by Evan ODell 2/26/09
(2008) Directed by Ben Rock. Screenplay by Julia Fair from a story by David Simkins. Starring Carlos Bernard, Mathew St. Patrick, Rockmond Dunbar, Courtney Ford, and Jeffrey Licon.
Debuting in Austin, Texas at Fantastic Fest last September, Alien Raiders went on to win a few awards on the convention circuit. It won the Science Fiction Genre Award and Best Actress – Courtney Ford at Shocker Fest and Best Film - Thriller at Shriekfest – The Los Angeles Horror/Sci-fi Film Festival, as well as Best Feature – H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Directors and Producers take note, laurel leaves help sell your DVD. I might not have seen this at all if not for the last award.
Now this low budget film from first time feature director, Ben Rock, has landed on DVD. And aside from a name that brings to mind Scifi Channel Premier Movies (rarely a good thing), its really quite an enjoyable guilty pleasure. The movie is distributed by Raw Feed, who have had some rather decent direct-to-video fair.
The reason I say guilty pleasure, is because of the nature of the film. It is a direct to DVD movie with a low budget and a story that is at once familiar. The cast and crew make the most of their limited budget though, and it never feels its 85 minute run time. The acting is decent enough, with television actors Carlos Bernard and Rockmond Dunbar on the cast. But the story feels a bit derivative of similar stories like John Carpenter’s The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Hidden, and even The Mist. The ending is also rather easy to see coming, though with an entirely Eighties feel to it. I wish it had more memorable dialogue, which could have served to elevate the cheese factor a bit with quote-ability the way memorable dialogue helped films like Night of the Creeps or They Live. Still, a rather enjoyable low budget movie that rises above its direct-to-video roots.
Aaron Ritter (Carlos Bernard) leads a group of armed killers into a small-town Arizona grocery store and immediately starts killing people. A member of his group, Spooky (Philip Newby), has the ability to ‘scan’ for a presence within the hostages, but things become more difficult when they loose Spooky. Ritter believes the king, an alien parasite which nests in humans and spawns, can be found among the hostages of the grocery store, and he won’t leave until he kills it. Detective Seth Steadman (Mathew St. Patrick) is the negotiator whose step-daughter, Whitney (Courtney Ford) is trapped inside.