Halloween Endurance Test: Spaced Invaders (1990)

I don’t know why Spaced Invaders doesn’t rank with Citizen Kane in terms of cinematic awesomeness.  Or with Titanic in terms of box office appeal.  I guess predicting public, or even critical, opinion is similar to forecasting the weather.  

Perhaps Spaced Invaders timing had something to do with its reception.  It’s a film taking place on Halloween, yet was released in the early summer.  In May, I believe, because I can distinctly remember seeing it in the theater on my birthday.  My friend (who will remain nameless for his protection) and I went to see it.  We were literally the only ones in the theater.  There might be no sensation more sublime than being able to stretch out in theater seats, throw pop corn at the screen, and argue over plot points completely isolated from other patrons.  The theater is, by its nature, a extremely rigid and structured environment.  

Hence this is a sensation not often encountered.  I’ve only stumbled upon it once more in my life, viewing Bend it Like Beckham.  Apparently watching wayward Martians attempt to destroy the Earth is as popular in Southern Florida towns as tales about Indian girls obsessed with soccer.

Essentially the film is a magnificent failure; that’s why I love it so.  Is it a Halloween (i.e. horror) film, a sci-fi pic, or a comedy?  Rather than decide on one, it fails to succeed as any.  Pulled in too many directions, guided by too many influences Spaced Invaders is unable to distinguish its own identity.  Watching it you get a rubber necking pleasure of unmitigated failure.   

The DVD’s box purports that the Marian pilot is ‘ultra-hip.’  This ‘hipness’ is telegraphed terribly; said Martian is wearing sunglasses and a Lakers tee shirt!  Despite his attempts to be hip and topical, the poor alien doesn’t even get a name on the box.  He’s just called ‘pilot.’

How this film received the DVD treatment is beyond me.  I can’t find a copy of Children of Paradise anywhere, but this shows up at the store.  I’m not implying it’s a bad film; anything but that!  Again, basing its popularity off of either public or critical opinion leaves Spaced Invaders sporting quite a deficit.

What it lacks in acclaim it makes up for in its ‘prepare to die Earth scum!’ goodness.

The Scene where the town’s new sheriff stops a farmer from shooting the villainous banker, Klembecker, still reminds me of The Grapes of Wrath‘s most depressing point.  In the book there’s a part where a(nother) farmer, acting on the bank’s advice, takes out a number of loans to increase production and profits.  Eventually the land goes dry, the crops shrivel, and the farmer is left holding the bag; with only his farm to pay off his debts.  Broke and without hope, the farmer, desiring revenge, takes his shotgun to the bank to offer an ‘alternate’ solution.  Where the frightened banker informs the farmer that it’s not his fault, he‘s just obeying the law.  It’s actually his boss that deserves the buckshot.  His boss, of course, also has a boss that’s equally to blame.  

This is practically all I can remember from that book.  The utter hopelessness of life in the modern world; where the buck can (and is) always passed.  

Here, and this might be why I love it so much, the farmer does get his revenge.  Not through bloodshed (though that would be fine too), but with giant crops fertilized with Martian feces.  It’s shocking to have an author as famous as Steinbeck miss a loophole that gigantic!

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One Response to “Halloween Endurance Test: Spaced Invaders (1990)”

  1. i had the empty theater experience seeing Solaris. A movie which for me will always associate ramen with George Clooney’s bare ass. I don’t remember what the rest of the movie was about but evidently sw fl wasn’t into that either.

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