Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Death: High Plains Invaders

Today is all about the working man.  There are so many films about working people, from Repo Man to Men at Work.  Yeah, I'm not going to talk about those movies.  Instead, let's talk about a movie where working men are attacked by spider aliens from space.  That's much more fitting, don't you think?  This Syfy Channel picture stars James Marsters, a man who has tried to rebound from the success of Buffy and Angel.  How well has that gone, you ask?  Well, he's appeared in British shows like Torchwood and, well, this movie.  Fun fact: he's from California, but he spoke with a British accent on Buffy.  As such, he has gotten a lot of work in England.  You guys wrote the Magna Carta, but can't figure out when someone is faking your accent?  So yeah, aliens attack some cowboys- enjoy.  Get out your super-powerful sticks of dynamite for my review of...
The film begins with a man arriving at his home after a tough day working in a mine.  While his wife is inside, an unseen monster attacks and kills him.  The woman arrives & sees her husband's barely-there head and screams.  Unlike a lot of these Syfy sequels, this sort of affects the plot- kind of.  After the titles, we see a hanging being set-up in the middle of a town.  They're low on nails, but the General Store owner will not give them any until they pay.  By the way, this sub-plot goes nowhere- I'm shocked!  The gallows are for a famous train-robber (Marsters) who is not looking forward to the event.  After some more stalling and exposition, we see the event about to occur when an alien shows up.  Man, how many times do I get to write that line?  Seriously, this thing makes short work out of most of the townsfolk, since their bullets do nothing.  Of course, they still fire about 5,000 into the damn thing.  Persistence is not always a virtue!  Marsters manages to get away from the gallows and rallies the remaining people to...well, hide.  Seriously, they hide in the sheriff's building for a while until they can formulate a strategy.  All that's left are Marsters, the General Store owner, the Sheriff, a lady bounty hunter, the wife from the beginning, a local scientist and a lady doctor who only exists to support a bad sub-plot.  Yay?
After we get to meet another Poor Bastard of Cinema (induction coming soon), they figure that the only way to kill the thing is with dynamite.  They sneak out, grab the stuff and throw it into a hole that the alien spider-thing is digging in the ground.  If you ever wanted to see someone jump ahead of a rigged explosion, this is your movie!  It really is the kind of thing they could have fixed in editing, but, oh well.  Unfortunately, the celebration is short-lived as more of them show up.  We get some decent CG effects in the form of a spaceship arriving and dropping hundreds of the things into the mountains.  A couple questions and comments here.  First, they blatant stole the spaceship from E.T.  Secondly, why doesn't the thing just drop them into town, as opposed to putting them miles and miles away?  Did you come all the way from outer space just to be incompetent?  Marsters stays behind with the Sheriff and the General Store owner while they send the others away.  About thirty seconds, they ride back later, saying that the town is surrounded.  Okay, what was the point of sending them away?  A small group of aliens are in town now, digging up...something.  The film will eventually explain it, but I won't bother you with it now.  Since the movie needs to be 90 minutes, the entire scene of them setting up the dynamite, rigging it and setting it off.  Have you guys heard of the word 'montage?'
Despite taking out a group of the aliens, things are still not going well.  The group eventually figures out why the aliens are here.  To fuel their spaceship for the ride home, they need Uranium.  As it turns out, the scientist has been digging up a material that is refined into the stuff.  Fun fact: Uranium was only mined in this time period in the Czech Republic!  The bounty hunter and another convict character (who was so important that he missed 3/4 of the film) decide that they can make some money off of the stuff, despite the discoverer pointing out that there is in fact no market for it.  Silly logic, you have no place here!  They go to leave, but the aliens show up again.  In a sub-plot that really has no point, the bounty hunter tries to out-gun the alien, only to be shot.  Marsters, however, has better luck when he acts very slowly and kills it.  The remaining heroes (Marsters, the lady doctor, the scientist) set up a plan to lure the creatures to one location and blow them up. Unfortunately, the fuse to the dynamite was damaged when the scientist was shot, so he has to sacrifice himself.  The other two ride off as an actually-decent explosion ends the lives of the alien invaders.  After that, the movie just ends abruptly.  Okay then.
This movie is actually decent, but there's not a lot to say about it.  The plot is alright, but does nothing all that unique.  The idea of a group of people fending off a monster/demons/aliens who attack is nothing new.  Furthermore, this movie doesn't break with conventions in any real way.  Casting Marsters as a criminal is a step in the right direction, but he's still the nicest guy in the movie.  Furthermore, he's a retired criminal who feels bad for his actions and actually turned himself in.  You might as well just make him a priest!  In the movie's defense, the effects are actually pretty good.  As you can see in the shots, they're not Avatar-level, but they really do beat out stuff like Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.  It's an odd standard I have, but just deal with it!  Unlike a lot of the stuff here, it's not utter shit.  It's a decent popcorn flick that doesn't try to be any more than it is.  Mediocrity, eh?  Compared to stuff like The Gardener or Wild Zero, I'll take it!
Next up, I tackle the third out of Lamberto Bava's four TV films.  Will this Hitchcock-style film be better than The Ogre and Graveyard Disturbance?  Stay tuned...

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