In the tradition of Road House 2, Bring It On Again, and just about every other Disney DVD release that happens along these days, comes Screamers: The Hunting, a direct-to-video sequel to 1995’s Screamers with Peter Weller — a movie that fared far better on VHS than it did in the theaters.
Screamers: The Hunting is bad. Really bad. It was one of the longest 95 minutes that I have ever wasted on a boring Sunday afternoon. The less-than-fulfilling storyline has a group of space soldiers venturing back to planet Sirius 6B, the wasteland-like home of precious minerals, satellite radio, and some deadly little machines known as screamers. Their purpose: a rescue mission. Their timeframe: limited — there’s a cataclysmic meteor storm coming in, so their sort of rushed on time. Their ship’s name: The Medusa — which should have been their first hint as to why they should have stayed at home (Medusa? I’m guessing Sailor Killing Siren was already taken?).
While it’s blatantly obvious that the rescue crew is inspired from Aliens, the crew of The Medusa deserve an award for being some of the most incompetent men and women ever to set foot out of a spacecraft. The fools from Starship Troopers 2 had a better chance. The crew of Red Dwarf was more organized. Hell, even the Morons From Outer Space could one-up The Medusa’s crew. I suppose that one could blame the ship’s idiotic senior officer, who has only come to Sirius 6B with the intent of pirating the technology used to develop the screamers and return to Earth a rich man — but, in reality, it’s best if we just blame the screenwriters (who, oddly enough, are the same two individuals that wrote the first film — they must’ve run out of ideas).
After wasting a sufficient amount of time and managing to get several of their own crew members killed, our brave heroes stumble upon some human survivors — and are soon horrified to learn that the screamers have been “evolving” and have figured out how to implant themselves into their human victims, turning them into murderous cyborgs. In fact, the good guys are so horrified that they almost emote even.
Unlike the first film, Screamers: The Hunting doesn’t benefit from much of a budget. If I had to guess, I’d say a good half of the money went into the surprisingly decent gore effects. The other half probably paid for poor Lance Henriksen’s plane ticket (coach, of course), meals, and two-room hotel suite up in Canada where this terrible movie was made. If his ten minutes of screen time in all of the other flicks he’s made as of late haven’t impressed you very much, than please be aware that Lance’s ten minutes of screen time here isn’t worth your time, either — unless you want to see what he’d look like if he was pretending to be Ronny Cox.
Shot digitally, Screamers: The Hunting receives a rather nice transfer on DVD from Sony Pictures. The 1.85:1 anamorphic ratio is clear, and lets director Sheldon Wilson’s fetish for soft blue lighting shine through like it’s nobody’s business but his own (which is probably true). 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Thai with subtitles in the aforementioned languages as well as Chinese and Korean. I only listened to the English track, and while it did very little for the front speakers, it did even less for the rear ones (I think I counted one occasion in which the rear speakers tried to wake me up). Strangely enough, for a film made in Canada, there’s not a single French language track or subtitle to be had on this DVD.
Special features are limited to a behind-the-scenes featurette which interviews a lot of crew members and most of the out-of-work cast as well. Apart from that 24 minute item, there’s nothing else of interest here — unless you count the abundance (twenty-one!) of previews and promos included.
My advice to you? Skip it and watch Aliens again.