My Stepmother is an Alien (1988)

Back when this site was young, I wrote something called “Kim Basinger: Professional idiocy, circa 1987 and 1988” in which I wondered why the very capable Basinger resigned herself to playing morons in movies like Blind Date and this movie.

But man — I watched this tonight and maybe I was in the right mood, but when Basinger is giggling and imitating Jimmy Durante? That’s some prime romantic comedy material and it made my heart sing.

Widowed astronomer Steve Mills (Dan Aykroyd) screws up and causes a gravitational disruption in deep space, sending a race of hyper-advanced alien lifeforms to investigate. That would be Celeste (Basinger), who wins over the scientist in a day. But even though she’s been sent to get his research, she falls for him.

The film’s screenplay was written by Herschel Weingrod, Timothy Harris (Weingrod and Harris wrote Trading Places, Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Space Jam together) and Jonathan Reynolds based on an earlier script by Jerico Stone, who originally pitched the film to Paramount Pictures as a drama called They’re Coming that would serve as an allegory about child abuse.

But hey, it gets weirder than that.

Jerico would tell the Los Angeles Times that as a kid in Brooklyn, he had a friend — that he pretended to be a superhero with and they called each other the Black Jacks — showed up badly beaten. “He said we couldn’t do anything to stop his father because he was an alien. And he said he couldn’t see me again–and he never did.” This would happen to him again years later, when he made friends in Los Angeles with another street kid who had a similar story. Jerico said he followed him to a supermarket parking lot, where the boy hopped into an abandoned car. “It didn’t have any wheels and its windows were spray-painted black,” Jerico recalled. “I rushed up and started kicking the car when the door opened and it was an alien. It wasn’t a man. It wasn’t a person. It looked so strange I couldn’t even describe it. I just froze. The next thing I knew this huge hand leaped out and dug into my stomach, grabbing a hold of my spine. The pain was so intense I just collapsed to the ground. The alien creature stood over me and said, very gently, “Sorry, Black Jack.” Then the car started to shimmer, very brightly, and I blacked out from the pain. When I came to, the car — and any traces of it — was gone.”

The next paragraph of this story sends me into fits of ecstatic happiness: Not long afterwards, Jerico had a chance meeting with Orson Welles: “I cornered him walking into Ma Maison and he told me, ‘My boy, “The War of the Worlds” was just a dress rehearsal.”

Stone would also write the movie Matinee.

The film debut of Juliette Lewis, as well as the first time Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green would pair up, My Stepmother is an Alien is silly fun that I probably thought too much about the first time I wrote about it. Also, if you’re making a Letterboxd list of movies where Aykroyd has supernatural sex and then gets a weird smile on his face, you can add this one.

The Arrow Video blu ray of My Stepmother is an Alien has a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, along with brand new audio commentary by critic Bryan Reesman a new interview with director Richard Benjamin, the trailer, an image gallery, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amanda Reyes. You can get it from MVD.

BONUS: You can listen to our podcast on this movie too!

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