The Alien Dead
They're consuming every living creature in sight!
Year of Release: 1980
Also Known As: It Fell from the Sky
Running Time: 71 minutes (1:11)
Director: Fred Olen Ray
Ray Roberts ... Tom Corman
Linda Lewis ... Shawn Michaels
Buster Crabbe ... Sheriff Kowalski
Mike Bonavia ... Miller Haze
Dennis Underwood ... Deputy Campbell
George Kelsey ... Emmet Michaels
Fred Olen Ray ... Pool Player
The Alien Dead is the story of a young newsman and the trouble he gets into when he discovers his town is infested with monsters.
The story beings when alligator poacher, Griffith, loses his wife one night in the Black Hammock swamp. He tries to tell the sheriff about the monsters that got his wife, but no one will believe him. Reporter Tom Corman decides to check out the swamp and meets with beautiful swamp dweller, Shawn Michaels, whose father, Emmet Michaels tells Tom a fantastic story about giant possums, which Tom rightly assumes to be nonsense.
While on a late night walk with Shawn, Tom discovers the mangled corpse of Mrs. Griffith, but Sheriff Kowalski is still not convinced there are creatures in the swamp.
The next day Tom and Shawn scout the swamps in a boat and are almost overturned by the creatures, who eat human flesh, and survive somehow underwater. The sheriff and Deputy Campbell are sure the killer is a crazed alligator and put a bounty on it. As Tom predicts, the bounty draws many locals out into the swamp seeking reward but finding horrible deaths.
Tom manages to retrieve a piece of flesh torn off a monster they ran over with their boat and he takes it to the game warden, Miller Haze, for further study. After looking at it Haze and Tom decide to check out the story of a half mad girl who claimed to see something fall out of the sky one night into the swamp.
At Mae Hawkins' house they hear the story of a strange speeding meteorite that fell one night, crashing into a houseboat full of people. The mutating effects of the meteor revived the mutilated passengers and they became flesh-eating ghouls. Haze reckons that their victims may also come back to life after death and thus create a veritable army of the living dead!
However, it may be too late to battle the ghouls as they are over running the rural communities, killing and devouring. When they find the road blocked, Tom, Shawn and Emmet are forced to run for cover, leaving their truck behind. They take refuge in an old cabin, but not before Emmet is killed by Doc Ellerbe, once a friend now one of the living dead. The survivors fight the ghouls at the cabin, but only a few remain alive at the film's action packed climax.
The Alien Dead... well, I can see I'm no longer needed here. What in the name of Jupiter's balls were they doin' with that summary? Is it all text cause Fred was too cheap to get the distributor a still from the movie to stick on there or what? I realize my hypocrisy's showin' here but I've never seen anything like this. For fuck's sake my last will and testament prolly won't be as long as that summary, what kinda pathetic failure would you have to be to spend that much time writin' about a movie like this? Yeesh, that's depressin'. So anyway, I've found that a lotta people seem to think this isn't all that good, but I think their problem is that they're lookin' at it as though it aughta have a coherent plot that you can follow with characters that you're able to feel some kind of emotion towards. Personally, I think this thing was all an infomercial to sell Pert Plus, an what a fantastic way to showcase their product. I mean, even after bein' under water for a week or so an goin' through the process of zombification, these undead ladies' hair has flawless sheen and perfect bounce. They can pursue victims through the swamps of Florida, roll around on the ground, an even chew out people's jugulars an their hair still remains luminous and elegant all day long. Even the Prego spaghetti sauce their victims spit up on 'em rolls right off it like water off a duck's back. Cripes, an I thought Billy Mays was the king of the sales pitch. Well, I'm sold. Pert Plus, great hair no fuss. Not even in the event you turn into an amphibious swamp zombie. But gettin' back to lookin' at this thing as an actual movie, it's still undoubtedly the greatest movie ever made for under $15,000 to feature Buster Crabbe AND gratuitous skillet spanking, so if you'll all quit snickerin' for a minute an pay attention we can all get through this a lot faster cause ain't nobody poor cept he who lacks knowledge, k? First thing that The Alien Dead taught me that I was completely turned around about the fact that nothin' can clear out a swamp fulla gators quicker'n a half dozen undead yuppies that move slower'n an old woman in the Express Line at Safeway. Second thing is that hairy backwoods fat guys in Oshkosh B'gosh overalls an faces so red it looks like their "Don't Tread on Me" t-shirt is cuttin' off their circulation invariably produce hot blonde daughters. At this point my workin' theory is that Marilyn Monroe had a hillbilly fetish an spent a lot of 'er spare time bein' passed around lumber camps, slaughter houses, an gold mines, but that's as yet unsubstantiated. An third, when the alligator based economy dries up, sometimes a man has to resort to desperate measures.
