STARSHIP INVASIONS (1977)
Starship Invasions was Canada’s answer to Star Wars and Close Encounters all in one shot as a group of aliens called The Legion Of The Winged Serpent…and we can tell as they all wear black leotards with winged serpents on them…decide to invade Earth as their own planet is dying. Instead of dirtying their own hands, this sinister group lead by Captain Rameses (Christopher Lee) is using an orbiting ship to transmit a signal which causes humans to kill themselves or each other. Only good aliens The Intergalactic League Of Races and Earth Ufologist Allan Duncan (Robert Vaughn) can possibly stop Rameses. Of course, as with a lot of science fiction flicks in the late 70s, early 80s, the film ends with a climactic duel between flying saucer fleets in space above Earth.
Filmed for a tenth of Star Wars’ budget, Starship Invasions uses models on wires to portray the alien craft which are designed based on traditional flying saucer shapes as the film’s robots are based on some allegedly actual alien sightings…though you’d think that aliens of advanced intelligence would built their robots with fingers…The FX are cheesy when compared to it’s bigger budgeted brethren, but to be honest, are well executed for what they are and how little they must have cost. The sets are definitely on a 70s sci-fi TV show level, as well as, are the spandex costumes. Writer/director Ed Hunt takes his UFO invasion flick very seriously, so all the laughs are sadly unintentional as the dialog can get quite silly at times and in certain situations the dead seriousness works against it, such as a little girl effected by the alien ray gleefully smashing a tomato that has fallen on a supermarket floor. There is also the plain laugh-ability of a scene where Rameses’ smoking hot second in-command Sagnac (Sherri Ross) seduces an old farmer in his flannel shirt and overalls…and his subsequent report to a local cop. For a less then 90 minute flick Invasions is slow moving and has a very low key mood despite the urgency of the story. The film has a good share of unintentional laughs and some 70s nostalgia, but would have been far more entertaining if Hunt didn’t take things so seriously. It does feature Christopher Lee as an invading alien in a leotard after all. By the time the spaceships meet in Earth’s orbit to duke it out, we could use a little real action, but like the rest of the film, Hunt directs this very by the numbers too, so there’s little real excitement or suspense to the conflict despite the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance…though the sight of all these hubcap shaped saucers zipping around space is kind of amusing. Gil Melle’s Jazzy hip score doesn’t help much either and at times seems out of place with what’s going on on-screen.
The acting is fairly wooden too with all the aliens communicating telepathically, so their voices are all dubbed in in post. Christopher Lee does add a bit of dignity to the proceedings…he always does even in his worst film…but veteran Vaughn seems to be constantly on the verge of breaking character and looking at the camera to proclaim ‘What the hell am I doing in this movie?’.
Overall there is some amusement from how seriously this silly movie takes itself and the dead pan delivery of some ridiculous dialog. The 70s nostalgia factor and low budget effects can provide some giggles too, but the film would be far more entertaining if Hunt had just relaxed and had a little fun with it’s aliens v.s. aliens with Earth caught in the middle story.
Worth a look if you love cheesy sci-fi or are a die hard Christopher Lee fan. On a ‘so bad it’s good’ level Starship Invasions does provide some laughs and friends and I did have some MST3K style fun with it upon viewing it at the Showboat Theater in Edgewater N.J. in 1977, but not quite as fun as it should be all things considered. It’s not very good, but maybe not quite bad enough either. Watching with friends and the appropriate beverages would definitely help.
2 and 1/2 space siren seduced farmers!