Alien Raiders (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Derek Basco, Rockmond Dunbar, Carlos Bernard, Bonita Friedericy, Mathew St. Patrick
Directed by Ben Rock
Distributed by Warner Brothers Home Video Entertainment
So what's in a name? When this film first came to light, it was being called Supermarket. Though not great, the title was at the very least ambiguous. From there it went through several other monikers until it was finally decided by the powers-that-be that it should be called Alien Raiders. That's right -- Alien Raiders. Probably one of the worst titles I've seen in many years. It's the type of title that most people would see sitting on the shelf of their local video or electronics store, chuckle to themselves, and then walk right by. I'm going to do something right now that I never do -- I am going to beg you -- Please do not make that mistake! This film should not be ignored! Hell, this film should have gone theatrical instead of direct-to-video! If you're a fan of the genre, this is nothing short of a must-see! Now then ... on to the review.
Ritter ("24"'s Carlos Bernard) is a man on a mission. He and his crew that includes "Prison Break"'s badass supreme Rockmond Dunbar, have taken an entire supermarket hostage. It appears there is a heist of sorts going on, but Ritter and crew aren't checking around for registers and safes. Instead they're checking people. This is no robbery. This is something entirely different. Something no one has ever seen before, no one except this elite group of folks who are armed to the teeth and ready to do whatever is necessary to accomplish their mission of finding the main breeder who has been turning other people into aliens. It all comes down to this place, this time, and it's going to be one hell of a long night.
Of course the police of this small town show up led by Seth Steadman ("Six Feet Under" alumnus Mathew St. Patrick). Seth has a vested interest in what's going on inside the store as his stepdaughter is one of the people who are being held hostage. In nintey minutes three worlds collide -- the cops, the assailants, and the aliens, creating a tension-filled, action-packed thrill ride that you really have to see to truly dig on.
Alien Raiders works on several levels. Just like the classic From Dusk Till Dawn, if not for the ridiculous title, you wouldn't have any idea this was a genre film for the first third of the movie. The acting is top notch and notable. This is a TV geek's dream what with favorites from three stellar shows not only going above and beyond, but also making their horror flick debuts! Yet make no mistake; the real stars here are the aliens. Though the creature effects are without question minimalist for the most part, it's Ben Rock's direction and ability to create tension that sells this film. When the shit hits the fan, it never stops, never ceases, and never slows. Rock, who got his start working with Ed Sanchez and Dan Myrick on The Blair Witch Project, has made a truly memorable feature film debut. I cannot wait to see what will be next from him! Maybe a sequel? Ben? Please?
The DVD features are also packing some serious punch. Though the behind-the-scenes stuff is pretty much standard, it's the passion of everyone involved that makes them stand out. These guys loved what they were doing, and it shows on every frame of film. While the making-of stuff is good, it's the three fictitious featurettes that provide the back story for the events leading up to the debacle at the supermarket that sell the package. From videotapes to blogs, the mythology of this tale is a living, breathing entity. Rock is no stranger to creating stuff like this as he directed the TV tie-ins "The Burkitsville Seven" and "Shadows of the Blair Witch" while he was coming up in the biz. The guy's just a natural storyteller.
Alien Raiders is not a masterpiece that will reinvent horror cinema, and the only thing it will probably ever win is the hearts of fans everywhere. It's just a good old-fashioned monster movie that's poised and ready to knock you on your collective asses! Hell, yeah!
4 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5
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