Alien Opponent DVD Review
Directed by Colin Theys
Written by John Doolan
2009, Region 1 (NTSC), 91 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on April 3rd, 2012
Jeremy London as Brooklyn
Roddy Piper as Father Melluzzo
Cuyle Carvon as Bradon
Adrienne LeValley as Linnea
Ashley Bates as Meghan
There once was a man named Tom, who, despite owning several businesses around town, lived in a small house next to a junkyard with his trophy wife Meghan and her mother. He spent the majority of his time drinking beer with his redneck friends on the porch, content with his various accomplishments in life. Infidelity was his wife’s favorite hobby, as she spent quality time in the barn with Bradon, a man who was young, dumb and full of…good intentions. Tom wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but after a nasty run-in with a sharp tool, a large life insurance policy became up for grabs. Before his body could be recovered however, a spacecraft crashed in the junkyard and the alien pilot was less than friendly, killing anyone that threatened its personal space or livelihood.
Meghan, her mother and Bradon place a series of ads on television offering $100,000 to anyone who can kill the monster and retrieve Tom’s body. The town goes wild with an endless parade of opportunistic hunters arriving with dollar signs in their eyes. The fortune is not so readily obtained however, since the creature they seek has booby-trapped the yard and created a killer robot to limit the interruptions to its work repairing the spaceship. The body count quickly increases as the number of would-be heroes decreases through a series of unfortunate misadventures.
While the film features countless action set pieces, nothing stands out in particular as a show-stopping spectacle. The majority of the supporting cast is introduced only to be killed off within a few minutes of screen time. This works initially as a nice script device that keeps the audience guessing as to which character will end up serving as the film’s protagonist, but the gimmick soon wears out its welcome since the gag is recycled until the film reaches a feature-length running time. Character development would have been preferable to a high body count, but honestly, the characters we spend the most time with aren’t that enticing either.
Jeremy London (Party of Five) and Roddy Piper (They Live) headline this deliberately goofy B-movie throwback filled with lots of throwaway gags and one-liners. London plays Brooklyn, an opportunist willing to sit back and watch the moron parade as they line up as cannon fodder for the alien beastie boy until the numbers drop and his odds increase in successfully evading the monster to claim the reward. Piper plays Father Melluzzo, a priest with a love of fist fights and large guns. He looks like a man on the ass-end of a really hard life and plays his character in an equally stoic manner. Piper fares better with the material than London, as he is less likely to drunkenly smirk his way through the performance.
Director Colin Theys (Banshee) takes the subject matter seriously and never makes fun of the genre or the story he is telling. There are some awkward greenscreen shots, but the majority of the subtle visual f/x work remains successfully hidden. The onscreen optical effects are well designed and are not distracting from the overall experience. Violence is often squishy but not disgusting; rather, it is delivered with a cartoonish playfulness. Despite the disc being labeled as “uncut” the film does not feature any nudity… not even at the strip club.
The film plays like a ghetto mash-up of Predator and Slither, set in a junkyard filled with the background cast from Dawn of the Dead, meaning that these are characters distinguished simply by the nature of their wardrobe selection (i.e. baseball team, boy scouts…etc) before being quickly dispatched without any dialogue. This is not a bad thing necessarily, but I feel that I would have enjoyed this movie a lot more if I were a 14-year-old.
Video and Audio:
Shout Factory maintains its record of solid presentation with a nice transfer that is only limited by source elements and the production’s limited budget. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 anamorphic aspect ratio with bright colors, natural flesh tones and strong black levels.
Audio is presented in a respectable 5.1 surround mix that delivers an occasional workout to the rear speakers during some of the more dramatic moments of the feature. The non-action character moments are generally front heavy, but dialogue remains free of distortion.
A commentary track featuring several participants talking over each other offers a generous amount of camaraderie with a modest amount of technical information along the way. The problem here is the track is introduced as a do-over where the original track was not usable and this second attempt admittedly lacks the drive of what came originally. Stories that were amusing or informative are glossed over as redundant (but only to those recording the track) and some of the key people reportedly on the original track are unable to sit through a second session. Disappointing results feel like a missed opportunity overall, but the track is worth a brief listen.
A series of deleted scenes are assembled for your viewing pleasure, but were wisely discarded.
Next up is a gag reel that provides the highlight to the supplemental options, as the glimpse of on-set antics appears genuine and entertaining.
Lastly, viewers may peruse a photo gallery or watch the film’s trailer.