TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: YOR, HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (1983)

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YOR, HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (1983)

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Goofy 80s flick tells of the adventures of Yor (Reb Brown), a warrior in a prehistoric world who seems different from the other cave-dwellers, with his blonde hair, sharp thinking (sort of) and clean shaven face in a world bereft of Gillette razors. He saves the beautiful Kalaa (Corinne Cléry) and her guardian Pag (Luciano Pigozzi) from a more savage tribe and the three join in a quest to find Yor’s true lineage. They do, and find that Yor is actually Galahad, the son of a exiled rebel from an island that’s all that’s left of a once advanced society, destroyed by nuclear war. An island currently run by the tyrannical “Overlord” (John Steiner). Now Yor must decide which world he wants to live in, the remains of a futuristic civilization, or the primitive world that sprang from it’s ruins.

Multi-national production is directed by Antonio Margheriti…under the pseudonym Anthony M. Dawson for U.S. release…from a script he co-wrote with Robert Bailey, which is based on an Argentinian comic book. As such, Margheriti plays it somewhat straight and lets the fun come from the ludicrous story and proceedings. And there is plenty of entertainment to be had, for all the wrong reasons, as there are dozens of badly staged fights, savage cave men who speak perfect English, some delightfully paper-mache dinosaurs, mixed in with equally cheesy looking robots, laser guns and space ships. It’s ridiculous, but has a sense of charm even if the prehistoric characters use words that shatter any illusion we are watching cave people, long before we find out they are descendants of an advanced society. Yor, despite being our hero, seems to get a lot of people killed and a lot of villages are razed around him, but it’s hard not to like a guy that hang glides into battle using the corpse of a giant bat. The FX and sets are gleefully cheesy, there is some surprising bloodshed for a PG flick and the ridiculous electronic theme song, by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis, might just get stuck in your head (check out the video below)!

Reb Brown is a fine combination of caveman and futuristic warrior in his loin cloth, boots with the fur and Carol Channing blonde wig. I’m sure he’d rather have been doing Shakespeare in the park or something, but plays it seriously and with gusto and makes for a likable hero in a very silly movie. Corinne Cléry is quite beautiful as Yor’s love interest Kalaa. She’s mostly a damsel in distress, but she has enough natural charms to make her scantily clad cave-girl memorable. Look at it this way, how many actresses can say they appeared alongside both James Bond (Moonraker) and Yor, Hunter From The Future? Rounding out, Luciano Pigozzi is charming as crusty, old tag-along Pag and John Steiner is appropriately over the top as cheesy villain from the future, The Overlord.

On one hand this is a cheaply made and silly plotted flick, but on the other it is very entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The director and cast take the goofy material seriously enough so it’s not a joke and let the material provide the fun as we go from our bare-chested hero fighting fake looking dinosaurs to fake looking robots. He finds love, his true past and can wield both a primitive club and a laser gun…and how many cinematic icons can make that boast? Only in the 80s.

-MonsterZero NJ

rated 3 cavemen hurling a robot.

 

 

 

 

Yor hunter from the future trailer…

BONUS: Yor hunter from the future theme song…

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: KILLER PARTY (1986)

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KILLER PARTY (1986)

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1986 horror has a simple plot…a group of sorority sisters host an initiation for three pledges in an abandoned, haunted fraternity house. Once accepted into the sorority, the trio are tasked with setting up an April Fools Day costume party in that very same house…and of course, things turn deadly.

Directed by William Fruet (Blue Monkey) from a script by Barney Cohen, this is a silly, fun 80s slasher, thought it offers nothing new. The flick predates, Night of the Demons, by two years with it’s plot of college kids partying in an abandoned building and catching hell for it, literally. The 80s fashions and music abounds and the cast of mostly unknowns are attractive and adequate for this type of flick. The kills are fairly routine, the make-up FX work well enough and the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, as it is well aware it’s story of a vengeful, dead fraternity member is just plain silly. The characters are fairly likable, especially our three pledges (Joanna Johnson, Elaine Wilkes and Sherry Willis-Burch), though the big “reveal” as to who is possessed, is no surprise. There is little or no scares or suspense, but the film never really tries that hard, opting to have more fun with it’s premise.

Killer Party is a good example of the lighter toned, more colorful slashers of the mid to late 80s (read about the progression HERE). It offers nothing new, but does have fun with it’s silly story of a haunted sorority party. The 80s nostalgia is delightfully thick with all the very 80s fashions and music and there are enough kills to entertain. An amusing slasher from the slasher film’s most prolific era. Also stars cult film icon/director Paul Bartel as a college professor.