But the thing that's really been sandin' my scrotum lately is public outrage. Well, not the outrage itself, but the things that CAUSE the public outrage. Outrage is fine an dandy, it's one of the things that makes this country great, but I think we need to seriously reevaluate the kinda stuff that warrants the red-eyed, frothin', Cujo-esque outrage that makes that vein in people's neck's bulge out til their whole face looks like a map of Twin Falls, Idaho. Now this movie's got a perfect example of a situation that needs, nah, DEMANDS some torches an pitchforks. Cause in the movie Sheriff Buster Crabbe pretty much spends all his time playin' poker games at the police station an blowin' his Olympic mornin' breath at everybody that drags 'im outta bed for little things like murders. So you'd figure that since Buster's about the most ineffectual sheriff since Roscoe Coltrane that maybe some of these people might have a problem with this. But they don't do squat about it. Now, tell these same people that don't give a flyin' fridge about the sheriff sleepin' off a bad hangover in the holdin' cell that you're gonna give health care to poor people or that Phil Robertson's gettin' suspended from Duck Dynasty an pretty quick they're on the white house lawn with their scatterguns throwin' their TV guides at the secret service. Same deal with city folks, tell 'im the NSA's spendin' so much time spyin' on 'em that by now they've got extensive notes detailin' their masturbation schedule an they barely look up from their frappuccino long enough to roll their eyes at you. But tell that same person that their World of Warcraft server is gonna be down for a couple days to do maintenance an within seconds he's fillin' up your Facebook feed with insane all cap ravings about bein' robbed blind by the company an how they wouldn't piss on their customer base if they were on fire all because he can't spend the evenin' levelin' his female gnome character with his internet girlfriend. For fuck's sake people, we've gotta do better as a country, France is laughin' at us for cryin' out loud. Even England's lookin' at us an tryin' to remember why the heck they tried to stop us from secedin'. This is gettin' embarrassin' an everybody needs to quit worryin' so much about what color Santa Claus is. He's white, okay? White. It's Mrs. Claus that's black.
The movie begins with Bayou Billy an his wife out in the swamp lookin' for a gator they can shoot an fry up into jambalaya fixins an once Billy's able to get one in his sights he thanks the lord for the scaly bounty they're about to receive an starts firin' like a CEO on Christmas Eve. Billy's wife knows the rules, he kills it, she cleans it. So she wades out into the swamp to grab it an pretty quick she gets pulled under ater like a home owner with an 8% fixed rate mortgage an never resurfaces. The next day, Sheriff Buster Crabbe's hostin' his weekly poker game at the station house (if any real cops come by I guess they pretend they don't play for keepsies) when Billy busts in an scares the deputy into dealin' a hand of 52 card pick up an starts ramblin' about somethin' gettin' his wife out in the swamp an how ever since that yuppy party yacht sunk out there weird stuff's been happenin' an that he's terrified about the prospect of catchin' Yankeeism from the water supply. Buster don't have the heart to tell Billy that his wife an Swamp Thing've had a thing goin' for a few years now an that she's prolly at his place, so the local newsman (Tom) gets up from the table an figures that since Buster's gonna throw 'im in the crossbar hotel if he tries to collect his gamblin' winnins he may as well go check out the guy's story. Sides, Buster's workin' on an inside straight at the moment an it's not like the woman's gonna be any less missin' tomorrow. Elsewhere, the pork chop from the news station's comin' home for the night when 'er dog takes off like it tore up the sofa an realizes this's his last chance to taste freedom. So she heads out to find 'im when all the sudden she's attacked by a redneck zombie that goes all Charlie Saatchi on 'er til she's lyin' dead on the front lawn like a fraternity pledge. The next mornin', Tom heads out to the spot where Billy's wife went missin' an after wadin' in a few yards he gets ambushed by Elly May Clampett (Shawn) who emerges from the water like a German U-boat. Once Tom's able to extricate 'imself from his boots an abandon 'em to the denizens of the La Brea mud pit he starts walkin' with Shawn (Shawn Michaels, no less) an after she gets done tellin' 'im 'er pappy Jed'll have ole Duke trailin' 'im if he even touches 'er, he says he'd like to meet Jed an ask 'im a few questions. Shawn's sexy an she knows it, an worth pursuin', long as you don't mind wakin' up with chiggers. So once they arrive at the Clampett estate Jed invites Tom to sit a spell an take his shoes off... well to sit a spell an he'll tell 'im all about "the big one."
