Movie Review: Alien Undead
ALSO KNOWN AS: The Dark Lurking
Well well well. Alien Undead. A young woman awakes in what appears to be a stasis pod in the laboratory of a distant space colony. After a quick shower she starts to take a look around her surroundings to find that all hell is breaking loose around her. A load of crazy zombie/alien hybrids are roaming the place and a group of space marine-types have been sent to this colony so sort this mess out. She hooks up with a combination of survivors and marines and try to find safety from this outbreak.
There are many films that are truly hard to review for a variety of reasons: Some are the curious combination of being obviously brilliant yet completely and utterly boring meaning they're impossible to recommend, others are spectacular heaps of trash that are so thoroughly enjoyable that when the movie finishes there is an urge to flip back to the beginning and re watch it again immediately. And then there are films like 'Alien Undead' - an unprescidented combination of blatant rip-off and unexpected originality.
Lets start with the blatant rip-off aspect: It has 'Alien' in the title, it features a ragtag bunch of mercenaries with big - yet wimpy sounding - guns and incredibly manly moustaches hired to go into a colony that has been unexpectedly cut off from communication, it has scenes featuring humans and aliens crawling through vents, rooms full of dangling chains and dripping water, some bizarre religious overtones, and a female lead who opens the film awaking from some form of stasis pod.
Yes, never has a film ripped off 'Muppets from Space' as much as Alien Undead. Not only does it steal from the Muppets but also - rather unusual for a sci-fi horror movie - from all the Alien movies combined. (All that was lacking here was a ships cat.) Instead of just leaving it there, why not throw in some Event Horizon and even 'Doom' for good measure too? Yes, admittedly it's difficult to create a unique sci-fi horror movie these days, but if you're going to steal from the classics (not including Doom there, obviously) try to be a little less blatant about it, eh?
However it's not as straightforward as that. Alien rip-offs can be tolerated provided they are interesting, but the whole first half of this movie is so unbelievably below-par in so many ways that it's a challenge to get through. The pacing is all over the place, the action scenes are so frantically shot that most of what happens occurs in a long drawn-out blur, and it takes a certain mind-set to truly appreciate films with acting of this calibre (and we've seen some severe cases in some of the Zombie movies reviewed here, that's for sure). But then it's not often that you want the worst actresses (and actors) to survive just so you get to experience their appalling acting for a bit longer because it takes some of the annoyance away from watching the actual movie.
OK, this is all a bit unfair. Yes, it's incredibly badly acted in places. Yes, the first half of the movie is cribbed from the first four Alien movies combined (among others). And yes, the director seems obsessed with filming from no further that one metre away from his subject . But once the first half of this movie is over it transforms into something rather unexpected - an original, interesting story that is actually rather engrossing and causes you to forget the entire pain of the first 45 minutes. Once all the terrible actors have been killed off and the actual plot starts to unveil itself you get sucked in.
Some incredibly dastardly villains, an ancient, near-biblical scope and a Sylvester Stallone look-a-like all make for a movie that starts to become enjoyable for the right reasons. This was really unexpected; trying to get through the first half of the film was almost painful at times - but when you get into the right state-of-mind and just start enjoying the ludicrousness of the film, laugh at the terrible acting (and terrible really is the word) and start playing the guessing-game of 'which sci-fi film did they rip this scene off from' you'll find the first half of the movie goes by pretty harmlessly and you'll find yourself in the second half, surprisingly engrossed in what is actually happening. It's actually possible that you'll come out the end of the movie impressed that it turned out to be an interesting film.
OK, it's rather lacking in the zombie stakes here. Sure, the creatures 'could' be classed a zombies - they do seem to be reanimated humans after all - but the tone of the film is far more sci-fi than walking dead. Also the gore scenes mostly involve gallons of blood being sprayed around, but there are some impressive special effects in the mutilation front.
If you can forgive the opening of this horror film with a shower scene that doesn't include any nudity, the story is - eventually - quite interesting and the characters are enjoyable for a whole host of reasons - the comically bad acting being one of them. Is it one to recommend? Well that depends on your opinion of low-budget Alien rip offs. There's plenty to enjoy here though - although a lot of it is probably not as the film makers intended.