"It's sort of like "Green Acres" meets BLADE RUNNER." That's producer-writer-director Daniel Boyd's unhelpful summation of INVASION OF THE SPACE PREACHERS, an obscure, boring comic mishmash, filmed entirely in West Virginia under the title Strangest Dreams. Rick Lowery (Guy Nelson) and Walter Bennett (Jim Wolfe) are urbanites from Ohio who motor into the...read more
"It's sort of like "Green Acres" meets BLADE RUNNER." That's producer-writer-director Daniel Boyd's unhelpful summation of INVASION OF THE SPACE PREACHERS, an obscure, boring comic mishmash, filmed entirely in West Virginia under the title Strangest Dreams.
Rick Lowery (Guy Nelson) and Walter Bennett (Jim Wolfe) are urbanites from Ohio who motor into the rural countryside for a much-needed vacation and less-welcome gags about urine and "The Dukes of Hazzard." The city slickers stop at a community that seems friendly enough, but every once in a while
the folksy inhabitants complain about having the "strangest dreams" and go into a trance when they hear the hypnotic voice of the neighborhood's whip-wielding evangelist, Reverend Lash (Gary Brown). "My world is a better one," intones the unearthly preacher during his "Lash of God" radio show.
He's an alien, of course, an extraterrestrial criminal called Kritar. Soon Rick and Walt witness the arrival of an interstellar bounty-hunter (in a canvas-and-chickenwire starship that looks like a gourd) hot on Kritar's trail.
These ETs take the form of bug-eyed monsters while traveling the cosmos, but otherwise they're perfectly humanoid, and the bounty-hunter transforms into a Daryl Hannah lookalike named Nova (Eliska Hahn). Walt falls for the sexually naive galactic cutie, but their romance has to wait; Kritar has
bribed a politician to transmit the next mind-melting Reverend Lash sermon worldwide via satellite. Gloats the villain: "I will bestow upon me the most corrupt and powerful position on this planet--president of the United States!" The fate of mankind lies in the hands of Rick, Walt, Nova and the
druggie members of a forest hippie commune headed by a Nicaraguan mercenary. It's a long hundred minutes before Kritar and his henchmen get shot up by the assembled townspeople, whose hail of bullets somehow manages to miss hostage Rick. One really doesn't care whether Rick survives or not, just
as long as the picture finally ends.
The performances are uniformly grotesque, with one actor portraying a midget by standing on his knees. Except for the nifty insectoid-alien costumes, production values are threadbare, while the energy level is laggard and the spoofing light-years away from funny. There's no profound satire of
religion, sci-fi, any particular church, or any particular anything, except a flash of cleverness when Walt gets out of a jam by quoting "Klaatu barada nikto," from the classic DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
Slightly closer to the heart of filmmaker Boyd's oeuvre is a throwaway joke about a goonish local who poses as the banjo-strumming mute from DELIVERANCE to entertain gawking tourists, then speechifies, "It's cheap, exploitive tactics like this that contribute to a negative, unrealistic image of
the contemporary Appalachian!" Boyd, a former West Virginia State University instructor, has labored mightily to create a movie industry in the Mountain State with native talent. His first picture, CHILLERS, was a fair terror anthology and his latest, PARADISE PARK, stars a gallery of
country-and-western music stars as denizens of a trailer camp awaiting a visit from God. In between came INVASION OF THE SPACE PREACHERS (in which Boyd cameos as co-proprietor of a roadside exhibit, the Amazing House of Dung). It was filmed in venues like Cabin Creek, Sissonville, Garretts Bend
and Tornado on a budget of about $100 thousand with a crew of unpaid volunteers from local colleges. Boyd transferred the celluloid footage to videotape for editing and final release, which might explain the film's flat, bleached-out look.
The film came out as a rather hard to find videocassette. Cult-movie fans attracted by odd cheapies with novelty titles may want to inspect INVASION OF THE SPACE PREACHERS if they can find it, but it's not worth an intensive search. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity, nudity, sexualsituations.)
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