Plot: What’s it about?
A once serene town has turned dark, as the citizens flee from hideous attackers and the death toll continues to rise. This small Southern town was quiet and laid back, until a meteor crashed down and launched the area into chaos. The meteor slammed down in a swamp, which would seem to be good news, given the low population. But as it happens, the meteor smashed down right into a houseboat, which was home to some local residents. Those inside were killed by the impact, but that was just the start of the horrific events. The meteor had a strange effect on the people, turning them into undead minions. So not only did the crash take these lives, but it caused the folks to become hideous creatures, zombies. With a constant hunger, the zombies begin to feed on the alligators within the swamp. But once the alligators run out, the zombies have to look elsewhere for a new source. And of course, that means the other local folks and that means serious trouble, as the zombies venture toward town. As people start to vanish and turn up dead, a local scientist begins to try to put together the pieces. But can he crack the mysteries behind the undead beasts in time, or will the entire town become overrun?
This film was produced on a budget of twelve thousand dollars, which shows in the poor cast choices, special effects, and overall production values. But if anyone can take minimal cash and make a bad movie that’s fun, it would be Fred Olen Ray. His special brand of naked girls and bloodshed often makes even his cheapest, lowest rent productions blast to watch. Alien Dead was one of his first pictures however, so he was still wet behind the ears. The presence of serial superstar Buster Crabbe is a novel addition to the movie, but hands down, Alien Dead is a bad movie and Olen Ray’s worst project. Even on a camp level, Alien Dead is a loser and Olen Ray is unable to overcome his lack of budget and resources. The man himself even dismisses most talk about this feature, so you know it has to be downright pitiful. The bad acting and laughable dialogue can be fun, but the slow pace and lack of exploitation slows down the good times. I mean, with better edits and more blood & naked women, Alien Dead could have been solid. Instead, the movie moves at a pace slower than maple syrup, which adds up to one dull experience. Olen Ray would hit his stride down the road, but in this case, even fans of his work will be disappointed. But if you’re still curious, then by all means, give Alien Dead a rental.
Video: How does it look?
Alien Dead is presented in full frame, as intended. The film was supposed to be shown in theaters, but wound up as a direct to video release. The movie looks like you’d probably expect, a low rent flick shot on low end stock. But then again, that is what we have here and as such, we can’t hold out for miracles. A newly discovered print was used for this edition however, so this treatment is better than previous home video incarnations. That’s not to say the movie looks excellent, but all things considered, this is a solid treatment. The image is still soft and unrefined, but in this case, that is all but unavoidable. So the production limitations are somewhat to blame here, as the print used is in rather remarkable condition. In the end, we have to be thankful the image looks as good as it does, given the material involved.
Audio: How does it sound?
As this picture was made on a rail thin budget, I didn’t expect too much from the audio track, but it sounds pretty decent, all things considered. I heard a little fuzz at times, but nothing too serious and on the whole, it all sounds more than decent here. The sound effects are thin here and there, while the music is solid, so it isn’t perfect, but far from bad also. The dialogue seems clean enough and never distorts, while the volume remains properly balanced throughout. Given the nature & budget of the movie, there’s not much else we could demand here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some still photos, a featurette that reunites the film’s cast, and a rousing audio commentary by director Fred Olen Ray. The session is quite good, as Olen Ray reveals a lot about this, one of his earliest productions. So you’ll learn a little about low rent filmmaking, as well as Fred’s unique sense of humor. I love to hear from directors like Olen Ray, who have a real passion for film, so this is a most welcome inclusion.