Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

The Galaxy Invader (1985)

THE GALAXY INVADER

WRITER: Don Dohler

DIRECTOR: Don Dohler

STARRING: Richard Ruxton as Joe Montague
    Faye Tilles as Carol Montague
    George Stover as JJ Montague
    Greg Dohler as David Harmon
    Anne Frith as Ethel Montague
    Richard Dyszel as Dr. William Tracy
    Kim Dohler as Annie Montague
    Theresa Harold as Vickie Johnson
    Don Leifert as Frank Custer
    Glenn Barnes as the Alien

QUICK CUT: An alien comes to Earth and befriends the children of a local family, but is soon hunted by the locals because of what he is.

THE MORGUE

    Joe - The patriarch of the Montague family, and he is every terrible redneck stereotype.  He's a drunk, he's verbally AND physically abusive to his wife and daughters.  He's not the brightest Crayola in the box.  He's only looking out for Joe, everyone else be damned.

    Frank Custer - Another local associate of Joe's, and he is the brains of the operation.  If Joe is the redneck stereotype, Frank is the smart, connivingplotter type of country guy.  He's not much better to his girlfriend, and he's a giant scum weasel.

    Carol - One of Joe's daughter, and moderately sympathetic to the alien.  She wants to get out, but doesn't want to leave her family to her dad's abuses.

    JJ - Joe's son, and he's a good son.  He pretty much kowtows to all of dad's wishes, and is his right hand toady.

    David - A student who went to college elsewhere, and has him some brains.  When he sees the meteor come down, he's the one who calls in someone with actual science cred.  Why he's still stuck in this no horse town, I don't know.

    Dr. Tracy - The professor David calls, and he's got a hard on for aliens.  Not quite to Fox Mulder levels, but he knows what to look for, who to call, and won't shoot first and ask questions later.

    Annie - Joe's other daughter, and her defining trait is she hates everything.

THE GUTS: Huzzah, Triskelions!  Welcome back to the latest look at classic cheese!  This week's messterpiece is a little something called The Galaxy Invader by Don Dohler, whose movies I have long wanted to take more looks at.  Also, some images from this might seem familiar to fans of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, in a very strange way.  Because footage from this movie was bizarrely (And without permission) used as footage in the credits for the MST3K classic, Pod People.  There is no connection between the two, the footage makes NO sense in Pod People, and it is one of the weirder decisions I've ever seen.  But it always made me curious to see the actual full movie someday, and here we are...

 It would be a hoot if this had Pod people footage in the credits.

It would be a hoot if this had Pod people footage in the credits.

And let me tell you, I am instantly thinking this was a great decision, because the movie starts right off with an amazing 80s synth store that does not stop.  Oh, and a meteor crashes to Earth with classic 80s effects, I guess plot points are important.

There are also way WAY too many people in these credits with the same name as the director, who also wrote the movie.  These are all never good signs.

Anyways, back to the plot.  The meteor whooshes across the skies, buzzing a car, and crashes.  The meteor, not the car.  Although the car does sparkle with lightning, but that never goes anywhere or is even mentioned again.  The kid behind the wheel quickly finds a pay phone and calls up Professor Tracy.  Aww yeah, THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!!

 Tinkerbell is my co-pilot.

Tinkerbell is my co-pilot.

Can you imagine calling up an old college professor of yours about the UFO you just saw, at 5 in the morning??  Good thing he's not a current student, or I'd fail his ass on the spot!

But the teacher is way into UFOs, and is totally willing to drive five hours at the asscrack of dawn just to see if it might be a real UFO.

Since we've got a few hours to kill, the movie checks in with our Galaxy Invader, as he stumbles around a couple's basement.  They naturally hear the commotion and go downstairs to check it out.

Look, if you're ever in a horror movie situation, and you have no name, and zero lines, do not go into the dark room where noises are coming from, because you gonna die.

 I just want to wash my spacesuit...

I just want to wash my spacesuit...

But with the little case of murders out of the way, we meet most of the rest of our cast, the Montague family.  They define white trash.  The father, Joe, is your typical hateful, abusive drunk dad.  But if that wasn't enough, his shirt is torn open in the front, with a big hole.  And he never changes it.  We don't know why there's a hole, it's not like it was caused by the Invader attacking.  It's just his favourite shirt.  Or he is way committed to Power Girl cosplay.

