God bless the Sci Fi Channel. If every TV network cared about quality, or about buying movies that made logical sense at least 10% of the time, there would be no gems like “Alien Apocalypse”. The film stars genre fave Bruce Campbell (“Bubba Ho-Tep”) as a wisecracking doctor who falls back to Earth after 40 years in space, only to discover that the store has been knocked over and green termite aliens (called Mites, no less) are now in charge. What little human population remains are kept as slaves by the Mites since, according to the film’s brilliant plotting, although they’ve mastered intergalactic travel, defeated Earth with orbital bombs without nary a fight, the green alien buggers haven’t quite figured out how to harness the planet’s wood supply. I guess cutting down the trees, grinding them into 4x4s, and stacking them up was just something their termite minds couldn’t quite fathom. Stupid alien termites.
Brucey isn’t alone in his endeavor to save humanity. He’s got help from Renee O’Connor (most recently of the “Xena” TV show), here playing spunky Lieutenant astronaut Kelly. There are actually four astronauts in all, but the whiny Asian woman (I think she’s Asian) and the male black Commander gets killed in the first 10 minutes or so, making their appearances little more than cameos. It’s up to Bruce’s Doctor Ivan Hood and Kelly to break the alien bonds of slavery, teach their fellow human slaves all about freedom and all that other good stuff. Well, actually, that’s not true. First our brilliant astronauts get the bright idea to tunnel their way out of their underground prison with wooden spoons before actually making a run for it when their lovey dovey glances incur the wrath of their human overseer.
If it sounds as if “Alien Apocalypse” is pure Grade Z schlock, that’s because it is. This is the kind of movie you wouldn’t even bother thinking about wasting 90 minutes of your life on if it didn’t star Bruce Campbell, the unquestionable God among fanboys. From the first second his character appears onscreen, there’s no doubt Campbell is in on the joke, a fact that makes his character even more hilarious. A doctor of “DO” (whatever that means), Ivan has ambitions of leading the human slaves out of bondage and becoming known as “The Great Healer”. When he discovers that the humans don’t know what a doctor is, Ivan remarks, “Great, this is my chance to become the Great Healer!”
Seriously, folks, this is good stuff. Oh sure, it’s good bad stuff, but it’s still pretty good stuff if you approach it in the right frame of mind — and knowing that it’s crap going in definitely helps. If you’re one of those people who demands competent acting, directing, and a script that actually makes a tiny bit of sense, you needn’t bother with “Alien Apocalypse”, because it has none of those things to offer you. In fact, it’s a very good thing that Campbell is in almost every scene, because without him “Alien Apocalypse” is just a bad episode of “The Outer Limits”, complete with shoddy CGI aliens and the kind of movie budget that translates into watered down Gatorade every day for the cast and crew. Those poor bastards.
“Alien Apocalypse” would be a terrible, terrible movie with few redeeming qualities if Bruce Campbell wasn’t around. The guy is just downright affable and charming, and the fact that Campbell knows he’s in Shlocksville from frame one, and that there isn’t a way out of town (at least not alive), means the movie works. Less successful is Renee O’Connor, who can’t quite seem to decide rather she’s in on the joke or working as a serious actor. Not a surprise that O’Connor and Campbell usually approach the same scenes from two completely different perspective. Renee, this is not Shakespeare. Your alien captors’ master plan involves forcing you to — gasp! — stack wood. Get it?
Although played mostly for camp value, “Alien Apocalypse” does come close to ruining things by including some questionable scenes. There’s a rape scene near the end, and the human overseers have a bad habit of cutting off the fingers of slaves who try to escape. In one scene, Ivan returns to save Kelly, and when Kelly holds up her hand to Ivan, it’s revealed that she’s lost a finger. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know rather to laugh at this, or to cringe at the awkwardness of it. There’s a lot of that all over “Alien Apocalypse”, mostly as a result of poor directing by Becker and some truly atrocious acting by the cast (with the exception of Campbell, of course). Which may explain why the film features quite a bit of post dubbing. If these people were anymore stiff, they’d be mistaken for trees and eaten by those alien termites.
If high camp is what you’re after, “Alien Apocalypse” is pure Heaven. There’s nothing very competent about the film, even going by the low threshold of the Grade Z genre. Nevertheless, things are just so bad and just so darn awful that you can’t help but laugh and be generally amused by the whole thing. It goes without saying that “Alien Apocalypse” is so bad it’s downright brilliant.
Josh Becker (director) / Josh Becker, Robert G. Tapert (screenplay)
CAST: Bruce Campbell …. Dr. Ivan Hood
Ren’e O’Connor …. Kelly
Remington Franklin …. Alex