Alien Trespass

Posted on August 10, 2009 at 7:00 am

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sci-fi action and brief historical smoking
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: Social drinking, characters get drunk
Violence/ Scariness: Sci-fi violence, characters in peril, injured and killed
Diversity Issues: Mild joshing of 1950's stereotypes
Date Released to Theaters: April 3, 2009
Date Released to DVD: August 11, 2009
Amazon.com ASIN: B0029W2V9U

Was there ever a time when cheesy 1950’s sci-fi movies were actually scary? Is it because they are so low tech in comparison to the intense realism of CGI? Or is it just the balsa wood sets and cardboard dialog that seems so endearingly innocent now? This affectionate tribute to the low budget movies that played in drive-ins and were shown on Saturday morning television comes from R.W. Goodwin, whose love for the movies he saw as a kid helped inspire him to co-produce “The X-Files.” And this is a loving appreciation, not a parody. There’s no winking at the camera. And there’s no exaggeration, but then, none is necessary.

The shrewd script gives us the perfect assortment of 1950’s archetypal characters, with special emphasis on two of the 1950’s primary fixations — the suburban married couple who exemplify “togetherness” and the teenagers who may look like Archie and Betty but could be juvenile delinquents. Like all of this category of movies, the space invaders plot is just a way of addressing that other fixation of the 1950’s, the cold war.

There’s Ted Lewis, a pipe-smoking professor (“Will and Grace’s” Eric McCormack) and his luscious wife Lana (Jody Thomson), who always seems to be pouring cocktails or lighting candles suggestively. There are the high school sweethearts, Penny (Sarah Smyth) in flared skirts and saddle shoes and Dick (Andrew Dunbar), the guy with the letter sweater. Their pal with the “Wild Ones” hair, t-shirt, and jacket is Cody (a terrific Aaron Brooks). There’s the about-to-retire sheriff (“Wonder Years'” Dan Lauria) and his get-em officer Vernon (Robert Patrick). And there’s Tammy, the waitress with artistic aspirations and a heart of gold (Jenni Baird).

Penny and Dick are out necking in the mountains when something strange happens and they race back to town. Professor Lewis sees it through his telescope and goes to investigate. He is sucked into a spaceship and when he emerges, he is…different. The professor’s body has been borrowed by a law enforcement alien who has come to earth to kill off an evil, destructive alien with tentacles.

Like the films it salutes, this was made quickly and on a minuscule budget. But there is a lot more talent behind and in front of the camera than there was in the originals. Goodwin said he made the movie because he loved those old films and wished there had been more of them. McCormack’s nimble timing, Baird’s sweet sincerity and the innocence of its message about intergalactic understanding make this one a worthy addition.

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Comic-Con 2009: Interviews for ‘Alien Trespass’ and ‘Boondock Saints II’

Posted on July 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I am a huge Eric McCormack fan and enjoyed his retro sci-fi movie Alien Trespass, so it was a special treat to get a chance to talk with him and writer/director R.W. Goodwin (of “X-Files”) at Comic-Con about the DVD release. Goodwin emphasized that the film is not a parody of cheesy 50’s sci-fi movies or even a tribute; his intention was to create a film that would look and feel as though it had actually been made half a century ago and had just been re-discovered. He loves the “great, sweet, really earnest” films of that era and wanted to “put ourselves in that space.”

I asked McCormack what he thought about in creating the character of Urp, an alien who inhabits the body of an Earth scientist, and he said that the image he held in his mind was when Urp has to drive a car for the first time. “He’s obviously intelligent,” McCormack said. “He piloted a rocket ship to get to earth. But everything is new to him. So I thought of him as more child-like than robotic. Ted’s body is a stolen car he is learning how to operate.” Here he talks about his favorite scene.

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And it was a lot of fun to talk to Clifton Collins, Jr. and Julie Benz about their upcoming film, “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.” Benz said she seems to be doing nothing but vigilante stories — “Rambo,” “The Punisher,” “Dexter,” and now this sequel to the cult favorite about two brothers who take the law into their own hands and famously end the film asking whether they are good or evil, saint or vigilantes. Collins and Benz join the returning cast of the 1999 original, including Billy Connelly, Norman Reedus, and Sean Patrick Flannery as the father and sons who go after the bad guys.

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Collins is one of my favorite actors, most recently seen as the number two bad guy in Star Trek, but I have been a fan since he appeared in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit in 1998. He told me that he was “not in the first film but was around it,” knew writer/director Troy Duffy’s journey from bartender to film-maker (as documented in the movie Overnight) and “once I read it, who didn’t want to be a part of ‘Boondock Saints?’ Everybody did.”

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