Also, while it doesn't quite become clear here, I start to notice a trend.  The writing for this movie takes its cues from the classic bad screenwriting lesson; make sure you name every character whenever you address them.  So you get to hear every character's name.  A lot.  Every time someone speaks.  I first thought it was just hearing the name JJ over and over again, but no, every character's name is used to make sure you know who is being addressed.

Carol is the normal, rebellious daughter, and she storms off after a fight.  And Joe, being Joe, grabs his shotgun to chase after her, as a white trash father does.  Momtague sends JJ off to find them before dad does anything deadly.

As they run through the woods, Joe and JJ just so happen to run into Moss Man, and do what anyone would do upon meeting a stranger, unknown person in the woods; Joe shoots him and he drops his balls.

 Did you think I was joking?

Did you think I was joking?

The creature runs off, leaving Joe and JJ to stare at the ball and wonder what it is.  A ball.  It is A BALL.  Or an orb, if you want.  A sphere.  A globe.  Okay, so it's glowing in pulses, but it's still A FREAKIN' BALL.

For Carol, this distraction is good, because it allows her to have her early morning rendezvous with her canon fodder boyfriend Michael.  Even odds if it's the father or the alien that kills him.

Meanwhile, David and the professor finally meet up, and boy does it ever feel like six hours have passed.  "I sure hope you don't think I'm making this up."  Kid, the man drove roughly 400 miles to come see what you saw.  I'm sure he's good.

Back with the Montagues, Joe and JJ arrive with their strange not cube like object, and tells the womenfolk to shut up with everything they say.  Michael shows up to yell at Joe, threatening to take Carol away...and immediately backs down when dad shoves the shotgun in his face.  What a puss.

 We don't like yer kind around here, what with yer book learnin' and knowin' about round things and stuff!

We don't like yer kind around here, what with yer book learnin' and knowin' about round things and stuff!

Joe calls in his friend Frank Custer and his wife Vickie, to figure out what to do with the curvulated rock.  JJ brings it out, and they poke it with a stick, making it spit out flames.  Look, if you poke at me with a stick, I'm going to do the same.

Frank stares at it, saying how he ain't never seen nothin' like it before.  It.  Is.  A.  BALL.  Yes, it has a strange crackling look to it, but it's a BAAAALL.

But Frank is clearly the brains of the town, despite being mystified by what a ball is, and says if they can capture Moss Man, they can sell him to the right people and make a lot of money.

 I miss the fart caaaaar...

I miss the fart caaaaar...

Frank's big plan is to head down to the local bar, recruit a bunch of guys, and head into the woods at night to hunt the creature down.  Drunks.  With guns.  In the woods.  In the dark.  Well I'm sure this will end marvelously!  This is going to be amazing.

While Frank and Joe head out, JJ takes the ball back to the garage, but gets distracted by some noises first.  Moss Man zaps him, and once he's on the ground, the spaceman takes his ball and goes home.

As JJ dies slowly in the dirt, Custer recruits the town drunks for their search party.  They seem rather skeptical for drunks, but once Frank offers big money big money, no whammies! they're in!

Joe hurries home and doesn't find his son or the orb in the garage, but does find the body around back waiting to be raked up with the leaves.  But wait, I have good news!

 JJ isn't dead??  That is DYNO-MITE!!

JJ isn't dead??  That is DYNO-MITE!!

But all Joe cares about is, where's the round thing??  The.  Ball.  It.  Is called.  a ball.  I am not letting this go, people.

So night falls, and the hunting party arrives.  And guess what?  They brought beer!  Because of course they did.

Unfortunately, without the palantir, the locals are hard to convince, even liquored up, to go traipsing through the woods in the dark.  But they get swayed by Frank's powerful argument, and Joe's surety.

I mean, c'mon!  "I've seen the thing, I shot at it!  I know it's out there!  *drinks from a giant bottle of whiskey*"  He sure seems trustworthy!  But what else are they gonna do?  We're already here, with beer and guns, we might as well shoot somethin'!

And as they drive off, it cuts to his family inside.  "What are they going to look for, maw?"  "Hey, let's play a game of Scrabble!"  "I hate that game."  *goes back to the hunting party*  What the squawk was that?!  This is just a collection of random scenes loosely stapled into the rough shape of a movie.

Back at the bar, Dave and Doctor Tracy run into Vickie, who blabs all about the spaceman in the woods.  They know they gotta get up there before this creature gets killed by the mob.

 It is like three straight minutes of wandering through this dark soup.  I watched it so you don't have to.

