Bloodsuckers From Outer Space (1984)

Welcome, dear reader, to another mini review series here at ISCFC, “movies I own that start with the word Blood”. There’ll be all sorts of genres, all sorts of budgets, even one animated movie (I think) but at the end of it you’ll have a pile more opinions to inform your movie viewing experience.

“Bloodsuckers From Outer Space” is the first movie from Glen Coburn, who’d go on to make a few beloved-ish indies, “Tabloid” and “Hollywood Deadbeat”. But this movie is firmly in the tradition of the mid-80s straight-to-video horror explosion, and could be (MST3K joke alert!) compared to such classics as “Return of the Living Dead”. Well, the comparison would be “Return of the Living Dead was really good. This movie sucked”.

Rural Texas is the location for all the fun and games, and we start in gentle fashion with a farmer, doing farming things. Then there’s a wind, although it’s more a noise than actual wind (the trees in the background are entirely immobile, for example), and said farmer starts retching before collapsing, blood spewing from his mouth. A few seconds later and he’s up! But with a grey face, hideous distended black veins and a mean look in his eyes.

Now, we could have gone either way at this point. It’s cheap but cheerful, and as the opening credits play there’s one of my all-time favourite things, the custom-written theme song (“They’re Out For Blood”). I have a lot of love in my heart for micro-budget regional horror-comedy, but things go off the rails quite quickly. I’m going to avoid just recapping everything, because who cares? There’s two brothers, one of whom works at “Research City”, an army-related science place, and the other of whom, Jeff, is a photographer for a local paper. Jeff is our hero, sort of, although he’s such a whiny little git that when his car breaks down at the side of the road he smashes it with a crowbar and just abandons it. He’s really difficult to get behind.

Luckily, into his life comes a woman, Julie (Laura Ellis, in her only movie appearance) who just picks him up from the side of the road. He expresses a desire for a joint, she has a tank of nitrous in the back seat, and they both happily huff that while getting to know each other. It’s the magic sort of nitrous that has absolutely zero effect, but they’re happy I guess. Anyway, they go and have sex, and the movie becomes them versus a rapidly multiplying horde of the undead.

What you’re most likely to find out about this movie is that it really tries to be funny. There are endless glances to camera from the main pair, and stuff like Julie saying “oh no, not another kung fu scene” and just walking out of shot. I wish they’d really steered into it, “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” side, and had the cast jaw-jacking with the crew and messing around like that, but they limit it to a few limp gags. I did laugh a few times, definitely, such as the discussion of careers that goes on and the polite wave their zombie aunt gives them as they drive off, so I’d call it a mixed bag maybe? The final gag is a pretty good one too.

As our heroes go through the most bleak-looking bit of rural Texas I’ve ever seen (I googled one of the small towns they filmed in, in 1984, and that same block of stores is there today, even more run-down and miserable), we eventually sort of find out why random people have been turned into blood-sucking monsters by a gust of evil wind. They’re aliens who drifted in, in dust form, and are trying to take over our planet. Probably. They seem really interested in Jeff, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, so you can ponder that if you like. And there’s a subplot with a trigger happy General wanting to use a nuke to clear the entire area, but it’s best not thought about as it’s just terrible.

It’s definitely a mixed bag. I mean, for a movie made for pretty much no money by an amateur cast, on weekends and whenever time could be snatched, it’s pretty damn good, but it’s still probably not good enough to be enjoyed. Even though the rest of the crew didn’t like her due to her reluctance to go topless (having been hired, allegedly, due to her being okay with nudity), Laura Ellis is a surprisingly good equal partner in the mayhem and it’s a shame she appears to have been turned off by the whole movie business. It’s incredibly cheap and moderately cheerful.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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