Thursday, October 6, 2011

Invader (1997)

 Okay, image problems. For some reason, none of the discs in The Horror Collection will play on Windows Media Player, so my reviews for all six films will unfortunately be image free.
Being that the collection is called The Horror Collection: Tales of Terror, that would imply that the films it had were horror movies. This isn't really the case with Invader-AKA-Lifeforce

Invader is about a Viking space shuttle that lands back to Earth-in the Mojave Desert-, something that is impossible due to it not being able to have made the journey so quickly (or at all, it's sketchy). The shuttle is taken to a nearby military (maybe, again, it's sketchy) base, where a scientist couple (I think, they certainly bicker enough to be considered a couple) and their friend examine it, finding it to have been fixed and rebuilt. After the shuttle is decontaminated, the scientists, Case Montgomery (Cotter Smith) and Gracia Scott (Dierdre O'Connell) set about checking it for signs of life. They find nothing until they see an incredibly-in-plain-sight object stuck on the back of the shuttle that they don't notice for several minutes.

They find out that the shuttle is not a hoax and that it's not only been in space, but it's even been on Mars. They hook up the shuttle to their computer to examine its databanks, but instead of them hacking into the shuttle, the shuttle starts hacking into NASA (complete with weird alien symbols appearing on the computer screen).

Since this is set in AMERICA, when the word of bona-fide alien activity hits the military, they swarm inside the base, demanding that the scientist leave the case alone and hand it over to them, because apparently fixing a space shuttle and sending it back to Earth means WAR for the AMERICAN military! While Scientist no. 3 leaves for home, Case and Gracia lock themselves in their lab with the shuttle and try to download all evidence of alien activity from the shuttle and onto their computer so they can get the word out, rather than having the military hushing everything up.

Before they can do this though, the mysteriously added part of the shuttle begins to move, then burst open. While this is happening, the military (led by a low-budget Samuel L Jackson, Colonel Pratt (Robert Wisdom)) have noticed what the scientists are doing and they blowtorch the lab's door open. They destroy the lab's door just in time for the thing from the shuttle to escape.

The building is quarantined and put into lockdown, for fear of the alien escaping and for whatever alien virus it could be carrying. The two scientists and the colonel talk over the situation, then Gracia goes to the toilet. When she gets there however, she sees that there's purple goo all over the room. She calls Case, Pratt and a bunch of soldiers into the room, who go investigating in the room's vents and find a massive purple cobweb/alien thingy which electrocutes a couple of soldiers. After some soldiers spray the ceiling with lead, everyone just walks off and never check the vents again...ever.

While the power intermittently goes off, Case goes into another lab, where it's apparent that the alien has been building something. Case and Gracia examine the pod which the alien burst from and realize that it's an incubator. They also come to the conclusion that not only is the alien intelligent, but it has race memory-any knowledge and anything that has happened to any one of it's relatives and ancestors is immediately ingrained in its head from birth.

Some military expendables go off searching for the alien on their own and find it. One of them however, is killed and the other runs off, crazed. He is eventually found and is seriously ill, attributed to a sickness transferred from the alien. It turns out that the reason for the power going out is that the alien absorbs electricity, and it also steals and ingests the gunpowder from the bullets of the soldier it killed.

Eventually the alien sets up a decoy, which everyone falls for, leaving it alone in the lab with the unknowing Gracia. Instead of killing her, it simply looks at her. Then the military come in and peacefully resolve the situation with the alien, who as it turns out is really on a peaceful mission...just kidding! They fill it with a thousand bullets and leave Case and Gracia to give it an autopsy.

In it they find an egg, and they realize that not only is it going to hatch soon, but there could be others in the building and they will all inherit the just-killed alien's memories and experiences. But of course, continuing on with that storyline would only service the film's plot. Instead it changes focus for the next twenty minutes onto the sick soldier.

So as it turns out, the alien had a bacteria-free body and it couldn't possibly have infected the soldier. Then it's revealed that the soldier JUST HAPPENS to have an entirely unrelated case of appendicitis. So, Gracie tries her best to operate on him despite not being a proper doctor (which shows as she rubs her gloved hand across her forehead, smearing it with blood) and is successful...I think (more on that later).

Then the (apparently only) egg hatches, and the body count goes from a lonely one to a lot more. One soldier is folded to death through a door and another is impaled against a wall with his machine gun. Then Case, Gracie, Colonel Pratt and another soldier come into the room, finding the alien, which has randomly built a disintegration ray!...Yeah, this film does go off the rails in it's final seven minutes!...Or at least it WOULD HAVE if it wasn't for the case of one of the most annoying endings that I've EVER SEEN!

The alien disintegrates the wall, escapes the building, looks wistfully at the moon while E.T. sounding music plays...then the base is suddenly send-off for the main characters, no nothing, just a sudden an abrupt mushroom cloud to end the film. Then some military general guy visits Scientist no. 3 (who Case had gotten into contact with earlier and sent him the shuttle's information) and tells him that another shuttle is coming into Earth's orbit and that they need his help. Then a furious and stunned Scientist no. 3 yells at the general for what he's done, revealing that the alien was actually of a peaceful race that just wanted to find out if man was invading Mars. Then the movie just ends!

Ok, the rubbish ending aside, how was Invader? It's a fine film. The acting is good, the pacing is fine and the alien effects look GREAT, especially during the aforementioned autopsy scene! Also, of note is that the film, despite being pretty gory, has apparently been produced by Christians or Concerned Mothers, because there are two hilarious lines in the film where instead of swearing, the characters say sanitized words. A rough, tough AMERICAN soldier has just found an alien cocoon! "What the frick is that?". Gracia has just realized the true cause for the soldier's illness! "The man has goddang appendicitis!" It's hilarious!

Also strange is that IMDb considers Invader to be a remake of Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce, which is totally false. And Ryan Phillipe was in this movie...yes, THAT Ryan Phillipe!

So, In short, Invader is a lot of fun, granted you stop the movie after Ryan Phillipe is disintegrated and just picture Robert Wisdom tearing his shirt off, screaming "I HAVE THE POWER" and footy-tackling the alien into oblivion! Either that or the alien suddenly turning into Chief-Inspector Dreyfus and using the Disintegration ray to try and kill Inspector Clouseau and take over the world!

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