I have to agree with other reviewers. Alien Raiders is a lame title that hardly lends itself to what this movie is about. Now that we have that out of the way what about the movie itself? It's a different take on the alien invasion genre, and that's what makes this movie so unique and entertaining. Its not a perfect film, but it can't be denied that this movie will make you get into whats going on and keep you held through the conclusion. This is the kind of film making that you don't see so much from a direct to video production. It's worth checking out if you are into sci-fi thrillers with a taste of horror.
Alien Raiders is about a group of normal people who have become alien hunters. They narrow down their search to a small town grocery store and go in like psychopaths taking hostages. From here the story unfolds. The aliens they hunt take over human bodies, so figuring out which ones are humans and which are aliens can be tricky without help. That's essentially where the story gets you to. You have a set of hostages and the hunters have to figure out which ones are the aliens. The themes have that paranoid feel of movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing. The approach they take on this theme is what sets it apart. From the beginning of the film you don't know what's going on. As the story progresses you start to know a little more. The plot continues to feed you tiny nuggets of background story and plot progression. In the end you have one parts thriller, one part mystery, and one part horror film with all the speculation and wondering about who and what that makes this kind of film good.
The movie may not keep you at the edge of your seat, but it does keep you interested. I don't think Alien Raiders was made to be an intense thriller. More like an intellectual thriller that relishes keeping you interested in the little details. I do have to say that as the movie comes to it's conclusion that sense of mystery and thrill gets replaced with your standard monster fight and ultimately a disappointing and utterly predictable ending. I wasn't impressed with how they chose to wrap up the plot, but I did enjoy the ride.
This being a direct to video production the film budget isn't all that big, but they do a lot with the resources. You forget it's low budget (until the ending) because the story gets interesting and the way it's shot and the way the script flows will grab your attention. Make up effects and such are serviceable and actually work better than if they would have tried it with computer animated effects. The cast is diverse, which helps with the whole, "who could be the alien?" feel.
This DVD is not a bad package. The video is good and the sound is really dynamic during the scenes where that counts. The packaging is a little misleading as you don't get to see any spaceships or groups of crawly creatures anywhere om the film (I guess that fits the whole theme of having a title that doesn't represent the movie as well). The extras have some pretty neat items as well.
Hidden Terror: The Making of Alien Raiders - Your basic making of documentary. It's not one of those marketing fluff featurettes as it does have some real meat in the bone with explanations on the movie's origins and the methodology they went with in making it.
Blood, Sweat, and Fears: The special effects of Alien Raiders - A second documentary focusing on makeup and gore techniques. It is brief with not a lot of content.
Tape #9: Sterling Explains Alien - This is an interesting extra. It's done like those tapes found in the film and holds some neat details on the alien creatures. It goes through the origins of the creature as well as a sort of retrospective from the film. It's done like a scientific analysis which adds a little authenticity if not an exciting extra.
Tape #12: Spooky's Job - Goes into more details on the character Spooky and his ability to sense the aliens. If you had questions during the film about this guy this 'tape' does a lot to explain things.
Whitney Cam - A little Facebook/MySpace looking video of the character Whitney and her day to day musings of her normal life. Doesn't lend all that much to the whole package, but a little interesting nonetheless.
Alien Raiders is a neat concept that is well executed up until the final conflict of the film. While I hate that the film went for the cliched' and often traveled road in the end the majority of the content of the film makes up for it. Most sci-fi fans should find something to latch onto in this film, but it's mostly for those interested in body snatcher type films.