A blog exploring the sexy, shocking, surreal, and silly side of horror films.

March 28, 2010

Strange Invaders (Review)

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Strange Invaders (1983) 
Director: Michael Laughlin

Right from the beginning text scrawl and theremin-inspired music, it's clear that Strange Invaders has its tongue planted firmly in cheek. An attempted homage/spoof of cult sci-fi films and UFO pictures, Strange Invaders also throws in some modern gross-out alien effects. Unfortunately, the film reigns in its spoof qualities and leaves behind a movie as mediocre as the forgettable alien movies of the 50s and 60s. As a result, it is only the gross-out effects that are of any interest. That and Nancy Allen's chest (more on that later).


Charlie (Paul Le Mat), an entomology professor, goes in search of his missing ex-wife in the town of Centreville, Ohio. He finds the town and its residents off-putting: everyone and everything seems stuck in the 1950s. Wouldn't you know it, they're all gosh darned extra terrestrials -- extra terrestrials who blow up his car by shooting lazers from their hands. After he escapes back to New York, he sees a photo of one of the aliens printed in a rag similar to The Weekly World News. He finds the writer of the article, Betty (Nancy Allen), and together they leap over plot holes to track down the source of the photo and uncover the true intentions of the STRANGE INVADERS! Also, Nancy Allen doesn't wear a bra (more on that later). Srange Invader is a mediocre and tedious alien movie with only a few noteworthy effects and the charming presence Nancy Allen going for it

Rating: 2 out 5 Flannel Aliens.


No, not really. Although I used to see the VHS box for Strange Invaders in the horror/sci-fi section of the video store, and it does have some gross-out effects, the movie's not going to raise many hairs. The film is too couched in the UFO movie tropes of the 1950s and 1960s to have any atmosphere or dread. When the aliens unmask, however, they do tear and pull off their skin in a particularly gruesome fashion that involves air bladders, latex, and a stringy gooey adhesive. Also, the aliens have the ability to shrivel people and turn them into blue orbs. This shriveling effect is wholly unexpected but, like the unmasking effect, moderately shocking.

Sure, the skin's fun to rip. But how do you get back into it?


Again, not really. However, I found myself oddly attracted to Nancy Allen. Whenever I think of Nancy Allen, I think of her unglamorous role in Robocop ("Murphy, it's you!"), so I forget she she's known for doing nude roles and playing spunky, sexy girls. Strange Invaders turned out to be purely PG fare, so there's no nudity here, yet for some reason Nancy Allen never wears a bra. And she wears a lot of clingy fabric. And she does a lot of running in clingy fabric without a bra. Not only has she never looked better, more importantly she turns in the only real charismatic and interesting performance in the whole movie. I think this movie gave me a little Nancy Allen crush. It's unfortunate that today a woman who looked as natural as Nancy Allen would never get cast in a nude role or "sexy" part.

I can't come up with a sexual innuendo to accompany this picture of Nancy Allen sharpening pencils. Go figure!

Strange Invaders is pretty standard stuff. Yet, there's one sequence that borders on the surreal. While Charlie is sneaking into a church on his first day in Centreville, his dog is being attacked in another part of town. Through cross-cuts we get to see the dog being assaulted, but then we (and presumably Charlie) hear the dog's wail. Charlie runs out into the street calling the dog's name. Then the camera approaches him from his left, positioned low down to the ground and angled up at his face while moving on a dolly track, passing him by. Then the camera comes back on the dolly track in the same position but from the opposite direction. Then it does it again. This whole sequence makes no sense. Not surreal -- just confusing.

All Strange Invaders has going for it is its silly homage to cult sci-fi. From the look of the flying saucers to the in-your-face score, Strange Invaders is indeed is somewhat silly -- but not silly enough to successfully carry the film. To do the predictable plot and boring characters any justice, the film needed to embrace an Airplane level of silliness

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