Seems Jed's version of the situation is that all the gators got eaten up by gigantic mutated possums that were spawned by a germ warfare plane crashin' into his swamp land. He kicked the commie's ass all the way back to the Soviet Union but it was no use cause the water was already contaminated an pretty quick the possums were as big as Buicks an Tom shoots Shawn this look like "you didn't tell me he was nuttier than a Planters factory." Meanwhile at the local pool hall, some neckbeard's tellin' his ole lady that he just lost all their food stamps to the local shark an that he's gotta go out gator wrestlin' to try an win it back. She knows this guy's no gator wrangler on account of 'im still havin' all his fingers an realizes he's as good as dead even if his huntin' partner wasn't Neville Brand an heads for home. But along the way, she's stalked by WCW's Mortis an she has to go make like a troll an hide under a bridge til he gives up an goes to find James Vandenberg for advice. Only when she comes out she's mugged by another flannel zombie that takes 'er down an makes motorboat noises on 'er neck til she an 'er actin' career die of degradation. Elsewhere, Tom an Shawn've gone out for a walk so Jed can have his alone time in the outhouse with the Sears Roebuck catalog. Tom's pretendin' to listen to Shawn's hopes an dreams of havin' more'n one pair of underpants someday so she won't get cooter-rub from 'er cutoff jeans while 'er drawers're in the wash when Tom hears a rustlin'. So they head down to the swamp an find the corpse bride an Shawn gets this look on 'er face like she really wants to tag in Marty Jannetty so she can get the heck outta this movie. Later that night, they drag Buster outta bed in his long johns to look at the corpse an by now he's pretty P.O.'d about missin' The Dukes of Hazzard. So he sends the deputy to arrest Billy an tells Tom that if he missed any close ups of Catherine Bach's cleavage he's gonna lock 'im up for conspiracy to prevent fapping. The next mornin' out in the sticks (which for this town is 100 yards in any direction from the sheriff's office) this old hag sneaks out to where 'er husband's hidin' from 'er an starts peltin' 'im with a fryin' pan screamin' "not the provider!" til he goes to do his chores. Unfortunately, about the time he starts splittin' the wood there's zombies all over his lawn an he's not able to set up a proper plant defense system or remember the axe he's holdin' can be used for self defense before they dig into their lumberjack breakfast.
About that time the shrew comes out to make sure he ain't choppin' against the grain an when she sees one of the zombies has a pitchfork she just assumes it's a standard backwater robbery an puts 'er hands up, only that just leaves a clear path to 'er gut bucket an pretty quick she gets forked for the first time in 35 years. Elsewhere, Tom an Shawn're out on a boat when it starts rockin' like the S.S. Lonely Island an when Tom tries rowin' away somethin' burgles his paddle an gets Shawn all depressed since she was lookin' forward to the paddlin' later. So they crank the motor an get outta there about the time a pack of zombies with Uber Jason masks on start poppin' up an when they hit the beach Buster an the deputy show up an tell 'im they figure it's a gator doin' the killins an that they've put a bounty on it an the skunk ape just to be on the safe side. Tom uses real small words an talks as slow as possible to try to explain to Buster that it's zombies an that they killed all the gators an the Indians an when Buster tells 'im the Indians just moved to Cleveland Shawn gets this look on 'er face like she's about to super kick Buster right outta his 5 gallon hat. Then they find a pound of flesh attached to their motor an take it over to the game warden/biologist (Miller). Meanwhile, a pair of Elmer Fucks're out tryin' to collect the gator bounty when one gets yanked offa the back of their boat an when the other sees what's got ahold of his frog giggin' partner he faints like Olive Oyl any time Bluto shows up an goes to sleep with the crawdads. Elsewhere, Miller looks at the flubber through a microscope an figures they'd better go talk to the crazy lady about the thing that sunk the yuppy party barge cause somethin' he saw in the microscope that he didn't deem fit to mention leads 'im to believe there's a connection. A few miles away, the deputy's peekin' at a topless bimbo swimmin' in the swamp who's udderly unconcerned about a gator poppin' in for some breast meat an is also apparently incapable of seein' the 250 pound blue mass on the far shore pantin' like an exhausted bird dog. But then the deputy hears his radio goin' off from 500 yards away an after he oozes back to the police cruiser Buster tells 'im to get his pork barrel of an ass back to the station while the corn-fed airhead gets sucked down like a turd in an airplane crapper.