It is like three straight minutes of wandering through this dark soup.  I watched it so you don't have to.

They finally see the creature and run after it, and um, I gotta say...I actually feel SORRY for the Galaxy Invader?  I mean, besides the opening murders, which you could argue were accidental, but more importantly NONE OF THESE PEOPLE EVEN KNOW ABOUT, he hasn't actually DONE anything.  He's been shot at, attacked, now hunted...he just wants to get back to his ship and go home!

But no, the rednecks see a monster in the woods who hasn't actually DONE anything to the best of their knowledge, and their only instinct is kill or sell for experimentation.  Run, Galaxy Invader!  Run and be free!

Finally the gunplay starts, and Joe shouts out, "No, we need it alive!!"  Then let me ask you one very important question, and let me ask it with the precise level of calm by which it should be asked; WHY DID YOU BRING DRUNKS TO THE WOODS WITH GUNS??

But while he is distracted by being shot at, Custer and Joe sneak up in the dark, and tie him up.  Kinda.  I guess.

 No.  Oh no.  I am mildly inconvenienced by ropes.

No.  Oh no.  I am mildly inconvenienced by ropes.

So the rednecks capture Moss Man, and at least someone asks what to do about the guys it killed.  Frank assures everyone, we're gonna get this guy locked up, then we'll come back out and bury them proper!  You...you could, I dunno, deliver the bodies to the funeral home?  Or the police?  Or their families even?!  Instead of just unmarked graves in the dirt?  Guys?!

Oh, and also, David and Tracy have been watching from the woods, and sneakily follow them back to Joe's house, to keep an eye on the creature.

After they get the alien locked up, and Frank and the surviving mob go to bury the dead, Joe and JJ play with Moss Man's accessories, discovering that the orb powers the gun.  Or as I'm sure Joe calls it, the angry loud fire stick.

 Great.  Rednecks with space guns.

Great.  Rednecks with space guns.

Doctor Tracy and Thunderbird One break into the garage while no one is looking, and find the alien creature.  Being the only two decent human beings in the movie, they decide to give the creature the benefit of the doubt, and the fact it was being hunted, and let him go.

Frank shows up to pick up the creature, but Tracy and the kid open the garage, and the trio beat feet into the woods.  Carol also sees what's going on, grabs Moss Man's toys, and follows them so she can leave an offering to the Green Man.

The hicks chase the east coast liberals through the forest, and Frank doesn't throw away his shot.  He sees a moment, and marks Tracy good.  So really, who is the real monster, hmmm?

 Woob-woob-woob-woob!

Woob-woob-woob-woob!

Frank is THIS close to killing the kid too, but that's a step too far for Joe.  Still, Frank is about to shoot, until Moss Man comes out of the forest and shoots the cowboy hat wearing douchenozzle.

Joe picks up his friend's gun to shoot at Moss Man so he can grab BACK the accessories.  Okay, the round thing is now officially called the Hot Potato.

Carol runs into David and lets him know Joe has the hot potato again, so those two go and meet up with Michael because for some reason he can solve this.

 Please Mister Custer, you gotta let him go!

Please Mister Custer, you gotta let him go!

The guy's big plan is to wait until night to sneak out and get the gun and hot potato back.  I guess there's no overwhelming sense of urgency.

Since they wait, night falls, and Carol wakes up hearing some noise, and goes wandering through the basement.  She runs face first into Moss Man and starts screaming, waking up the whole house.  So much for being covert, guys.  But another random scene stapled onto the rest, really.

The next day, Frank wakes up all alone, because everyone is suddenly outside.  But we get lots of shouting people's names, because why not!

 WHOA lady, I was just looking for my keys, chill!

WHOA lady, I was just looking for my keys, chill!

Seriously, the storytelling kinda falls apart in this third act for me.  The random night scene that does nothing, and I thought Carol was okay with the creature?  Okay, sudden appearance in darkness, fine.  But what about making a plan at night?  And where is everyone?  Why are they plotting out in a field somewhere?  And the whole family!  I've seen a lot WORSE plotting and editing, and I can piece enough together, but it all feels off and wrong and rushed.

But we do catch up with the whole group trudging through the woods, until Annie "I hate this!" Montague pipes up and decides this is dumb, I'm gonna stay here by this tree!  ...Until she gets bored five seconds later and continues on with the group.

They think they're going to have to come up with some way to get Joe out of the house, but fortunately he's an alcoholic and has already passed out drunk, so let's just grab the gun and run!

