Friday, May 4, 2012

Galaxy Invader

The Galaxy Invader
Don Dohler

‘The Galaxy Invader’ was my first introduction to the world of Don Dohler, although I didn't know it at the time. If was going to be really nitpicky, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Pod People was technically my first exposure, since scenes from ‘The Galaxy Invader’ are used as the opening credits, thanks to Film Ventures International.  Dohler was a small time movie producer out of Baltimore. He did a number of science fiction and horror films from the late seventies on through the 2000s. He died in 2006, leaving us such films as ‘The Alien Factor’ (1978), ‘Fiend’(1980), and ‘Nightbeast’(1982).

The Galaxy Invader begins like almost every alien monster on the loose movie:  An alien crashes on Earth. The fireball is witnessed by a young man, David (Greg Dohler) who immediately calls a teacher, (Richard Dryszel) to help him investigate. Meanwhile David's drunken father, Joe (Richard Ruxton) somehow manages to stop verbally abusing his family long enough to shoot the alien. The alien drops some equipment and runs; dad of course sees this as an opportunity to make a little cash and ropes a whole bar full of fellow drunks into helping him catch the thing.  This all goes as wrong as possible…

The Galaxy Invader is what E.T. would have been if Elliott had an alcoholic father who would occasionally go a little rape crazy and had a fetish for wearing t-shirts with a huge hole right in the center of the chest, and if E.T. was kind of okay will killing people.

Dad is a maniacal opportunist of comic book proportions by the end. He's more than happy to try and kill the alien and steal it's technology for profit, throw the town's population into the line of fire and try and drunkenly put the moves on his dead friend's wife, killing her if doesn't go along with his advances. There is never a point he's not out for himself. He's a one-dimensional character but at least he's out there moving the plot along unlike everybody else.

The alien is by far the most well rounded and sympathetic character in the film. He just wants to get his stuff, fix his ship and leave. He's happy to sneak around and not bother anyone. The moment he is threatened  though, he comes out guns blazing. You end up really hoping he can get away from these white trash bozos and back into a nice respectable solar system.

The look of the film is pretty standard for no budget 80's productions. Most of it is shot outside in the woods, and half of that is in the dark to save on lighting. There are dingy bars, dingy garages and dingy houses. That actually adds to the decaying small town vibe that the residents throw out there. The alien suit is actually pretty good. It is simple but menacing enough to be scary when it needs to be so, but also not so horrifying as to unable to evoke any sympathy from the viewer.  Dohler’s films tend to have some pretty nifty synth scores and ‘The Galaxy Invader’ is no exception.

I think perhaps the greatest moment in this film is the end. I won't give much away but it ends with the alien, dad, and the family in a standoff. When out of nowhere mom shows her true colors in one of the most glorious misuses of slow motion photography I have ever witnessed. If this had been the first Don Dohler movie I watched, would it have made me look into the rest of his work? If you had asked me at any point before the final moments of this film I would have said no.

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