INVADERS is a fast-paced sci-fi cheapie with admirable ambitions. It makes the most of its bargain-basement effects, and is buoyed throughout by its high spirits.
Hoax-mongering tabloid reporter Frank McCall (Hans Bachmann) heads off to Clarksburg Air Force Base where strange things are happening. After witnessing the fatal malfunction of an advanced jet fighter, McCall is grabbed by mystery guys wearing sunglasses at night (like the fabled "Men in Black"
of UFO lore) who try to brainwash him. He's rescued by investigating Department of Defense agent Harry Anders (A. Thomas Smith), but when a rather gaudy flying saucer attacks, they have to commandeer a STEALTH plane to escape. The story slowly comes out that the base commander, Colonel Faraday
(Rick Focheux), utilized computer technology from a crashed alien spaceship to give the USA "the killing edge" (pic's original title) in military airpower. The unforseen side-effect is the creation of an extraterrestrial artificial intelligence, codenamed A.S.M.O.D.S. (Automatic Systems Monitoring
Offensive & Defensive Strategies), which refuses to be controlled.
A.S.M.O.D.S. possesses machine and man alike, including Faraday, who is present to welcome McCall and Anders when they return to Clarksburg with an understandably skeptical Pentagon General John Anheiser (John Cooke). The good guys descend to an underground complex where A.S.M.O.D.S. reigns as
that gaudy flying saucer fixed atop a Kong-sized robot body, melting "wasteful" bombers and tanks in a huge crucible. Against a projected backdrop of a fluttering flag, the monster patches into the nation's defense systems and commences "Operation: Greater Glory," the countdown to an all-out
nuclear first strike. Our human heroes avert apocalypse at the last second by blasting A.S.M.O.D.S. with a handy shoulder-launched missile.
The tale is set in 1986 to salvage the script's fast-fading Cold War references and arms-race themes, a gambit which turns Faraday's big line, "Welcome to the New World Order!" into an anacronism. Nevertheless, the picture is impressive for its high spirits and imagination, if not necessarily
its politics, as A.S.M.O.D.S. was apparently meant to be a cross between the amok HAL-9000 and Col. Oliver North. However, spouting patriotic platitudes and inexplicably crooning "As Time Goes By," the cybernetic menace proves to have more in common with a cheap Freddy Krueger imitation than Dr.
Strangelove. And the climax to the picture rather unfortunately resembles the Dan Aykroyd-Chevy Chase comedy SPIES LIKE US. The no-name cast acquit themselves nicely, though Hans Bachmann overdoes the gee-whiz aspect of his camera-clicking newshound. Actually, that's the least of the epithets in
the dialogue; INVADERS is rated R as much for language as for violence.
The Virginia-based filmmakers, who also did 1991's STAR QUEST (alias BEYOND THE RISING MOON), specialize in grandiose, effects-laden features on budgets that wouldn't cover three minutes in JURASSIC PARK. Certainly the stop-motion jet sequences are as good as similar stuff seen in Hollywood
blockbusters like FIREFOX, though the mechanical giant and its domain have an Erector-Set look to them. Visually speaking, INVADER's release directly to the more forgiving small screens of home video was a good thing. (Profanity, violence.)
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