This is another movie I’d never heard of. The description of it on Netflix makes it sound like a comedy, a parody of so many Fifties science fiction movies. The prologue reinforces that idea, setting up a framing sequence about how this is actually a movie made in 1957 that was thought to have been lost for the past fifty years. A little silliness ensues, and then the movie itself starts.
And as it plays out, you come to realize that although it has considerable humor in it, ALIEN TRESPASS isn’t a parody at all. Instead, it’s an affectionate, pitch-perfect homage to those low-budget sci-fi epics from the Fifties, complete with overacting, crude special effects, and a guy in a rubber suit playing a monster. If you watched those movies in the theaters or on TV growing up, you’ll recognize all the elements: the small town in the desert, the UFO crash-landing in the hills, the teenagers who are the first ones to see the monster, the skeptical cops, the local scientist (doesn’t every town have one?) who figures out what’s going on.
Now here’s the strange part: even though you know this movie was made a couple of years ago, it’s hard not to get drawn into it and start taking it seriously, or at least as seriously as you’d take the same sort of movie if it had actually been made in 1957. It does that good a job of capturing the era. There are a few tiny details wrong, but blink and you’ll miss them, and they don’t really have any bearing on the plot.
The biggest names in the cast are Eric McCormack from WILL & GRACE and Robert Patrick from THE UNIT and a ton of other stuff. Everyone does a good job, though, and they all seem to be having a wonderful time.
ALIEN TRESPASS strikes me as a movie with an extremely narrow target audience. If you’re a viewer of a certain age and a certain temperament, there’s a good chance you’ll love it and find yourself grinning all the way through it. I did. I think it’s a wonderful film. But if you fall outside that range, you’ll probably start watching this and go “Huh? What is this?” So consider yourself warned when I recommend this one highly.
Fangoria Nightmare Library, March 1988
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