Alien Trespass isn't a throwback to 1950s horror films: It is one. At least that's the conceit the filmmakers and cast are working from, as they told reporters at WonderCon in San Francisco on Saturday.
The creators screened footage from the new film, starring Eric McCormack and Jenni Baird, starting with a 1950s-style mockumentary, partly in black and white, talking about a lost horror film from that era that was never released.
Alien Trespass is set in 1957 in the skies about the Mojave Desert. Ted Lewis (McCormack) is making dinner for his perfect '50s housewife, Lana (Jody Thompson), for their anniversary while, across town, waitress Tammy (Laird) sees a shooting star, which is really an alien spaceship. A metallic alien named Urp escapes (we are told in the intro that M. Eric McCormack plays him as well), but another alien named Ghota (whom the cast described as a giant one-eyed dildo) is running loose around the city, ready to eat everything in site. Urp takes over Lewis' body and enlists Tammy's help to save the world from the hungry menace.
Baird told us in group interviews afterward that her character helps save the world, something a woman wouldn't have done in the films from the era. She says that she is really the only anachronism in the homage movie, and that she was given a ton of '50s films to watch for research.
McCormack told us that this is not a spoof of a '50s film, but rather is done in exactly the style of the classic sci-fi movies of that era. He mentioned a scene of him and Baird walking. He explained that in the '50s, such a scene might be shot outside, but more likely the actors would be walking on a treadmill in front of a badly done backdrop. And as accurately as it's filmed, little jokes about the process are thrown in. In their scene, the treadmill runs a little too long after the actors have stopped walking.
Veteran actor Dan Lauria told us he isn't really a fan of sci-fi, being more into film noir, but said he really enjoyed the experience. He talked about how films have changed since then and said that real actors are not needed when every take is so short. Lauria has an extensive theater background and says that in this film they actually did four pages of dialogue at a time, something almost unheard of nowadays. He also said that looking at the rubber alien had him in stitches for take after take.
McCormack spoke about the acting style being very accurate for the time and difficult to master when you're used to a more naturalistic way of speaking. He told us that his natural speech pattern has a bit of a stammer, and he had to change that for Alien Trespass. In films from that era, one would get the lines perfectly or do another take. Baird had even more of a struggle, as she is from Australia. She told us that she never, ever lets her accent be heard in an audition, because it predisposes people to hear it whether it's there or not. Alien Trespass opens April 3.