The 1950s produced classic science-fiction films like The Blob and It Came From Outer Space, films that channeled the fears of the post-war era into theremin-rich scores and tales of strange visitors who may not have humanity’s best interests in mind. The decade also produced cheesy knock-offs like It Conquered The World, which remain fun to watch, both with and without the accompaniment of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its offshoots. There’s no shortage of either the originals or imitators, so why make Alien Trespass, a send-up of second-shelf ’50s sci-fi so straight-faced, it could almost pass as the real thing?
If only the movie itself had an answer. Instead, director R.W. Goodwin, an X-Files veteran, seems content simply to replicate the look and feel of a ’50s B-movie and fill it with a few recognizable faces like Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack and the dad from The Wonder Years, and hope something in the mix kick-starts the fun. It never happens. In fact, even the movie’s rubber monsters look tired.
About those: They come from another planet with ill intent that can only be thwarted by another spaceman who takes over the body of mild-mannered, desert-based scientist McCormack. Meanwhile, a local waitress (Jenni Baird), some local teens, and a jerkish cop (Robert Patrick) all grow suspicious that there might be something strange about the meteor storm from the night before. Goodwin’s homage gets the details right—from the production design to the weird way everyone from high-school students to policemen all operate on a first-name basis. But there’s nothing between the details, and nothing to compensate for the film’s punishing pace. The movie gets that right, too.