Alien Space Avenger (1989)

This is a seriously odd film.

I suppose we can blame the fact that it was a direct to video film, as they often include films that wouldn’t have made it anywhere else.  I don’t know, that almost seems too easy an answer.

Or we can blame Action International Pictures (often referred to as AIP, which I find confusing, to put it mildly, as one thinks instead of American International Pictures whose films include classic B-movies by the likes of Roger Corman, Bert I. Gordon and Edward L Cahn) which, in a six year period, managed to dump forty-six films onto the direct to video market.  Almost all of them could be advertised with a bare-chested guy with a big gun on the video cover.

And one does note that the director, Richard W. Haines, was a Troma alumnus, which definitely helps explain an awful lot.  Far too much, really.

So we start off with that familiar situation, the evil alien criminals being pursued by an alien cop:  he shoots them down and they crash land on 1930s Earth.  And before you can say “The Hidden,” they’ve taken up residence in four hapless young people, and head out to scout out our planet.

But it doesn’t exactly work out well for them, so they climb back in their ship and decide to wait a while, just to be sure the cop didn’t follow them.

So fifty years later their ship is unearthed, they emerge again, still in their 1930s c.lothers, and then go to look for weapons in the New York City of the Eighties.

Meanwhile, the artist who draws the “Space Avenger” comic book sees them in their Thirties clothes, and immediately decide that their retro look is just what he needs to save his job, and he turns them into…alien terrorists!

Of course, any simple description of this film can’t really tell you just how batty it is.  To see that, you really need to get into the strange details:  the aliens, in their efforts to learn just how advanced we are, go to see the original Flash Gordon serial from the thirties and quickly realize that they can’t match our technology — as shown in the film!  Then there is the aliens’ chemical incompatibility with us, which we learn about when one of the female aliens decides to go have fun with a very willing guy — only to say, “was it good for you, too?” and then look down at his charred corpse.  While the aliens easily regenerate any lost body parts, one of them accidentally grows a hand back instead of a foot.  And, when the alien cop takes over the body of the hero’s girlfriend, she calmly announces that now she loves him as well!

Of course, you also get lots of gunplay, lots of gruesome body part regeneration scenes, a headless alien running down a hallway, violence, more violence, sex scenes, more sex scenes, the absolute worst time to stop and jot down a new idea, a bit of nudity, a guy wearing a vest from a three-piece suit and leaving it open to show his bare chest while he runs around shooting guns (so he can be on the cover, naturally) some spaceships, some mildly impressive and thoroughly nasty looking aliens (there’s a moment when the alien cop says, “you won’t want to watch this” and the audience wholeheartedly agrees!), and the fastest elapsed time for drawing and publishing a comic book in any movie ever made.  It’s amazing that the ink had time to dry on the original art before the new book was on the streets.

Your tolerance for this one will depend on your ability to say “yep.  it’s strange” and just sit back and enjoy the stupidities.  It  isn’t as inspired as one of Ed Wood’s silly films, but then we can hardly expect that mere ordinary mortals could ever achieve that anyway.

It isn’t The Terminator — or even The Hidden — but as midnight movies go, it does have a certain goofy charm that will keep you watching, no matter how silly it gets

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