Spaced Invaders (Kino Lorber, PG)

For a while, there wasn’t much for us film critics to review, given the pandemic. When Kino Lorber announced some of its July releases, the time seemed as good as any to explore the updates to the catalog and relay the information to our readers. These are the kinds of mistakes we make in desperate times. If I’ve learned anything during all of this, it’s that sometimes pooling available resources is better than accruing more. If I had been more prudent, more conservative, even, I would never have made myself sit through Spaced Invaders.

My line of thinking went like this: Hey, this movie looks stupid and fun. Are those little people in rubber costumes? It’s like Garbage Pail Kids!

That’s it. Spaced Invaders looks like the kind of strange mutation of a family movie that sat on the video store shelf somewhere in the back so that kids wouldn’t accidentally see it and make their parents rent it for them. There’s so-good-it’s-bad potential there, and I usually don’t go out of my way to watch those, but sometimes I get whimsical. I almost always regret it, like in this case.

The director of Spaced Invaders, Patrick Read Johnson, started out in visual effects, his earliest exposure to the industry being a small involvement with the artists on Star Wars. It clearly had an influence, and even as a director, Johnson seems to be more hands-on in the special effects departments than in the anything-else department. To his credit, he makes some very impressive miniatures. Still, somebody clearly sat behind the camera but did not have the sense to put the lens cap on and tell everyone to go home.

Ariana Richards, of Jurassic Park and wiggling green jello fame, plays a young girl (no other descriptors available) who has just moved to Big Bean, Illinois with her policeman father. When  a group of miniscule and dimwitted Martians attempt to invade the planet on Halloween night, she befriends them for some reason, along with her lisping friend who’s dressed like a duck.

All the attempts at humor in the film come from the alien’s conversations, and they don’t really make jokes so much as they just use really annoying voices. The most bizarre of all of these is Blaznee’s, voiced and performed by Kevin Thompson. For some reason I can’t discern, he tried doing some kind of “cool guy” voice and ended up sounding like Ice-T doing a Jack Nicholson impression. Veteran TV star Royal Dano plays a farmer with the obligatory “old man” title, and his scenes also come across as attempts to get laughs, but honestly he’s very depressing to watch. His sullen, defeated performance does not seem to come from the character but from his own feelings about being in the movie.

If you’re a patient and die-hard bad movie fanatic, I would imagine you already know about Spaced Invaders, and therefore, I don’t have to recommend it. Please get help. | Nic Champion

This release contains a commentary by Patrick Read Johnson and co-writer Scott Lawrence Alexander, co-editor Seth Gaven and Second Unit Director Scott Andrew Ressler as well as a number of interviews with the filmmakers and cast.

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