EVIL ALIENS.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published for FANGORIA on April 12, 2006, and we’re proud to share it as part of The Gingold Files.

When Peter Jackson made Bad Taste back in the late ’80s, he couldn’t have known that he was launching not only a career that would take him to box-office and Oscar glory, but the template for numerous splatter-and-snicker-fests to come. More so than Re-Animator (graced with Stuart Gordon’s theatrically disciplined sense of storytelling) or Evil Dead II (anchored by Bruce Campbell’s presence and personality), Bad Taste set a new standard for anything-goes gore comedy, in which all other concerns fell subservient to the desire to get the viewer to gag or giggle, preferably at the same time. Of the many movies that have adopted this approach, perhaps none has hewed as closely to Bad Taste’s basics—yet done so as successfully—as British writer/director Jake West’s Evil Aliens. This movie, as the title blatantly suggests, is about nothing more or less than the exploits of extraterrestrials that come to Earth for the sole purpose of doing nasty things to humans…and cows.

Plotting is not so much a concern here; after setting up the characters and their situation (which West does briskly and efficiently), it’s simply a matter of coming up with a sufficient variety of ways in which people and aliens can bloodily clash. But just to establish a context: Michelle Fox (Emily Booth) is the host of a TV program purporting to document actual E.T.s and the people who’ve sighted/been abducted by them, but ratings are sagging (not surprising, given what we see of the show). We already know, thanks to a graphic prologue, that the real things have just invaded a remote Welsh island, indulging in their time-honored habits of impregnating women and (very bloodily) anally probing men. Once Michelle gets wind of this, it’s only a few time-fracturing character establishments and in-references to West’s previous Razor Blade Smile before she’s off to the isolated, fog-shrouded isle.

The motley group of people she travels with/finds there allow West to poke fun at UFO conspiracy theorists and indulge in regional humor (the Welsh locals’ response to the English in their midst is especially amusing). But splatstick soon takes over, as first cattle and then humans are grotesquely violated, and the latter start violating the aliens back. All this is staged by West with flair and energetic style that, while familiar from other movies of a similar bent, keep things moving fast enough to gloss over the fact that the plot is essentially a series of sketches. He knows and tweaks the conventions of the subgenre—it becomes a running joke that whenever someone assaults an alien, the result is a splash of blood that hits them directly in the face—and he keeps the confrontations varied. West also throws in a few de rigueur homages to his forebears, including an explicit reference to Day of the Dead and a moment where someone contemplates using a lawnmower against their attackers, à la Jackson’s Dead Alive.

The highlight arrives when one of the survivors commandeers a much larger piece of farm equipment to dispatch the invaders; though the particulars have been discussed elsewhere, I’m loath to give them away here. Suffice to say that the result is one of the most uproarious setpieces in modern horror/comedy history, backed by a novelty variation on Melanie’s ’60s hit “Brand New Key” that, if the credits didn’t reveal it already existed, you’d swear was written just for this scene. Though nothing in the movie’s remaining 20 minutes or so can top it, West does tie up the disparate subplots satisfyingly, concluding with an especially apt kicker.

Moments like this closer and others (including a bit in which a blinded sound technician using his boom microphone to find his way around is interrupted by an alien) reveal that more thought went into Evil Aliens than just throwing a bunch of blood gags against the wall and hoping they’d stick. The actors are all game for their overstated parts yet restrain themselves from overdoing them, and West and his cohorts have turned out a very slick package on their very low budget. Although recognizably working on video, cinematographer Jim Solan contributes sharp and varied imagery, and the makeup and digital FX are quite convincing—no attempts at cheap laughs derived from their chintziness here, thank goodness. In his attack on good taste and the funnybone, West is just as singleminded as his Evil Aliens are, but his mission turns out rather more successfully.

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