Directed by Josh Becker
Produced by Jeff Franklin & Bob Perkis
Written by Josh Becker
Director of Photograpy David Worth
Music by Joe Loduca
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Renee O'Connoer, Peter Jason & Remington Franklin
2005/88 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.77:1 Anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD
I've noticed an odd phenomenon in our society where a product can be very successful and yet, still be looked upon as inferior, and at times, met with scorn. For example, when a deal or special at McDonald's is mentioned online, there is usually an immediate deluge of comments mentioning how gross their food is and how those commenting would never eat there, but McDonald's sells thousands of burgers everyday. The same seems to be true with SciFi Pictures Original films which air on the SciFi channel. The mere mention of these films will elicit groans from many individuals. However, the movies are clearly successful for the cable network, as they continue to crank them out. The Bruce Campbell vehicle ALIEN APOCALYPSE is touted as "The Highest Rated SciFi Pictures Original of All-Time!" Apparently, every other network was off the air that night.
ALIEN APOCALYPSE is set in the future where a group of astronauts, including Dr. Ivan Hood (Bruce Campbell) and Kelly (Renee O'Connor), return to Earth after a 40-year deep space probe mission, only to find that their home planet has been ravaged by an alien invasion. Hood and Kelly are captured by a group of human bounty hunters and taken to a slave camp which is overseen by the aliens. The large bug-sized aliens crave wood, so the slaves cut and move wood all day long. Outraged by this treatment, Hood attempts to rally the slaves to revolt. But, as most of them were raised under the tyranny of the alien rule, the captives have little urge to fight back. So, it's up to Hood to find a way to injure the aliens and lead an uprising against the oppressors.
It's really hard to put into words just how bad ALIEN APOCALYPSE is...but I'll try. SciFi Pictures films aren't exactly known as high-budget affairs, but this one looks especially cheap. The characters move around what appears to be the same patch of woods for the entire film. The "slave camp" is a working sawmill and Hood and Kelly move the same piece of lumber back and forth. The aliens have an interesting insect design, but the CGI effects aren't very impressive. The digital bugs stand out from the background and there is no difference in look amongst the various aliens. However, these CG bugs look absolutely top-notch compared to the awful wigs and fake bears worn by the actors. In scenes where Campbell's character is seen walking at a distance, it's clear that a stand in is being used, as the person's hair is much darker than Campbell's and the side-burns are much larger. In short, nothing in the film looks polished.
I get the feeling that many people don't expect much from these SciFi films, but ALIEN APOCALYPSE is an exception because of the participants involved. Writer/director Josh Becker is a long-time cohort of Sam Raimi's Renaissance Pictures gang, having worked on EVIL DEAD (among other films) and directed Raimi in THOU SHALT NOT KILL...EXCEPT. Becker was also responsible for the impressive black and white film RUNNING TIME. But ALIEN APOCALYPSE shows no glimpse of the notes of originality found in Becker's other films. (I'm especially fond of his LUNATICS: A LOVE STORY.) The movie is clearly a "homage" to PLANET OF THE APES, but it never moves beyond that and there is little story in the film. As for Bruce Campbell, yes, he's made a name for himself and a career from being the go-to "B-movie" actor. But, many of his films are fun if nothing else. There's little "fun" in ALIEN APOCALYPSE and much of the film is dreadfully boring. As is to be expected, Campbell hams it up and overacts like crazy, but it's annoying as opposed to endearing in this film. He does have some interesting lines, but for the most part, he appears to be Bruce Campbell trying to play "Bruce Campbell".
ALIEN APOCALYPSE yearns to be a science-fiction/action hybrid with a dash of sassy humor. The actual end result is a z-grade cheapie which does little to entertain the audience. Even those who've gotten used to and learned to enjoy Bruce Campbell's low-budget films will find ALIEN APOCALYPSE to be too bare-bones.
ALIEN APOCALYPSE invades DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed 1.77:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer is pretty good, as the image is sharp and fairly clear. The bulk of the film takes place in a green, wooded area, and those colors look fine. The image does show some shimmering at times, mostly in the tree-tops and on any object with horizontal lines. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The track provides good sound effects, but, according to Josh Becker, "9/10" of the dialogue in the film was dubbed, so the audio quality of the dialogue fluctuates throughout the course of the movie. The surround sound effects are scant, but effective when they appear.
The ALIEN APOCALYPSE DVD contains a few extra features. The DVD features an audio commentary with Bruce Campbell and Josh Becker. As these two have known each other for years, this is a pleasant and jovial talk. They spend most of the track describing the working conditions in Bulgaria, where the film was shot, and describing how the experience differed from working in America. The DVD contains a 2-minute "Behind-the-Scenes" segment, which consists of on-set video and contains a few comments from Campbell. The extras are filled out with a "Storyboard Gallery" and a text "Bruce Campbell Bio".
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©