Then some random motorists have to pull over with car trouble an the zombies show up to render assistance only they accidentally kill the driver with a neck massage an his passenger flees into the Everglades. Unfortunately one of the zombies has his own fanboat parked not too far away so he gets around the other side of the escapee real quick an starts herdin' 'er back towards the pack til she stabs 'im in the face with 'er afro comb an he has to breath like Darth Vader for a while an pass out on the lawn like Chris Christie goin' for the mornin' paper. The herdin' was successful though, an the other zombies grab 'er an chew on 'er til she spits up strawberry fluoride like a toddler at the dentist's office an expires. By this time Tom and company're over at some loon's house an she tells 'im that she an 'er boyfriend were out drivin' when this road flare came down outta the sky an blew the shit outta this Yankee pot party boat out in the swamp an when 'er boyfriend dove into the swamp for no apparent reason he resurfaced with part of his face missin' an tried to tear hers off so he wouldn't feel so self conscious about it. Then, after she finishes the story, she turns to look at Tom an the far side of 'er face's gone necrotic an everybody backs outta there real slow like they accidentally walked into the kitchen of a Korean restaurant an spotted the puppy kennels in the corner while the woman laughs hysterically like a Frenchman watchin' Jerry Lewis reruns. Will our daring heroes survive? With the south be overrun with zombies? Would anyone notice? You'll have to buy it an find out for yourselves. Besides it'd be kinda nice for Fred, he's still tryin' to break even on this sucker.
Alrighty, well, what can you say about Fred Olen Ray that hasn't been said already? Something nice I suppose. If Roger Corman is the king of the B movies as some people suggest, Fred is the king of the Z movies. A lot of the movies he's made would have been great Mystery Science Theater material after the nudity was removed, this one in particular. The violence is so silly it couldn't hardly be deemed offensive, and it's already short enough that not many cuts would have been necessary to fit in the host segments. The really strange thing is that Fred manages to keep finding people that'll pay him to make movies and as of this review, is pushing 150 titles to his credit. The plan for this movie was to get it into the drive-in circuit, which, realistically, was a perfectly plausible and intelligent plan, but apparently it didn't last long there and faded into obscurity. Which is unfortunate, because it was plenty entertaining enough to run as the second half of a drive-in double feature. That's not to say it's any good, it certainly isn't that, but it's fun from a 1980s horror train wreck perspective. Even really bad horror movies from the 80s just don't seem as terrible as really bad horror movies being made today. But after the bottom dropped out of the drive-in movie, Fred started making those softcore porno movies they showed at 2am on Cinemax that featured actresses who still thought they could make it in the movie industry someday and stuck with that for a while. These days his credits would suggest he'll make anything that has a paycheck attached, which includes some horror titles, T&A stuff that only kids that can't crack their parents' internet security code so they can watch actual porn will watch, and even family oriented movies like Abner, the Invisible Dog. But he did use this, his first real movie on his own (The Brain Leeches is a 55 minute black and white home video style movie that's extremely obscure and doesn't really count) to establish what's known as the Fred Olen Ray formula, wherein you load the movie up with gore, nekkidness, and a washed up former Hollywood star to add a little marquee value. In the 80s where the drive-in culture was still alive and well, this formula really did work, and if he'd been born sooner, it absolutely would have worked in the 60s and 70s as well (any dates before that and they would have halted his attempts to use nudity), but with the death of the drive-in, it really doesn't work anymore. Bottom line though, as bad as this movie is, it hits the sweet spot of ineptitude that make it fun(ny) to watch. There's so much ridiculousness in every single scene that, bad as it is, it does not bore the viewer.
