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Zone Troopers hits close to home for me. I can certainly relate to one of the major plot points—coming across a crashed alien spaceship. Although in my version of the story, I [CLASSIFIED] and [CLASSIFIED] with [CLASSIFIED] in Tijuana.
Part of me thinks this is the film that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wanted to be—or at least, should have been: a squad of Allied troops come across an alien ship while fighting Nazis in Italy during World War II (as opposed to the War of 1812). This film was definitely more enjoyable than Indy 4, but then so was pulling radio transmitters out of my molars.
If the Allies and the Nazis didn’t clue you into the fact this film takes place in the 1940s, than the use of the song In the Mood certainly will. It is to the 1940s what Material Girl or Take On Me is to the 1980s.
A squad of lovable Allies soldiers (Sarge, Joey, Mittens, and Dolan) find themselves behind Nazi lines (where it is “raining,” despite the sunny fields in the background). Proof this film was destined for greatness: the nigh-invulnerable Sarge was played by Tim Thomerson, known for his role as Jack Deth in the Trancers series, and Joey was played by Tim Van Patten, star of the Master Ninja episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also played the wicked teen Peter Stegman in 1982’s Class of 1984.
After a big shoot out with the Nazis, the army boys are lost, and their compasses are acting goofier than Aunt Helga at a biergarten. What’s the cause? Nazi magic? Hardly. Aliens! While working their way through the Italian forest, we’re treated to the point of view of said alien—watching the team from the trees, with red-tinted vision and garbled sounds. This same gag was used three years later in Predator, proof that Zone Troopers was ahead of its time.
The gang takes refuge in a barn for the night—and Joey breaks a B-Movie Survival Tip: he goes for a walk on his own, at night. Many a cheerleader or recently deflowered geeky teenager have met their end this way. Joey comes across the remains of a giant, leathery egg—and a real live alien.
The alien is garbed in a leisure suit and its face looks like a fly and a wombat had a kid. How that would actually work, I don’t know. But then, anything is possible with a case of the Beast and Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game on repeat. Joey runs back into the barn, and thinking he is suffering from shell shock, promptly burns his science fiction comic book. For shame!
The next day, Mittens and Dolan come across a Nazi camp, and a tent filled with photos of a crashed alien ship, which is better than photos of a crashed Eleanor Roosevelt, I guess. Meanwhile, Sarge and Joey find the spaceship in question. Joey is all about the usual “boldly going” jive, but the Sarge has his own idea—blow it up.
Just like my grandma’s prom, Nazis spoil the party. Mittens and Dolan are captured, while the Sarge and Joey escape—but not before blowing the Nazis in the spaceship sky high.
Mittens and Dolan are interrogated by the SS, and even get a visit from Mr. Hitler himself. Dazed and confused, Mittens pops Hitler in the nose, and hilarity ensues—and by hilarity, I mean Mittens and Dolan are locked up in the dog kennels—along with the alien.
Joey, in disguise, comes to the rescue, but not before a beefy Nazi officer disapproves of his five o’clock shadow and muddy shoes. After a daring escape, the team, with the alien in tow, seeks cover in, of all things, an abandoned crypt. Because nothing bad would happen in a crypt, right?
In the crypt, the soldiers pal it up with the alien—who has a taste for cigarettes. And I don’t mean smoking—I mean eating. Thankful for the smokes, the alien shares a gadget that generates a hard-light hologram of a babe—which, just like my last marriage, lasts all of a minute. The final showdown is chuck full of more aliens, ray guns, vaporized Nazis, and disappearing tanks. It makes for amusing visuals, just like eating last December’s meatloaf.
Ol’ Tiger says while it may rank low on the Lost Highway Totals, give this one a watch—Zone Troopers is full of campy fun. Anything with ray guns has my vote.
Check out the trailer for “Zone Troopers”