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Case Number 18648

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High Plains Invaders

Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2009 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 2nd, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson had a bad case of the High Plains Invaders, but a shot of penicillin cleared it right up.

The Charge

The prairie hides a deadly secret.

Opening Statement

Pioneers versus killer aliens? What could go wrong? Lots, actually.

Facts of the Case

It's the Old Western times and an outlaw named Sam Phoenix (James Marsters, Angel) is about get hanged. But just before the noose tightens, the town is besieged by a lethal alien invader with a laser-shooting stingray and a crazy Sarlacc mouth. The townsfolk scramble but get promptly smoked, save for a handful of survivors led by Phoenix.

With their woefully underpowered 19th century weaponry, our heroes will have to scrape together every ounce of ingenuity and plot contrivance to defeat a vastly superior alien foe—and their spaceship.

The Evidence

RHI's Maneater series continues, though to call these prairie aliens "maneaters" is a stretch. They spit some kind of face-dissolving acid and maybe there's a digestive process at work, but their preferred method of murderous dispatch is to swing their pointy tails at people. Why that matters? I have no idea. In fact, I'm just doing what I can to fill space in this review and make it look like I'm thinking critically about a movie called High Plains Invaders.

Look, it's a dumb made-for-TV horror movie and might only be worth your time if a) you've been dying to see what it would be like for aliens rendered in mediocre CGI traipsing around a Western setting, or b) your brother was an extra who got his face melted off. While the concept was intriguing in that B-movie way, Invaders can't take advantage, discarding a much-needed sense of humor and embracing an endless string of clichés. The final product is a forgettable waste of time.

How could a movie about pioneers taking on aliens not have at least a little fun? Nope, this is deadly serious thematic material, folks, and instead of a self-deprecating, over-the-top romp we get yet another tired dose of "a small, eclectic group of survivors holed up in some sort of small room and stand against a terrifying, mysterious creature." The movie opens up a bit when the mothership hits town and drops hundreds of aliens, but that's pointless because we only see all of the baddies onscreen at the end, in time for the requisite Giant Explosion That the Script Demands.

A bare bones DVD brings the joy into your household, which isn't a surprise with these RHI releases. The video quality (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen) and audio (5.1 Dolby Digital) perform as asked. No extras.

Closing Statement

Missed opportunities and tedious plot familiarities combine to kick this generic creature feature also-ran to the curb.

The Verdict

Guilty. Your interstellar work visa is revoked.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 70
Story: 60
Judgment: 62

Perp Profile

Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (CC)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Science Fiction
• Western

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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