Alien Uprising (2009)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Rebecca Kush, Steve Deighan, Amelia Randolph Campbell, Jeffrey Plunkett, Ivory Aquino
Directed by Andrew Bellware
Distributed by Maverick Entertainment Group
Alien Uprising is probably the best Aliens fan film I've ever seen. I freely admit I haven't seen any Aliens fan films before; if I did, I doubt many would do a better job of recreating the aesthetics of that film quite like Alien Uprising. Do bear in mind that Alien Uprising is not an Aliens fan film. Alien Uprising is a new science fiction horror film that just happens to mimic aspects of Aliens to such a degree it's amazing to know the film was not produced by The Asylum as a straight-up mockbuster of that classic.
By making the colony a prison colony and letting one of the prisoners assist the lead heroine, even Alien 3 gets a nod.
Surprisingly, the most often copied component of the Alien films, the alien chest-bursting scene, is nowhere to be found. Though we do come awfully close to getting such a scene.
It's awfully difficult to get fully sucked in by a movie when you can predict darn near everything that's going to happen next just because you recognize the plot points of an entirely different movie the film you're watching is going out of its way to mimic.
Now not everything is a direct lift. At the end when the female heroine goes it alone into the monster's lair to rescue another female it dragged off, instead of it being a little girl, the female in question is a fellow soldier who just happens to be the lead heroine's lesbian lover. See. Not everything is the same.
Nor is the monster an actual alien. That corporation has been using some of the inmates as guinea pigs. The monster - wisely only shown sparingly - is one of the inmates deformed into a nearly indestructible cannibalistic mutant portrayed by a guy in a jumpsuit with monstrous hands and a head that is vaguely reminiscent of an Alien creature. Actually, the head kind of reminded me a bit more of the creature from the 1981 made-for-TV movie "The Intruder Within", which also just happened to be a blatant Alien knock-off in its own right.
Things end on a sour note due to the final confrontation having the heroine stop this unstoppable monster in far too quick and easy a fashion - and it really is a flash finish. Then things drag on for about another ten minutes just to end the film on what almost amounts to a lame punchline.
As easy as it would be to totally dismiss Alien Uprising as just another cheap Aliens clone, director Andrew Bellware successfully creates and maintains a grim tone that few rip-offs of the franchise have ever pulled off. Along with a script that occasionally shows signs of literacy amid the cascade of Aliens similarities, he and the cast succeed in generating a morose tone out of this obvious homage/rip-off/mishmash that almost makes the movie work on its own terms.
Oddly enough, something that made Alien Uprising more palatable than I may have found it otherwise was completely unintentional. The screener DVD Maverick Entertainment sent me goes to black & white after the opening few minutes and stays that way for the rest of the movie. DVD screeners dipping to black & white are commonplace to try and discourage piracy, but this is the first time I've ever seen one where it goes black & white and stays that way. The director's use of shadows and light is complimented by the black & white in a way that seeing it in full color may not have. With black & white the sets don't look as cheap, the computer effects don't look as fake, the monster doesn't look entirely like an actor in a headpiece, and the atmosphere of the production becomes a little bit spookier.
My advice to anyone interested in viewing Alien Uprising is to find a way to switch your television to black & white. Doing so makes the film feels a lot more like you're watching one of those talky yet eerie monochrome science fiction monster movies from the Fifties and Sixties, such as It! The Terror from Beyond Space, which, coincidentally, also happens to be the movie that inspired Alien in the first place.
2 1/2 out of 5
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