Directors - Colin Theys
Cast - Jeremy London, Roddy Piper
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - 19.97
Distributor - Shout Factory
Reviewer - Bobby Morgan
The Film: 2/5
When white trash trophy wife Meghan Mazurski (Ashley Bates) is caught in a adulterous tryst with her himbo lover Braden (Cuyle Carvin) by her abusive and possessive husband Tom (Kevin Shea) she buries a hammer in dear ol’ hubby’s skull. At that point an alien spacecraft crash lands near where the murder occurred. When Tom’s corpse goes missing Ashley and her junkyard-owning mother Rita (Hilma Falkowski) decide to take advantage of the extraterrestrial incursion by blaming his death on the alien and offering a $100,000 bounty to anyone who can kill it and retrieve Tom’s body so Ashley and Rita can collect his life insurance. Word of the bounty gets out thanks to some rather cheap commercials the two ladies and Braden put on the air and soon every desperate, money-hungry yokel packing heat descend from miles around on the tiny burg of Tomstown to plug the armored creature and claim the reward. Soldiers, ex-soldiers, waitresses, hookers, athletes, a horny scumbag (Jeremy London), and a foul-mouthed man of the cloth (Roddy Piper) are among the kooky contestants willing to take a shot at icing the interstellar terror and one of them may succeed if they don’t all kill each other first. After all, a hundred grand isn’t so enticing when you have to share it with others.
Last year fans of sci-fi cinema were treated to the release of two low-budget alien invasion epics, Alien Opponent and Attack the Block. One was a witty and entertaining homage to the creature features of the 1980’s with terrific visual effects, endearing performances from a mostly inexperienced cast, a story brimming with timely and potent social commentary, and would be watched and beloved for generations to come. The other was Alien Opponent.
Alien Opponent is one seriously dumbass flick, one of the stupidest I can recall seeing in recent years. Granted stupidity can be a virtue to a movie most times as long as the filmmakers are in on the goof, but very few people who participated in the making of Alien Opponent are able to rise above its stultifying mediocrity. This is the kind of movie where you can see bulimic cheerleaders hurl a bag of puke at their waitress, a karate class of little kids get chopped up into brat sushi, football and baseball teams suit up and take a shot at beating the aliens, and all sorts of other meaningless shenanigans shoehorned into the plot to eat up time. None of the characters, save for Roddy Piper’s ass-kicking priest, are worth caring about. There are so many of them in the movie that keeping track of them is virtually impossible, and that’s just the principal cast. I won’t even go into the scenes where random characters we’ve never met before show up and get killed. That’s pretty much the sole function of every character in Alien Opponent: to die. Sometimes one of those deaths might advance a plot just a smidgen, but practically every character is a pistol-packing moron who walks right into certain death. You won’t find a shred of intelligence among these greedy muttonheads and therefore not a single soul is worth loving or even hating. Perhaps you might even secretly wish for every character in Alien Opponent to die quickly and horribly. I know I did. This is the largest collection of unpleasant and unsympathetic characters I have compelled myself to spend time with since the Feast sequels.
Director Theys doesn’t bother to give his film a distinctive visual palette. Instead, with his director of photography Matt Wauhkonen, Theys shoots Alien Opponent like a drab TV movie (which is not surprising given that it premiered on Chiller). The movie mostly takes place during daylight hours, robbing the story of any tension and forcing Theys to keep his cheap-looking robo-alien and budget FX exposed and looking absolutely horrible. The cast is mostly comprised of unknown actors but former wrestler turned action hero Piper (They Live) gives as good as he gets as the salty padre not afraid to unleash some biblical violence on the invader. He’s the only one clearly having any fun. A puffed-up Jeremy London sleepwalks through his role as the local alpha male dickhead. You know your movie is in dire trouble when it can’t even engage the interest of the guy whose finest hour as an actor remains Mallrats.
Word of caution: the DVD packaging of Alien Opponent promises a more violent version than the one that first aired on Chiller, but what this uncut version does deliver in terms of blood and gore would be more than acceptable for a Saturday night airing of a SyFy Channel flick. You have been warned.
Shout! presents Alien Opponent in an 1.85: 1amentable anamorphic widescreen transfer that preserves the movie’s made-for-TV aesthetic well. An English 2.0 track won’t give your speakers a workout but it does an adequate job. No subtitles have been provided.
Something geeky I couldn’t help but notice on the soundtrack: when the Synthetic Cinema International logo appears before the movie you can hear the sound effects used for the proton packs in the Ghostbusters movies.
A modest selection of extras has been provided, starting with a crowded crew audio commentary. Director Theys sits down to discuss the making of the film with assistant director Paul Melluzzo, writer John Doolan, talent coordinator Jill Sacco, creature performer Ben Chester, property master John Randall, and cinematographer Matt Wauhkonen.
There is also 7-minute reel of deleted scenes (scenes not accessible separately) and a 3-minute outtakes reel if you’re craving more Alien Opponent. A theatrical trailer rounds out the package. The DVD case also lists a photo gallery among the extras but for some reason it wasn‘t included on the actual disc.
I wish I could say that Alien Opponent was a goofy good time. I also wish that world peace could be achieved in my lifetime, but neither is going to happen. The flick has a nifty premise that turns the typical alien invasion plot slightly on its head and uses it as an excuse for rampant acts of gratuitous violence, which is always welcome, but the near-limitless potential of said premise is rarely exploited. Instead the movie settles into a familiar low-wattage, run-and-gun actioner with some decent CGI-enhanced gore effects and an occasional one-liner bound to elicit a rare chuckle. Watch at your own risk.