Okay then, lets jab an afro comb into this thing an see if that teaches it some manners. The plot is pretty ridiculous, but we're talkin' 1980s low budget horror movies, so that's the name of the game. Getting indignant about that'd be asininus in extremus. Though I've gotta say the falling object from space striking your party barge is pretty bad luck. Ironically the guy that owned the boat probably had the winning lottery ticket in his pocket. And maybe it's a little silly to realize the object blew the boat apart like a toad with an M-80 taped to it but that somehow all the people inside were intact enough to be raised from the dead, but it is what it is. The acting ranges from obscenely terrible to really bad, with the exception of the guy with the marquee value, Buster Crabbe, who does what he can with the script he's got. Some of the really irrelevant characters are Troll 2 bad in their acting (though not quite so awful as Connie Young who was both very unskilled and putting the emphasis on the wrong syllables in most of her lines during Troll 2) and a few even look directly into the camera at times; one even smirks into it. Often the dialog is just outright giggle inducing and a few of the characters read their lines really slowly for no apparent reason, kinda like a child sounding out their words when they're learning to read. You've also got the laughable underacting during the zombie attacks where it's clear everyone's being super delicate so as to not hurt each other, as well as the scene where the old hag pelts 'er husband with the skillet where you can imagine that if there was a fly between him and the skillet it would've flown off after the blow connected. And of course, the zombies don't have much consistency in their movements. Sometimes they're dreadfully slow, other times they're quite a bit faster. Maybe they just hadn't had any coffee yet. Anyway, Buster Crabbe was the big deal actor for the movie, and really the only actor that ever did anything. Buster alone soaked up $2000 of the movie's $12,000 budget, and was there because he'd been Flash Gorden from the original 30s movies/serials, Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, and Tarzan in one of the first movie incarnations of that character. Besides Buster, here's who worked again: Mike Bonavia (Biohazard), Martin Nicholas (The Tomb), Michael Smith (Jaws 2). And of course, Fred himself had little bit parts in this and many of his other movies.
The special effects are... well they're special. The zombie make up isn't the worst I've ever seen, though the ones that have nothing but painted faces and perfect hair are pretty silly. The blood is too vibrant, looking a lot like modeling paint, and the blood that's spat outta people's mouths I suspect may very well be spaghetti sauce, as it has that kind of consistency. There's a severed hand that doesn't look too bad, unfortunately you can see that same hand still attached to the actress after it's supposedly ripped off but what the heck. There's also a weird sequence where they used a blue filter that I'm assuming is designed to make it seem like maybe it's later in the day than it actually is, but it's hard to say, it's pretty silly though. The shooting locations are actually, sadly, the best thing about the movie as it contains a lot of nice nature scenery, even though they're intermingling scenes with swamps and pine trees that're supposed to be in the same place. Then they'll use clear streams that're clearly flowing and try passing it off as the same swamp location that was used previously, but as far as the shooting locations themselves go, they're pretty decent. There's also a few neat scraps of 80s America that aren't really plot relevant, like a little grocery store and a pool hall that I enjoyed seeing. The soundtrack is pretty much a clusterfuck of weird synth tracks with random noises inserted that cause you to stop watching the movie and waste time tryin' to identify where you've heard that sound before. And of course, there's quite a bit of cheesy country and blue grass music too but I find that kind of thing brings a little authenticity to a movie as long as it's geographically appropriate. A few other additional problems that don't really fit into those categories would be a couple sequences with terrible lighting, choppy editing, some incomprehensible dialog, and the fact that the ending of the movie resolves absolutely nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. Which is made all the weirder by the fact that the movie actually starts with the main character writing up the story of what happened on his type writer. I didn't mention that part in the plot because it makes so little sense to have it start that way when the movie actually leaves out a big part of what he'd be typing about. If that doesn't make a lot of sense, basically there's a lot of stuff that has to happen between the end of the movie and this opening sequence before he's even GOT a complete story to write about. I dunno, it's... it's Fred Olen Ray so it's best not to dwell on it. Just experience it and move on. Overall, it's a total stinker, but do at least be advised that it's not something I'd describe as *boring*, so if you're into rotten movies that're fun, by all means. Otherwise, just pretend like you never read this.