Originally made to be shown on the Chiller cable TV channel, Alien Opponent lives again on DVD, and this time in uncut form, thanks (?) to Shout! Factory. The storyline of the movie, such as it is, begins when something crashes way back in the junkyard run by a crotchety man named Tom Mazurski (Kevin Shea) just as he's in the middle of an argument with his much younger pretty blonde wife, Meghan (Ashley Bates). Meghan is hardly any more likeable than Tom, however, as we know she's sleeping around on him and only interested in him for what he can buy her. Regardless, something crashed in the junkyard and shortly after, Meghan's mom takes Tom out of the equation all together with a swift blow from her hammer. See, what crashed back there was obviously an alien and the two ladies figure they can blame the alien for Tom's death and spend whatever money's he has left as they see fit.
In order to make this happen, and more importantly to make it look less like the cold blooded murder that it was, they decide to quickly stage a hunting competition where they offer up a $100,000.00 reward to whoever can first kill the alien now running around in the junkyard. Various competitors show up from all over the place, including a psychotic priest named Father Melluzo (played by Roddy Piper) and a hard drinking stripper loving tough guy named Brooklyn Davis (played by Jeremy London), and before you know it all bets are off and it's every man, woman and space alien for his or her self.
A complete hodge podge of a movie, Alien Opponent succeeds, at least in the uncut form it is presented in on this DVD, with some creative gore an kill scenes but not with much else. The characters are, for the most part, unlikeable and unsympathetic and while nihilism can work when done well, it isn't here. People just sort of show up to get knocked off and there isn't a whole lot of depth or meaning to any of this. Had the film been more fun of course, this wouldn't have mattered in the least and the picture simply could have coasted smoothly to victory on its exploitative traits but the film winds up repetitive and uninteresting.
As far as the casting goes, Ashley Bates gets some credit for at least making her typical 'dumb blonde' character a little more interesting than most and for looking as good as she does here. She's pretty and spirited and does the best that she can with the material. Jeremy London, more or less the leading man in the movie, doesn't really have a whole lot going on in terms of motivation or background, he's just sort of a tough drifter type who moves from bar to bar and stripper to stripper without much rhyme or reason other than, we can assume, he just likes bars and strippers. No harm in that, but it doesn't make for the most riveting hero to ever hit the small screen. Roddy Piper, immortalized by his amazing work in John Carpenter's They Live brings his usual manic energy to the part but can't really save things. He's fun when he's on camera but his character just isn't all that interesting. We get it, he's a priest who likes guns, and Robert Rodriguez already worked that angle with Cheech Marin in Desperado anyway.
You definitely get the impression the people behind this were trying to make a movie that would just simply entertain, and maybe if you can turn the dial down on your brain far enough, it might do that for you. It does move at a fast pace and it does deliver some solid gore - but anything outside of that, you've really got to scrape to find.
Alien Opponent looks good in 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen in a transfer from Shout! Factory that presents the uncut version on DVD with great color reproduction and solid detail for a standard definition offering. Black levels are solid, there are no issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement and aside from a bit of shimmer, the image quality here is very good.
Also fine is the English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, though don't go looking for any alternate language options or subtitles as you won't find any. Clarity is good from start to finish with dialogue always easy to understand and no issues with hiss or distortion of note. There are times where you wonder if maybe the action sequences could have been a little more aggressive in their use of the rear channels and the subwoofer but aside from that, the sound quality of the DVD is very good.
Extras kick off with a fairly active commentary track that gathers up director Colin Theys, assistant director Paul Melluzzo, writer John Doolan, talent coordinator Jill Sacco, creature performer Ben Chester, property master John Randall, and last but not least cinematographer Matt Wauhkonen in front of the microphone to talk about their experiences working on the film. Theys does most of the heavy lifting here and you get the impression this was his baby more than anyone else's. The participants cover a lot of ground, from pre-production to effects work to casting and everything in between, but it won't change your opinion on the film itself.
Aside from that, we get a few deleted scenes totaling just under six minutes in length, three minutes or so worth of outtakes, menus, chapter selection, a trailer and a still gallery.
You definitely get the impression that everyone involved with the making of Alien Opponent had their hearts in the right place, but you know what they say about good intentions. Sadly, the movie is just a mess and while it earns high marks for some impressive gore and one or two memorable set pieces, that doesn't take away from the fact that it's not very well written or all that good. Not even Roddy Piper can save this one. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.