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Bad Movie Tuesday: Xenophobia (2019), a clunky Sci-Fi anthology film about alien abduction victims and their stories.

August 13, 2019

MY CALL: Among the worst Sci-Fi anthologies or Sci-Horrors through which I’ve suffered—it ranks among the worst of modern “bad movie” fare. WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD: Much better alien abduction fare can be found with Fire in the Sky (1993), The Fourth Kind (2009), Dark Skies (2013), Extraterrestrial (2014) and even the marginal Alien Abduction (2014). For more redeeming Sci-Fi anthologies go for The Twilight Zone (1959-1964, 1985-1989, 2002-2003, 2019), The Outer Limits (1963-1965, 1995-2002), Amazing Stories (1985-1987), Oats Studios, Vol. 1 (2017), Electric Dreams (2017-2018), Black Mirror (5 seasons; 2011-2019) and Love, Death & Robots (2019). Also check out Dust on YouTube.

Disclaimer: Screener access was provided by a PR/Media group/company. However, I was not paid or compensated to write this nor were there any conditions to my receiving viewing access other than my solicited review.

Members of an alien abduction support group recount their traumatic experiences.

Cast/characters: Nick (Baker Chase Powell; Dismembering Christmas), Melanie (Angie Stevenson; Piranhaconda, Devil’s Domain, Sons of Anarchy), Becky (Kristen Renton; Sons of Anarchy, Ghouls), Matt (Alexander Kane) and Deacon (Scott King; Puppet Master X: Axis Rising)

Not 30 seconds into this film I felt like I was watching a Syfy Channel direct-to-TV movie-of-the-week in the late 90s. The film quality, video-era special effects, sound effects and acting all haphazardly fell in line. The alien creature effects range from perfectly passable (briefly enjoyable even) to God-awful while appearing quite dated—except for the extensive care placed on an aliens’ nostril movements and blinking, the attention to which went highly appreciated among the other drivel.

The human abduction scene bore a freshman film school clunkiness and borrowed heavily from Fire in the Sky (1993); a camping couple finds a hokey glowing crystal (worthy of Spencer Gifts) in the woods that ends up growing out of a dude’s chest (for no reason at all) as if it was Velcro’d onto his shirt; a babysitter fends off a rubber alien octopus puppet (clumsily puppeteered); some paranoid women unconvincingly torture a man; and people transform into aliens to take over the world (errrr, the support group).

The most entertaining parts of the move (and perhaps the only entertaining parts) were when an alien octopus swallows a baby whole (only on-screen in part) and the very The Thing-esque finale special effects goregasm. Unfortunately, the 80 minutes of suffering that led to these scenes would hardly make the viewing worth it. And I say that as someone who often happily sits through 70-80 minutes of bad 80s horror in exchange for 10 fun minutes at the end (e.g., Spider Labyrinth, Night Feeder).

Directors Joe Castro (Terror Toons 1-5), Thomas J. Churchill and Steven J. Escobar (Frankenfake) have nothing to brag about with this demonstration in poor filmmaking, painful writing and phoned-in special effects. So little effort was expended on this film that I struggle to understand why it was made. Sure I watched it… but I saw a free screener and now I just want to warn you away from it. And if this review denies me further screeners (like this), I’ll have no regrets.

Ultimately, this feels like the 2019 movie that gets roasted in Mystery Science Theater 20 years from now in like 2039. I suppose for anyone seeking something they can laugh at may find pleasure in this. But this isn’t even the kind of “bad” movie I’d normally enjoy or recommend.

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