Stranded (1987)

A sudden flash, like lightning, the sound of someone in the house, and an elderly woman and her granddaughter find themselves prisoners in their own home, at the mercy of a group of strange aliens.

Before long, the neighbor’s son gets killed, the Sheriff’s department is called in, an angry mob of locals shows up, and a federal agent comes to take over.

Only the aliens are lost and lonely refugees — and something far worse is after them.

This is an amiable “B” picture which doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Someone described it as a combination of E.T. and The Terminator, and that does more or less cover it.

At least if you throw in a few rednecks.

I’ll confess that I do like this one, even if it is a fairly modest effort.  Plus, we’ve also got a fairly strong cast.

We’ve got Maureen Sullivan — who played Jane to Tarzan for many years, and starred in a pioneering (if rather bad) Science Fiction film, Just Imagine — in a luminous performance as the Grandmother, who thinks her visitors look just like angels.

Joe Morton, one the great, unsung heroes of SF cinema plays the Sheriff. He got his big break with his brilliant, wordless performance in The Brother from Another Planet (1984), and his long distinguished career has included a lot of roles in SF films and television. He gives a solid performance here, although the standout is, of all people, Flea, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who is wild, goofy and constantly bobbing into frame from strange places as the aliens’ court jester, in a role with no English dialogue (well, maybe one word.  Maybe).

Considering how cheap this one must have been, it looks quite good, perhaps because it remains in a limited set of locations, and the effects look passable, even if the alien’s bodyguard looks like a stuntwoman in a tight suit.

Which, of course, she is.

It’s relatively painless, and quite fun in a minor sort of way.  One could easily pick a lot of holes in it, but the performances are generally good, the script more or less makes sense, and it probably was a good idea to make one character a shapeshifter as the alien suit doesn’t look that impressive when we finally see it.

And don’t turn it off when the credits start, as there’s a deliberately anti-climactic final scene, complete with some fairly clever little bits of dialogue running beneath the credits that is one of the film’s better moments.

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