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Alienator (1990) - Blu-ray Review

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Alienator (1990) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersBefore Alien met Predator and THAT battle began, there was Alienator

I’m not really sure why Alienator, which is partly a remake of The Astounding She-Monster, doesn’t work as raucous as one would expect, especially from a b-movie director as prolific as Fred Olen Rey.  It’s not a total disappointment, though, it’s just not as zany as one might expect.  But that fact hasn’t stopped Scream Factory from releasing Alienator on blu-ray for cult enthusiasts, like myself, to enjoy. 

Outside of a few memorable performances including Hoke Howell and Fox Harris as two bumbling hillbillies who find themselves caught in the crossfire of an alien bounty hunter let loose on our planet, the film simply peters out, but not before hilariously burning actor Robert Quarry (Count Yorga, Vampire) to death in his cameo as a doctor.  Yet, there is a certain amount of bad/good fun to be had here.  Even if it arrives – just like the laser-brained green energy blasts from the alien weaponry – in very short spurts. 

Airwolf’s Jan-Michael Vincent is pissed that a rebel leader named Kol (Ross Hagen) even breathes the air of his prison spaceship.  Bucking compassion, he goes on with his barbaric plans to execute him.  Kol is having none of it.  With the help of some flesh (and face) eating roaches in a paper bag (amusingly shoved in the face of his prison guards), he escapes his cell and then gets free of the prison itself in a conveniently-placed space pod of cardboard that winds up crashing on Earth…maybe somewhere around Griffith Park.

Alienator has its successes.  I wish it had more, but it does get its kicks in before the closing credits roll out.  First, you’ve got a solid group of B-movie actors – including P.J. Soles in a revealing red leathery bra/dress thingy and film veterans Robert Clarke and Leo Gordon – and a campy script that reads as sci-fi fun.  Yet the movie, as assembled, suffers a bit from appearing to be just a series of slowly-executed scenes stitched together without the usual b-grade charm. 

Director Fred Olen Rey has done way better than this, finding seriously wonky ways to draw attention away from the poor acting and onto other aspects of his flicks, whether it be the amped-up gore or the cinematography.  His body of b-movie work - which includes Alien Dead, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, and Scalps - is highly influential and arguably second only to Roger Corman’s output. 

Alienator scores serious points for having the balls to put bodybuilder Teagan Clive in a hilarious revealing cyborg outfit for the titular character she portrays.  But then, by merely having her trudge through a dark, dark shoot blowing shit up with her green laser fire, stops short of delivering on her character’s otherworldliness.  She looks badass and acts badass and, as she scans a deer and determines that it is non-hostile, protects animals like a badass, yet even she can’t save the picture from itself. 

Certainly, from a low-budget point of view, there is plenty to dig about Alienator.  The production is cheaper than dirt and, as there are some surprising names attached to the film, including forest ranger Ward Armstrong (John Phillip Law), and the space-set special effects are beyond busted.  Everything but the pacing is forgivable.  There’s also a bit of practical gore effects from the space bugs (in the paper bag, remember?) and all the evaporating that the Alienator does is both comical and fun.  Ultimately, this is a film that is endearing in that not quite successful way.

Like I said at the start, it’s Alien meets Predator before such a thing EVER happened.  Hell, maybe Alienator helped make that a possibility.  From re-used footage in other low-budget space opera knockoffs to wonky special effects (with the out-of-sync flash and bang recoil of the Alienator’s weapon being of special interest), Alienator offers much to giggle about.  And the synthesized two-note squawks that serve as the film’s score only reinforces all the reasons why this is a bad movie we love. 

Get blasted by Scream Factory’s release of Alienator.

Alienator (1990) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
93 mins
Director
: Fred Olen Ray
Writer:
Paul Garson
Cast:
Jan-Michael Vincent, John Phillip Law, Ross Hagen
Genre
: Action | Sci-fi
Tagline:
The Ultimate Terminator.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I want that prisoner dead at all costs."
Theatrical Distributor:

Official Site:
Release Date:
No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 13, 2017
Synopsis: In deep space, the deadliest animal is still woman!

It's a futuristic fight to the finish when the Commander of a space station prison (Jan Michael-Vincent, The Mechanic, White Line Fever) takes on galactic archvillain Kol (Ross Hagen, Avenging Angel). When Kol escapes, on the verge of his execution, the Commander has no choice but to unleash the Alienator – a ruthless android hunter with one unstoppable purpose: terminate Kol at any cost!

Alienator (1990) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- June 13, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single set
Region Encoding: Region A

Scream Factory presents Alienator on 1080p for the very first time with a sharp 1.85:1 transfer.  The MPEG-4 AVC seems to be a newly minted HD transfer from the original camera negative as it is crisp and colorful, adding value to the low budget affair when there originally was none.  Shadows are strong and the greens are both lush and deadly.  Skin tones are damn near perfect and the lines - even at deep night - are solid.  The sound is presented in a clear DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track that handles dialogue delivery well enough.  The hilarious cheesy score is also served well…or as to be expected.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  •  Director Fred Olen Rey sets the record straight on Alienator with his feature length commentary.

Special Features:

I’d love to tell you that this loveable sci-fi garbage has a new retrospective featurette.  It does not.  Instead we get vintage looks at some behind the scenes shenanigans and a trailer.

  • Vintage Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Trailer

Alienator (1990) - Blu-ray Review

 

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