Arena is 100% Weird
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Arena


What do you get when you cross filmmakers who really, really liked the cantina scene from Star Wars, a bunch of actors who would rather be in soap operas and a producer whose brother's Flock of Seagulls cover band just wasn't getting the exposure they deserved? Why, you get this week's New Wave wrasslin' sci-fi MonsterVision movie, Arena.
Arena tells the story of a hunky human Christopher Reeves lookalike who works in a fast food joint in outer space, but who truly longs to -- wait, no. Arena tells the story of a spandex wearing, Rave home-perm using, tough-talking (yet sensitive) girl fight boss on a far away planet. No, that ain't it either. Actually, folks, Arena is really about a four-armed alien in a costume that barely hides the guy ducking down behind him, some rock 'em sock 'em robots and what a production designer can do when he's given parts of a kitchen disposal unit and told to make a spaceship out of 'em. This is a flick that truly believes that nothing says "futuristic" like mylar sheets. Suffice it to say, the makers of Arena don't let a whole lot of plot get in the way of the movie.

Written by the guys who brought us Trancers (the movie Helen Hunt made before seeing flying cows in Twister), and of course the great Zone Troopers, Arena probably stars the highest concentration of actors who went on to star in StarTrek spin-off shows AND soap operas in MonsterVision history. In the soap opera department we've got Paul Satterfield, who plays the hero Steve Armstrong, who had roles in General Hospital, Savannah and The Bold and the Beautiful. Shari Shattuck, the treacherous vixen Jade, had parts on The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless. In this flick, kudos go to Ms. Shattuck for uttering the line "There's an old saying: when it's over, it's over and guess what? It's over," with a straight face.
As for the Star Trek spin-offs, well Claudia Christian, the tough Quinn, also portrayed Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5, in addition to roles in such gems as A Gnome Named Gnorm and Mercenary II.
Hamilton Camp, Steve's dexterous sidekick Shorty, had roles in Star Trek - Deep Space Nine and Star Trek - Voyager, not to mention his role as Christopher Lee's goofy sidekick in Safari 3000, the 1982 sequel to Deathrace 2000.
Marc Alaimo, the evil Rogor, had a recurring role on Deep Space Nine and shares with actor Vaughn Armstrong the honor of having portrayed the most guest characters on Star Trek. Even the actor portraying the lackey Weezil (sic), Armin Shimerman, could be found on episodes of Deep Space 9 as space station cantina owner Quark.

The producer of this week's MonsterVision flick is none other than Charles Band, son of filmmaker Albert Band. Charles is responsible for classics such as Puppet Master 5, Subspecies 4 and the unforgettable Kraa! The Sea Monster. And the cheesy New Wave soundtrack? Why, that's courtesy of Charles' brother, Richard Band, who you may remember from such soundtracks as Demonic Toys, Castle Freak and Zarkorr! The Invader.
One look at the music and fashion of Arena will answer the obvious; the film was completed in 1989, but wasn't released until 1991. Which, of course, doesn't explain why the film really looks like it was filmed in 1983.

Nevertheless, Arena will surely satisfy the recommended yearly dose of two-bit light sabers, interplanetary Sea Monkey comedy stylings and gratuitous slo-mo alien fight scenes. And always remember, "when it's over, it's over"...you hope.
Arena (1989/1991)
Last seen after Monstervision on August 19, 2000, at 2:30 am
*Technically, this is the morning of August 20 Rating: TV-PG-SV

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