-MonsterZero NJ

rated 3 old-fashioned divers helmets, cause that’s what killers wore to costume parties in the 80s.

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977)

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SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (1977)

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Horror comedy has a cheer-leading squad and their coach being kidnapped by a group of Satan worshipers. One of the girls will be chosen as his bride and the rest will be used as sacrificial offerings. That’s it in a nutshell.

Exploitation comedy is directed by Greydon Clark (Without Warning) from a script by he and Alvin L. Fast. It’s a goofy flick filled with bad sex jokes, exposed breasts and Satan worshipers who don’t evoke much fear and don’t seem all that competent at evoking Satan either. A lot of the humor falls flat and the flick seems like it’s made up as it goes along and lacks the charm of Clark’s 1980 extraterrestrial cult classic. One wonders if Clark has treated the material more seriously and let the situation itself provide the humor, it would have been more successful at accomplishing it’s goals. The story is ripe for exploitation fun, but it’s the misfiring dirty jokes and goofball humor that don’t click. There is plenty of skin shown by our pom pom wielding heroines, but the villains just don’t evoke much threat for us to feel like our girls are in any real danger, even for a comedy. The last few moments do click, but it took us 90 minutes to get there and the first act is all lame, naughty high school stuff before our girls even find themselves in peril. It’s one of those flicks where a great title is in need of a far better movie and sadly from a director who can deliver the B-movie fun as Without Warning proves.

Clark has a decent cast here. The veterans like John Ireland, Yvonne DeCarlo, Jack Kruschen and John Carradine all perform well and get the tone of the material, even if their cultists are more comical than creepy. The young cast of unknowns are very uneven, but no one really expects acting from a cast probably hired for their looks, especially our young ladies. Kerry Sherman is the one standout, mostly because she shows the most skin and she seems to be the only one to go on to other roles in film and TV.

As much as I love B-movies and exploitation flicks from this era, this one doesn’t live up to the fun of it’s title. Most of the jokes and goofball comedy falls flat and it’s attempts at horror are equally unsuccessful. There is some fun to be had, the nostalgia is certainly present and at least the ladies look good in and out of their uniforms. It still just seems like a bit of a mess and director Clark was far better combining horror and humor a few years later in the cult classic Without Warning. Worth a look for the 70s nostalgia, but not the midnight movie it could have been with a tighter script and maybe playing it a bit more straight.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 pom poms.

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BODY BAGS (1993)

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BODY BAGS (1993)

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Body Bags is a made for TV anthology the was produced, partially directed, and hosted by the great John Carpenter for Showtime in 1993. It’s an anthology of three unrelated stories linked by a morgue set framing segment with a creepy attendant (John Carpenter) relating the stories behind his latest corpses.

The first story is directed by Carpenter and is the best. The Gas Station is set in Haddonefield and finds a pretty night shift gas station attendant (Alex Datcher) on her first night of duty with a serial killer on the loose. It’s a spooky and suspenseful segment with Robert Carradine and David Naughton also starring and fun cameo appearances by the likes of Wes Craven and Sam Raimi along with Carpenter regulars Buck Flower and Peter Jason.

Second story is also directed by Carpenter and is sadly the weakest. The satirical Hair tells the story of vain middle aged Richard (Stacy Keach), who is frantic over his thinning hair. His sexy girlfriend Megan (Sheena Easton) doesn’t mind, but Richard is desperate. He turns to a TV pitchman, Dr. Lock (David Warner) who claims he can regrow lost hair with a revolutionary new process. Richard goes for it, but to his horror finds out you must be careful what you wish for, as his new hair seems to have a life of it’s own. Segment is well done, but more humorous and silly than scary. The segment also stars legendary singer Deborah Harry as a sexy nurse.

Third and final segment rebounds a bit with Tobe Hooper’s Eye. This segment finds minor league baseball player and expectant father Brent (Mark Hamill) loosing one of his eyes in a car accident. His career potentially over, he turns to a Dr. Lang (John Agar) who claims he has a new eye transplanting procedure that he’d like to try on Brent. His sight is restored, but while on recovery he starts to have strange visions and his behavior begins to change. Soon he finds out that his eye belonged to a serial killer and that killer might still somehow be possessing his eyes new owner. It has some very effective moments, a good performance by Hamill and some decent gore. Segment also stars singer/actress Twiggy as Brent’s wife and the legendary Roger Corman as Brent’s original doctor.

The three stories and wraparound were written by Billy Brown and Dan Angel and they could have used a bit more inventiveness, especially with the story similarities within the last two tales. Nonetheless they are all entertaining and with such guidance as Hooper and Carpenter, make for an entertaining enough 90 minutes. Carpenter seems to be having a blast playing the morgue attendant and his first segment shows he still has that magic. Originally this was intended to be a series, but for whatever reasons, it never happened beyond this initial flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 body bags.

