Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Alien Space Avenger (1988)

... aka: Alien Terror
... aka: Space Avenger

Directed by:
Richard W. Haines

Sometime in the late 1930s, Rex (Robert Prichard) and his girl Doris (Angela Nicholas), and Derek (Michael McCleery) and his girl Karen (Charity Staley), are on their way to catch a movie and see an unidentified object hurtling through the sky. Upon investigating it, all four end up becoming host bodies for little green lizard creatures who jump into their mouths. The creatures are alien terrorists who have escaped their prison planet in a stolen space pod and headed to Earth because it's supposedly an off-limits biosphere for their race. They do however have to worry about fixing their crashed ship, and they need plutonium to do so, something hard to come by in small town America in the 1930s for sure. The four venture into town to try to find some, are scared about our technologies after a viewing of FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE and then shoot up a Masonic Lodge. When one of the alien's arms is blown off with a shotgun, it instantly grows back. While they flee, they notice an intergalactic agent's spaceship out looking for them, so they decide to hide out in their crashed ship in the woods for awhile until the threat passes. And when I say awhile, I mean for decades!

Fifty years later, a construction crew finally unearths the ship. When they try to open it up, the four aliens pop out and blast them. Deciding they need to find somewhere less conspicuous to hide out, they head to Greenwich Village, New York City and hole up in an abandoned building as they continue their search for plutonium. Meanwhile, Matt (Kirk Fairbanks Fogg), an immature artist currently working on a "Space Avenger" comic book needs to come up with fresh ideas or else he's out of a job. Matt's whiny girlfriend Ginny (Gina Mastrogiacomo) is frustrated with him because he seems more interested in comics than her and wants him to "grow up" and get a "real job" in adveritising instead of doing the comic. The two go to a club, where they encounter the aliens still dressed in 1930s garb. Matt now has a novel idea a little too close to true life: 1930s era alien invaders. He pitches it to his publisher (Marty Roberts) with success and starts up the new storyline.

The aliens secure new guns after a bunch of drug dealers shoot each other then go to a nuclear power plant, shoot thirty-three people dead and steal some highly-radioactive processed plutonium. Matt follows the headlines of the criminals in antique clothes and incorporates them into the comic book. Naturally, the aliens and Matt eventually cross paths. Angered by their exploits now being featured in Space Avengers, the aliens attempt (unsuccessfully) to take him out. In order to get close to Matt, one of the good guy intergalactic agents enters into Ginny's body, using her as a human host to complete its task of eliminating the evil aliens.

Though hardly perfect, this is a fun enough low-budget B flick. All of the aliens are given a distinct personality: short-fused bully, drunken klutz, bored nympho and wimpy worry wart, and there's plenty of violence and cheap gore, plus some T&A and tons of squib work. Probably a hundred people get shot down in this film! Much of the humor stems from the culture clash of 1930s aliens emerging in a far less inhibited modern day New York. During a trip to the grocery store for food, one of the aliens eats rat poison and Milk Bone dog biscuits and drinks it all down with a douche. At one point, the aliens go into a porn boutique looking for weapons and the cashier hands them over a whip and a giant "super dildo." One of the lead female aliens gets bored and goes out to have some fun by pretending to be a hooker and picking up a sleazy businessman (played by porn actor Jamie Gillis), whom she incinerates during sex.

Director Haines was a Troma veteran and it shows. He previously made the pretty worthless slasher flick SPLATTER UNIVERSITY (1982), which was distributed by Troma, and then co-directed CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986), one of Troma's signature films. He's brought along Prichard for the lead alien role here and Prichard gives the almost exact same screaming, over-the-top performance he gave in Nuke 'em High and Troma's THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984). McCleery, the other male alien, played one of the psycho sons in the Troma release MOTHER'S DAY (1980). Nicholas, a really gorgeous former Penthouse Pet who also had a small role in PSYCHOS IN LOVE (1986), would emerge fifteen years later as late night cable erotic favorite using the name Angela Davies. Mastrogiacomo would nab a decent role in Scorcese's GOODFELLAS a few years after this one and Fogg went on to host the Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple.

There was video versions released through A.I.P. and Worldvision but there's no R1 DVD.



Sir A1! said...

The only two things I remember about this movie is how, even for NYC, people dressed like it was the 1930's would barely make a ripple in the then-present day (I went to NYU at the time and saw much more extreme fashions in and around St. Mark's). The second is the fact that a big deal was made about how it used up the last of the old-timey 3-strip technicolor film; apparently they had to go to China and it was real big deal; considering the generally cheap-jack nature, it's a wonder why they bothered of if they were just lying their asses off.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

You wouldn't know by watching this that they used vintage film stock. It looks about the same as any other low-budget horror film from this time!

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