10 April 2009

Alien Trespass

Directed by: R.X. Goodwin
Written by: Steven P. Fisher
Full credits from IMDb

Alien Trespass, a bland, dippy and aggressively kitschy homage to the Hollywood space invasion picture, concerns a broad group of mid-century, small-town American archetypes: the sheriff, the waitress, the yokel, the drunk, the greaser, the high school student, his sweetheart, and, uh, the scientist—an astronomer (played wittily by Eric McCormack, Will & Grace’s eponymous Will). Soon into the picture, a crash-landed alien possesses the scientist’s body; together, he and the townsfolk battle, or at least get eaten by, a different outer space invader: an insatiable, rapidly multiplying creature (with camouflaging capabilities) that reduces humans and animals to steaming puddles of what looks a lot like shit and piss—the joke being, presumably, that ‘50s Americans, fed on thick steaks, tobacco and pie, trigger instant diarrhea in intergalactic beasts.

The monster also happens to look like a veiny, six-foot dildo. In a late scene, that resemblance briefly suggests something about ‘60s sex-craziness encroaching on the squeaky clean ‘50s, threatening women and children. (Don’t worry—they send that superphallus back to San Francisco, or whatever Sodom from which it came!) But the sexual allegory doesn’t carry through the film; it seems accidental. Directed by R.W. Goodwin, a producer (and writer-director) on The X-Files, Alien Trespass desperately, almost pitifully, wants to be cheap and cheesy ‘50s sci-fi camp. And, superficially, the pieces are all there: the conspicuously artificial sets, the ominous music and the exaggerated acting styles, as well as the props—tobacco pipes, tortoiseshell glasses, typewriters and separate beds—and the dialogue: “Cool it, Dickie, it’s his job to suck eggs.”

But where’s the substance? The classics that the filmmakers ape—such as It Came from Outer Space and The Day the Earth Stood Still—were deeply political films, cold war allegories that leaned both left and right. This film doesn’t lean at all; without any driving ideas, it’s all apolitical surfaces, a Technicolor photocopy pastiching pastiche. It fetishizes not the 1950’s but its empty pop culture signifiers. And as such, it doesn’t just signify nothing—it’s insignificant.

Read the review at HX Magazine

Watch the trailer:

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