This must be what it was like to work on MST3K; it’s my birthday and I’m writing a review of a crappy movie. Ah well, let’s get our hands dirty with this week’s Netflix’s Basement entry Alien Armageddon.
Much like the other movies in this series of reviews, Alien Armageddon is a giant waste of time. Yet at some points it almost feels salvageable. One scene in particular, where we find out the aliens are genetically manipulating certain women into being perpetually pregnant with alien meatballs which are then fed to the other captives of the alien’s brutal regime, felt like something out of a really good episode of Tales from the Crypt or The Outer Limits. Unfortunately, enduring everything that precedes and follows this scene is a painful chore. This is a movie with about fifteen gun battles, but not a single squib pack to be found. All of the barrel flares and gunshot sounds are added in post-production. And on a scale of one to Terranova the blood splatter special effects and pew-pew gun sequences rate on par with the lowest budget SyFy original movie.
But at least the casting director managed to get Virginia Hey (Farscape, The Road Warrior) in the movie. Though Hey’s presence is almost comically short lived. After two scenes and what amounts to about four lines of dialogue her character is unceremoniously killed.
So what is this movie actually about? I honestly wish I knew. It’s as if the screenwriter, who is also the director, was drunk on homemade bathtub gin during the entire creative process. Nevertheless, I shall attempt to set this up for you.
There are aliens called the Nephilim. Despite walking around in bargain basement storm trooper armour, the Nephilim are blind space worm things. Imagine Stargate’s Goa’uld, only more low-rent. But wait, the Nephilim are actually Martians and they created humans eons ago to be their bodies…or something like that. The whole relationship is a pastiche of biblical appropriation and Panspermia that isn’t nearly as clever as the movie wants it to be. Anyway, the aliens decide to invade the Earth, as all aliens are wont to do. The Nephilim destroy every major city on our world except Los Angeles (this is where you groan because heavenly beings set the City of Angels as their seat of power). For some reason that makes absolutely no sense from a biological point of view, the Nephilim can only feed on a species containing their own DNA. So their invasion is a pretense for interplanetary take-out. The actual story, which does manage to insert itself between all the exposition, is about a group of people trying to break out of a Nephilim prison. In doing so, they kill all the aliens with the power of Deus ex Machina.
There’s also some sort of power struggle between rival castes of the invading aliens, but the dialogue therein is painfully opaque and utterly inconsistent. Since it has almost zero bearing on the story, I gave up on my attempts to bring order to said theatrical chaos.
At least I could laugh at The Dead Undead. Watching Alien Armageddon evoked the same “dear god I need scotch” feeling that I have when I mark a written-on-the-day-its-due undergraduate paper.
For example, don’t set the movie in Los Angeles when you can’t afford permits to shoot in LA. Rarely does a scene pass when Alien Armageddon neglects to remind its viewers the story is set in LA. But what do we see of LA? About sixty minutes of concrete walls inside a building which could be a partially completed condo unit.
Then there’s Alien Armageddon’s answer to every film maker’s great question: do I need to show one of my character’s embarking upon a post-chili night magnitude shit? The answer is no. Sure, gastrointestinal distress might be a symptom of having one’s DNA over written by alien meatballs. But there’s no way to take an actor, or his character, seriously when he’s making this face.
Similarly, if as a director you are going to have a character puking their guts out on-screen, the splashing sound of puke hitting the bottom of the toilet should be concurrent with the actor retching, not consecutive. Unless this movie was made by Mormons somebody on set should have known that.
Then there’s the over-the-shoulder camera work which has the back of one actor’s head obstructing the sight line on the focal character. And who could forget such Oscar worthy dialogue as “She’s acting,” “I’ve got cramp,” and “You gotta choke me, bro”. After enduring all of the above who’s going to notice the flagrant use of iPhones as alien scanning devices or convenient lesbianism to wake up an otherwise comatose audience?
Seriously, this movie should be a right of passage for would-be directors. If upon a first viewing the neophyte director can not find 85% of the things the movie did wrong, they don’t get to make their own movies.
Still, I can’t help but think that in the hands of better people Alien Armageddon might have had some redeeming quality to it. Terrible as it is, most of its problems connect to a sense of creative control which presumed too highly upon its own cleverness. The premise is okay, but the execution is just a god awful mess.
Writen, Directed, and Produced by: Neil Johnson
Starring: Katharine McEwan, Don Scribner, and Rochelle Vallese