You never know what you’ll find next on Tubi.
In this case, it was a very strange animated film which was almost entirely the work of a single — and singularly whacked out — creator, Frank Sudol.
It’s quite difficult to explain his films. All but one of them were made in an odd but extremely recognizable form of cut-out animation. They have a decidedly grungy look, with a lot of surface detail that just looks…random.
Let’s face it, it looks a bit like a somewhat talented child doodled it all.
It is a singularly limited form of animation, and yet Frank makes his own limitations a bit of a joke — minutes into the film, the main character, Ral Foster (played, naturally, by Frank Sudol) wakes up and comments about how he’s so stiff that he can barely move his legs…
Then spends the rest of the film moving around with this silly excuse for a walk, like gliding with tiny side-to-side leg movements, to the accompaniment of a silly sound effect even less realistic than those dumb Hanna-Barbera running feet noises.
Or watch how things suddenly flip around, like the car turning around in Ral’s garage, which flips around like, well, flipping a piece of paper around, without any attempt to create a 3-D shape for that vehicle. John Korty and Charles Swenson used the same visual gag in Twice Upon a Time, which also used a form of cut out animation.
Mind you, theirs was a lot more sophisticated.
And not deliberately ugly.
Yes, Shock Invasion is deliberately ugly. And nasty. And simple, for that matter. Ral wakes up in a world where everyone is apparently dead, the aliens have left piles of shredded people around, and lots of little pods which the aliens can emerge from at a moment’s notice. These pods are nearly bulletproof, even if the creatures that emerge from them aren’t. However, when you do shoot them, they quickly collapse into big piles of meat themselves.
Ral sounds suspiciously like Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken, and has a similarly black view of the rest of the human race and doesn’t care about anyone else, except perhaps his father. He does team up with his next-door neighbor, the only other living person he finds, only mocks and belittles him mercilessly because he’s so fat.
So fat, in fact, that he can only waddle with tiny little leg movements…
Oh, you’d guessed that.
However, his neighbor does seem to know about a secret base which may be their only hope of reaching safety. But it’s fifty miles away and the highway is jammed with immobile cars.
And Ral would rather hang out at the Mall, even if it is full of dead bodies. After all, it has enough food to live on for a very long time…
Now let’s get this straight: Shock Invasion is awash in an endless sea of gore. Admittedly, most of this is just red heaps with a bit of black doodling for surface detail. It’s set in some sort of vague future, mostly so Frank can throw in a bit of futuristic technology, like a helmet that puts itself on, or exaggerated weapons. While most of the aliens themselves are a stock model which sort of…glides along, barely touching the ground, we get an increasingly big and ugly series of alien monsters which appear to be armored — although, when you shoot them enough, big lumps of red goop come out.
With black, doodled surface detail, of course.
The action is non-stop and keeps ramping up as there are more aliens, more pods, more flying saucers, and bigger and badder alien monsters. The human cast gets killed off in shocking ways, generally not long after we start thinking that they will be important, including one particularly ironic death you’ll see coming a mile away.
The end result is a lot like playing a video arcade game from the Eighties, right down to the driving, if somewhat repetitive score (by Frank Sudol, surprise, surprise). Heck, the standard model aliens can even “ghost” like the ghosts in Pac Man — turning transparent red, becoming bulletproof and gliding smoothly through walls and doors as if they weren’t there.
Underneath it all, Shock Invasion has a very black sense of humor and a love of monsters, gadgets and gore. Not only doesn’t it make any apologies for what it is, it almost seems to boast about its own limitations. We get some interesting last minute revelations and an ironic ending, but the story really doesn’t matter that much, it’s there to give an excuse for a non-stop assault on our senses. I suspect, from what little I’ve seen of them, that it really isn’t that much different from the two zombie movies he made using the same animation style.
And it is pretty obvious that he keeps reusing the same basic “characters,” even if they have different names and stories in the other movies. When I saw the “poster” for this one on Tubi, the basic art style looked very familiar. A quick check revealed that, while IMDB doesn’t list it, Frank directed the short animated monster tale, “Monster Man,” in Monsterland (2016), which I had found amusing, but rather minimal (and, as strange as this may sound, a touch slow!). That short features a familiar senior citizen killing monsters with his walker, one who looks just like the star of his film The Land of Rott — or Ral’s father in Shock Invasion.
Or other identical characters in his other movies.
I’ll admit it, I liked this one. It kept me laughing and never lost my attention. It’s not perfect, but then, it knows that and dares us to make something of it. Our heroes — if that’s the right word for them — encounter obstacle after obstacle and have to do absurd things to get around some of them (like taking a shortcut through an alien ship).
Or just stand around insulting each other.
However, Shock Invasion is definitely not for everyone. It is loud, ugly, rude, and angry.
But, if you are in the right mood for it, it is a lot of fun.
Just like a trip to the arcade back in the Eighties…
3 thoughts on “Shock Invasion (2010)”