VCI Home Video // 1985 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 28th, 2005
Only one woman has the guts to fight back -- as well as the tiny little cowpoke fringe-skirt.
Writer/director Phil Smoot follows up his low-budget but amusing B-movie romp The Dark Power with this forced mating of the western and science fiction genres.
What kind of alien embarks on a hunting trip to planet Earth and doesn't bring its own guns? And what will it take to defeat these extraterrestrial gunslingers? And how much celluloid inanity can a human being sit through? These are the questions Alien Outlaw seeks to answer.
Jesse Jamison (Kari Anderson) is a world-class traveling sharpshooter who has fallen on some meager times. Apparently there isn't much clamor for the services of a scantily-clad woman who can shoot pumpkins blindfolded.
As it turns out, financial hardship is the least of her problems.
An alien spaceship has recently landed and deployed a trio of raspy breathing, stumbling creatures intent on hunting and killing human beings. (The back of the disc claims this film "could have been the inspiration" for Predator. Whatever...)
No sooner have the slimeballs crawled out of their ship, they've claimed their first victim. They peel away his guns and begin their hunt in force, not knowing that two immovable obstacles stand in their way: Jesse, the gun-toting spitfire and Lash LaRue!
Oh, what a waste. Where The Dark Power was corny, z-grade goo that was entertaining, Alien Outlaw is corny, z-grade goo that is tedious. All the ingredients for a fun B-movie seem to be present: a saucy heroine, gunfire galore, three potentially funny otherworldly nemeses, and the gruff powder-keg that is Lash LaRue. But the baked good Phil Smoot eventually takes out of the oven is a bland, unappetizing mess.
This certainly had the potential to be a good time. But the film became mired in the muck of a too-long personal story that goes nowhere. Jesse's trial and tribulations in show business, and her aggravating encounters with her manager, lead to no payoff in the movie. She shoots guns well, and that has some bearing in the climax; other than that, her career plotline consumes time, and that's pretty much it.
Lash LaRue was pretty great in The Dark Power, what with his needly voice and kick-ass bullwhip. But here that machismo is eliminated, and he runs around the film -- whip-free, mind you -- sharing corny dialogue with whomever will hear it and offering useless advice during heated, high-pressure moments that have aliens shooting guns a lot.
And about those aliens. Weak. These clowns showed flashes of coolness, but in the end we just have three heavily costumed guys running around a stream. They can twirl and toss their guns with the best of them, but as antagonists they leave much to be desired.
Gore is minimal, with a few burning alien corpses comprising the hardest-hitting of the blood and guts. In fact, 90% of the shootings occur off-screen.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the flick is the way it takes itself too seriously. The movie would have been twenty times better if Smoot tried to recapture the self-deprecating tone of The Dark Power. And while there are certainly patches of this playfulness sewn throughout Alien Outlaw, overall it's just too damn hoity-toity for a movie. Well, at least a movie with the name Alien Outlaw...
As a DVD presentation, this is a better outing than its brother. Both a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen and full screen transfer are available, though the widescreen is obviously the way to go. The quality is rather good, considering the age and stock quality. Overall the look is brighter and crisper than The Dark Power. The mono mix pushes the center channel hard enough, but in the end it just doesn't measure up to a more complete mix.
Extras are more bountiful in Alien Outlaw, and play with an overall "reminiscing about B-westerns" theme. Former western star Sunset Carson (who also has a brief role in the film) sits down to interview (separately) Lash LaRue and Kari Anderson. These are short features, with the former basically a nostalgia session with two old-school cowboys, and the latter a fairly awkward Q and A, where it's obvious Carson has no clue what to say to Anderson.
A couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes include a quaint news conference about the movie and some home video footage of the creature effects. Neither is terribly interesting. Finally, Phil Smoot and editor Sherwood Jones lay down a low-key commentary track.
Don't be fooled by the sexy disc cover, which sports flying saucers, alien hostage-takers, and large-breasted female gunfighters. The actual affair is a lot more humdrum. A disappointment.
Guilty. Now go dunk your head in an alien trough.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director's and Editor's Commentary
* Interviews with Lash LaRue and Kari Anderson
* News Conference
* Making-of Footage