HIGH PLAINS INVADERS
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Sanny van Heteren
What's it about
Interstellar bugs menace a mid western frontier town.
Is it good movie?
Train robber Sam Danville is having a tough day. Not only did he choose to surrender himself in a town that happens to boast his ex-girlfriend, whom he spurned at the end of the Civil War, as the area medic, but said town plans to hang his ass until dead. He gets a reprieve, but just his luck, it comes not from the governor but from an attack by extraterrestrial insects who stomp into town and start wasting dudes. It turns out that a shady businessman has been exposing unwitting miners to pitchblende, aka raw uranium, which the bugs apparently smelled from outer space and decided to pop down for a nosh on. In the midst of all this tomfoolery, there is also a tough female bounty hunter eager for the price on Sam's head. Corralled and trapped in the town center, Sam has to figure out a way to get one girl back while fending off another, and lead the whole wayward crew out of danger.
High Plains Invaders begins promisingly enough. A miner gets owned by a bug right away, and the sight of half his face sheared off was more gruesome than I was expecting from fare such as this. And when we get to the film proper, the vibe is very Brisco County Jr., which I loved. There are some more gory scenes during the intial invasion, and the bugs themselves are pretty decent looking, all things considered. The costuming and sets are convincing as well, though more research should have been put into the firearms of that period. James Marsters is as affable as ever, and the rest of the cast do the best job they can with the material given them. I was particuarly excited to see Agnus McInnes, Jean Larose from Strange Brew, as the cantakerous old shop keeper.
But in the end, an RHI production for the SyFy channel has to accept its own nature, and the film falls apart. It's enough that from a logical standpoint, nothing makes sense. The aliens are uranium miners, but they eat the uranium for food, but it is like opium to them, but they shoot hunks of it out of their tails as weapons. It's all muddled and overly complicated. But more importantly, the film is just boring. There are only so many times we can watch the bedraggled but spunky gang stage an escape attempt, only to get beaten back by the hostile aliens, until they can devise an astronomically silly end plan. It's an hour-long concept for an Outer Limits episode, maybe, but the extra 20-minutes stretching it out to feature-film length stretched my patience too far. What started off as a well-intentioned sci-fi/western genre crossover sank into mediocrity and melodrama and lousy dialogue.
Video / Audio
Video: Once again, RHI on SyFy. Do the math. Shot on video, looks passable, tons of Xbox-quality CGI.
Audio: Just the Dolby Digital English track, no subtitle options.
None. Not even a damned trailer.
If you catch this at 3 AM while drifting off to sleep, you could do worse. Fully awake it doesn't cut it, however. Full marks for trying something interesting with the western sci-fi vibe, but it follows the typical SyFy Channel entropy and devolves to its state of lowest energy by the cliched climax. Just watch Oblivion instead and see the concept worked to better advantage.