if you wouldn’t mind,” Caruthers says as he tries to get the reporter out of the way.
“I do mind,” she replies before returning her focus to the explorer.
“This isn’t a scientific study, this is hunting for trophies, plain and simple,” she charges before accusing him of “indiscriminately shooting everything that’s in range. You don’t care about the effect you’re having on this planet. You, Sir, are a boorish, ignorant coward!”
At that moment, the monster attacks. Caruthers manages to push the woman out of the way before being grabbed by the creature and torn apart before the brute tosses what’s left of him to the ground.
Spoiler Alert: If you’d rather watch the fan film’s ending yourself, skip down to the link at the end of this article. If not, just continue reading.
The huge creature then grabs Middlesworth, an action that draws Lord Broadforce into the fray. He approaches the monster while waving his fists in preparation for a fight. Suddenly, he punches the small, cute part of the animal, which causes it to recoil.
The reporter falls into Broadforce’s arms, and he quickly sets her down behind him.
In seconds, the creature roars as it nears the hunter’s visage until the two are standing face to face.
However, when Broadforce puts up his dukes as if to punch it again, the monster slowly retreats until it disappears from view.
With the danger past, Middlesworth throws her arms around the adventurer and exclaims: “You were magnificent!”
A voice from the ground says “Well played, Sir!” The sound is coming from the head of Caruthers, who is a robot with mechanical parts spread across the cave’s floor.
But the reporter still is curious about one thing: “Lord Broadforce, why didn’t it eat you?”
“Eat me?” he asks before breaking out in laughter. “It wouldn’t dare. I’m British!”
Just as the image fades to black, Caruthers adds: “And you’d taste terrible.”
Well, that was an interesting adventure. Let’s see what Clint Eastwood might think of it.
The Good: This independent production was really funny, and its combination of live action and computer graphics is seamless. The characters are a hoot, and the mixture of Victorian culture and alien monstrosities makes for an entertaining adventure!
The Bad: My only quibble about the film is that the main characters seemed to fall into gender-based stereotypes. I suspect this was done to enhance the feeling of an old-style story, so I can’t really blame the creators for making their characters easily and quickly explained.
The Ugly: I have to say that the special effects folks went above and beyond on the animals in this film. Watching the final creature go from being a cute little tyke to a huge, menacing monster was scary and funny at the same time, though I sure wouldn’t want to meet one of those critters in a dark alley!
If you’d like more information about the Media Design School, point your Web browser here. And if you’d like to watch the fan film, just click on the link below.