As far as alien invasion movies go; this one has got to be one of the most original ones out there.

This movie made me realize how much I'm missing the 'old' John Carpenter, even though I'm not even a big fan of just all of his early work. His last truly good movie dates back from the early '90's. He seems to have lost his touch off lately and his recent movies also seem to lack relevance. Early Carpenter movies always meant something and had a deeper underlying meaning to them, as this movie also does for instance.

You could say that this movie is being more of a social commentary and satire than a serious straight-forward science-fiction flick. And I like the movie for that! Luckily it really doesn't take itself too serious and also deliberately goes over the top at times. If you look at this movie too seriously, it will come across as a very silly and perhaps even lazy written movie. Really not that much gets explained and lots of stuff simply doesn't make sense. But yet as a social commentary of its era it really manages to work out very well. The aliens in this movie aren't here to conquer the Earth or to steal or women but they are here to get rich fast, over the backs of the mindless consumers living on Earth. Everything in this movie is a clear statement against capitalism and just the Reagan-era in general and I must say its done in an amusing and creative way, without ever becoming too ridicules as a movie.

It's definitely a movie with lots of cult potential, which makes it a shame that this movie is any better known than Carpenter's other work. As most other Carpenter movies, this one is being made with limited resources, which forces it to become creative and to come up with ways to stand out, without having to feature any spectacular or big moments. Like often, he does this with his characters as well as with a whole bunch of subtle little moments.

It's funny how the main character is blowing away every alien that comes in his sight, without asking any questions about what they want or why they are here. He has no moral problems with it, even though the aliens are all human looking and acting. This is also what I often like about Carpenter movies. He is not afraid to show any violence and to make his main 'heroes' some tough, over-the-top, action heroes, that you are always yet capable of relating to.

The main character in this movie is being played by professional wrestler Roddy Piper, who really fits the role well and even manages to act his way through the movie. Of course he also gets to show some of his wrestling skills, though he's mostly using some big guns throughout the movie, as does the always likable Keith David.

Even though the story to some will come across as simplistic, it actually is one that has some really clever moments in it. I for instance liked how the movie fooled you a couple of times with who were going to be the good and bad guys within the movie.

Something that also makes this movie stand out and memorable are the looks of the aliens, that only can be seen when wearing special sunglasses or contact lenses. They are really ugly and grotesque looking, though all you see of them are their faces and its effects for it aren't even that convincing looking.

An unique movie for sure, especially to be enjoyed by the fans of John Carpenter's early work.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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