When it comes to classic, B-grade comedy films, it’s hard to top Spaced Invaders.
Starring a pre-Jurassic Park Ariana Richards, it tells the story of five bumbling Martians who intercept a radio broadcast of The War Of The Worlds and mistakenly think they are supposed to be invading Earth. After crash landing in a small country town on Halloween night, they find their “invasion” is not taken seriously because the locals just think they are wearing costumes.
For a low-budget comedy the premise is unusually clever. Combine that with an assortment of crazy characters and a whole swag of great one-liners and Spaced Invaders is a well-written and wildly entertaining movie.
For a movie designed to deliver laughs on the cheap, there’s is an impressive assortment of side-narratives throughout and the characters are both diverse and complex, albeit quite cliche at times. Kathy (played by Richards) and her father have just moved to the town of Big Bean and she is struggling to settle in after the death of her mother (yes, part of the foundation of this comedy lies on a dead mother!).
Russell, the deputy sheriff, is as dedicated to his job as he is inept, a by-the-book lawman who takes his job way too seriously with no clue as to how badly he is actually doing. At one point he tries to write the aliens a speeding ticket after clocking them at 3000 miles per hour in a 55 zone. He wonders aloud if they might get the electric chair for such an infringement, while the fact he’s encountered alien life seems to have eluded him.
Mr Wrenchmuller is a lonely, bitter man who’s farm is about to go under. He’s also the first to realise actual Martians have landed (or crashed into his barn, to be precise) and decides it’s up to him to “defend the Earth” with his dog by his side.
The aliens themselves are hilarious, even if the puppeteering of their mouths is a little awkward sometimes. They spend most of the movie arguing with each other and generally being incompetent. Captain Bipto (who’s first act on Earth is to get run over by a pickup truck), pilot Blaznee (who is, for some unknown reason, wearing a Los Angeles Lakers t-shirt) and the rest of the crew probably score the best lines in the movie. Much of what they say is hilarious and it makes Spaced Invaders a very quotable movie. You’ll hear lines like “prepare to die, Earth scum!” fairly regularly and it never stops being funny.
Eventually, the aliens realise their mistake and attempt to escape with the help of a few humans while the rest of the town pursues them in an angry mob. Overall, the movie is quite formulaic but it executes it all with hilarity.
If you’ve never seen Spaced Invaders I highly recommend you watch it. The movie is funny in its own right, being clever enough to not rely on well-worn parodies of Star Wars or Star Trek for cheap gags. It tells its own story and provides plenty of laughs along the way. I first watched it when I was around 9 or 10 years old. It made me laugh way back then and it still makes me laugh now.
For the budget and the time (it was released in 1990) the visual effects have stood up pretty well but it does shows it’s age occasionally. That being said the character costumes are overall convincing and it’s a pretty wholesome tale that the entire family can enjoy. There’s really no swearing or dirty jokes, just good, clean comedy from start to finish, although there’s a few gags that will go over the heads of most kids.
Spaced Invaders. Watch it and love it. If you don’t, then maybe you really are “Earth scum”.
Watch for: Kathy’s Halloween costume. It’s the alien from Alien and it looks amazing.
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