Tagline: In deep space, the deadliest animal is still woman.
Year: 1990 Runtime: 93 min
Director: Fred Olen Ray
Writer: Paul Garson
Starring: Jan-Michael Vincent, John Phillip Law, Ross Hagen
With an opening title of “Amazing Movies Presents” Alienator flaunts it’s quality like sharting your pantaloons while spreading Grey Poupon with pinkies out. And before I go any farther into the movie I need to dissect the tagline, “In deep space, the deadliest animal is still woman.” First, 90% of the movie takes place on Earth. Second, Alienator is a cyborg who only vaguely resembles a woman. In fact, all the ‘roids have made its jaw so hard and square I’m still not sure if it’s a female. Third, and most importantly, since when have women been considered the most deadly animal? Even if I was willing to give the movie some wiggle room here, assuming the maxim “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” that might mean women are the deadliest of the sexes. The deadliest animal? In all the worlds of deep space? I think somebody was having problems with his wife, girlfriend, lover (or all three) and didn’t have a dog to kick to blow off steam.
Enough with the Persnickety Priss, on to Alienator proper.
Alienator is a story about a bunch of detestable people who all deserve to die. The inhabitants of this “far-off corner of the galaxy” are unsympathetic arses. The ruler, Baal, is a tyrant. The leader of the rebels, Kol, is a sociopath who kills thousands of innocent people. And then there’s Jan-Michael “Airwolf” Vincent, i.e. Commander of Space Prison. I think Commander—that’s his name, or at least the only thing he’s called—is supposed to be a tough cookie who’s just doing his job, but Vincent plays him like a drunk foster parent with a house full of gingers.
Now I might be confused, and this movie sure doesn’t help clear things up, but aren’t we as viewers supposed to care for someone?
When the universe is full of worthless cretins guess what that means for the efficacy of the corrections system? It’s explosive intestinal rot on a 12+ hour flight nightmare. To put it another way, for a maximum security prison PLANET, this facility sure is easy to escape.
The blame lies squarely on the guards’ shoulders. Why? Because all the prison guards stand on the outside of the guard rails during a prison break/shoot out. The guard rails are there because this is a multi-level structure. I’m not sure how being in the danger zone is advantageous, but I have a theory. It makes for a dramatic death when they fall off. One would assume that not falling to their deaths be preferable, but what do I know.
At least the characters in Alienator are consistent with Sci Fi conventions. Namely, no one can shoot straight, much less hit their target. These idiots couldn’t even shoot themselves. Even the Alienator, a hunter with specialized robotic enhancements, can’t hit a target tied down and at point blank range.
So Kol, the rebel leader, escapes from Space Prison and ends up crashing on Earth. When he sees the Earth on his view screen he recognizes it, though how is never explained. Which is a good thing, because when the movie tries to explain itself things go horribly wrong (see first roadside attraction).
For most of the movie Kol is acting like he can’t breathe. He grabs at a collar on his neck, which suggests it has something to do with his distress. Yet, when he puts his fingers in between the collar and his neck there’s plenty of room. Was it randomly squeezing? Was it injecting him with something? Shocking him? Was it really hurting him? I just dunno. I don’t think the filmmakers did either.
Oh, another neat feature of the collar is that it’s a tracking device. Naturally this is a boon for the Alienator. Unfortunately, it’s a two-way device. For some reason it alerts the wearer that the hunter is close by. Is this a psychological feature meant to scare the bejesus out of the person? Why not make the collar do something cool like, uhm, I don’t know, stun the prisoner? Or, better still, have it blow off their head. Problem solved.
Wait… right. Sorry. It wasn’t in the script. Nevermind.
Kol wanders out of his ship and gets hit by the requisite group of college kids on vacation in their RV. Rick is the overbearing, self-serving jerk. Bennie is the smart one with glasses. Caroline is the blonde bimbo. And rounding out the group is Tara, the brunette. They scoop up Kol and take him to the ranger station.
At the ranger station, Ward Armstrong, the ranger, gets the story. Of course the kids don’t know much, only that they want to get out before they’re caught up in legal hassles. Kol violently comes to. He tells them he’s from another planet and on the run for his life. Both Ranger Ward and the Scooby-Doo crew believe it. Why not? Nothing strange about a space foreigner on the run from the space law. When Rick doubts the validity of the story he’s the “crazy” one.
Another reason why some people deserve to die. And right on cue here comes Alienator.
She indiscriminately kills people and destroys things, even when they are NOT interfering with her objective. The poor doctor who was summoned to help Kol is toasted for his troubles. Cars are vaporized. Ranger Ward’s cabin is shot up, and the sad part is, no one was in the cabin. She was just shooting the place up. She even kills the comic relief hillbillies. Though, in her defense, they were shooting at her.
Luckily for our heroes(?) when a ‘Roid Ragin’ Space Terminator™ comes to camp there’s a gun-crazy Colonel, with all kinds of illegal weapons, living within walking distance. While he doesn’t put much stock in the spaceman story, he is ready for a fight. Especially when it means he can use his anti-personnel mine.
While they are fortifying the Colonel’s hut, Alienator has a touching moment with a doe. Aw.
Then the final boss battle. Guns, crossbow bolts, and the anti-personnel mine don’t even scratch her tin can brassiere. What does bring her down is a net made of chicken wire. It short circuits her circuits which drains her power. How? See the first roadside attraction for the movie’s explanation.
At this point the movie knows it’s got nothing to loose, ‘cos it had nothing to begin with, so it pulls a M. Night Salamidingdong twist. Kol’s never made himself worthy of all of the trouble Ranger Ward and the Scooby-Doo crew are going through for him. Now that the Alienator’s dead, he uses is heretofore secret psi powers. He heals Rick who was almost choked to death. He then Force chokes Rick into submission. He Jedi Mind Tricks Rick into following him into the woods where finally he takes over Rick’s form.
You mean all this time Kol had these powers and only now he’s using them. AFTER he’s been saved. And this is the “good guy” who’s leading the rebellion against the Great Tyrant Baal? But like all those purple nurples you received by bullies in high school gym, the twisting isn’t over.
Alienator isn’t dead, but you knew that was coming. Rick (i.e. Kol) starts acting like a bigger jerk than usual, almost raping Tara in front of everyone. Another fight ensues, but it’s nerd boy Bennie who steps up. Ranger Ward initially stopped the assault but got shot for his trouble. While everyone, Colonel included, looks on at the one-sided fight between Rick (i.e. Kol) and Bennie, Alienator comes in from behind and cuts off Rick (i.e. Kol’s) head. The head turns back into Kol’s and he promptly vomits out Space Milk Blood™.
Alienator checks to make sure he was her target, the ONLY time she checks, and when satisfied calls in that the job’s done. Then, after almost being killed by these people, she tosses Ranger Ward a bag of loose gems (which she was hiding where exactly?) and bugs off like nothing happened. Oh, and she left her gun, too. Was that ‘Roid Ragin’ Space Terminator™ gratitude, or was her encounter with Bambi, while digging a punji stick out of her foot, the tender moment which warmed her icy, mechanical heart?
No, it doesn’t matter because the movie still isn’t over. Back on Space Prison Planet there’s a final twist. It turns out that the Delegate General, who was at Space Prison Planet only as an observer to the execution, wasn’t who he said he was. He was, in fact—Kol’s father.
A light sword through the gut care of Commander Airwolf and all is wrapped up in a tangled mess.
Watch the trailer for “Alienator”