Alien Species (1996)

“Five miles below the surface of planet Earth, a new fear is born.”
— Most boring tagline, ever

“I feel like I am in a bad episode of The X-Files.”
— Dialog from the film that should have been the tagline for the film


Well, forget the tagline snafu. Look at that box art!

Made NOT by American International Pictures, but American INTERACTIVE Pictures.

No, Alien Species isn’t a lost film from the ’70s or ’80s repacked for the ’90s DVD market. Alien Species is, in fact, a sad, very sad, present-day ripoff of Independence Day and Species — all released in 1996 — made as a quickie-cash-in on those films. And to fill that 12th and 50th slot on one of Mill Creek’s many bargain box sets.

Yep! That’s Charles Napier (from another film, we’re almost sure of it) as the military officer — only, ugh, budget: they could only afford a Sheriff’s uniform.

Hey! That’s ’70s character actor extraordinaire Hoke Howell as the professor — of too many to mention Fred Olen Ray flicks!

Hey! Oh, ugh . . . that’s Jodi Seronick — the totally cute, but worst-ever, one-and-done actress committed to a Mill Creek box set — thepsin’ alongside Izzy from Shock Em’ Dead. (Plot spoiler alert: he’s one of the prisoners, and he dies.)

David Homb as Izzy, rocking’ the ’88s for Spastic Colon.

Wait . . . what the hell? The dude that gave us the ’80s apoc-romp Land of Doom — the movie with the cross-bow glove?!?! Hey, he’s also the producer of the Christian apoc-rocker Raging Angels with Eddie Wilson! You rock, Peter Maris! Wait, what . . . Maris made his debut in 1979 with the U.K. “Video Nasty” Delirium?

Load. The. Tape. I’m celluloid delirious.

LOAD THE TAPE!

When everyone bowed to the altar of John Carpenter.
From an Independence Day rip to a Road Warrior clone: it’s the B&S About Movies way.

STOP! Hit the fast forward button. No, just hit the stop button. Eject! Eject!

What the hell? The guy who made my cherished Delirium, made this? What went off the rails, here?

The awful cinematography. The insipid scripting (one of its golden lines: “We’re not in Kansas, anymore!”). A worse soundtrack. Poorly staged action sequences. CGI that’s an embarrassment to CGI. Charles I-love-him-in-everything Napier sleepwalking it — again, from what seems an unrelated film.

So . . . as with this film’s raison d’être: aliens show up circling the Earth, but with none of the dramatic or effects impact of a Roland Emmerich production. Er, uh, because this is more like an Ed Wood production — as two astronomers peck at keyboards at a desk in an office building tracking an object.

Then a fleet of ersatz Cylon Raiders appear in the sky.

Invasion over.

So one of the scientists from behind the desk — racing (or was it Hoke, don’t care) to somewhere to warn about the invasion (since there are no phones, cell or hardline, in 1996; an embarrassing plot gag that didn’t jive in the two-years later asteroid slopper Deep Impact) — ends up in a fender bender with a prison transport bus. Now, said scientist is part of a ragtag band of humans (both deputies and criminals), led by the Sheriff (cue Charles Napier to the set) because, well, the production couldn’t afford a piper cub and a cargo plane to do a Con-Air meets Independence Day ripoff. Uh, er, wait a sec . . . Napier isn’t in this part of the film, because he’s actually in “the other film” that’s cut into this film — we think.

Anyway, our human revolutionaries — not led by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum — stumble around the woods and hide out in cave . . . the very cave that leads to the aliens invading Earth. Then errant cows and backwoods rubes sucked yonder by a transporter beam, found just-when-we-need-’em bazookas, shotguns that never require reloading, compatible alien-to-human computer software interfaces, saucers with no force fields, green force-field prison cells, the worst day-for-night/night-for-night cinematography, ever, and educated, Polyanna female leads hooking up for grungy, prisoner romance, ensues.

Ugh.

This ain’t an on-purpose nostalgia piece to honor Bill Rebane: Alien Species is just an incompetent, just-like-a-Bill Rebane alien invasion flick of old (see Invasion from Inner Earth and The Alpha Incident for more information), where we have people running around the woods and stumble-bumbling through caves (but not drinking a lot of coffee or smoking, as in a Bill Rebane flick) as they hurl insults at each other, that is . . . when we don’t have ol’ Hoke Howell (or whomever) pecking at keyboards (his niece, his daughter, or whatever-she-is, is the thepsy-screechy Jodi Seronick; Hoke’s students are the two behind-the-desk nerds; Jodi is friends with the unrequited-crushing male nerd that takes out saucers with a laptop, just like Jeff Goldblum).

“So, do any, actual aliens show up?”

Well, a couple guys in rubber-zipper suits appear in a darkly lit cave — if you haven’t already fast-forwarded through that part.

“Do we ever get a peek inside the mothership or a saucer cockpit?”

No.

“Why do the aliens attack a small town instead of say, New York City — besides budget issues?”

The cave.

“The cave?”

Yeah, it’s all always been about that backwoods cave. Weren’t you following along with the plot: the aliens started their Earth colony, down there — which was teased in Bill Rebane’s Invasion from Inner Earth, but never delivered. So, at least Alien Species lived up to its tagline in that regards.

You know what?

I’m not even sure if my “plot” description is accurate. But it’s damn close. Not that my review is steering your wrong. Not in the least.

Hey, when I’m stuck reviewing a film that looks like pieces-parts of three films cut together (the two desk dorks, Napier’s sheriff in town shenanigans, the prison bus crash out in the sticks), I’m wishing I was watching the piecemeal efforts Evil Town or Night Train to Terror. Or Spookies. Or Fright House.

At least Peter Maris has the sense to put Jodi Seronick in sensible, flat shoes and not have her running around in designer heels like some Paul Naschy Spanish-cum-Italian zombie flick.

Yeah . . . why am I watching this instead of a Naschy or Amando de Ossorio flick? Boy, some robed monks with Omega Man eyes sure would have helped, here.

Anyway, there’s no trailer to share . . . but, if you must watch Alien Species, in full, you must. We found a copy on You Tube. And don’t go surfing for the end credits-announced Alien Species 2: The Invasion. It was — for all the obvious reasons — never produced. If you’d like a bargain-priced version of Alien Species for your collection, you can have it as part of Mill Creek’s Nightmare Worlds 50-Film Pack/IMDb alongside UFO: Target Earth and Invasion from Inner Earth — both which we also reviewed this week.

At least his review isn’t a total loss: your movie knowledge has expanded by knowing of not only one — but two — films each, of Peter Maris and David Homb. Well, three for Maris, as we suggest your checking out Delirium (which you can, on You Tube).

You check out the trailers for Delirium and Land of Doom on You Tube.

Get your copy! Image courtesy of JohnGrit/Unisquare.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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