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January 2007


by Kam Williams


Distributor: Belladona Productions
Director: Barry Strugatz
Screenwriter: Barry Strugatz
Cast: Cara Buono, David Lansbury, Quinn Shephard, Jonah Meyerson, Laura Esterman, Isaach De Bankole, Melissa Leo
Running time: 88 minutes




Why Is a Nice Jewish Housewife Mysteriously Attracted to an African Who Might Be an Alien?

Joanne Schwartzbaum (Cara Buono) is a housewife who appears to be in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Something’s wrong, despite her having an appreciative husband, Brian (David Lansbury) and a couple of well-behaved kids (Quinn Shephard and Jonah Meyerson). Clueless about the source of her discontent, Joanne just wanders around her Brooklyn home depressed, almost as if sleepwalking while doing her daily routine. She finally snaps out of that semi-catatonic state the day Brian comes home and finds her lying unconscious outside on the deck. Not buying his wife’s explanation that she’s had a close encounter with an alien, he sends her to a psychiatrist (Laura Esterman) who misdiagnoses the malady as Manic Obsessive Anxiety Disorder. But the medication doesn’t help, so Joanne joins a UFO support group, hoping to find an explanation for her strange hallucinations and for the odd markings somehow burned into her side.

At the very first meeting, she sees most of the other members as kooks and losers, with the exception of Abraham Kanga (Isaach De Bankole), an African street merchant. The plot thickens as soon as the two discover that they have the identical brand on their bodies. Joanne finds herself inexplicably drawn to this brother who’s not merely from another continent but perhaps from another planet. Who knows? Maybe she’s actually from elsewhere also. And their endeavor to unravel that mystery sits at the center of From Other Worlds, a lighthearted, sci-fi comedy written and directed by Barry Strugatz (She-Devil and Married to the Mob). What this low-budget B-movie lacks in production values it more than makes up for with charm via a gifted cast capable of executing a clever script which keeps you guessing right up to the very end.

For when sparks start to fly between Joanne and Abraham, one can’t help but wonder whether she’ll leave her family for this fellow she seems to be in simpatico with. And yet, there’s still the bigger issue which must be addressed, namely, who is that alien (Joel de la Fuente) that keeps appearing, and what exactly does he want? Picture a campy cross of My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988) and The Brother from Another Planet (1984) in which you get to enjoy laughs galore, allusions to horror classics, and a timely social message as our heroes attempt to save the Earth from certain destruction. Yo, take me to your leader!