Invasion of the Pod People (DVD)
Starring Erica Roby, Jessica Bork, Danae Nelson, Michael Tower, Amanda Ward, Sarah Lieving, Leigh Scott
Directed by Justin Jones
Sometimes it just isn’t easy being The Asylum. They set out to release a movie called Supercroc to coincide with the April release of not one but two big screen Hollywood crocodile movies and then both of those croc flicks see their release dates get bumped – one way sooner, the other much later. Now they set out to capitalize on the umpteenth remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Nicole Kidman-starring The Invasion) only to see that film get pushed back a few weeks. On the plus side, given how reportedly troubled that production was this is one of those rare occasions that The Asylum’s knock-off might prove to be superior. Probably not, but it could happen.
The Asylum’s Invasion of the Pod People, a title that’s just sounds too damn silly for its own good given that the film isn’t anywhere near as overtly campy as the title would indicate, is (surprisingly) on the higher end of the Asylum’s quality spectrum. It’s not a particularly good movie, but it’s fairly okay one, relatively inoffensive, though ultimately a movie of little consequence. The biggest conundrum facing a film like this is the same that plagued last year’s Asylum Omen knock-off, 666: The Child; you’re making a knock-off designed to rip-off a Hollywood remake of a classic movie that’s already been the subject of multiple remakes and knock-offs for over half a century? It just seems pretty redundant to me. I mean what could The Asylum possibly bring to the table with their version that we haven’t seen in all the other remakes and knock-offs?
Yep, The Asylum has taken Howard Stern’s advice this time around. Leigh Scott’s screenplay has put a sapphic twist on all the body snatching by having the femme-pods all turning out to be horny lipstick lesbians – at the very least, bisexuals. Sure they still scheme to replace mankind and transform our world into some sort of serene utopia, but they also really like getting their freak on.
With a predominantly female cast, Invasion of the Pod People may very well be the most estrogen-centric Body Snatchers movie ever made. I only counted four male characters: Melissa’s boyfriend, Melissa’s perpetually yelling boss, a guy who kills himself in Melissa’s living room after screaming about bodysnatching, and the cop investigating the man’s suicide who Melissa eventually confides in once she comes to suspect an Invasion of the Body Snatchers conspiracy may be playing out.
Melissa works at a Los Angeles modeling agency for a boss who seems incapable of not speaking in the form of a yell. Melissa also wants a more serious relationship with her boyfriend, who not only doesn’t reciprocate her feelings; he even gives her reasons to be suspicious that she may not be the only woman in his life. Meanwhile, a funky plant that looks suspiciously like ginger root has become the latest fad at her work place. Problem is that plant is alive and can quickly grow into a duplicate of the person that touches it. Once that “pod person” is born, it sets out to kill the original and take their place. Melissa can’t help but become suspicious when friends and co-workers begin behaving unlike themselves, though I’m not sure how she’s truly able to make this determination given that almost everyone else in the movie is already incredibly vacuous and speaks in a stilted manner even before being replaced with an alien replicant. Oh, and all her female friends and co-workers who have been replaced with pod people have become sexually aggressive lipstick lesbians.
Methodically paced – perhaps a bit too methodical at times, and told in vignette-style fashion with scenes constantly ending with a fade out, Justin Long, a longtime Asylum AD making his directorial debut, seems to be going for a surreal-like quality. It almost works too, but after briefly devolving into near Cinemax After Dark territory, by the third act, the whole movie had descended into convolution with one scene after another based around the “is-so-and-so-real-or-a-clone” trick. The story felt like it had reached a crescendo for a perfect cliffhanger ending after one of these confrontations yet the movie still went on for another ten more minutes or so of roughly the same twists and turns to the point that the final twist has no effect.
Still, overall, I’d dare say Invasion of the Pod People is okay for what it is; an instantly forgettable retread neither deserving of much praise nor scorn. And like I said earlier regarding the poor word of mouth currently surrounding the forthcoming big screen release of The Invasion, this one might actually prove to be the better of the two. We’ll find out soon enough.
DVD extras include a typical annoying Asylum-style group commentary track where at least a half dozen people talk over one another and you often have no idea just who it is that’s talking. I can’t even bring myself to try listening to these anymore. We also get a plethora of Asylum trailers, including one for their next release entitled Universal Soldiers, an action thriller about high tech super-soldiers on a rampage that has no known affiliation to the Jean Claude Van Damme franchise of the same name minus an “s” on the end. How The Asylum is getting away with that one without facing legal action is beyond me.
One last note about Invasion of the Pod People; when a character decides to toss her unearthly plant pod into the trash can outside, look closely and you’ll notice a DVD of another Asylum release from earlier this year, Legend of Bloody Jack, right there on top of the trash pile. Nice to see that even the folks at The Asylum realize what a piece of garbage that particular movie was.
2 1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
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