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: BAD DREAMS (1988)

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BAD DREAMS (1988)

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1988 horror tells the story of Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin), who has been in a coma for 13 years after being the sole survivor of a mass suicde at the Unity Fields cult compound. She suddenly awakens and immediately begins treatment by her psychiatrist, Dr. Alex Karmen (Bruce Abbott). As her memories slowly return, she finds herself haunted by cult leader Franklin Harris (Richard Lynch) who appears to her in her dreams. As the dreams persist, Cynthia’s fellow patients start dying in horrible ways and Cynthia believes Harris is somehow killing those around her from beyond the grave.

Dull Elm Street retread is directed by The Craft’s Andrew Fleming from a script by he and Steven de Souza. It replaces dream demon Freddy Krueger with cult leader Harris, and is a lot less inventive with it’s dream sequences. The film is neither scary nor suspenseful, though, at least there is some well orchestrated and plentiful gore to amuse us. The pacing is very slow and feels longer than it’s 84 minute running time and we question why patients with emotional problems have such easy access to things such as knives and poison. There is a big reveal in the last act, too, that fizzles, as it is even sillier than a phantom cult leader killing from the great beyond.

The cast is a mixed bag. Jennifer Rubin makes a good heroine and performs some silly scenes very straight, which helps. Lynch is an almost legendary movie bad guy and he gets the most out of the thinly written material, making Harris a creepy specter. Abbott is a dull hero and would have been better served as a second banana like he was in Re-Animator. Dean Cameron is completely annoying as patient, Ralph, though veteran Harris Yulin is fairly solid as a stereotypical doctor with a secret agenda. 80s icon E.G. Daily also appears, with a small role as the first victim of Harris’ supernatural hi-jinx.

This film has a following and thus it’s fans. I am not one of them. I didn’t think much of it when I first watched it on VHS back in the day and the revisit didn’t change things, even with some added 80s nostalgia. It’s dull, slow paced and despite some good gore, is devoid of any thrills, chills or inventiveness. A unsuccessful attempt to clone the success of Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors including stealing actress Rubin.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 scalpels because it takes place in a hospital and that’s all I could think of.

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972)

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DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972)

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Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) rises from his self-imposed embalming and travels to Egypt to find the River of Life to resurrect his bride (Caroline Munro) from her eternal slumber. Phibes is in a race against time, as his rival Darius Biederbeck (Robert Quarry) also seeks eternal life and is headed there himself with his team. Phibes, not to be undone, finds gruesome ways to eliminate his competition, as he closes in on his goal.

Sequel is again directed by Robert Fuest from a script by he and Robert Blees. The 60s art deco look also returns, as does the twisted sense of humor. This installment seems to be a bit quicker paced and has more of a sense of fun, as Phibes’ death traps are even more elaborate and he has a hidden lair in one of the tombs that would make a Bond villain envious. How did he get all this stuff into Egypt and built without notice? Who cares? It’s a delightfully devious and fun romp as Phibes now has a rival who may be, at heart, even more sinister than he is. This dynamic makes Phibes more of an anti-hero this time as he slaughters his way through Biederbeck’s team with one death more inventive than the other. Watching him outwit his nemesis and decimate his accomplices, one by one, is a lot of ghoulish fun.

Price is again in top form, as usual, as Anton Phibes. The legendary actor is a delight to watch as the diabolical madman, and this time we don’t have to hide the fact that we are rooting for him. Robert Quarry is a suitable foil for the skull faced Phibes. His Biederbeck is a smug megalomaniac and we delight in watching his scheme slowly unravel at the hands of the devious doctor. Fiona Lewis is a sexy femme fatale as Biederbeck’s accomplice and romantic interest, Diana and Phibes’ loyal assistant Vulnavia returns (somehow) as well, though is this time played by Valli Kamp. Flick also features a brief cameo by the legendary Peter Cushing as a ship’s captain and a returning Terry-Thomas in a new role.

Like the first film, this is a cult classic and another example of why Vincent Price is a horror legend. It’s a bit more outlandish and thus twisted fun, than the first film, though the original was a bit more gruesome. There were many plans to bring the doctor back for a third film, one project was to be directed by George Romero and another would see Quarry return and add William (Blacula) Marshall to the mix. Sadly, none ever happened. There is talk of a remake with Malcolm McDowell, but this is such a classic Price role, it’s hard to see anyone else playing the organ and wearing the skull face.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Phibes.

