“They’re Made Out of Meat”, by Terry Bisson, is a 1991 science fiction story about first contact with a truly alien civilization. If you haven’t read it already, then check it out here. It’ll take just two or three minutes.
Because it’s limited to a dialogue between two characters, “They’re Made Out of Meat” has gotten numerous film and audio adaptations (like this Studio 360 version). This post compiles every single film adaptation, from “the film student one” to “the one that’s in Russian” to “the one that hurts your ears and should not be listened to.” If you know of any others, please let me know so that I can add them.
New York Film Academy
The classic version, or at least the first one that I ever saw, bleary-eyed at three in the morning between viewings of On the Yard and some other weird short film I can’t remember the name of. Not every adaptation has included a “subplot,” but the NYFA adaptation does, and does it in a way that reinforces rather than distracts from the story.
I love the outfits.
This version won Grand Prize at the Science Fiction Short Film Festival in 2006.
David Nan David
For a long time, this was the only version modeled after Terry Bison’s own stage adaptation (and it’s still the best). For that reason alone, it deserves high marks, but the voice acting is also very good.
One of the few times that I like both actors equally. Red Tie really sounds distressed and confused, and both of them sound like they’re having an actual conversation, not reading lines that somebody handed to them just a few minutes before.
I don’t know why the aliens are walking through a museum, but it works. There are a few scenes here which are a visual treat, for all that they’re very simple, but the shaky cam is annoying, and I wish it would have been possible to get rid of some of the background noise.
Chris Maloney and Chris Brown
Great “50s B-Movie” aesthetic.
Pie in the Eye
Dave Street can act (Dave is the one with the tie and the frizzy hair and, more recognizably, an ability to act). His partner, not so much, and I keep expecting the alien device in his hands to turn into a script. He certainly looks down at it often enough.
I like Dave Street and the black and white aesthetic. I could take or leave the subplot with Tinfoil Hat Guy, but probably leave it, and the music is overdone.
Endearingly crappy. If anything, not crappy enough—the “bad robot voice” is not maintained consistently.
Stargazer Digital Media (SDM Films)
Grandpa Robots! I like how they don’t start out talking by making flappy meat sounds. Also, this is the only TMOOM adaptation to make a meaningful change in the dialogue that works. The animated cut scene is jarring, however.
This version is in Russian, but there are subtitles in case you haven’t memorized the story by this point. It’s hard to distinguish the dialogue from the distortions and background noise, but that may just be because I’m not fluent in Russian.
Overall, very weird.
Produced with Xtranormal Movie Maker. Again, I could do without the music, but the voice acting is incredible.
Stu Kellog and Sherry Lewis
Another version which follows Bisson’s stage adaptation (and is easier to spot as doing so).
Bragon the Bat
Not very good, and earsplitting to listen to, but included for the sake of completeness. It also becomes incoherent by making the characters into the “Minister of Colonial Wars” and the “General of the Fifth Invasion Arm Forces” but keeping the dialogue (which is clearly between people who are involved in first contact, and benevolent contact at that) unchanged.