The inane ramblings presented here by Scott Foy (aka The Foywonder) are strictly his own opinions
and do not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the Schlocktoberfest staff or any other sane
person living or dead. Email The Foywonder at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the message board.
Note: you will need to register.
Starring Lou Diamond Philips, Amy Locane, Barry Corbin, Todd Bridges
Directed by Turi Meyer
Must resist urge to call Alien Express a trainwreck.
Must resist urge to call Alien Express a trainwreck.
It would be an understatement to call Alien Express a cinematic trainwreck...DAMMIT!
La Bamba is a cop haunted by a tragic event he still blames himself for and hes still in love with his ex-wife, the young blonde hotty that left "Melrose Place" after the very first season because she wanted to move on to more "edgier" roles like this; I guess. She works as a staff member for Maurice from "Northern Exposure", a US Senator from Texas running for President who goes around wearing William Shatners toupee. He and his unrealistically small entourage that includes Willis from "Diffrent Strokes" as a member of his security team are aboard a new bullet train speeding towards Las Vegas on the last leg in his Presidential campaign.
A car waiting next to a deserted train crossing gets slammed by a flaming meteor right as the train approaches. Despite being a 100 mph bullet train, it still stops on a dime so they can survey the wreckage and call the cops. The star of Bats shows up so he can recite lines like, "Weve got a meteor that hit a car and a dead guy covered in slime; I dont think this train should leave." But leave it does, along with a stowaway alien creature that hatched from the meteorite.
Sutherlands former frequent co-star is convinced theres
a killer onboard the train that needs to be caught, but mainly hes
just worried that something bad might happen to the ex-wife he still
longs for. Thats especially bad because hes a cop that
doesnt play by the rules. We know hes a cop that doesnt
play by the rules because his fellow cops take turns saying different
versions of this phrase to him. So after punching out his superior
officer that dared to call him on his insubordination and reminding
him that it was his fault the marriage dissolved in the first place,
our hero that doesnt play by the rules commandeers his helicopter
pilot buddy to chopper him to the speeding train. In reality, if a
helicopter was zeroing in on a train containing a Presidential candidate
it would get shot down in a heartbeat.
Making matters even worse, an eco-terrorist has also gotten aboard the train, taken the Senator hostage, and is threatening to blow himself and everyone else up unless the Senator drops out of the race and apologizes for supporting Alaskan oil drilling. While its a nice to see a movie terrorist that isnt a right wing extremist for a change, the ultimate fate of this eco-terrorist character proved to be a pathetic plot contrivance of biblical proportions.
Mr. "Doesnt Play by the Rules" jumps onto the out of control train just in time for the alien to multiply and truly begin its killing spree. As if things werent complicated enough, they get a call notifying them that the train is on a collision course with another train leading to a conversation that sounded more like a word problem I once had to solve in math class back in the second grade. Instead of trying to get the survivors off the train, Lou Diamond Philips strips down to his undershirt and declares that they have to deal with the aliens before escaping because if the creatures get off the train they might "spread like a plague". The survivors band together. Double crosses occur. I consider switching the channel.
Among the scant highlights of the film is hearing Todd Bridges yell things when battling the beasties like, "Die, you alien freaks!" and "How about a cocktail, you ugly suckers!" As you can tell from such dialogue like that, the people responsible for the film knew they were making a schlocky B-movie. Unfortunately, the film cant overcome its budgetary shortcomings and the material isnt strong enough to compensate for it. It also doesnt help when one of the only characters with any discernible personality and whos inclusion in the passengers fight for survival might have made things more interesting is among the first to die.
Express is a trainwreck of a movie, and yes, trainwreck is the opportune
word here. The movie wants to be "Critters on a train" but
the campy aspects of the movie arent amusing enough, the characters
are almost all one-dimensional, and the story is too clichéd;
all of which could be overlooked if the monsters at least delivered.
They dont. Alien Express is a monster movie. When the monsters
in a monster movie fail to capture the imagination then you dont
have a movie. It sadly seemed like less of a case of the filmmakers
lacking imagination as it did them not being able to afford one. Like
the majority of the special effects, the budget just isnt there
to make the creatures seem like anything more than cheap props capable
of only a handful of repetitive movements.
The Alien Express aliens look like a toothy hybrid of Alien and a small dog. They spew some green acid/venom goo that incapacitates victims long enough for a pack of them of them to swarm the prey and feast on them like piranhas and can also move at super speeds, leading to much sped up footage and blurry computer effects. The film would have been much better off if they remained blurry CGI since most of the time theyre puppets; painfully obvious ones too boot. Even being brought to life with puppetry wouldnt be so bad if the puppets displayed any signs of personality. Opening and closing its mouth and swaying its head are its only personality traits. There are also far too many scenes where they look like stationary props set up and posed for that particular shot. Aside from the goo spitting and the super speed (both of which arent used with much flare or imagination), the creatures could just as easily been called mutated, hairless rats and the audience would have never been the wiser.
And what proves to be the aliens weakness? Theyre methane based, meaning a simple flame is all it takes to make them burst into a flashing blue light. Not only is this rather lame and makes the monsters seem especially wimpy, logically speaking, how could the original alien have even survived the flaming descent into our atmosphere or the fiery explosion from slamming into the automobile in the first place?
If Alien Express had a bigger budget for its creature and other effects then it might have been entertaining, even if only in a derivative B-movie fashion. As it is, Alien Express looks and feels like a more polished version of the kind of creature feature Fred Olen Ray would make. Thats not a good thing.