Friday, 3 October 2014

Alien Species (1996)

The way these 50 pack movie sets work is by finding movies that they can turn a profit on when selling them for 40 cents each.  It's not generally a good sign then, when a movie less than twenty years old turns up on one of these.  Sure, you occasionally get the adorably dreadful gem like Laser Mission, but most of the time you get ... well, this film.

Two tech heads kick off the movie, tapping away at keyboards and spouting a lot of blather than amounts to "aliens are coming and we're all gonna die".  They resolve to call "the professor".

We then cut to a small town sheriff's office, where two deputies are about to take a pair of prisoners to a different facility.  The two prisoners can be broken down as "the mouthy jerk" and "the quiet one", and a similar split exists for the deputies.

En route to the facility, the deputies encounter a trio of civilians who've had a car accident.  Two of these are young women, while the last is the aforementioned professor, though it will take us some time to learn that as the deputies spend a considerable amount of time refusing to help the civilians (which is probably correct procedure, to be fair).  However, an alien attack on the sheriff's office causes him to order them to pick up the stranded folks, so they do so.

We get a couple interspersed scenes of CGI spaceships attacking humans in between all this.  I hear the recent Star Trek films feature a lot of CGI lens flare.  Maybe J J Abrams was a fan of Alien Species, because these guys love it too.  The CGI is surprisingly non-terrible for a cheap 1990s film.  The live-action shots of an "alien" are rather less impressive.

Anyway, the prison transport gets buzzed by an alien ship and crashes, so all seven of the passengers have to get out.  Not wanting to be attacked by the strange flying craft, they head for a nearby cave.

Which of course turns out to have been turned into a "hive" by the aliens.  Why, when they have perfectly good ships?  Well, I suspect the actual answer is "because caves are cheap and don't require much effort in set design, plus the murky lightning helps hide the deficiencies of our effects".  But let's just go with "because plot".

We now switch back to the two techies, who watch their home town get trashed by aliens.  The male decides to go look for the Professor while the female decides to go get her cat.  If I were feeling generous, I'd say this was a lame attempt at an Alien reference.

Female techie successfully rescues her cat, by the by -- and is then never seen in the film again.

Meanwhile, the main cast gets whittled down by the alien monsters in the cave.  Mouthy convict and mouthy deputy go first in fairly humiliating style, surprising no-one, then quiet deputy and the professor also bite it.  Quiet convict and the two women eventually escape however, and then immediately bump into male techie.  This leads to the denouement of the film, which ... well, Independence Day also came out in 1996, so if you've seen that film you're already seen the end of this one (though the end of this one is even stupider, amazing as that may seem).

If IMDB is to be believed, a video cassette of this film makes an appearance as a prop in a gay porn flick.  Frankly, that's more recognition than Alien Species deserves.

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