Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Homage to a Genre

Tammy (Jenni Baird), an artistically inclined local waitress, helps space alien Urp (Eric McCormack) track a bloodthirsty monster.

Alien Trespass
Directed by R.W. Godwin
Screenplay by Steven Fisher
Starring Eric McCormack, Jenni Baird, Dan Lauria, Robert Patrick, Jody Thompson, Aaron Brooks, Sarah Smyth, and Andrew Dunbar
88 minutes

By Robert Rosen

How much did I love 1950s sci-fi movies? I won’t count the ways. But I will say that I loved them enough to race home from school every afternoon that The Thing was on Million Dollar Movie, watch it five days in a row, and still get a thrill every time the hulking monster, played by James Arness, emerged from the alien spacecraft and threatened to wreak havoc in the Arctic. That experience alone, I think, provides me with the minimal qualifications necessary to review Alien Trespass.

I’ll begin by saying what Alien Trespass is not: A parody of 1950s sci-fi movies. It is, rather, a loving homage to the entire genre, a 21st century film made to look, feel, and sound as much as possible like a genuinely stupid, cheesy, 1957 monster-from-outer-space flick, like The Blob.

In short, producer-director R.W. Godwin, known for his work with The X-Files TV show, seems to have accomplished exactly what he set out to do. And though at times Alien Trespass is intentionally funny—how could it not be with Will and Grace’s Eric McCormack playing Ted Lewis, a scientist whose body is taken over by Urp, an alien lawman crash-landed on earth?—it also manages to be genuinely scary; the silly-looking one-eyed monster must be praised for sending chills up and down my spine more than once.

The filmmakers must also be given credit for indeed making me care about their ridiculously stereotypical array of characters, from Tammy (Jenni Baird), the courageous local waitress who saves the world, to put-upon Police Chief Dawson (Dan Lauria), to Ted’s sexpot wife, Lana (Jody Thompson), to the hep-talking teens, Cody, Penny, and Dick (Aaron Brooks, Sarah Smyth, and Andrew Dunbar). And though Alien Trespass did not exactly make me long for the good old days when such entertainment was routinely available for fifty cents at my neighborhood movie palace, it did make me want to run out and order a burger and fries at the local coffee shop, cholesterol be damned.


Anonymous said...

Posted by KRhetor on IMDB

That's the first intelligent review of the film I've read so far. Most of the others were made by people who only know 50s science fiction films from parodies of the genre by modern filmmakers.

Anonymous said...

Posted by ayf_1983 on IMDB

I just saw it today. Your statement was right. This is not a spoof or a remake. It's as if they plucked a sci-fi monster movie from the Eisenhower era into 2009. I am so glad they decided to use the cheesy, cheap effects for the Ghota (the bad alien they're all chasing, or running away from). They could have easily loaned it out to a special effects house and in turn those folks would have made it CGI. Same thing for Urp in his original form. Just a guy dressed up in a silvery suit with a silver helmet, like what would have happened in a 50's movie of this type.

The stereotypical town residents were there as you mentioned, and they all did a fine job. Even the exaggerated "scared" facial expressions were very B movie like. All in all, a nice bit of nostalgia brought to 2009.