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DVD REVIEW

Alien Opponent

Shout! Factory || Not Rated || April 3, 2012


Reviewed by Mitchell Hattaway

 

How Does The DVD Stack Up?

CONTENT

1  (out of 10)

THE VIDEO

4  (out of 10)

THE AUDIO

4  (out of 10)

THE EXTRAS

4  (out of 10)

OVERALL

2  (out of 10)

 

SYNOPSIS

 

When he threatens his young redneck bride with a shotgun, the redneck owner of a junkyard is killed by his redneck mother-in-law. The new widow plans to take control of and then sell off her deceased husbandís various businesses and properties, but the only way she can prove heís dead is by producing the body, which wonít exactly be easy, as an alien crash landed in the junkyard minutes before the killing occurred and is slaughtering anyone who gets near the corpse. So a reward of 100,000 dollars is offered to anyone who can kill the alien and retrieve the body, an offer which brings out every nearby wacko, loon, and nutcase. 

            

CRITIQUE

 

Hereís what Alien Opponent has to offer: bad writing, poor editing, inept direction, lame effects, sub-amateurish acting, questionable logic, a stupid twist, and a gyp ending. Hereís what it doesnít have to offer: over-the-top gore, gratuitous female nudity, a knowing sense of humor, smart pacing, or fun of any kind. So you get all of what you expect from a schlocky piece of micro-budget junk but none of the stuff that typically makes schlocky pieces of micro-budget junk enjoyable.

 

Youíd have to be crazy to think this idea could fuel a feature-length flick. Iíll leave it to you to decide what that says about writer John Doolan and Colin Theys (commit those names to memory; if you see them attached to anything else, heed the advice of the Lord Humungus: walk away), but their little glorified home movie runs 91 minutes. First you get an overlong setup, then you get a lot of needless character introductions (both the characters and the introductions are needless), and then you get a lot of repetitive scenes of characters running toward the alien and getting killed in various ways (some kids from a karate class get sliced in half, members of a high school football team are decapitated, baseball players are tossed into the air and die upon impact). Doesnít take long for it to get old.

 

Thereís a jokey tone to all of this, but itís not the least bit fun or funny. It lacks the maniacal wit and go-for-broke energy of the best Roger Corman productions (the prime barometer for this sort of thing). Hell, it doesnít even rise to the level of those cheapies Jim Wynorski used to churn out in his prime (the alternate barometer for this sort of thing). It just idles along, repeating its one gag, making stupid jokes (Theys and Doolan seem to think making all of the characters idiots is the quickest way to comedy gold), tossing in dated references to other movies (there never has been nor will there ever be anything clever about ďItís a trap!Ē), and inducing boredom.

 

The marketing team responsible for this releaseís packing deserves a raise, as they did the smartest thing they could here: they slapped Roddy Piperís name and image on the cover art. You see Piperís name attached to this sort of thing and you canít help but think of They Live, or maybe even Hell Comes to Frogtown. Iím pretty sure thatís the sole reason Theys cast Piper (although it probably didnít hurt that Piper comes cheap and will sign on for anything); every movie of this sort needs at least one legend (relatively speaking, of course) in its cast, and I guess Piperís close enough. (Like most legends, Piper--who plays the most novel character in movie history: a priest who swears and kicks ass--doesnít even bother to try; heís just as awful as everyone else.)

 

For what itís worth, this is the uncut version of the movie. From what I can gather, Alien Opponent premiered on the Chiller cable network, albeit in edited form. Iím not sure what was cut, nor can I see why anyone felt the need to cut anything. The gore quotient is incredibly low, and what little there is comes in the form of cheesy CG, which mutes its even further. Thereís zero nudity; not only do the strippers employed by the lone club in the movieís redneck town remain clothed, the townís women apparently keep their clothes on during sex. Woo-hoo.

 

Theys--who also helped edit the movie, acted as one of the cinematographers (the movie was shot in 2009 and then heavily reshot a year later, to no great effect), and created some of the effects--may not know where to point the camera, when to end a scene, or how to frame a shot that doesnít include a glimpse of the boom micís shadow, but Iíll give him credit for hiring Ben Chester to create the alienís costume. Chester admits to using cardboard, baling wire, chewing gum, pipe cleaners, and empty Krylon cans (Iím exaggerating, but only a little), but the end result is damned impressive. I donít know if it would stand up under close inspection, but itís arguably better than the movie deserves.  

 

THE VIDEO

 

The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer makes for a lackluster viewing experience; think early Ď80s VHS. Contrast is wonky, leading to blooming whites and washed-out colors. Digital noise runs rampant; moirť, aliasing, and artifacting are also problems. Blacks are murky.

 

THE AUDIO

 

The sole audio option is a Dolby Stereo track. Dialogue, music, and effects are flat and weak. Thereís almost no separation, giving the track more of a mono feel. Thanks to flaws in the original recordings, dialogue has a habit of dropping out at odd moments.  

 

THE EXTRAS

 

By far the best thing here is the commentary by director Colin Theys, assistant director Paul Melluzzo, writer John Doolan, talent coordinator Jill Sacco, creature performer Ban Chester, property master John Randall, and cinematographer Matt Wauhkonen. They make a few too many lame cracks about the movieís quality, and theyíre more than a little mean to the cast, but thereís a genuinely good discussion of working within the limitations of the budget.

 

Whatís been dubbed deleted scenes (7 minutes) is actually a collection of extended scenes. (For some strange reason, the trimmed bits are presented in black-and-white.)

 

Outtakes (3 minutes) offer up flubbed lines, etc.

 

Closing things out is the movieís trailer.

 

Note: the packaging lists a photo gallery as part of the bonus material, but it appears to have gone missing.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

I almost didnít write this review. Iím not sure I want anyone knowing I watched this crap.

 

VERDICT: SKIP IT

 

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Review posted on Apr 2, 2012 | Share this article | Top of Page


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