The Arrival (1991)

(aka The Unwelcomed, Alienator 2)

A meteorite crashes to Earth during Max Page’s 73rd Birthday party.  Only something survives and starts taking over Max.

Before you know it, he’s rapidly getting younger and killing young women to drink their blood.

Now the first real surprise here was seeing Richard Band’s name in the credits.  Richard scored a lot of the films his brother produced at Empire Films and Full Moon Features.  I wasn’t even aware that he’d ever worked on anything else.

But it makes more sense when you remember that The Arrival‘s director, David Schmoeller also wrote and directed Tourist Trap and the original Puppetmaster, not to mention a lot of other films Charles Band produced under one corporate banner or another.

There are even cameos from Schmoeller and three other Band alumni:  the directors Peter Manoogian and Stuart Gordon, and a bit of comedy featuring Gordon’s wife, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon.

Considering its 1990 release date, I have to wonder whether the collapse of Empire had anything to do with this film (even if it did follow Full Moon’s release of Puppetmaster).  Did Schmoeller seek other funding because he couldn’t get backing from Charles Band?

And it really doesn’t help sort all this out that this is the only film he made where he hadn’t written the script.

Now there are a lot of familiar elements here: at first glance it is an alien as vampire film, but there is definitely a hint of H.P. Lovecraft‘s “The Colour Out of Darkness”.  Not to mention a few hints of The Terminator.

Perhaps the most important theme here is Beauty and the Beast, which gets referenced repeatedly throughout the second half of the film.  Not that it is ever really fully developed — except perhaps in that last minute horror film “sting.”

The Arrival also reminds me strongly of Species, which came out four years later, although I find it hard to believe that it had any influence on the later film.  I suppose the basic cop tracks alien killer is familiar enough — certainly one could compare it to The Hidden as well — but the real similarity is in the strange visions Max experiences while the thing is trying to take him over.  They give the film a weird, surreal edge, although the problem is that there isn’t enough of it to make much of a difference.

Nor do we ever get a big monster reveal — not even as part of one of Max’s visions.

And no, I’m definitely not counting the occasional flashes of light coming from Max’s eyes as a monster reveal.

While it is good to see John Saxon in a typically solid (if unexciting) role as the detective on Max’s Trail, and Michael J. Pollard as a weird neighbor, once again we don’t see enough of either of them.

Which pretty much sums this one up: there’s potential here, but in the end, The Arrival just didn’t give us enough.  It’s a halfway decent try, but they needed to work harder at it.

A lot harder.

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