Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Ten Days of Terror!: Alien Raiders

Film: Alien Raiders
Format: Internet video on Fire!

When you don’t have much of a budget, you end up trying to be as creative as you can with the money you do have. Alien Raiders is a case in point for this. This is clearly a low budget movie that put what money it had into the few special effects it needed. One of the ways to cut down on costs is to have a film shoot in one location. Alien Raiders takes place in a supermarket and in the parking lot of the same supermarket. To the movie’s credit, this isn’t really that noticeable in the moment.

The film starts with a team of armed people—terrorists? Insurgents? Something else?—entering a supermarket just as it is closing. A couple of gunshots and a couple of deaths later, and our crew of gunmen are rounding up all of the workers and customers. As far as those victims go, there are a few we’re going to worry about. These are cart boy Benny (Jeffrey Licon); co-worker Whitney (Samantha Streets), who is clearly the object of Benny’s affections; and the manager Tarkey (Joel McCrary), who we learn is skimming out of the till.

The actions of the attackers aren’t clear initially. They start lining up people and having one of their number scan them in some way. Most of the people are “cleared,” but at least one person is not, a terrible screech is heard, and the woman is shot multiple times. An off-duty cop who was in the store starts to fight back and manages to kill the “scanner” of the attackers before being killed himself. This causes a change of plans for the attackers.

Ultimately, what comes out is that our group of attackers once worked at JPL (that’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories) and have bugged out and armed up. As for them, they seem to think that there are aliens that have landed and are for some reason centered in this supermarket in the ass-end of Arizona. Inexplicably aside from plot purposes, Whitney’s step-father (Mathew St. Patrick) is a cop who used to work as a hostage negotiator. Soon enough he’s camped outside and dealing with the leader of the attackers, Ritter (Carlos Bernard).

It will not be surprising that the aliens are real, of course. We learn that most of the aliens are female and are fertile and that there is a single “king” alien looking to mate with the others. The search is for the king, since without him, the aliens are unable to reproduce and the threat is ended. The aliens are large parasites, kind of like giant embryos, that live inside their hosts and eventually take over. There’s a bit of a feeling of The Hidden in this, although the aliens extract themselves in nastier ways.

The big issue for our hostages is the test that becomes necessary. With their spotter dead, our alien hunters are left to use other means to deal with the potential infected people. This involves forcing them to drink milk to change their blood chemistry in some way (evidently they drink a lot of milk). They then have a finger chopped off and tested. No reaction, they’re clear. Big reaction, and you get that classic scene from The Thing, which this movie resembles in a lot of ways.

No one is going to make the mistake of looking at a movie like Alien Raiders and thinking it’s going to rewrite the genre. It does manage to do what it wants well enough. There are no real scares here beyond the jump scare variety, and the plot is very much The Thing transplanted to an Arizona grocery store, but for all of its limitations, it’s actually decent. It helps a lot that the cast is good. These are all essentially no-name actors, but they all handle the job well. It helps that they aren’t recognizable. They look like real people. Benny and Whitney, for instance, are reasonably attractive people, but neither are possessed of movie star looks. They look like normal kids, and it helps with the overall feel of the film.

There are some holes in the plot, of course. It’s a low-budget science fiction film with horror elements. You’re not watching this for the scintillating plot or the witty dialogue. The film uses its budget well—there are a couple of monster effects and one or two more gory shots, but it’s otherwise blood and not much more.

This isn’t a great movie, and it might not even be a good one, but it’s far better than I expected it to be.

Why to watch Alien Raiders: It’s a fun idea.
Why not to watch: It’s The Thing without a budget.


  1. The Thing without a budget? No thanks.

    1. You might be surprised. This isn't high art, but it's surprisingly entertaining.