Written by: Colin Theys
Directed by: John Doolan
Starring: Jeremy London, Roddy Piper and Cuyle Carvin
Reviewed by: Brett G.
ďNow go my children...and let's blow this motherfuckin' bitch into unhallowed damnation!"
We live in an age of mash-ups and memes, so much so that theyíve begun to inform our movies; last year, we saw Cowboys and Aliens, a film whose title was expected to be cool enough to carry the proceedings (it wasnít). In a similar tradition, we now have Alien Opponent, which could really be titled Aliens vs. Everyone or, even better, Aliens vs. Morons since thatís what this one basically boils down to. Itís the type of movie that probably started with a simple pitch--ďwhat if we had a battle royal with a bunch of outrageous characters and an alien?Ē--which was then followed up with a question of what names they could afford to star in it (the answers here: Roddy Piper and Jeremy London). Now, Iím generally the type of person who hears ďJeremy London and Roddy Piper rumble with an alienĒ and gives it the benefit of the doubt, so itís kind of alarming that even Iím left scratching my head and wondering just how Alien Opponent went wrong.
The setup is simple enough: one night, an alien craft crash lands in the backyard of a local junkyard baronís farm, and it happens at a particularly bad time since heís in a row with his gold-digging young wife (Ashley Bates), whoís also screwing around on him. Before he can dispense his own form of shotgun justice, the girlís mom plants a hammer in the base of his skull. Both are kind of thrilled that they can now claim all of his money, and theyíve even got this crash-landed alien to blame it on, so they stage a competition and put a bounty on the dead guyís body. Locals everywhere crash the farm in hopes of scoring $100,000--as long as the alien doesnít dispatch them first.
Alien Opponent even bothers to set up some of these combatants; among them are a sweet waitress, a man looking to reconnect with his daughter, a stripper, a priest, and whatever Jeremy London is supposed to be. From what I can gather, heís just a guy who bounces from strip clubs to bars, and I think heís both the requisite laconic badass and the sleazy slime ball all in one. Heís often seen in the presence of alcohol, and I could hardly blame London if he were knocking back actual whiskey while filming Alien Opponent. As I watched it, I was kind of hoping heíd share because this is just a parade of stupid people doing stupid things, only the movie itself thinks itís being clever when it arbitrarily offs characters and undercuts big showdowns. Itís perhaps cute the first time it happens--thereís a moment early on when the aforementioned guy starts connecting the dots and figures out one of his fellow combatants might be his daughter before swiftly being blown away in a hail of gunfire.
The problem is that Alien Opponent keeps telling that same joke, as itís the only one it has, and itís delivered with an impetuous ďhey look at meĒ attitude. Weíre left with no characters to care about simply because we imagine they wonít be around for too long anyway, plus the ones that do survive are either bland or obnoxious. I mean, if youíre going to introduce a character and generate sympathy for her by having her get pelted with bags of vomit, she might be the one to keep around. That Alien Opponent has to do something that outrageous to make a character seem likeable speaks volumes, I suppose, and it doesnít help that it just keeps piling on more and more characters that show up for a minute before being disposed by their foe, who really just wants to go home. In fact, he decapitates a little boy and uses his head to relay that very information; no matter--everyone schemes and pushes on and most of them die horribly (as in their fates are horrible and horribly relayed by poor effects and camerawork).
Alien Opponent is kind of like watching a demo reel of fatalities from Mortal Kombat; in fact, the alien even has technology to generate a landshark that mows down anyone in its path, which Iím pretty sure was a fatality in Mortal Kombat 3. This sort of batshit, balls out insanity is nice, and thereís all kinds of egregious button pushing and general stupidity, whether itís in the form of a kung fu troupe comprised of 10 year olds or some muscle heads from a local baseball team (that sort of reminded me of The Warriors) that try to take down the alien. Execution is sorely lacking, as this is all somehow dull and boring, probably because the film has no concept of pacing or character development and instead prefers to keep piling up bodies and ideas (at one point, zombies come into play--sort of). Outside of a pretty funny Starman joke and Ashley Batesís somewhat inspired performance as the ditzy blonde, I didnít find a whole lot to admire about Alien Opponent. Itís clumsy on multiple fronts, from the weak, one-note screenplay and the meager budget (if anything, they were smart enough to keep this mostly confined to one set).
You can definitely see what type of movie Alien Opponent was meant to be--a big, gore-soaked exploitation romp without a serious bone in its body. Unfortunately, you never see a good version of this since it falls completely flat and ends up being kind of like Predator, only itís filled with hicks, yokels, and boobs (some of whom also have boobs--rather large ones). It even has a former wrestler and everything, though Piper looks like heíd much rather be jobbing to Hulk Hogan instead of featuring in this. Despite my feelings about the movie itself, Shout Factory has at least prepared a decent DVD for it; presenting the uncut version of the film you couldnít see when it premiered on Chiller, it also boasts a sparkling anamorphic transfer and a 5.1 surround track. The extras are a little light and only include about 6 minutes worth of deleted scenes (all of which deserved to stay on the cutting room floor) and 3 minutes worth of outtakes; there is a commentary track thatís quite crowded and features director Colin Theys assistant director Paul Melluzzo, writer John Doolan, talent coordinator Jill Sacco, creature performer Ben Chester, property master John Randall, and cinematographer Matt Wauhkonen. Itís a live commentary, so everyone sort of talks over each other at times, but everyone involved seems to have the right attitude towards the movie; plus, this commentary is actually the second go-round due to a technical error the first time they recorded it. Thereís a lot of laughs during the commentary, which is something I canít say about the actual movie; unfortunately, Iím forced to toss Alien Opponent over the top rope. Trash it!
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