The Galaxy Invader

November 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm (6 Heads, Galaxy Invader) (, , , , )

The Galaxy Invader – 1985 – United States

In the 80s, before major studios dominated home video, rental joints were desperate for product. Troma and Roger Corman’s New World Pictures boomed, plus other companies flipping dubious quickies. Unambitious genre cheapies were commonplace, many vanishing sadly in the DVD transition. Example: The Galaxy Invader. Written/produced/directed by Don Dohler with son Greg Dohler acting, Galaxy Invader is a charming and occasionally interesting backyard flick.

From John Stanley’s Creature Features: “Alien is hunted by Earthlings after it crash lands its rocket on the surface of Terra.”

From Mill Creek’s DVD box: “When an alien is forced to crash-land his spaceship on the Earth’s surface, he finds himself relentlessly pursued by a bunch of drunken rednecks.”

Both summaries are straight forward enough, but fail to mention Galaxy Invader’s more unique points. After a Star Wars-esque credit roll, a (beautifully animated) meteor crashes in Maryland woods amid synthesizer harmonics. A well-meaning science professor and student race get-rich-quick hillbillies (“Hot damn! I bet the Russians would pay a million dollars for this!”) to find it. Meanwhile, its green skull-faced occupant skulks the woods with unclear intent. Stirred in is a domestic violence subplot with a family escaping an abusive drunk father. After endless forest wandering, zap gun shooting, and hillbilly tough talk, the flick ends with a touch of nihilism as the distraught family stares at the bodies of the alien and father, killed senselessly in a bloody showdown. It’s all derivative, but the violent father and peaceful alien form a (crudely scripted) “man is the real monster” message, unseen in this caliber of flick.

Technically and artistically, Galaxy Invader is equally rough, with rudimentary compositions and lumbering perspective shots. Barring some foggy nighttime woods scenes, atmosphere is lacking. Still, several real accents (plus numerous fakes) and locations (especially a genuine townie bar) add authenticity even while the fireworks effects and rubber-suited alien (with no shortage of face time) strip it away. Appropriately cheap is the dime store John Carpenter-esque soundtrack with pulsing keyboards and strange whining stingers—although an awesome misplaced surf-rockabilly instrumental very briefly appears halfway through. Listen carefully for it.

If you don’t pay attention, Galaxy Invader seems like any other homemade 80s flick with hillbillies and monsters in the woods. But subtle idiosyncrasies creep up in the form of poorly conceived emotional content and nearly multi-dimensional characters—like the writer had big ideas he didn’t know how to use. Even tuning that out, there’s a fun flick to watch with no shortage of amusing dialogue and whizzing bottle rockets—impressive for its genuineness and obvious genre love.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. Zappy fun with an almost satisfying twist.

9/21/2015 Update:

I watched Galaxy Invader again. Below are my more recent and mature musings.

Galaxy Invader is about humans more than aliens. The extraterrestrial visitor is merely a catalyst for dramatic family strife. Themes of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and sexism are ham-fistedly explored. In the end, a peaceful woman is forced to kill her berserk husband. The scene is sad, but also cathartic since her husband is an insufferable jerk. Plus, throughout the film, he wears a shirt with a giant hole in the chest.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. Galaxy Invader‘s title does not make much sense. A more accurate title might be Planet Invader. A more poetic title might be World Invader.

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