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DVD Review: Alien Raiders

Six bandits besiege a small town supermarket announcing that it’s a robbery. They begin to kill random shoppers. Naturally, somebody (an off-duty cop) has to play hero and shoots two of the thugs dead on the spot.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a robbery, and the attackers aren’t thieves, but rather a group of rogue scientists and technicians that are intent on eliminating an alien organism that has infected some of the residents in peaceful quiet Buck Lake. So begins the Indie award-winner Alien Raiders, a direct-to-video sci/fi shocker from the boys at the horror label, Raw Feed.

While the story itself is nothing new (paying homage — or ripping off, depending on your point of view — to countless science fiction movies, both good and bad) and the story’s setting instantly makes you feel all Mist-y inside, Alien Raiders departs from the traditional torture porn crap that Raw Feed usually brings us (such as the god-awful Rest Stop series).

It opts to give us something that is actually entertaining for a change instead, featuring a cast of familiar faces including Carlos Bernard (24), Mathew St. Patrick (Six Feet Under), Rockmond Dunbar (Prison Break), and Bonita Friedericy (Chuck), as well as some newer faces (Jeffrey Licon, Courtney Ford, and Samantha Streets) that might actually make it somewhere someday (as long as they don’t sign up for the next Rest Stop film, that is).

Warner Home Video brings us the latest Raw Feed release in an anamorphic 2.35:1 presentation that is pretty nice overall, with some very rich and well-balanced colors in the beginning of the film. After the bad/good guys switch the lights off, though, the movie becomes darker and a bit grainy. This is probably attributable to the fact that Alien Raiders was shot on High Def video (with a Panasonic HPX3000, to those of you that care) and, as such, is understandable (and forgivable).

The English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound is pretty middle-of-the-road for me and doesn’t give your rear speakers much of a workout at all (that, or the cats chewed through the speaker wires again; good thing there’s Tabasco Sauce, eh?).

Accompanying the DVD are a handful of special features. There are two featurettes entitled "Hidden Terror: The Making Of Alien Raiders" (8:30) and "Blood, Sweat And Fears: The Special Effects Of Alien Raiders" (2:56).

There are also two “excerpts” from the stack of video tapes that actor Tom Kiesche filmed (in character), featuring his fellow actors Ford and the late Philip Newby (also in character) that total about ten minutes; a “video blog” with actress Streets’ character (8:52); and six trailers for other Raw Feed titles (Alien Raiders, Believers, Otis, Rest Stop, Rest Stop 2, and Sublime). Some additional trailers and promos are included at the beginning of the disc.

Unfortunately, whenever I would actually like to hear an audio commentary these days, they don’t include one. However, the good folks over at Dread Central weren’t content with that, and assembled Alien Raiders’ director Ben Rock, composer Kays Al-Atrackchi and actor Kiesche together to record one. Nice work, guys!

Finally (some of you categorize these things as special features, so I’m listing it here), there’s an insert included, giving you instructions on how to download a copy of Alien Raiders for Windows Media. (It’s not piracy if the company gives it to you, right?).

Predictable? Why, you bet your ass it is. The lousy artwork (which is a combination of Alien, Species, and Mist) will no doubt tend to put some of you off. Predictability and bad art aside, Alien Raiders is pretty fun to watch and will make a great companion piece with a take-out pizza and a six-pack of beer. I say give it a shot.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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