High Plains Invaders

Vivendi Entertainment
RD: April 6, 2010
UPC 883476013299
87 minutes, Not Rated.

I love westerns and I love horror movies so I really love the rare films that combine the two genres into one, so when I heard about this movie I was naturally interested. It looked to be a gory monster movie set in the old west. So in honor of the type of films that are as American as apple pie baked on the 4th of July by your mother, yet sadly neglected these days, I’m going to do this review Clint Eastwood style.

The good: James Marsters (of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER fame) is the star of the show playing an outlaw named Sam. On the very day he’s to be hanged in a little town in Colorado in 1892, large insectoid creatures start rampaging all around killing folks and then mysteriously burrowing into the earth. Naturally only Sam, the outlaw with a heart of gold, will be able to help a small group of survivors escape the strange invaders with their hides intact. That brings us to another good thing in this film; the design of monsters. They are eyeless, scythe-legged, armor plated nasties with long, barbed tails. Oh, and because this is a western, they can shoot too. The critters kind of look STARSHIP TROOPERS-ish, but they have enough differences to make them their own kind of monster. Speaking of design, the people behind the set design, costumes, and props all need to take a bow. If nothing else the film has a good, authentic, gritty look. And as long as I’m talking about tradecraft I’ll also give a tip of the hat to the special makeup effects team. The practical splatter always looks meaty and red. Lastly there is a good little mystery to solve in this movie as to where the big bugs come from and why have they suddenly started burrowing underneath the town.

The bad: by and large the worst thing about this movie is some of the actors. Now I say some because there are a few that give good performances, such as Mr. Masters, but the rest range from simply adequate to down right bad, bad, BAD. The worst offender is the woman playing the Annie Oakley –style gunslinger and bounty hunter. Never once does she come off as believable and usually I just start giggling whenever she opens her mouth. Another bad thing is anything that goes boom in this movie. While the firearms look authentic, well except for a couple of guns that appear to be a bit too modern, they sound like cap guns when fired and dynamite only explode in little puffs of smoke. Yeah this alone won’t ruin a film, but it sure is unintentionally funny.

The ugly: while the creatures have a good look, they just look bad and that’s because they are brought to life using CGI. Now I must admit that with very few exceptions I hate CGI, sadly this movie is not one of the exceptions. The bugs just look fake at all times. They are too shiny, they look wrong when moving, and just don’t impart any weight to the world around them. When they run across sand they don’t leave any tracks and when they run through the woods they don’t disturb any leaves. Yes this is just a little thing but once you notice it, it becomes pretty distracting. Now I know that a movie with this limited a budget, using computers was the only way they could bring the invaders to life, so I cut them some slack, but it’s still damn ugly.

Ok time for the showdown. HIGH PLAINS INVADERS was a fun old west monster mash up. Because of the rarity of such things, that alone gets its high marks. While the creatures look good, their animation is rather poorly done. The film is competently made and acted with a few glaring exceptions. If you are looking for a cowboys vs. critters flick then give this move a look, I reckon you’ll like it.

– Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons

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~ by darkdiscoveries on April 13, 2010.

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