Believe it or not, I actually got to meet Bruce Campbell once way back in the early 90s at a Fangoria convention my friends and I attended on Halloween (we later went to a GWAR concert at the Chicago Vic Theater and saw the 1953 version of House of Wax in 3-D at the Music Box Theater, but that's a story for another time). Mr. Campbell was on tour at the time, promoting his upcoming Army of Darkness (1993) film, and he struck me a really nice guy, one genuinely appreciative of his fans (I sincerely doubt he remembers me). Since then, I've followed his career, supporting his cinematic endeavors with my hard earned lucre, and usually I haven't been disappointed...until now. As much as it pains me to admit it, Alien Apocalypse (2005) was one rotten film, no matter how you look at it (some will say it was intentionally bad, but even if that were so, it still wasn't very entertaining, and my standards aren't that high). Co-written by Robert G. Tapert (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Darkman) and Josh Becker (Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except, Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur), with the latter also directing, the film stars Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead II, Maniac Cop, Escape from L.A.) and Renée O'Connor ("Xena: Warrior Princess"). Also appearing is Remington Franklin (Man with the Screaming Brain), Rosi Chernogorova (Shark Attack 3: Megalodon), and Peter Jason (They Live, Arachnophobia).
As the movie begins we hear narration with regards how aliens wiped out a majority of Earth's population, and the remnants turned into a slave labor force. In the sky we see a fiery object barreling towards Earth (a manned space capsule), and here come four astronauts, two women (a blonde and a brunette, who is injured), along with two men (Bruce and an African American man). Contact is made, and the recently returned are taken as prisoners...actually, the injured woman is shot, which I didn't mind because of her incessant whining...come to think of it, her companions didn't seem much put out by the loss, either...anyway, the three remaining astronauts are taken to a primitive lumberyard where they get to meet their alien, insect overlords, to which the outspoken, token minority character gets his head bitten off...and then there were two. Turns out in the 40 years the crew have drifted around space in a cryogenic sleep, aliens have taken over Earth for the purpose of harvesting our rich supply of trees (the aliens have `wood' for our wood)...oh bruther...the two remaining crew, Dr. Ivan Hood (Campbell) and Kelly (O'Connor) are thrown in with the rest of the prisoner rabble. Life in the camp is difficult...if you try to escape, they cut off a finger...if you lose enough fingers, you can't work, and they eat your head. Hope seems non-existent, but there are rumors that the President survives and is in hiding, priming a secret army somewhere in the nearby mountains with the intent on overthrowing the alien aggressors and taking back the Earth. Ivan and Kelly manage an escape (Kelly gets recaptured), and Ivan goes forth to find out if the rumors are true, garnering support among the few refugees he comes across who've managed to elude capture, eventually finding himself the leader of a movement (a bowel movement, if you ask me).
On the back of the DVD case for this movie, originally produced by The Sci-Fi Channel, it states the film is a cross between Starship Troopers (1997) and Army of Darkness (1993), which seemed a pretty ballsy claim to me, since I had just seen the film, and a more applicable comparison, in my opinion, would be Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) and Battlefield Earth (2000). I did get a sense few took the production seriously, but even still, this was a rotten effort. About the funniest aspect for me was the scene when Bruce Campbell's character is trying to understand why some of the humans are working for the aliens as bounty hunter/guards. Here's part of the exchange below,
Ivan: But you're not helping things...you're hurting.
Idiot Guard #1: What do you mean?
Ivan: I mean if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
Idiot Guard #'s 1 & 2 (in unison, after looking at each other stupidly): ...shut up!
It does come off funnier on screen, but not much. By the end of the film I had a hard time deciding what was worse, the script or the acting...I'm going with the corn pone script. The acting is completely horrid, but I suspect a lot of it was most likely due to the distinct possibility this film was made in some Eastern European country (I'm betting Bulgaria), and featured a number of people who probably couldn't speak English (check out the closing credits...watch for all the names ending with a "V" or a vowel of sorts). It's not uncommon in cases like this to get non-English speaking actors and feed them their lines. Problem is, they generally have little idea what they're actually saying, only repeating what they've heard, so they don't know how to act accordingly. But then this doesn't explain Campbell or O'Connor, both of whom speak English fluently. I honestly couldn't understand Campbell's character's interest in saving humanity, as those who were left were clearly products of the heavily chlorinated, shallow end of the gene pool, and worthy of far worse treatment than they ever got in this film. And who did the sound for this film? The musical score, which was decent, often overshadowed the dialog, which would normally be a bad thing, but here it was somewhat of a blessing. The effects, overall, were pretty shoddy, but I did like that alien battle tank, that was until they effectively turned it into circus type clown car as something like thirty weapon wielding aliens eventually emerged from the interior. I thought this impressive, especially since I'd estimate, based on the size of the vehicle and the aliens, the total capacity to be, at the very most, about ten. As far as the aliens themselves, they were hardly menacing, despite their superior weaponry. This was probably due to the fact that during a battle, they'd remain relatively stationary until perforated by multiple arrows, to which they would then collapse in a heap. There are a few bright spots in the movie, but you have to endure a lot of pain to find them...
Anchor Bay Entertainment does provide a good-looking anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) picture on this DVD, along with Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0 audio tracks. Special features include a commentary track by writer/director Josh Becker and star Bruce Campbell, behind the scenes footage (2:24), a storyboard gallery, a lengthy Bruce Campbell biography, and trailers for other Anchor Bay DVD releases like Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987), Man with The Screaming Brain (2005), Dead and Breakfast (2004), and Lightning Bug (2004).