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971)

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THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971)

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Four years earlier Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price) lost his beautiful wife, Victoria (Caroline Munro) during a medical procedure. Racing home upon hearing the news, Phibes himself got into a car accident and was presumed burned to death. But the doctor is not dead and though horribly scarred, he plans to exact revenge on the nine medical personnel he feels responsible for Victoria’s death. Now the police are baffled as Phibes begins to exact his revenge in the form of biblical plagues and begins a bloody path leading to the chief surgeon (Joseph Cotton) for whom he plans the worse fate yet!

Price classic is stylishly directed by Robert Fuest from a script by he, along with William Goldstein and James Whiton. The flick may take place in 1925, but Fuest gives it a 60s art deco look and a very twisted sense of humor. While Phibes’ plans for those he seeks revenge on are quite ghastly, there is a sense of fun as Phibes unleashes his plagues with an assortment of bizarre gadgets and a disguise or two. The results can be gruesome, but nothing too extreme as the film was rated PG…or “GP” as it was called during this era. There is some fun to be had in watching Phibes make a fool of Scotland Yard Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) and evade any attempts by the law to protect those still yet to meet a horrible fate. It is a bit methodically paced and feels somewhat longer than it’s 94 minute run time, but watching Phibes play the organ while plotting horrible deeds is campy, ghoulish fun with Price doing what he does best. On a technical level it is well made though some of the FX are delightfully cheesy by today’s standards.

As for the horror legend, Price is at the top of his game here as the sinister Phibes. Even having to play the role mute and add his voice later (Phibes lost the ability to speak in the accident and uses a device to emit his voice) he still chills with the look in his eyes and his mannerisms and his dialogue is still recited with that Vincent Price flair. He never goes overboard, but just over-the-top enough to give a diabolical horror movie style Bond villain vibe to the gadget making/organ playing Phibes. Joseph Cotton is another movie veteran who knows to take the campy/creepy material seriously as the main target on Phibes’ list, Dr. Vesalius. Peter Jeffrey seems to be having a good time as the constantly baffled and outwitted Inspector Trout. Another role that is meant to be campy with the actor showing just enough restraint to not become outright silly. Virginia North is a sexy femme fatale as Phibes’ silent assistant Vulnavia and an un-credited role playing Phibes’ Victoria in photos and corpse form is British film vixen and future Bond girl, Caroline Munro. A classy cast that all approach the material with proper amounts of camp or seriousness.

Overall, this is a cult classic and another example of why Vincent Price is a legend. As a film itself, it is a little too slow paced for it’s own good and the mix of gruesome and giddy may not always work completely, but it is still a lot of twisted fun. The diabolical doctor would return for a sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, the following year.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 Phibes.

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971)

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THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971)

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Count Yorga (Robert Quarry) is back…though not sure how…and takes up refuge in an old mansion opposite an orphanage. He sets his sights on pretty teacher Cynthia (Mariette Hartley) and his fangs on all her family and friends. Can anyone stop this fiend before he takes Cynthia as his bride and everyone else as his dinner?

Sequel is directed again by Bob Kelljan from a script he co-wrote with Yvonne Wilder and is a rather dull return for Quarry’s suave Bulgarian count. Much like the first film, there are some spooky scenes, but there is also a lot of talk and the story never gets interesting enough to lure us in. Oddly the addition of an orphanage doesn’t amount to much as only one child seems to fit into Yorga’s plans and the action takes place, for the most part, in Yorga’s Mansion. Yorga himself is absent for stretches of time as the film focuses on Cynthia trapped in his lair and being taunted by his minions. As for Yorga, Quarry again makes a good vampire, but the rest of the cast is fairly wooden and Hartley isn’t given much to do but look frightened. Roger Perry again stars, but not as the same character he portrayed in the first film…which is a little off-putting. Technically the film looks good through cinematographer Bill Butler’s lens and Bill Marx’s score adds some atmosphere.

Not a big fan of the first Yorga film and this one won’t convert anyone who is not. It’s slow moving, has long stretches with no action and it’s story is routine for a vampire flick. The placement of Yorga’s lair near an orphanage doesn’t get used to it’s full potential and the fact that Yorga allows his minions to taunt his intended bride, doesn’t really make much sense either…unless he likes nutty women. A dull sequel.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 fangs.

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981)

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STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981)

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1981 slasher flick has the youth of Galesburg, Illinois being murdered by their peers for no apparent reason. Cop and widower John Brady (Michael Murphy) thinks it has something to do with experiments being conducted at Galesburg Univesity and might link back to a man he’s investigated before, Dr. Le Sange (Arthur Dignam). Not only has Le Sange been dead for years though, but Brady blames him for the death of his wife. Now with his own son, Pete (Dan Shor) in danger, Brady must solve the mystery of why some of his young citizens are being murdered and by their own classmates.

