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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Alienator (1990)

Fred Olen Ray is back at it with this science fiction flick that has some familiar themes. Kol is an intergalactic criminal who is scheduled to be executed for his crimes. The warden, played by Jan Michael Vincent, is going to enjoy this one. We know because he tells us. There is also an observer, a space hippy that thinks capital punishment is wrong. Some stuff happens including the warden sexually harassing one of his technicians, played by P.J. Soles… damn this is a good cast! Kol makes a break for it, steals a shuttle and crashes on Earth. 

Here is where things get interesting. Some kids hit him with their Winnebago and go to a park ranger for help. This puts them in the way of the robotic body builder lady with a laser who has been sent to kill Kol before he gets up to any more trouble. Since they are with her target, they are fair game. After a body count and seeing the Alienator, the mechanical mercenary, play nice with a deer we figure out that all may not be what it seems. Some people die, and some live happily ever after knowing that the world has been saved… I think. 

This is the sort of harmless low budget fun that Fred Olen Ray is a master at. Not a terribly original flick but executed on a minimal budget in a manner that is entertaining as hell. The story is tight and paced well. There is always some action on the screen and the movie never stays in one location long enough to get boring. The action sequences are simple but work well. There are lots of lasers going pew pew pew, a burned-out body Uncle Owen style, and that lady terminator… er uh I mean Alienator is cool looking. 

The cast is stellar, though not asked to do much they have enough screen presence to keep our attention. In addition to Jan Michael Vincent and P.J. Soles we also get performances from Robert Quarry, Leo Gordon, John Phillip Law, and I’ll be damned Joe Pilato! You might not recognize all these names but if you dig horror/drive-in movies you will know the faces. The director puts together a great cast that can cover for some of the deficiencies that come with a low budget movie like Alienator. 

Special effects wise the movie is a mixed bag. It is clear that the space station is some sort of industrial building, which is a common trick in movies like this. I really do like the design of the Alienator as it looks sci-fi enough to be a passable intergalactic bounty hunter. The laser is sold with some sound effects and on set explosions. Speaking of sound effects whenever she is near, we get a very familiar sound effect. As Chris Rock once said on screen, “George Lucas gonna sue somebodies’ ass!” 

If you are looking for a serious movie then this isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you want cheesy fun then this as well as many other Fred Olen Ray movies will fit that bill. I’m in the middle of rediscovering his work and having a blast doing so. Of course, I’ve now cursed myself. 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

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