Friday, March 13, 2009

Alien Zone

This is an odd 1978 film. It's an anthology film: four short films, and a framing story.
The framing sequence involves a man visiting a town for a convention (and to cheat on his wife). He gets lost in a storm as he tries to make his way back to his hotel and ends up being taken in by the town mortician (played by the late Canadian actor Ivor Francis). The mortician shows the man some of the bodies lying in state in his establishment and tells the story of how each of them died.
He tells four stories. The first is about a teacher who hates children who goes home and is killed by -- gasp! -- children. The second story, the worst of the lot, is about a man who lures women to their deaths in his apartment. There seems to be little point to this story, unless they were trying to be funny and failed utterly. The third story concerns an American and a British police detective trying to outdo the other with the powers of there deductive reasoning. This sequence stars veteran actors Charles Aidman and Bernard Fox and is actually entertaining. There's some genuine wit in the script and Aidman and Fox are having a great time chewing the scenery. The fourth story concerns a man who has no time for the less fortunate people of the world, until he ends up being one himself.
Finally, our cheating convention goer has had enough and heads back out into the storm, only to be confronted by the husband of the woman he was cheating with. Looks like the mortician has another customer.
I can only imagine that the title, Alien Zone, is some sort of homage to Rod Serling, because there ain't no aliens in this movie. Clearly, this is in the flavour of a Twilight Zone, or Night Gallery, and as a basic idea, it doesn't work too bad. The mortician has an endless supply of corpses to tell stories about, each one is a little mortality play with a twist ending, and then there's the final twist in the framing story. However in execution, this movie doesn't cut it. The script is mostly awful (save for the two detectives' story), the acting worse (again, save for the detectives), the direction just as bad, and the film looks like it was made for about $14.95.
If you do watch it, turn it off after Aidman and Fox have done their bit. That's the only part worth watching.

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