Alien Terminator (1995)

Director: Dave Payne

Starring: Maria Ford, Rodger Halston, Lisa Boyle, Bob McFarland

MCKAY – “Jinx is dead, and it’s not a pretty sight.”
PETE – “Ooh, open casket or closed casket?”
MCKAY – “No casket.”

When a movie’s title is simply those of two cult sci-fi classics slapped together, it should hardly shock you to the core to discover that the film itself is essentially 90 minutes of clichés. While it doesn’t really reference The Terminator in anything but name alone, Alien Terminator’s plot is more or less a direct lift from Alien with a bit of The Thing thrown in for good measure. It should probably have been called Alien Thing, really.

After years working underground in self-imposed isolation, a group of scientists are spending their last day together before their work is over and they get to return to the surface. As is so often the case in these set-ups a spanner is thrown into the works, and this metaphorical spanner happens to be a mutated rat.

"It's a good job for you there are no guns down here otherwise my aggressive gesture would have had significantly more impact"

You see, one of the scientists is actually working on a secret project, trying to create the ultimate biological weapon. This results in one of his rats going apeshit, killing the other mice in his cage and then escaping through the air vent. It’s a bit like the scene with the dogs in The Thing, except on a much smaller scale and off-camera to save budget.

Eventually the rat kills a cat and then infects one of the workers and that’s when everything goes all Alien, to the outrageously plagiaristic extent that one of the guys is seemingly killed by a smaller creature then comes back to life, is feeling fine and then has an alien burst out of him at the dinner table. Through his back though, of course, because if it came through his chest you’d actually see it and it would have cost money to do.

So apparently this is how you studied DNA in the mid-1990s.

It’s the low budget that really makes itself most apparent in this movie. The main “alien” is a guy in a ridiculous furry suit, the scientist’s futuristic tools include some Virtual Reality glasses and some hideous CGI animations… it quickly becomes apparent that most of the budget was blown on the big explosion that takes place near the end of the film.

Meanwhile, the dialogue is as predictable as you can get – it’s not an exaggeration to say that nearly every single scene contains at least a few lines of typical sci-fi/action cliché dialogue. There’s the classic “How are you holding out” / “Gee, I didn’t know you cared” interchange, the vintage “I’m going back for her” / “dammit, she’s probably already dead” / “but I need to know for sure” debate, and of course who could forget the classic “we need to stop this thing” / “what do you mean we, I don’t get paid enough to have that thing kill me” argument.

"Ha ha guys, isn't this just like the scene in Alien? The scene where that guy dies and OH MY GOD IT'S HAPPENING"

These clichés aren’t solely restricted to the dialogue, mind you – they’re weaved throughout the plot, the casting decisions, and every other aspect of the movie. There’s the faceless organisation boss who orders the controversial decision, the secret double agent and the attractive hard-ass woman who doesn’t have time for men but will ultimately fall in love with one of them by the end. And, of course, you can easily spot a mile off the weaker actress who has clearly just been hired because she’s got the biggest breasts and is willing to get them out (which she predictably does for no reason).

Alien Terminator is goofy fun if you fancy a game of Spot The Stereotype. It’s not a well-made film by any means, but it’s worth a watch for a laugh.

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