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Groom Lake

Koch Vision // Unrated // March 10, 2009
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted March 13, 2009 | E-mail the Author
Okay, so here's a recap of the first ten minutes of Groom Lake, a no-budget alien invasion flick-slash-tale of undying love produced, written, directed by -- hell, and even starring! -- William Shatner: a trucker barks at the sky like a deaf seal until his hands glow purple, Angel's Amy Acker turns up in a weepy Calvin Klein ad where it's revealed she's about to keel over from lupus, a condom balloon is popped by stock footage of a rattlesnake, and a knife fight in a sleepy desert town pitstop ends with a redneck shouting, "freak you!" Just to say it again...? The counter's not even in the double digits, and I'm already at a loss.

There's kind of a story churning around in here somewhere about a couple of young lovers pitted against lupus, sheer mountain faces in an '88 Suzuki, cowpoke gangrape, hot pursuit by government agents tooling around in a fleet of '74 Buicks, genitelia-less cows, and a sprawling alien conspiracy, but who cares? This gaggle of screenshots'll tell you everything you need to know.



So...yeah. Skip It.


Video
Shot on chintzy not-even-consumer-grade video, Groom Lake looks as amateurish and low-rent as...well, everything else about the flick. The anamorphic widescreen image is soft, noisy, peppered with compression artifacts, and bogged down by some nasty moire patterns. 'Spretty bad.


Audio
From the tinny Casio score to the clunky recording of the dialogue to the flickers of distortion once Groom Lake lurches to what passes for a climax, this mediocre 192Kbps Dolby Digital stereo track really wouldn't sound much different pumping through the crappy built-in speakers on your TV instead of being piped through an overpriced home theater rig. Oh, and there aren't any dubs, subtitles, or closed captions this time around.


Extras
The only extra is a kind of rambling 28 minute interview with William Shatner, who kicks things off by making me feel guilty about railing into the flick by saying that Groom Lake is a love letter to his late wife Nerine. Shatner breezes through lining up financing with Full Moon's Charlie Band, contrasts shooting the $30 million Star Trek V with...well, this, the headaches of being a writer-slash-director-slash-producer-slash-star, and the clunky effects work. He's pretty candid about Groom Lake not living up to his expectations, although that's...yeah, putting it mildly, and he careens off on tangents about other low-budget movies he'd top-billed, Shatner's Law trumping Murphy's Law, and an overexaggerated story about riding some drug runners' horses in the desert. It's a hell of a lot more fun than the movie, so I'll throw out a couple of stars.


The Final Word
Oh, the things I do for love. I fished Groom Lake out of the review pool just because Amy Acker scored second-billing, but...yikes. Bill Shatner's no-budget epic about love, lupus, and aliens is incoherent, schmaltzy, glacially paced, and only occasionally cacklingly so-bad-it's-you-know-how-the-rest-of-the-cliché-goes. Skip It.
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