Director/Producer – Lloyd A. Simandl, Screenplay – Christopher Hyde, Photography – Vladimir Kolar, Music – Peter Allen, Visual Effects Supervisor – Martin Melichar, Special Effects – Frame Ltd & North American Pictures s.r.o., Prague, Pyrotechnical Effects Supervisor – Jiri Berger, Production Design – Olga Rosenfelder. Production Company – North American Pictures/Mougins Productions
C.C. Costigan (Nikki Savage/Marshal Janet Smith), Kim Dawson (Dr Janice Dane), Josh Barker (Joe Pike), David Fisher (Max), Petra Kulisek (Katherine White), Klara Hlousek & Eliska Rabas (Dane’s Girls), Radomil Uhlir (Prison Warden)
It is the year 2268. Nikki Savage is a former marshal who has been sentenced to hard labour at the women’s prison colony on Titan for killing an officer. The mysterious Max offers her a chance at freedom. The spaceship Unitransco has been on a mission to conduct an experiment in inter-dimensional time travel but has returned with all of its crew missing, except for project head Dr Janice Dane. Nikki is to board the Unitansco and find out what happened. She accepts the mission and docks with the Unitansco posing as replacement marshal Janet Smith with a neural implant that allows her to remain in contact with Max. Aboard, she is puzzled to find that Janice is conducting a series of experiments that involve the crew having sex. Aided by Janice’s assistant Joe, Nikki discovers that Janice has returned possessed by an alien force that is using her to invade the galaxy – something that requires no more than Janice scratching one of her sex partners to infect them with a malevolent alien lifeform.
It is hard to get a handle on Lethal Target before and even some way into sitting down to watch it. The title gives the impression that it is no more than a routine direct-to-video action film – it even seems slung together with one of the meaningless title phrases used around the era that would usually combine an adjective and dynamic sounding noun – Lethal/Hostile/Savage/Hard/Wild/Running/Moving/Raw Weapon/Target/Force/Contact/Intent/Justice/Pursuit/Enforcer/Impact/Combat. Most of these combinations have been used at some point.
As it transpires, Lethal Target is not an action film but another B-budgeted variation on Alien (1979). The strangest thing about this is that Lethal Target then veers off to become an erotic film. Erotica and pornography have been copying the plots of other films for years, taking the basics and then throwing in much in the way of bare flesh – and Lethal Target seems to be the erotic version of Alien. The two make strange bedfellows – such as a standard sex scene that is intercut with a gory chestburster sequence as someone’s stomach is torn open.
You can see Lethal Target‘s exploitation tendencies from the opening scene in the women’s prison where the girls are breaking rocks in the mines while wearing skirts that are frequently riding up to reveal their panties or offering nipple slips as they bend over. Once onboard the spaceship, we get various scenes where Kim Dawson sits in a chair watching as a woman (Petra Kulisek) and a man make love; long intercut scenes where Kim Dawson gets a nude massage; several scenes with Dawson engaged in lesbian threeways with other girls (as a pretext to scratch and infect them); and sex scenes between heroine C.C. Costigan and Kim Dawson’s assistant Josh Barker.
On the other hand, Lethal Target does make a reasonable effort at letting its Alien copy story work. Most of these erotic films that substantially borrow plots from other films tend not to concern themselves too much with the plotting intricacies beyond getting from one unclothed scene to the next but Lethal Target goes to the extent of creating some reasonable, albeit cut-price, visual effects shots and spaceship interior sets. Certainly, the erotic scenes are not as full-on as most films in the genre and are fairly tame, although are enough to cause Lethal Target to sit on a strange borderline between classification either as erotica or a science-fiction film. Moreover, the video cover for the film gives no hint that it is anything more than a standard science-fiction film. That said, the science-fiction element pans out routinely and eventually degenerates to the usual stuff of a big insectoid monster clomping through the corridors after the heroine. One of the more amusing aspects about the future is seeing that they are still using 3.5 inch floppy discs, a technology that was obsolete barely five years after the film was released.
The two lead actresses, C.C. Costigan and Kim Dawson, both come from a background where they have made a career out of taking their clothes off. Costigan is a so-so heroine, while Dawson takes the opportunity to camp it up in a breathily villainous performance.
Much of this would seem to be business as usual for Lloyd A. Simandl, a Polish-born but Canadian resident producer and sometimes director who has made numerous other erotic films – see other Simandl directorial titles such as Ultimate Desires (1992), the Chained Heat/Rage/Fury series most of which are set around white girls sold into slavery and/or in prison, Bound Cargo (2003), Sins of the Realm (2003), Lash of the Scorpion (2003), School of Surrender (2005), Bound Tears (2006), Demon’s Claw (2006), Twisted Love (2006), The Slave Huntress (2007), Blood Countess (2008), Caligula’s Spawn (2009), Sold at Dawn (2010), Shackled Bounty (2012) and Enslaved Justice (2013). To be fair, Simandl’s Canadian-based North American Pictures production company, which usually shoots in the Czech Republic, has made a number of straight science-fiction films that usually have a strong action content with the likes of Empire of Ash (1988) and sequels, Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1991), the first Project: Shadowchaser (1992), Time Runner (1993), Downdraft (1996), Dead Fire (1997), Escape Velocity (1998) and Sleeping Dogs (1998).