Strange Invaders (1983) – Michael Laughlin

The next alien monster film featured in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies is an interesting one in that it had possibilities and potential, but it’s execution borders on the horrible.

Meant to be both homage and satire of the sci-fi movies of the late 50s the story seems like it would work perfectly – a small town is taken over by aliens in the late 50s, and when someone comes looking, the town hasn’t changed at all… the inhabitants (all aliens) are still living and acting like its the 50s.

However, a horrible script, some terrible performances, and some of the worst shot composition I’ve seen put to film, hold this one back and denied it ever becoming more than a minor cult film.

Paul Le Mat is Charles Bigelow a university professor who receives a surprise when his ex-wife Margaret (Diana Scarwid) turns up on his doorstep with their child, Elizabeth (Lulu Sylbert) in tow. She has to go out of town for a couple of days, apparently her mother has died, and needs Charles to look after the child.

When days pass and no word is heard, though neither Elizabeth nor Charles seem that worried about it, more like the plot requires them to move forward with the story, Charles heads to Margaret’s small hometown to track her down and find out what is going on.

Surprise! The town, and apparently Margaret as well, are all aliens, meaning Elizabeth is a hybrid!

Charles is able to make an escape and attempts to his story to the government, where no one believes him, but the tabloids, they love the story, and that catches the aliens’ attention, and puts Charles and Elizabeth right in their crosshairs.

Dancing in the line of nostalgia and inanity, I really wanted to like this one because it sounded fun, and I remember seeing the theatrical poster when I was a kid and being curious. Sadly, for me, it just didn’t work.

And the sad thing is, it’s got an interesting cast; Nancy Allen, Wallace Shawn, Louise Fletcher, June Lockhart, and Micheal Lerner. A tighter, and sharper script, in addition to some more inspired shooting and production may have gotten this film more attention, and lifted it above the low spot in sci-fi history that it occupies.

I get that the film was attempting to poke fun, and honour some of the classic (and not so classic) films of the 50s sci-fi era, but that doesn’t mean it that it didn’t have to put a little bit of an effort in.

And this was the second film in a proposed trilogy, the first film being Strange Behaviour, which considering how I felt about this film, I’m glad I haven’t seen.

Still there are more interstellar terrors to come as I explore more of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies! Pick up a copy today and find something monstrous to watch tonight!

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