Let’s get one thing out of the way. Alien Raiders? What
were they thinking when they named this film? Sure it’s a direct to DVD
release, but calling a film Alien Raiders is like sticking a big “Do not
watch me” sign onto a box and putting it in stores. Seeing the title
brings to mind endless B-movies that are chucked on TV at god awful
hours of the night. Watching it reveals that it is most certainly a
B-movie, but that it most certainly does not deserve the title Alien
Raiders. It is watchable for the most part, and makes the most of its
The film begins with an armed hold up of a rural supermarket. A group of
masked gunmen, led by Aaron Ritter (Carlos Bernard) enter the store and
announce that a robbery is taking place. Panic ensues, as the shoppers
try to protect themselves from the bad guys. However the gunmen never
rob the safe, instead they walk around the store killing people at
random. Then they round up the survivors and take them hostage before
the local police arrive for a good old fashioned stand off. It is here
that the siege film suddenly becomes something entirely different. The
“robbers” are actually a crack team of scientists, who are chasing down
an alien parasite that hides itself in people. They are here to dispatch
what they believe to be the king alien, and must test each of the
hostages to determine who is carrying the parasite.
After explaining the plot, another gripe must be made at the title of
the film. If one watches Alien Raiders without knowing the title of the
film, it actually makes it more interesting. The movie starts as a
pretty straight heist film, and the masked gunmen seem like crazy cold
blooded killers. It is not until about thirty minutes in, when the
audience discovers they are watching a monster movie. It’s a pretty well
done genre shift, kind of like From Dusk til Dawn, but instead of
vampires it’s The Thing.
First time director Ben Rock makes the most of the limited budget by
confining the action to one location and only showing glimpses of the
alien in question. It helps make the threat of the alien seem more
immediate, and heightens the tension. It also makes the final reveal of
the alien all the more impressive.
Bernard leads the cast fairly well, yet doesn’t really stretch beyond
his role as Tony Almeida in 24. The rest of the cast is serviceable as
well, all filling out the stock character models of these sorts of
films. The characters themselves are fleshed out in fleeting moments of
exposition, which helps the pace and tension of the film, but gives the
audience little reason to care for the characters themselves.
The special features contain a fairly short making of, which has all the
usual cast and crew snippets about working on the film, and a feature
about the special effects. The most notable special features are the
“footage” obtained, which shows the characters from the film explaining
the plot and back story of the situation. These are actually fairly well
done, conducted as short documentary style interviews that were found
after the events of the film. They are interesting to watch, especially
if you enjoyed the film.
Alien Raiders is pretty much The Thing set in a supermarket. It is not
nearly as good as Carpenters classic, but is a serviceable horror film.
Despite an obligatory horror twist ending, the film is enjoyable to
watch and the performances are not bad. The real challenge is convincing
someone that a film called Alien Raiders is actually a worthwhile watch.
But give it a chance and there is a half decent horror film waiting to