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Strange Invaders Review

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Entomologist Charlie Bigelow traces his missing, estranged wife Margaret to an eerily perfect small town and learns that she is one of a party of aliens who have been stranded on Earth since 1958.

★★★★

‘Of all the worlds in all the galaxies ... why did they pick this one?’ Opening with a prologue set in a decade when ‘except for the communists and rock-and-roll, there was not much to fear’, Strange Invaders has a clever basic joke: the aliens who identity-snatch the folks of Centerville in 1958 assume their disguises will be good for the duration of a twenty-five year mission, and are weirdly conspicuous in 1983 as they attempt to infiltrate the big city while driving finned cars, wearing spotted bow-ties and listening to doo-wop music.

Director Michael Laughlin and screenwriter partner Bill Condon (later director of Gods And Monsters and Kinsey) had made a good teen-zombie splatter film called Dead Kids (aka Strange Behavior) and reteamed for this more elaborate, sweeter-natured satire of every space alien visitor from It Came From Outer Space to ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. It has a lot of goofy charm but isn’t too knowing to lose its sense of wonder and boasts some 1980s-style rubbery transformation effects as bug-eyed aliens peel off their human faces.

It’s especially well-cast, with genial Paul LeMat as a bug specialist who can’t get used to the fact that his daughter is part-alien, Nancy Allen as a tabloid Lois Lane who has written so many fake alien abduction stories that she’s bewildered by a real one, Fiona Lewis as an evil Avon Lady from Outer Space and Diana Scarwid as the mid-western Mom who is the only space-woman on Earth to have moved with the times (though her ‘80s culottes and jade earrings now look more alien than compound eyes and antennae).

A bit dated, it's true but this is still a fun premise with some decent set pieces.