Review: Alien Trespass is the perfect popcorn movie

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Alien Trespass should be seen in a drive-in movie theater where you smuggle in friends in the trunk, sneak in a six-pack for the adults and bring your own home-popped popcorn. Those days are, unfortunately, gone—and so are the days when whole families went to the movies together anyway, and especially to movies that the whole family enjoyed.

Call me Pollyannaish, but I really believe that this is a perfect movie for the times. It's scary, funny, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic and a definite throwback to the 1950s era, when things seemed simpler.

Alien Trespass is unfortunately going to be billed as a spoof of famous B movies such as The Blob, It Came From Outer Space, Tarantula and Them! It's not a spoof! It's an exact homage of the movies of that time period, never played for laughs, never going for the obvious joke, and yet it's hysterical!

R.W. Goodwin, who earned his SF chops on The X-Files, tells us he didn't want to go for the laughs, and he purposely hired actors (like Robert Patrick from Terminator 2) who don't seem funny and who play the role as earnestly as Michael Rennie did in The Day the Earth Stood Still. When you look back at those movies, some pretty decent actors tried to keep a straight face while battling rubber monsters that looked as if they jumped off a kindergartner's doodles. They had to recite lines that made it look as if they were going to save the world, and that everything was going to be all right in the end.

Think of the time period. It was a time of the Cold War, when people were on edge about the Russians sending over nukes that assured the destruction of the Earth. People built underground bunkers to protect themselves and stockpiled canned goods. Today, the mood is similar, and the appetite for monster movies may be just the perfect remedy—especially with reminders as in Monsters vs. Aliens and remakes like The Creature From the Black Lagoon and Wolf Man on their way.

My favorite movie that is in this genre was the little-seen Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, which my nephews and I still giggle over. It was shot in black and white and so obviously over-the-top and played for laughs that it is genuinely a spoof of that era. Alien Trespass re-creates the era.

Eric McCormack (Will of Will & Grace) stars as a pipe-smoking stiff and distant astronomer who sees a shooting star overhead while his doting wife (Jody Thompson) cooks him dinner. The town's sweetheart, Tammy (Jenni Baird, an Australian actress in her first movie role) also sees the shooting star, which lands in the woods where a couple are necking.

An alien named Urp emerges from a flying saucer and notes that a giant one-eyed monster named Ghota has escaped and threatens to eat the people of the local town. It's not a mistake, perhaps, that the monster looks like a giant walking pink penis, and that many of the characters who get liquidated by the creature seem to be suppressing their giggles when they come across it.

The local police chief (played by character actor Dan Lauria) and his sidekick (Robert Patrick as a by-the-book cop) try to calm the townsfolk as they try to figure out what is going on with the alien.

Meanwhile, Urp borrows the human body of the professor (allowing for some funny acting exercises for McCormack), and he tries to understand the human body as well as hunt the creature.

It's all played with the bright color, the stilted dialogue and the effects of past B movies. You can even catch a few scenes where the actors are walking with a moving back-screen, and when they stop, the background still moves (just like in the old days).

As historic as the movie may seem to be, this is a good movie for today. The uneasiness of the world, the uncertainty of jobs and the economy, and the helplessness of the populace to do anything about it make it a good time for old-fashioned science fiction escapism, and that's exactly what this is. It's made for the whole family, yet everyone will enjoy it (and that's not an easy task!). We're planning on going to see it again (the whole family, kids and grandma) on a Saturday afternoon, smuggle in our own candy and just have fun with it. It's in limited release, so if you're going to see it on the big screen, get to it soon—or you're just going to have to wait until it's on Saturday afternoon on TV.