Zombies From Outer Space

| May 26, 2015

First off, this movie is a lot weirder than the title implies.  Done in the style of a 1950’s horror movie, Zomies from Outer Space is about a race of dome-headed aliens who come to Earth and start turning humans into zombies as part of their plan to conquer the planet.  Presumably, once the humans wipe themselves out as zombies, the aliens can create a new generation of alien/human hybrids that will be better than both races and more importantly be able to survive on Earth for an extended period of time.

Now, Zombies from Outer Space is marketed as a horror parody, poking fun at the campy horror movies of the 50s like Plan 9 from Outer Space.  I have a hard time believing it’s a parody though.  It’s my firm belief that the movie was made to be legitimately frightening, and once it was done and test audiences were laughing at it, they decided to steer into the curve and reclassify it as parody.  This is actually a good thing.  I like people who try to make a real movie and it goes horribly wrong.  That type of bad movie is a lot of fun for me, and since I’m convinced this was made earnestly, I like it a lot better than if it were intended to be comedy.  It makes the movie feel more like Birdemic than Sharknado; the latter is still fun, but it’s obvious they knew how ridiculous their premise was from the beginning.  It’s more fun to laugh at a bad movie than laugh with it.

It’s possible that the movie is a lot funnier in its native German.  I don’t know who did the subtitles for the movie, but when it was translating German, there were often typos in the English.  Weirder than that was the fact that when the characters randomly started speaking English, they would still be subtitled, and the subtitles would be consistently slightly different than what they were actually saying.  This leads me to believe that I can’t really trust the German translations either, and thus it’s possible that much of the comedy intended in the script was lost in the translation.  Again, I’m fine with it coming across as a serious attempt at horror.

Actually, this movie reminded me a lot of Birdemic.  Sure, it’s not as big a technical debacle as the bird apocalypse thriller, but structurally they’re very similar.  In Birdemic, we spend half the movie just building character and watching our two main characters come together as a couple.  It’s a good 45 minutes before the actual birdemic happens.  Here, we have the same type of thing: building characters for a long time before the actual alien invasion starts.  This movie is a little bit better about it since we do open with a farmer finding an alien head in a crop circle and it attacks him, and we are reminded a few times about the impending alien invasion with our characters seeing things that they can’t explain like UFOs.  Even so, the inciting incident of the aliens invading Earth doesn’t happen until halfway through.

It has to be said that the homage elements of the movie are not very well executed.  This is definitely set in the 1950s, but it’s a long way from being made like a movie from that era, which I would have loved to see.  The creature effects were appropriately unconvincing, and the camera they shot with wasn’t state of the art, but it made it look like the movie was made in the early 90s rather than the 50s.  I expected to see grainy black and white, classic Doctor Who levels of monster effects, and some satirical portrayals of women and minorities would have given the film more of a significance.  As it is, I can’t remember if a single minority appears in the film, but at least our female lead is adequately useless to pull off the 50s feel.

I do have to give the movie credit where it’s due.  One thing I found very interesting about this story was the idea that the aliens were draining and then synthesizing human breast milk to drink to inoculate themselves against Earth pathogens.  For those not familiar with human biology, one of the main reasons mothers are supposed to breast feed for the first 6 months of a child’s life is that the kid doesn’t have an immune system yet.  Through the milk, the mother’s immune system protects the child and helps it develop its own resistance to disease.  I don’t know how the science holds up for an alien race using breast milk for the same purpose, but since we can’t assume anything about the alien’s physiology, I doubt anyone could refute its effectiveness.  I thought it was extremely clever.

The only special features on the DVD are a series of trailers and TV spots for the movie.  Available from Olive Films on May 26.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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