Alien Dead (1980)

There are few times in life when I think, “Man, I could really go for a drink. Or six.” Watching this film was one of them. It was literally one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Sitting through this movie and not giving up on it was an act of Herculian effort, and I’m pretty sure I should be given a medal for making it all the way through. I couldn't find a real trailer for it, and I initially was going to just say the hell with it and not post any clips from it, but I couldn't not show the sheer awfulness of this movie, so I've included a few videos of select scenes from it just to back up what I'm saying.

I picked this up on a whim for ten bucks after having seen it at various video stores, figuring, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Simple: this movie. I grabbed the 25h anniversary edition, which is somewhat of a misnomer as this is the only time this movie has ever been released on DVD. The description on the back read about how this movie was eagerly awaited since debuting back in the ‘80s, and how lucky we are that a mint copy was found amongst a film collectors archives. I don’t feel lucky. At all. When I think of movies from the ‘80s that I’m glad were finally released on DVD, I think Monster Squad. That was a film I was ecstatic to hear of being released on DVD, not a sad attempt at a horror film by a director not fit to direct a high school play trying to cash in on the early ‘80s zombie craze. Goofy Italian movies about zombies (think Hell Of The Living Dead or Nightmare City) can at least be chalked up to the quirkiness of European directors, but this movie has no excuses.

The plot is something like this: a meteorite falls out of the sky and people start eating each other. That’s…pretty much it. There’s a sad attempt at ominous foreshadowing when local yokels heehaw about the local gator population dropping down for some reason in the swamp where the movie takes place. That reason, of course, being that zombies like eating alligators. But, where other ‘80s attempts at zombie-ish movies exceed, Alien Dead falls pathetically short. Think Night Of The Creeps but unwatchable. The acting is…abominable. Not that talent is a huge requirement in such films, but come on. This was downright awful. It’s like Fred Olen Ray just hired his friends to act in this movie and kept all of their first takes in the final cut. The production, despite promising a “Hollywood sheen” on the back description as part of it’s appeal, was reminiscent of the films from the 70s we used to watch in science class. And not in a good way. The sound was awful, the colors were washed out and faded even for a movie 25 plus years old, and the gore and make up was nigh laughable in its amateurness. Did I just make up a word to describe this? I did. Deal with it. One shot in particular where a character is about to be killed highlights this perfectly: his death occurs in a lake after he dives in to investigate a boat explosion, and we see, for at least three second before he dives in, the blood make up already on him. In another scene, in something like a sad attempt a Fulci-esque slow linger on gore, we are treated to a character who has just been goofily mauled by zombies as he lies on the ground, gone from the waist down. And you can see him breathing. Not once in a “did that just happen?” moment, but several times over the course of ten or so seconds. It’s insane. Insanely bad.

Now, you’re probably thinking I should see the charm in how bad this is, that I should embrace the schlock of Alien Dead and just relax. Here’s why I’m not doing that.

A) A. This wasn’t one of those it’s so bad it’s good movies. It was just bad. Poor plot, poor writing, poor production, poor everything. Just awful. Most shitty movies will have at least some redeeming value, be it creepy imagery, a good soundtrack, a touch of comedy, good cinematography...just something. Nothing of that here. The cinematography was uninspired, the soundtrack was something like the offspring of a Carpenter film and a Romero film but lacking the awesomeness of either one, and the only humor in the movie was a brand of “aw shucks gee wiz” good ol boy bullshit that I suspect was the filmmakers sad attempt at embracing the colloquialism of where the movie was supposed to take place. Florida, I think.

B) B. Most movies with small budgets, especially horror movies, can, in good hands, at least make something worthy of the budget. This movie definitely doesn’t. The back description claims it was made for 12,000, which grant it isn’t much at all, but you could’ve told me it was made by community college film students for half that and I’d have a hard time believing you. The indoor scenes, be they a bar, a boat, or a police station, all looked exactly the same and probably were shot in the exact soundstage/studio/whatever.

C) C. It lacks the excessive charm of ‘80s flicks. If you’re going to do a gory zombie movie, please, do an all out gory zombie movie. I’m not a huge fan of gore but I’m even less of a fan of half-assing things. There was precious little blood and guts in this movie, and I suspect that was the type of film they were going for. Same with pointless sex. I’m not really into movies that just appeal to peoples base natures with tits and violence, but at the same time if you’re making a movie that should have tits and violence then please give me shovelfuls of both. Alien Dead had some boobage, yes…but not enough. Not nearly enough. Not enough to really push it into that charming family of memorable campy films.

There you have it. A totally boring and uninspired movie, lacking even one thing that would make it salvageable. Unlike other splatterfests from that time period, say, Fulci’s ‘Gates Of Hell’ films, this movie was completely devoid of any artistic value. Sure, Fulci films are packed with excessively violent death scenes and the plots take a back seat to surreal horror, but Fulci was at least a skilled filmmaker who knew how to get his vision of what the movie was supposed to be about across to the viewer, even if the movie was supposed to just be about someone dying horribly. Watching a Fulci flick is sort of like watching a visual poem about something terrible happening over and over and over again. Watching Alien Dead was akin to watching ‘Two Girls One Cup” over and over and over again.

Don’t watch this movie. Don’t buy it, don’t even think about it. It was a completely irredeemable train wreck from start to finish and only made me sad that I’d wasted 72 minutes of my life. According to Wikipedia, the sole “star” of the movie, famed serial star Buster Crabbe, who was known for such roles as Buck Rogers and Tarzan, died shortly after completion of the movie by tripping over a garbage can and suffering a heart attack (on the day I was born, might I add). Maybe in Buster’s part of the country “tripping over a garbage can and suffering a heart attack” is code for “dying of embarrassment, regret, and shame”, because I can’t think of a worse possible movie to end a career on. I can sympathize, as I too felt all three of those emotions in spades after watching this movie. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go scrub my balls with steel wool and douse them in vinegar to bring my mood back to an acceptable level after seeing this movie.


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