Friday, August 3, 2012

Alien Predator

Alien Predator (aka The Falling)
Dean Sarafian

I like movies that fail. I can enjoy expertly crafted cinema, but more often than not it seems everyone stands around in agreement that something is good and the conversation about that film ends. But, when something tries and falls short or even better falls horribly short, a film becomes more human to me. When a film stretches and doesn’t quite make it, there is something to discuss. There is a texture that is missing from a lot of the pixel perfect images and script-by-committee films of now. Alien Predator is a tough film to review because it does try but fail in nearly every way, but rarely fails in an interesting way.

Upon seeing a title that screams 80’s Italian Alien rip-off, it instead turns out to be a Spanish-American Alien rip-off. We open with a very brief intro to the history of Skylab, and the strong hint it was used for top secret space monster experiments. This is followed by some NASA guys standing around the wreckage of Skylab. So far, so good. Five years later, a cow dies.

Nearby, three young Americans are traveling through Spain in an RV, Damon (Dennis Christopher), Michael (Martin Hewitt) and Samantha (Lynn Holly-Johnson). The dead cow, now being savaged by wild dogs makes them nearly wreck and they bring their damaged RV to a small village for repairs. It becomes apparent that the few people are left in the town have become murderous lunatics, thanks to Skylab scattering infectious monster bits all over the countryside. The only way out is a bridge that has been blocked off. Helpfully there is a NASA scientist in town who might have the cure in his super secret NASA castle. Can they get to it before the stock footage of jets blows the whole place up off camera?

Actually I found the cast to be pretty enjoyable, it’s rare when you have ‘wacky’ guys in a film and they aren’t totally grating. Dr. Tracer (Luis Prendes) and Captain Wells (J.O. Bosso) are a fun double act, it’s too bad we don’t get to see them together more during the movie. Samantha isn’t given much to do other than tease the boys and be a bad cook. 
There is a quite a bit of humor during the movie, typical of a lot of genre films during this period. Some of it works, most of it falls flat and undercuts the tension.

There is some gore and when it's there, it's pretty effective, I especially liked a moment where a wild dog gets pulled into the corpse of an alien infected cow, super gross and squishy.

Things move at glacial pace. The film is dimly lit and the monsters get very limited screen time. You can pretty much guess the plot after the opening text and the movie does little to throw any twists or interesting developments into the mix. Strangely it does have a very solid opening and closing, it’s a shame they couldn’t translate that energy into the body of the film. It’s on Netflix under the ‘The Falling’ and occasionally makes the rounds on THIS TV and MGMHD, give it a look if you're feeling a bit too awake.

It can be tough to see a movie like this, one that makes several attempts to rise above it's budget and obvious attempt to cash-in on a more popular film, and see it keep falling short every time. It does, however, remind us that humans make films and they can reflect our mistakes as well as our successes.

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