This pulpy offering of old school fun from Brett Piper (Mysterious Planet, Arachnia) and the Polonia brothers (Empire of the Apes) takes its cues from Independence Day while it tips its homage hats to Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation classic, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956).
Outpost Earth wastes no time with bumbling, first-act set ups rife with character development (aka, no superfluous Jeff Goldblum and Margaret Colin bickering, thank you). We came for action and we get action. As the opening credits roll, Earth is reduced to a burnt out dystopia where the last remains of humanity are hunted by the alien invaders and their otherworldly “hunting dogs” (aka giant, stout lizards).
Kay (Erin Waterhouse) is a radiant, supermodel bow-hunter who, like so many Italian Giallo and Post-Apoc female-protagonists before her, never smudges her makeup (there’s always an errant makeup and fashionable clothing stash in the apocalypse). She wanders the wastelands kickin’ alien ass and fighting off the ubiquitous human cannibals in her search of supplies and food.
After Blake (Titus Himmelberger, of the Polonia brothers’ Amityville Exorcism and Sharkenstein) gets Kay out of a jam with some aliens, he meets her sister, Penny, and a ragtag group of survivors, including the omnipresent, white-bearded professor, Uncle Zayden, who tinkers around in his lab to discover a way to defeat the aliens (Rolling Stone voted him the “Smartest Man in the World”).
Of course, even in the direst of circumstances, the quest of greed and power is the rule and the human race can never work together, so we have an eye-patched psycho named Manny who kidnaps Penny. During Kay and Blake’s daring rescue of Penny, they come to discover the secret to operating one of the aliens’ crashed ships—which can give them an advantage to wipe out the aliens’ command center.
What makes the films of Piper and the Polonias fun is that they’re CGI-free throwbacks to the exploitation films of yesteryear—whether you grew up in the Drive-In ‘70s or the VHS ‘80s. Instead of green-motion tracking, we get aliens with well-made masks and full-body suits. Instead of After Effects computer-animated monsters, we get in-camera stop-motion monsters.
It’s evident that Brett Piper and the Polonia brothers, Mark and John, are one of us. They love those UHF-TV, Drive-In, and direct-to-VHS films of old. And with nary a budget that wouldn’t cover a day of catering on a major studio film, they do a commendable job giving us something fresh and new to watch, while feeding our brains with the nostalgia that we love in our films.
Oh, did you know that most of their films are shot in Cambria County, west of Pittsburgh (and near Altoona)? Hey, us western Pennsylvania “yinzers” gotta stick together. So they’ll always get the love here, at B&S About Movies, as we bleed the black & gold.
So don’t be a jagoff and check out Outpost Earth, will yinz? You tell ’em, Billy Gardell! And don’t forget, we dedicated one of our “Drive-In Friday” featurettes to Brett Piper and screened four of his films, including Queen Crab and Muckman.