The glorious sight of arterial spray. The delicious ‘splunk’ of wet organs hitting pavement. The sound of knives carving through flesh. The red rum color of blood – primary in its life leeching patina. These are the reasons fright fans love splatter. Call it a craven desire to wallow in excess, or a sickening fascination with death at its most frenzied, but hardcore macabre mavens can’t get enough of that awful offal. The need for noxious slice and dice, heads and other less necessary limbs rolling for the sake of a shiver, has come a long way since Herschell Gordon Lewis ripped a sheep’s tongue out of a model’s head for his gore classic Blood Feast. One need look no further than Jake West’s wacky (and wonderful) sluice spectacular Evil Aliens to understand the distances dismemberment has crossed.
Our tale takes place on an isolated Welsh atoll. When reality TV show Weird Worlde discovers that a local lass is claiming alien abduction, and even better, that she was impregnating by the extraterrestrial visitors, hostess Michelle Fox smells a scoop. She gets her ratings hungry boss to sign off on an expedition, and together with a crew of actors, technicians, and a nerdy UFO expert, a massive media event is planned. When they arrive on the secluded island – only accessible at low tide – they meet the woolly Williams family. Dad and his sons run the liquid manure plant, powering their farm with crap-conceived energy. But it’s Cat who has the problem. After one week post-contact, she’s as big as a house and ready to pop. Soon, cows are being mutilated, strange spaceships are hovering overhead, and a mob of menacing spacemen are tearing people limb from limb. They don’t appear to have a meaningful motive. They’re just evil interstellar mofos, that’s all.
But thanks in part to those claret killjoys in the MPAA, this kind of film had to hide for most of the ‘90s. Film violence was blamed for everything from school shootings to increased gang activity. When DVD hit, it allowed the nasties to come out and play. Independent producers, unattached to the studio system, created no holds barred sluice fests, the more disgusting and nauseating flesh feasting, the better. Evil Aliens is clearly molded from that dangerous DIY delirium. It’s Shaun of the Dead without a conscience, an amplified zombie flick where death is celebrated in torrents of pus and the tell tale trail of people chunks. Writer/director Jake West cut his teeth on several fright film efforts, mostly as an editor. Prior to Evil Aliens, he helmed the well received Razor Blade Smile, and it’s clear that the man has a knack for moviemaking. This horror hoot is overloaded with invention and sly referential riffs. It frequently plays like Trainspotting with more eyeball eating.
Better yet, this film is very, very funny. Humor has long played a part in the fear formula, the better they say to maximize fright. But here, West works to make the laughs just as viable as the body butchering. The character of Michelle Fox is a manipulative little tart, the kind of career climbing fame whore who’ll do anything for a story. As played perfectly by Emily Booth, she’s the slutty stereotype you love to hate. Equally endearing, in a completely different manner, is unintelligible patriarch Llyr Williams. Mangling anything remotely close to the English (or in this case, Welsh) language and staring through the world with one cataracted peeper, actor Christopher Adamson gives the oddball hero a wonderful presence. Others of note include Jamie Honeybourne as decidedly dorky Gavin Gorman and Jodie Shaw as empowered female butt kicker Candy Vixen. Red Dwarf fans will also find reason to rejoice when Norman “Holly” Lovett appears for a clever cameo.
The real stars, however, remain the special effects. From relatively realistic CGI to utterly repugnant blood work, the madmen behind the prosthetics really outdo themselves here. Making decent looking aliens is always difficult, and relying on the humanoid archetype tends to put off purists. But these fiends feel real, even if they are nothing more than extras running around with gray skin and glorified gas masks. More impressive is the individual looks given to the Welsh family. Cat goes from coy to absolutely disgusting during her ‘birthing’ sequence, and the men all have their equally upsetting run ins with the evil ETs. This is the kind of movie that liberally involves a chainsaw, a weed whacker, a series of machetes, and a lethal bow and arrow to create its carnage, and gallons of the good stuff are freely utilized. It’s not just the quantity of gore that’s impressive. There’s an inventiveness to the gags, and a novelty to the storyline that really elevates the entire effort. It takes what could have been a mere collection of cruelties and turns it into a rib ripping (and tickling) riot.
Of course, those who’ve seen the film in its previous R-rated incarnation will wonder what the subtitle ‘Unrated and Uncut’ really means. Well, this critic can’t comment on the different versions, but he can offer this DVD-related caveat. Whenever a film fidgets with the work they presented to the MPAA, they must resubmit the title or face going forward sans a score. So what most digital distributors do is forego the reapplication and slap on a mere merchandising come-on. Granted, a movie like this one probably has increased its ratio of red, red wine. But even if the addition was just a new conversation about kittens, the lamentable league of decency demands the “Unrated” label. Fans of the film will also love Image’s overall presentation. The movie looks marvelous, and the bonus features include outtakes, deleted scenes, and a behind the scenes peek at the F/X work.
There’s only one issue left unexplained in regards to Evil Aliens’s history – why did it take so long to hit the home video format (it’s been playing festivals since 2005)? Clearly, torture porn – or gorno as some like to call it – has made splatter somewhat more mainstream – as well as more controversial. But it’s not like we’re dealing with any XXX outrage, and outsider companies like Tempe, Wicked Pixel, and Camp Motion Pictures trade in such over the top vein violations all the time. Perhaps it’s merely a matter of finding the proper launch window to maximize interest and raise awareness. And since this is the season of spooks and sinister slice and dice, the moment seems to have arrived. No matter what the rationale, Jake West has cemented his status as an atrocity auteur – and Evil Aliens is quite the craven calling card.