Though this is clearly a rip-off of PREDATOR, it is a well-crafted film that succeeds in surpassing its source material. Strange things are happening in the craggy rocks above an isolated campsite in New Mexico. Before the opening credits, an Indian brave is shown turning his knife against an elder after falling under the influence of--what? An evil spirit?...read more
Though this is clearly a rip-off of PREDATOR, it is a well-crafted film that succeeds in surpassing its source material. Strange things are happening in the craggy rocks above an isolated campsite in New Mexico. Before the opening credits, an Indian brave is shown turning his knife against
an elder after falling under the influence of--what? An evil spirit? A demon possessor? An alien being? The story then picks up as a trio of hunters is preparing for a trip to the site in honor of their friend, Paul (Vaughn Armstrong), who was electrocuted the year before. The group includes
Paul's nephew Ray (Micah Grant); Jim (Anthony Geary), a research scientist; and Brad (Marc Singer), a macho gym operator. At the site, they encounter Stan (Chuck Connors), a grizzled hunter who informs them that something in the area has spooked the animals. Stan camps with the others, and that
night, while the men sleep, an unseen force reads their minds, probing for frailties. The following day, hostilities arise among the campers, and Jim elects to go off on his own. In his absence female campers Terry (Lori Birdsong) and Kathleen (Deborah Anne Mansy) arrive at the site, creating even
more tension among the men. The following morning, the women are gone and when Jim returns, his companions have only a sketchy recollection of what happened the night before. Soon each of the men is visited by the spirit of the dead Paul, and their behavior becomes increasingly bizarre. Brad goes
off to search for the women, and later stumbles upon the others, who have killed a bear and are eating the meat raw. Briefly returning to their senses, all four men realize they had better return to civilization, but when they try to they find their vehicle won't start. They seek shelter in an
Indian lodge, then find Stan's pack animals dead, each operated on with surgical precision. Kathleen is found in the woods, sobbing hysterically. Terrified, she recounts how a powerful force possessed her mind and soul. As the terror mounts, Jim comes to the conclusion that he and his fellow
campers are all the victims of an experiment being conducted by alien beings, and he determines to find a way to defeat the powerful foe.
As far-fetched as its premise is, HIGH DESERT KILL is a taut, no-frills shocker that is potent enough to enable the audience to suspend its disbelief. Thirty years ago, it would have been considered a B movie, but today it's a neglected little gem that ends up collecting dust on the video shelves.
With antagonisms simmering among the main characters, the film sets off in three different directions--it's an action/adventure; it's a psychological games thriller; and it's a space invader film. Succeeding in all three categories, the film surpasses expectations with enough plot twists to keep
the viewer off-guard and interested. The film neatly explores the downside of machismo, while also touching on the morality of animal experimentation. It features a finely realized villain, a creature that seems to be the horrific monster from ALIEN with an advanced degree in psychology. Despite
some shortcomings in the acting department, this film provides some joltingly good science-fiction escapism. (Adult situations, violence.)
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