|Alien Space Avenger (1989)|
|Director:||Richard W. Haines|
|Writers:||Leslie Delano, Brad Dunker, Kay Gelfman, Richard W. Haines and Clyde Lynwood Sawyer|
|Starring:||Robert Prichard, Michael McCleery and Gina Mastrogiacomo|
|The Plot: Four escaped alien convicts come to earth and inhabit the bodies of four youths in 1939. After slaughtering a bar room full of locals, they notice that an Agent (intergalactic police officer of some sort) has tracked them down, so they decide to hide underground inside of their spaceship with their new human bodies. They ultimately hide out for fifty years and wait until a construction crew accidentally uncovers their ship. Once awakened, this group immediately starts to hunt down and kill as many humans as it takes to find some uranium in order to power up their spaceship. At the same time that this bloodbath is taking place, we discover Derek (Michael McCleery) who is the writer of a comic book known as Alien Space Avenger. He has been working very hard to please his editor, but no matter how many ideas he comes up with none seem good enough. Derek’s girlfriend is getting fed up with his constant obsession with this comic book and has even threatened to leave him. When Derek’s eyes eventually stumble upon our strange group of aliens from the past, he decides that their retro fashion would make for interesting villains in his comic book. So, art starts to imitate life as Derek writes these four rogue aliens into his comic book. The book soon captures the attention of these aliens, however, and they make it their personal goal to track him down and kill anyone involved in the Alien Space Avenger franchise!|
With a title like Alien Space Avenger, how could any self respecting horror or science fiction junkie dare say no? It’s the sort of title that immediately jumps out for any fan of the strange and unusual. The title itself is so absurdly terrible that one imagines the content being even more preposterous. What is in a name? Other than a ton of money and marketing? Surely this movie could not be nearly as silly as the title might suggest, right? Wrong. It is infinitely more silly. All I definitively knew about Alien Space Avenger before sitting down to watch it was that it had a terrible title, featured alien terrorists coming to earth in a plot geared towards destruction, and it seemed totally applicable for our Halloween Horror festivities. It turns out that I was right, because this is a movie that definitely endears itself towards the horror audience. Although it most assuredly steps into the boundaries of science fiction, Alien Space Avenger keeps one foot firmly planted in the world of horror cinema. Featuring ample breasts and buckets of blood, Alien Space Avenger continually goes for the lowest common denominator. When doing so, they actually manage to create a fairly fun and watchable b-movie.
Despite the awful title and what would seem like a lack of budget, Alien Space Avenger manages to establish itself very early on as a movie with at least some money and creativity behind it. Although the introductory shots of outer space might fool you, considering the spaceships have the realistic depth of a Lego set, the movie quickly sets itself apart from the majority of low budget sci-fi/horror titles out there. The first twenty minutes or so of the film is actually set in the year 1939, where we get to meet our main antagonists. Doing this, while showing the center of a bustling pre-WW2 town, would seem nearly impossible for the majority of independent filmmakers out there simply due to the costumes alone. However, filmmaker Richard W. Haines manages to pull it off and includes costumes, sets, and even cars from the era. All of which helps to create a convincing version of 1939. This section of the film is actually quite impressive. That they could have pulled this off within the confines of a restricted budget says a lot about the creativity of the filmmakers and their perseverance to get this done. However, once these character step foot into the 1980s, we are instead treated to rather banal contemporary horror-comedy of sorts.
There are numerous logical gaps during the course of the film that simply can’t be forgiven. While I don’t want to seem as if I am shooting fish in a barrel, I feel that something definitely needs to be said. There are simple anachronisms that should definitely be mentioned. The biggest that I noticed was during one of the earliest scenes that sees our leading man appearing nude in one shot, but then obviously wearing pants in the next. Usually these things slip by me, but in the two or three cut-away shots, it is readily apparent that Derek is either nude below the waist or obviously wearing pants. After three or four cuts, with his pants magically disappearing and reappearing, I simply shook my head and wondered what I had got myself into. Another problem that I found myself struggling with was the amount of “human” knowledge that these aliens seemed to have. Although many questions are haphazardly answered right near the tail end of the movie, the audience is left struggling with many questions throughout such as: how do the aliens even speak English once they take over their human forms? The first thing out of Rex’s mouth is “we need to get into town”, but how do these aliens know what a town is? How do they know that this planet even has “town” establishments? Real problems arise when our lead villains step out from their time capsule and arrive in the modern day, but the movie somehow becomes a “fish out of water” story, despite the fact that these “fish” aren’t even from our planet. You can forgive almost all of these idiosyncrasies by saying “well, it’s supposed to be a comedy”, but in reality even a comedy should have some sort of basic intelligence behind it.
The comedy itself is only what you would expect from a Troma feature, to be honest. There are lots of funny faces made in the movie, as well as plenty of over the top yelling. However, what Alien Space Avenger lacks in tact, wit, or a fresh sense of humor, it more than makes up for in its use of gore and violence. The bar-shootout during the first few minutes of the film sets the pace for the gore and violence that becomes the standard throughout the movie. The squib work done here is very well handled and is delightfully bloody. This is to be expected from the director of Class of Nuke ‘Em High, but the FX work here is slightly better than the traditional Troma variety. Throughout the movie we are treated to several sequences that witness the aliens having a limb blown off, only to regenerate by itself. This is usually done in the most grotesque way possible. Such scenes usually feature bloody limbs exploding forth from the tips of bloody nubs, not exactly the most pleasant thing ever to be sure. The movie never enters into full splatter territory though, but the gore that is here is well handled. Certainly enough that it will catch the eye of any wandering gorehound.
A delightfully atrocious piece of b-movie mania, Alien Space Avenger is the perfect party movie to throw on when you’re trying to entertain guests. It may not be the very strangest piece of cinema that you can dig out of your closet, but it isn’t that far away from it. While I wouldn’t recommend it to serious horror movie fans, if you have a sense of humor then this might be worth giving a shot. I give it a solid three out of five. Despite the silliness, I did have a good time watching it and at just a hair under ninety minutes, this one really can’t hurt anything.