This one was a pleasant surprise.
I’ll confess I didn’t expect too much of it: it was produced by Robert Emenegger, who made a whole bunch of super cheap movies within a year or two of each other in the early Eighties. He also gave us Warp Speed (1981), a creepy haunted space ship movie which sadly falls apart after a promising set up and first half hour or so.
As a result, I was willing to give some of his other films a try because he did actually have a few interesting ideas in Warp Speed — even if he did borrow heavily from a familiar short story.
PSI Factor starts out with a Radio Astronomer receiving a signal from a distant star, which appears to be responding to his signal. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of telling his boss about it, and the aliens also decide to stop by and pay him a visit.
But it really gets bad when he decides to steal a file about the aliens with the help of his girlfriend who just happens to be working for the CIA.
Not that she’s told him or anything like that.
You might recognize Peter Mark Richman who plays the lead, as he appeared in countless TV shows (mostly as Mark Richman) over they years, including two episodes of the original The Outer Limits: he is one of those solid actors who deserved to be better known. But there are a lot of those.
Most of this plays out as a fun little thriller, with the two on the run, with a few, often dangerous encounters with the aliens along the way. The effects are minimal, but instead we get some thoroughly weird characters (with the manic and unfocused pilot who joins them in their quest by far the most entertaining.
I love the characterization of the aliens as playful children rather nice, and there’s a repeated image used throughout which helps reinforce that idea — and hint at its more disturbing side.
This isn’t a great film, but it moves well, offers some thrills and chills and does the job expected of such a film: entertaining the audience for an hour and a half.
Which puts it way ahead of most B-Movies made this cheaply.
So watch it at midnight, but remember:
If a bright light suddenly shines through your front door, don’t be surprised if it isn’t there when you go to look for it…