Friday, December 2, 2016

Alien Raiders (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Horror and Sons' Dustin Fallon)

Another year, another Florida Christmas. Unlike last year, when I spent most of the holiday season trying to drain the swamp forming in my pants due to the summer-like temperatures, Florida has been considerably cooler since just after this past Halloween. Even then, this is still Florida that we're talking about. It's NEVER beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
As I stated in the piece that I wrote last Shitmas, due to this deficiency of what is considered by most to be a true "winter" (as well as some lingering holiday indifference), I have a hard time getting excited by what usually passes for Christmas viewing. The snowy landscapes. The families gathered in front of crackling fireplaces. The scarves and mittens and woolly hats. Carolers and sleds and snow angels. Yeah, I still don't know anything about any of that shit.
So, that's why for this year's Shitmas entry, I'll be taking a yet look at another film that's probably a little lesser known....... Alien Raiders (2008).

Set a few days before Christmas, the staff of Hastings Supermarket are preparing to close for the evening. Mr. Tarkey, the store's manager, is tending to the evening's take while the last remaining customers are finishing their purchases. As they prepare to close the doors, a group of armed assailants enter. A couple of the shoppers and at least one employee are gunned down, while the others are taken to the checkout area.
One member of this group is a thin man with drooping eyelids. He is going from hostage to hostage and feeling their faces. It's immediately clear that these people are looking for someone.... or something. He eventually gets to a middle-aged woman. As he touches her face, she reacts violently. He tells the others that "she's one" as the woman attempts to run away. Another of the gunmen blocks her path and the woman is shot in the throat in front of the other customers.
One of the remaining customers is an off-duty detective. He manages to take out one of the gunmen, as well as the "feeler", before he is blasted at close range with a shotgun. However, this is not before he has called in the situation to 911. Despite their losses and the impending police threat, the leader of this outfit, a man named Ritter, is not ready to leave. He tells the others that they have not found what they came here for and he refuses to leave until they do.
The police arrive and surround the building. The hostages that the "feeler" (actually a "spotter") had "cleared" before dying are freed, but the others are kept. This includes the manager and a few customers, as well as the teenager cashier and bagboy.
Sterling, the group's medic, is seen vivisecting the body of one of the killed hostages. While the viewer doesn't get a very clear look at whatever it is that she has found, she states that whatever it is has been gestating inside this body for the last 8 years. Seeing as the film has the word "alien" in its title, there is no "spoiler" in telling you that this what she has found. The "infected" bodies are shot a few more time for good measure and tossed into the store's meat locker.
The police negotiator arrives on the scene. Little do the gunmen know that he is also the step-father of "Whitney", the store's cashier. He calls the store phone and speaks with Ritter. For his only demand, Ritter asks that a woman named Charlotte be brought to the scene. Ritter intends to use her as a replacement for their now dead spotter. The only problem with this back-up plan is that Charlotte is a junkie currently in jail for drug charges. Until she arrives, the unit are forced to identify any other alien invaders through another form of "test".

The hostages are taken to the store's produce cooler. There, they are seated and handcuffed. They are each given a half-gallon of milk and told that they must drink the entire thing. As anyone who has seen or taken the "milk challenge" before knows, this inevitably leads to at least one person puking. In this case, that person is another middle-aged female shopper, one who was admittedly only there to pick up some booze. Momentarily left alone to chug their milk, the cashier informs the other hostages of the cop that was killed in to store. She also lets them know that the corpse still has a gun on it.
The gunmen return to the cooler. They inform the hostages that one of them is an "infected carrier", although he doesn't tell them what of. He tells them that the milk has altered the infected's pH levels, thus make them easier to find during the upcoming "tests".

The first to be forced to take the "test" is Tarkey. He quickly discovers that the "test" involves having his pinky finger cut off. Naturally, he freaks out when he discovers what is about to happen to him. In an attempt to save his finger, he pulls a stack of cash out of his pants. Seems that he has been stealing from his own store, and now he plans on using the stolen cash to buy his way out. His offer is rejected and his finger is still chopped off. After waiting a couple of minutes, nothing has happened. Well, nothing besides a whole lot of bleeding. Tarkey is deemed to be "clear" and is taken back to the cooler with the other hostages.
The gunmen are soon revealed to be a group of former scientists. They continue their attempts to expose the hidden aliens, which leads to a few casualties among their ranks, as well as among the hostages. As should be expected in a movie like this, things aren't as clear cut as they seem and some people aren't exactly who or what they claim to be. The film attempts to end with a twist, but it's not anything that couldn't be seen coming from far off.

While entertaining, there's no way that I would call Alien Raiders a great film. Acting is solid for the most, and although light in the special effects department, what make-up effects are present are handled capably. So, why did I choose this film to write a Shitmas piece about? Answer: Because it is my favorite kind of Christmas movie. It's a film that casually mentions that it's taking place at Christmas and then never mentions it again.

And really, after what I'll be spending on presents for my kids, I'd like to forget as quickly as possible.

- Dustin Fallon
 Horror and Sons

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