After a few alien-cops-on-earth movies (“Endangered Species”, “Alien Space Avenger”) we come to perhaps the best known of them all, a fun film which dispenses with anything remotely approaching backstory and just gives us full alien vs. other aliens (with a human assist) action.
A previously law-abiding chap robs a bank, kills a bunch of people, takes multiple gunshots and doesn’t go down, until eventually his car blows up and he’s taken, unconscious, to hospital. Early on, no messing, he’s got a weird alien parasite inside him, and the alien hops out of him and into the guy in the next bed. At the same time, head local cop Thomas Beck (Michael Nouri) is investigating what went on, and is joined by Seattle FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan), who’s got an odd look about him. There’s plenty of other cops around too, and the whole department feels real, lots of believable-looking cops (and they must have filmed in a real police station, no way a set dresser could have made it look that authentic).
Gallagher, of course, keeps the truth from Beck, to the point he’s arrested and they figure out he’s not actually an FBI agent. Meanwhile, the alien is jumping from body to body, killing, stealing cars and stereos to play his sweet 80s metal tapes on. Included in this run of alien hosts is a 22-year-old Claudia Christian, who’d go on to genre fame in “Babylon 5” and then every trashy sci-fi movie ever, it seems like.
I really enjoyed this! Tense, well-made, visually interesting, some lovely light moments, with a couple of great central performances (McLachlan is really good, with his little oddities played down rather than broad, for laughs) and a pace which starts off fast and doesn’t really let up. Apart from the music, which sounded hideous – all weird irritating sounds that felt like they were trying to be gunshots – there’s really nothing much to criticise about this movie. Plus, it’s got perhaps the largest number of “That Guy” (and Gal) actors of any movie ever. I’ll list the names, and I guarantee you won’t have heard of any of them, but if you saw their faces you’d recognise them all instantly. Clarence Felder, Clu Gulager, Ed O’Ross, Lin Shaye, Chris Mulkey and Richard Brooks – all completely solid, dependable actors, and all doing fine work in this movie.
If you’re reading this site, chances are you’ve seen this movie before, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend checking it out. One of the classics of 80s sci-fi cinema.
Rating: thumbs up