Retroplex Cinema: Enemy Mine (1985)

Welcome to a new edition of Retroplex Cinema!  It's been a while but one of our fan favorite features is back for 2017 as we revisit classic, cult,  and favorite movies of generations past.  today we look back at a cult classic sci-fi flick based on the novel of the same name.  Director Wolfgang Peterson's Enemy Mine!

Enemy Mine (1985) is a movie many people are familiar with but may not remember it right away but you likely saw this on a Saturday afternoon movie channel years ago before so many options were at our fingertips.  While it didn't do well at the box office the film did find a home through television showings and home video.  The film stars Dennis Quad and Louis Gossett Jr. in a story about two people, one human and one alien, who must over come their differences to survive on a hostile planet.  In this distant future humans are at war with the race known as the Dracs.  Quad's character, Willis E. Davidge. hates the Dracs more than most humans and wants to see them all destroyed.  When in a dog fight in outer space with the Drac called Jeriba Shigan, played by Gossett Jr, the two crash land on the planet Fyrine IV, an uninhabited planet with an atmosphere they both can survive in but not welcoming to either species due to the environment that surrounds them.  The two realize soon after landing that they must put aside their differences in order to survive.  As a bond begins to grow between the two they soon realize the planet is not uninhabited as they thought as miners known as "scavengers" are using Dracs as labor on the planet.  Shortly after their discovery their shelter is destroyed Jeriba reveals that Dracs produce asexually and he is fixing to give birth.  He makes Davigde promise to take the child back to the Drac home world so that he can complete his ancestry and be part of Drac society.  Jeriba also tells Davidge of his full lineage so that he can tell the child.   Jeriba dies after the birth and Davidge takes care of the child, a boy named Zammis.  The two form a close bond with Zammis calling Davidge "Uncle" as they pass the time waiting for hope of a rescue.  Soon a ship passes over head and when Davidge goes to investigate, Zammis' curiosity gets the best of him as he follows.  The investigation leads to the mining compound in which Zammis is captured and Davidge is apparently killed.  He is sent back on an Earth vessel but soon awakens and leaves to head back to the planet to rescue his friend.  He arrives and fights off the miners to save Zammis and takes him to the Drac home world to full fill his promise finding his own humanity once again through the friendship of what was once an enemy.
     It's a simple but yet effective story about how people with differences can put those aside to form a bond of friendship and overcome the odds to find who they really are.  Quad and Gossett Jr are both excellent in the film and despite it's failure at the box office the film has garnered a cult following over the years.
Production
    The film actually began production in April of 1984 in Budapest under the direction of Richard Loncraine but due to creative differences he was soon fired after just a week of shooting and the production was stopped.  The studio then hired Wolfgang Peterson who re-shot the few scenes that Loncraine had done, moved production to Munich and in turn what was a $17 million dollar budget rose to $29 million with marketing cost and more putting the film's approximate budget at $40 million dollars.  The film made just $12.5 million at the box office and was considered a financial failure.  The studio for one wasn't sure how to market the film.  Would people understand the idea given by the tag line, "Enemies because they were taught to be, allies because they had to be, brothers because they dared to be"?  Studio heads felt the film was more about the brotherhood of the men than the sci-fi technology movie they were hoping for.  They opted for a marketing blitz in hopes the film would find an audience.  They put posters all over shopping malls and bought ads in major newspapers across the nation the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  They bought 30-second tv spots to air simultaneously to air on the three major networks at the time.  All this but still the film didn't find the audience they wanted, not at the December 1985 box office at least.
     In the mid 1980's a little thing called home video had began to take off.  Rental stores were popping up and film's would find new life on VHS and Saturday afternoon matinee showings on network television or another new thing called cable television.  Enemy Mine was one of those films that would find it's audience in such a way.  The Star Wars and Star Trek generation began to embrace the film for it's themes of putting aside differences with the backdrop of a science fiction film  being a bonus for such film watchers.  Some people have mostly forgotten the film over the years but for some it holds a dear place in their heart as a guilty pleasure film from their youth.  Enemy Mine isn't the most classic science fiction film ever made but it's a decent good film that deserves to be seen if you haven't .  It's not yet available on Blu-Ray in the U.S.  except for a very expensive limited edition version.  We are sure one day an easier to obtain copy will be released but for now you can find it cheap on DVD in most used movie or book stores.  If you have seen it then how do you remember the film?  Fond memories or have you forgotten it and now you want to watch it again?  See the trailer below and revisit this cult classic sometime.


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