One of the goofiest restaurants in all of Walt Disney World is the Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater Restaurant, in which families sit in fake old-fashioned cars as if they're at a fake drive-in, watching clips from real sci-fi movies that replicate, in the silliest possible way, the campy appeal of all the alien movies from the 50s. It's a fun experience, if you're a child or a parent who remembers all the rubber-suit aliens and theremin music from movies like It Came From Outer Space and The Blob. But it also comes with milkshakes and fries.
Some snacks, or maybe a stiff drink, might have also increased the fun level for Alien Trespass, a deeply silly movie that pays homage to the 50s classics in a way that would be welcome at Disney World. Director R.W. Goodwin and writer Steven P. Fisher have concocted a deadpan homage to the flying saucers of the past, and while it's clear they love this genre a whole lot, there's no telling what exactly we're supposed to appreciate about it. Sure, the overblown dialogue and deliberately bad special effects are fun for a while, but watching the trailer for the original Day the Earth Stood Still would probably give you the same amount of laughs.
The production is lucky to have found Eric McCormack to play the lead, jutting out his square jaw and playing both the dashing astronomer Ted and the alien creature Urp, who takes over Ted's body when his spaceship crashes outside a desert California town. But Urp isn't alone-- he's accompanied by a big blue monster called a Ghota, and while the Ghota chews its way through most of the town's innocents, Urp and a clever waitress named Tammy (Jenni Baird) try to track him down and save the world.
This small town is populated by all kinds of oddballs, including an intense cop played by typically intense Robert Patrick, a weathered cop played by typically weathered Dan Lauria, and a gaggle of fresh-faced teenagers who seem to be giving deliberately bad performances. They and a handful of others are threatened, and some devoured, by the Ghota, and if there are any other subplots beyond that one, I've already forgotten them by now, a few days after the screening.
One subplot does stick, being Tammy's desire to get out of town and make something of herself. Either because Baird is so gifted or because Tammy is the only character who seems remotely real, her emotional connection to Ted/Urp sticks with you, and her moment of triumph at the end genuinely sweet. On the other hand there's Lana (Jody Thompson), Ted's sexpot wife, who makes bedroom eyes at the camera and seems shoved into frame directly from a pinup.
Alien Trespass might have been able to capture a little more of that innocent monster movie fun if it had stuck with effects more like the Ghota, which is a goofy rubber suit making no attempts at realism. But the flying saucer at the beginning is CGI, as are occasional flames, and the movie's claim of being a "forgotten classic" gets less believable as the effects start looking more realistic. CGI is probably cheaper now than even the worst looking fake blood of yesteryear, but the cheesy special effects were always a key part of the fun.
There's fun to be had in Alien Trespass, especially for anyone who's already seen all the old classics and is dying for a new one. But most anyone else would probably be better served watching one of the actual originals.
Reviewed By: Katey Rich