Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alien (minus Vs.) Predators

I don’t cook often, so when I actually decide to use the oven for its purpose rather than a convenient place to stack things, I prefer to go all out. A good pasta sauce must incorporate mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, garlic cloves, garlic powder, basil, sugar, red wine, fairy teeth, leprechaun hearts, and anything else I find laying around the kitchen. The result isn’t always that tasty, but at least I feel like I’ve worked for it.
That seems to be the approach of filmmaker Deran Sarafian in 1987’s The Falling (also known as Alien Predators). 
Quick Plot: Two guys and a girl (Lynn-Holly Johnson, all grown up into a shrill actress following the wonderfully cheesy Ice Castles) are driving an RV through Spain. Why? Um. Vacation, I suppose, although it’s never quite explained. Johnson plays Sam, whose main character quirk is that she’s an awful cook (like me!) and is not dating either of the men she’s traveling with. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to really consider either friends, which makes this vacation all the more confusing so I’ll quickly move on to a plot that makes sense.

Skylab hath fallen, infecting a hungry cow, who then dies and infects a hungry dog, and so on. A pair of cuddly old NASA scientists investigate, get infected, then eventually find our trio, the only other people in this pretty Spanish town save for a mysterious silent dude wearing a creepy plastic face mask and an unseen driver who cruises around in a very dirty truck. I think this all has something to do with each other, but then we cut back to the three mildly attractive white people arguing over gasoline and I start playing Internet Boggle.
The Falling, in case you’re unsure, is really not a very good movie. Competently made? Sure. Funny? No. Scary? Not at all. The practical effects are fairly impressive and the entire storyline offers plenty of nostalgia, but the actual film? Eh. You have to work harder than two obviously placed Twilight Zone references to make this hardened horror fan care.
High Points
I won’t fault most of the special effects, which have a pleasantly gooey old school practicality to them that works all the way to the final frame

Low Points
Normally, I’d be cheerleading away for a film that incorporates nuclear bombs, carnivorous critters, tumory necks, masked madmen, killer trucks, and car chases, but when all these ingredients are just tossed in and messily tied together by three uninteresting leads and an overly emotional soundtrack, I’m just bored
Lessons Learned
Some facts about Spain: it has no coyotes and its people always try to get to bed before 3:45AM 
Any red-blooded American would climb up an elevator shaft
As a pretty young blond, you can overcome any perilous situation by constantly burying your teary face into the chest of any male character that comes your way (it happens three times)
Upon further Googling, I think it might just be Lynn Holly Johnson’s signature move

Stray Observation
The second assistant director is credited simply as “Pepe,” a fact that I found more amusing than the majority of The Falling
The Falling is streaming on Netflix, so those always on the lookout for random ‘80s horror could do worse. I wouldn’t invest any real effort into tracking it down, since the film is neither so-bad-it-s-good nor actually good. It’s there. And now I've already forgotten it existed.


  1. HA! I've never actually even heard of Ice Castles, so I just think of her as the Watcher in the Woods girl. Sigh, I loved that movie. I know. But it was SO GOOD in the 80's!

  2. Ice Castles is one of the best in the tiny subgenre of figure skating romances (which I guess also makes it one of the worst by default and the fact that there are only two of them). Confession: I've never seen Watcher in the Woods! I know, it's one of those films so many of my peers adore for nostalgia, but I'm so hesitant to check it out and let myself and others down. Dare I do it?

  3. Ok, well if the other skating romance we're talking about is Cutting Edge than I must remedy the fact that I've never seen Ice Castles immediately. I love and hate that movie... Toe Pick!

    On to Watcher in the Woods... It doesn't hold up effects-wise, because, well it was the 80's so there's some of that really bad blue flash of light type effects but other than that? It's pretty good. Think Lady in White, but with more action perhaps? It's not a bad movie, but it's a Disney ghost/supernatural movie... did that make sense? It's only 83 min, and is on Netflix (no instant though, boo) so I'd say go for it. I'm sure people would love to hear your take on a classic we remember from slumber parties! (As I remember Watcher in the Woods was a go-to slumber party favorite because it wasn't rated R but was still "Scary") Also Bette Davis! Everyone loves creepy ass Bette Davis!!

  4. Oh, and I forgot the younger sister is a "Real Housewife of somewhere I don't remember" if that sways you one way or another...

  5. There is nothing to hate about The Cutting Edge. It is a modern classic and constant reminder that I met D.B. Sweeney while transferring subways one fateful NYC night and he signed a postcard for his new straight-to-DVD film with the very signature 'Toepick.' Also, I think he was drunk. It was a life highlight.

    I didn't know Bette Davis was in The WAtcher In the Woods! Now it really must shoot up the queue. I know nothing about those Real Housewives Something Something, but that fact does intrigue me, just 'cause!

  6. So that's where that girl was from! I was so excited to see this on the stream, amidst so much other odd crap and I liked that cover font (looked like lettering I liked to do in high school for art projects), so I tried to watch it. Lynn Holy kind of kicked the dust up on my weakness for the Go-Go's aping of girls my age in high school as well but one thing about my friends and I in highschool, if we were blindfolded we could have made a better movie than this. For all that there's some nice juxtaposition of the cozy trailer/van interior with the dead quiet nighttime they're hurtling through, enough to make me miss being on the road, but not enough to get more than 10 minutes in. On behalf of your avid readers, thanks for going the distance!

  7. I don't often consider myself brave, but thank you Erich for making me feel badass! It really is a shitty movie, saved barely by nostalgia for a select few.

  8. Since I'll watch any piece of 80's trash, and it happens to be on Netflix instant, I'll def. check it out. Just caught a slasher about kids stuck in a supermarket called Intruder (Ted Raimi stars and Bruce Campbell has a cameo). I think you'd dig it and it's also on Netflix instant. BOOYAH!

  9. Intruder is a damn good time, and a positive curse expletive I can't even think of better than The Falling!

  10. I remember this movie aired on Sci-Fi several times (back before they started showing all of their cheesy "original" movies) and I actually watched it under the Alien Predator title. Yeah, it's definetely not a good film by any means but I've definetely seen worse--see: most of Sy Fy's "original" movies--although I did hate the crap twist ending, ugh.

    Oh, and the younger sister from Watcher in the Woods (the one Lis was talking about) is played by Kyle Richards, a.k.a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills (along with older sis Kim Richards), Lindsey Wallace from Halloween, Alicia Edwards from Little House on the Prarie and lest we not forget, aunt of Paris and Nicky Hilton. And yes, I know how much of a nerd I am for knowing all of that, haha!

  11. Wow, I think my head just exploded! I actually have never gotten into the Real Housewives Yadda Yadda, but had this weird Kevin Baconesque web had an ANTM connection, I'd literally be jumping up and down to tell the world. So I understand how you feel and appreciate the oddness.

    And yes, Alien Predator (which makes sense as a title, even though it's generic and dull...which makes sense) isn't the most awful eye raping I've ever received. More of a very dull watch check.

  12. OH I had completely forgotten that Kyle Richards was in Halloween! That's right! (her creepy skeletor-like sister was in the original Escape to Witch Mountain...) Either way Watcher in the Woods is tons of fun.

    I can NOT BELIEVE you met D.B. Sweeney and the fact that he signed the postcard Toepick makes my day! That's awesome!!

  13. And I also think I forgot to mention that I was REALLY drunk when I spotted D.B. Sweeney and hence, overly chatty about how much I loved The Cutting Edge. Either way, the fact that he had those postcards and Sharpie so ready to go with 'toepick' still made my life.