R.W. Goodwin, former executive producer of X-Files, and the director of the new movie Alien Trespass, says that he wanted to make the most accurate recreation of a 50s sci-fi movie as possible.
But as he admitted at the sneak screening I attended, "Those movies are just so out of style that they can't help but be funny." Which is the fundamental drawback to this movie. Alien Trespass attempts to walk the razor's edge between a loving homage and a subtle parody, and that razor's edge slices it into a bloody mess.
Goodwin cites some big names of classic sci-fi as his inspiration, like War of the Worlds
and The Day the Earth Stood Still. But this movie bears a stronger resemblance to Teenagers from Outer Space, in terms of its shoe-string production values and heavy reliance on the California desert for location shots.
Eric McCormack, who you may remember as Will from "Will and Grace plays a pipe-smoking astronomy professor who unwittingly becomes the host-body for an alien enforcer. He scours the archetypal small town in the desert to find an escaped space squid called a Ghota.
It's old-school special effects, slightly less convincing than your average Tom Baker-era Doctor Who monster, but the Ghota manages to be surprisingly creepy as it shuffles around with its one big eye and thrashing tentacles.
There's a few laughs at the expense of those backward 50s people (who you may recall are entertainingly misogynistic), and the production design hits the look and feel of the genre perfectly.
But Goodwin and company can't help sneaking in some ironic jokes and sly winks, which break the spell of what could otherwise be a lost classic.
If you're not careful, you can emulate an obsolete genre so perfectly that your work of imitation becomes itself outmoded. Alien Trespass has entered that territory. It's an entertaining movie that was made fifty years too late.