Flick is the directorial debut from Michael Laughlin from a script by Bill Condon. it is atmospheric and has some spooky scenes and while advertising pushed the slasher element, it is equal parts sci-fi as it does deal with mind control experiments years before Disturbing Behavior. There are some gory moments and the kills have impact, but if there is anything that holds this chiller back is it’s pace. Laughlin guides the proceedings with a dreadfully slow pace and it really doesn’t help as, much like his Strange Invaders two years later, it makes this 90+ minute flick feel much longer. That and once we get our big reveal, it’s not really anything we weren’t expecting. Still, it tries to be something a bit different than the slasher flicks of the time and the cinematography by Louis Horvath and music by Tangerine Dream do add a lot of atmosphere.

The cast are fine. Murphy isn’t really all that convincing as the cop type, but he is a suitable working class hero. Dan Shor is likable as Pete, who is lured into the sinister experiments by the need for quick cash. Fiona Lewis makes a fine femme fatale villainess as Dr. Gwen Parkinson, who was Le Sange’s protegeé and is now continuing the experiments. Arthur Dignam is suitably creepy as Le Sange who appears in recorded lectures and Dey Young is feisty and cute as Pete’s love interest and our heroine. Louise Fletcher also appears as a local waitress with eyes for Murphy’s widower cop, who gets pulled into his obsessive investigation.

Overall this is an OK flick that could have been better with a healthier pace and maybe a few red herrings to throw us off the trail we eventually find ourselves on. Obviously there is a reason these experiments are leading to murder and we can pretty much see what is coming before it does. There are some effective moments, the plot is a bit more involved than the slashers of this era and there is some nice atmosphere to make it worth a look. Laughlin would use quite a few cast members again in his Strange Invaders.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 knives.

 

 

 

 

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: STRANGE INVADERS (1983)

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STRANGE INVADERS (1983)

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In 1958 a ship from another world lands in Centerville, Illinois and the entire town’s population disappears. Twenty-five years later, entomologist Charles Bigelow (Paul Le Mat) travels to Centerville to find his ex-wife Margaret (Diana Scarwid) who traveled there for the funeral of her mother. When Charles gets there, he finds the citizens don’t seem to like strangers, they’ve never heard of his ex-wife or her mother and he is chased out of town by something that can only be described as otherworldly. But whatever inhabits Centerville has followed him back to NYC and has targeted his young daughter, Elizabeth (Lulu Sylbert). Now Charles teams with a tabloid reporter (Nancy Allen) to try to save his daughter from these beings from another world and whatever purpose they have in store for her.

Fifties alien invasion movie homage is written and directed by Michael Laughlin and does have the feel of an old school sci-fi flick, though is also still very eighties. It’s a bit goofy at times, though that seems deliberate and the FX are delightfully cheesy, which gives it a certain charm. There are some amusing sequences of otherworldly action and Laughlin does capture the flavor of what he is paying homage to. If the film falters in any respect it is in that, much like his Strange Behavior, the flick is very slow paced and feels much longer than it’s 90+ minute running time. Strange Invaders could have used a bit more steam in it’s stride, though wisely plays it straight and doesn’t make an outright joke out of the proceedings, which fondly evokes camp classics like Invaders From Mars and Invasion of the Saucer Men. A fun enough movie that doesn’t quite hit the mark straight on but gets enough of the target to be an entertaining time.

The cast all perform in that fifties sci-fi flick dramatic monotone, on purpose of course. Le Mat makes a fine every-man hero and plays the nerdy scientist type well. Nancy Allen makes a spunky, sexy leading lady as the tabloid reporter who at first scoffs at Bigelow’s tale, but slowly starts to believe him…and fall for him as is tradition with these flicks. Louise Fletcher is fine as a government official that knows more than she’s letting on, though Scarwid is a little unconvincing in her role as ex-wife and extraterrestrial. Maybe she didn’t get the material. There are also appearances by Michael Lerner as a man who years ago encountered the invaders and femme fatale Fiona Lewis and fifties sci-fi flick legend Kenneth Tobey are appropriately campy as aliens in human form.

This homage to the great alien invasion movies of the fifties may not have fired on all cylinders, but did connect enough to be a fun time. It’s both delightfully fifties and nostalgically eighties and is enjoyable even if it does move a little too slowly for it’s own good. Sadly this film flopped at the box office and Michael Laughlin directed one more movie before leaving the director’s chair to focus on writing.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 strange invaders.

 

 

 

 

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