Review: Alien Apocalypse

Premise: (spoiler… as if it mattered) A team of four spacemen (actually, two space men and two space women) return from space after 40 years in deep sleep on a mission to look at some alien probe a ways off. Arriving back on earth they are enslaved and taken to the local saw-mill to be put to work. Two of them are killed in the process.

It turns out the world has been taking over by alien “mites” which look vaguely like giant humanoid grass-hoppers. The mites killed off most of humanity with neutron-type-bombs and enslaved the remainder to help them deforest the place and ship the wood back to their homeworld for a tidy profit.

The two remaining spacemen, Dr. Ivan Hood (Bruce Campbell) and Kelly, fall in love and start planning escape. Eventually Dr. Hood and some other prisoner escape, killing a mite in the process (amazingly the first time anyone’s ever killed one…ever) while Kelly is caught and taken back. Hood starts planning to come back and rescue Kelly.

Rumor in one of the few surviving free communities is that the President and senators live up in the mountains and are raising an army to wipe out the mites. Hood decides to track down the Pres. and get his help in destroying the saw-mill. Along the way he runs into and wins over various allies with his healing techniques and well cut jib. Unfortunately it turns out the president and senators are just beaten old men with no army.

Hood returns to the free town determined to rescue Kelly by himself if necessary. But it turns out he’s inspired a lot of dejected people and they eventually help him. He and Kelly are reunited, and with their inspired army they go on to liberate all the sawmills in the Pacific Northwest.

The End.

Opinions: She Dragon and I were going to watch this movie just to catch a little Bruce Campbell seedy goofiness, of a Saturday night. But as we re-watched the commercials again and again over the course of a week the realization slowly dawned that this was probably nothing special in the grand scheme of campy sci-fi. Eventually She realized her time would be better spent doing anything else, but I persevered in the name of inertia and eternal springing hope.

From the onset it seemed pretty obvious this movie was made just as a vehicle to put Bruce Campbell on the screen. Except for Bruce and maybe Renee O’Connor most of the acting was pretty awful (I mean Jake Lloyd awful) and even for Bruce it probably wasn’t his finest hour.

Some may ask if Bruce ever had a really fine hour. I imagine classic fans will probably point to the Evil Dead series as some sort of pinnacle, but I think this is really looking through a telescope heavily occluded with the gritty haze of nostalgia. Looking back I finally settled on Bubba Ho-tep as the work that probably best encapsulates all that’s good about Mr. Campbell.

But even looking up the man’s filmography on IMDB one starts to enter the twilight world of Bruce Campbell. This is a world at the fringes of Hollywood, inundated by cameo performances and B sci-fi movies (Tachyon: The Fringe or Man with the Screaming Brain anyone?), a world which truthfully looked a whole lot more mysterious and sordid as I was looking this information up at 1:00am last night. In the cold light of day it just looks like Bruce had some fun doing whatever projects struck his fancy or paid the bills.

Anyway, regarding the movie at hand: The CGI could’ve been worse but was generally pretty sucky. The back-story and some of the details were kind of shoddily thought out, and there were a few little mysteries left unexplained (like more info on the outcome of the “probe” mission, or what the deal with that green glowing ball on the alien pylon was). Maybe this was all just meant to be part of the movie’s campy charm, but didn’t really do much for me.

In all, out of 5 stars, I give it something like 1.5 or 2.

About Peter

This guy lives in Boston MA with his beloved wife and two kids. You can get some idea of his likes and dislikes from posts on this website or elsewhere.

4 thoughts on “Review: Alien Apocalypse

  1. I caught this last night just because the TV Guide channel showed it starring Bruce Cambell. It was so bad that I stopped watching 3 quarters of the way through. Some films are bad and you realise this and just turn it off at the beginning. Most of those you would continue watching if you got at least halfway through. But not this one. I decided that just seeing what happens at the end wouldn’t be worth the 30 extra minutes I could spend doing absolutely nothing.

    Did you notice the horribly fake beards and wigs? Most of my time was spent wondering if they did that on purpose. A million things bothered me apart from that. Are we really supposed to believe that absolutely no one killed a mite? The extent of their armaments, that I saw, are these wooden RPGs and big teeth, while Bruce was able to take one down with a small drill bit puncture to the thorax. Are we supposed to believe that the people in Freedom Valley are free, since they don’t even fight? Who’s making all these bullets people are firing? Why would people waste warning shots of something they have a limitted supply of? Why are there so many hunched-back people that Bruce was able to instantly cure with some chiropractics? How come, in a rather short matter of time, the whole human race dropped the custom of shaking hands?

    The movie is seriously th worst thing I’ve seen since watching the Beast of Yuka Flats, but at least that had some drama to it.

    I think the fake beards give this movie away. I think they were actually trying to make one of the worst Sci Fi movies ever. You can’t just go from making a masterpiece like Bubba Ho-tep to this. Everything in the movie was so subtly horrible except the beards, which weren’t even needed (just get a few guys to not save for a couple weeks, it’s not hard). The title is even ever so subtly bad. The lines and delivery seemed sincerely bad, not really campy except for Bruce.

    I think it was all very intentionally lame, because, even Battlefield Earth was technically better in every way. You don’t get that bad without trying.

  2. I think you really have the right of it dick.

    The sad thing is they sort of failed on all counts. I mean it was like they were trying to make it bad, but it wasn’t the worst film ever so it sort of failed on that count. It had none of the intriguing feel that some other bad “cult” films have. The acting was pretty awful, but like you say, almost on purpose bad.

    From the commercials it seemed like it’d be a spoof of bad sci-fi movies, but even for that it took it’s self too seriously. It ended up as more of a half-hearted spoof of amaturish moviemaking, but one that wasn’t in any way funny.

    Maybe the Sci-Fi channel was just looking for a way to blow some money in a hurry and had a couple guys throw the thing together, script to post productiton, in a week.

    As for not getting that bad without trying though, I still think the MST3K gem: Manos: The Hands of Fate is likely the worst movie I’ve ever seen that wasn’t intended to be that way.

  3. I’ve not seen Alien Apocalypse, but if Dick is putting it on the same pedestal as The Beast of Yuka Flats, then it must have been pretty bad. My question would be though, was Snakehead Terror (2004), directed by Paul Ziller, any better? The reason why I ask that is because it sounds like Alien Apocalypse might have been a Sci-Fi Channel original and from what I’ve seen their original movies seriously lack (except for maybe Alien Hunter, directed by Ron Krauss, which, though derivative of everything under the sun, was passable). Intentionally “bad movies” are always recipes for disaster. Whenever I’ve seen films like that, even if they have something going for them, they still typically fall on their faces; missing both the the campy mark, and fun bad movie mark. I don’t know if anyone has ever seen Space Truckers (1996), directed by Stuart Gordon, but that was always a film that I felt missed it’s mark by trying far to hard to be campy and bad.

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