 It's gotta be beer o'clock somewhere!

It's gotta be beer o'clock somewhere!

Oh, Vickie shows up briefly to look for her dead husband and wakes Joe up, but after he gets a little attempted rapey with her, and a lot actual murdery of her, he passes back out.

Now, the gang arrives, and they gingerly try and get the gun out of the sleeping Joe's hands.  Um, look.  The first thing to do here, the VERY FIRST THING, is grab the hot potato on the end table and get that far, far away.  The gun DOES NOT WORK without it.  So even if Joe wakes up, at least he can't laserblast anyone!!

But despite that lapse in judgment, and with the runtime ticking down, they manage to get the gun and run.  Mikey, Davey, and Carol all run off into the woods to try and give the Galaxy Invader back his toys so he can leave and this mess can be over with, leaving the others behind to stall Joe when he wakes up.  Oh, and yes, Michael wandered back into the movie, to not really contribute anything, or even do us the courtesy of being a victim.

Not surprisingly, Power Joe is angry when he arises.  He shoves Annie to the florr, which I'm sure she hates, and JJ steps up and punches his dad.  In some horrible choreography that looks like a five year old did it.  it's slow, it misses by a mile, and it's great.

 Smell my fist!  Rubbing your belly!

Smell my fist!  Rubbing your belly!

But Joe punches his way out and chases after the Scoobs with his trusty shotgun.  The chase is on, and comes to a quick stop when Michael almost slides down an embankment.  And it LOOKS like a steep hill.  It is later revealed to be a cliff, but let me tell you, it ain't one here.  They are surrounded by trees on all sides.  ALL sides.

Joe holds them at gunpoint and forces Michael to put the hot potato down, along with the gun.  As he kneels down to pick the stuff up, Moss Man shows up, and takes another shotgun blast to the belly.  He does NOT drop more balls this time like Sonic the Hedgehog.  Joe keeps shooting, and then grabs the alien gun and uses that a few more times.

Everyone else shows up to join in the fight, and Joe starts to strangle Michael at the edge of the cliff.  And that's when Maw Hunkel steps up to the plate with the shotgun, and beans her husband in the back of the head.  And oh, the movie celebrates this moment wonderfully, by not just slipping into slow motion, but showing it over.  And over.  AND OVER again, from multiple angles.

 Look ma, I can fly!

Look ma, I can fly!

But no, really, where did that cliff even come from?!  Sigh.  Joe got hit so hard he flew into another location entirely.

AND THE MOVIE JUST ENDS.  That poor creature.  He was not a Galaxy Invader.  He was just a Galaxy Traveler, who made the unfortunate mistake of crashing on this craphole of a planet filled with racist and literal xenophobic asshats.  May the meteors take you and your hot potato into the stars where they belong, my friend!

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: It's from one of Mill Creek's 50 packs, so the quality is naturally not great.  But it's clear enough, and aside from drowning in darkness in the woods, everything's visible enough.

Audio: Muddy, but not terrible.

Sound Bite: "Oh great, the biggest scientific event in the entire history of the world and its being lassoed by a bunch of rednecks!!"  I could not have summed up the plot of this movie any more succinctly.

Body Count - The Galaxy Invader BARELY kills anyone, except for people unjustly hunting him.  Look at this list.  Look at it.  Feel shame for the human race.

1 - 8:30 minutes or so, and the first basement kill occurrs.
2 - And the girlfriend dies closely after.
3 - One of the hunters probably dies in the dark.
4 - And another.
5 - And a third
6 - And a fourth
7 - And a fifth.
8 - Doctor Tracy dies at the hands of a normal greedy human.
9 - The alien kills Frank for that.
10 - Joe kills Vicky with the spacegun.
11 - Then he kills the Galaxy Invader.
12 - Ethel finally kills her abusive husband by hitting him in the back of the head so hard he flies to another location with a cliff.

Best Corpse: A special shout out to the Invader's death.

Blood Type - D: Almost completely bloodless, but for what this is, that alien suit is freakin' great.

Sex Appeal: Noooope.

Drink Up! Every time any character is addressed by name.
Or, if you still have empathy for your liver, just take a drink whenever someone doesn't know what a ball is.

Video Nasties: I try and avoid the climactic moments, but damn if the cinematography didn't at least try and make Joe's death seem epic.  And I continue, WTF cliff??

Movie Review: Aside from the terrible acting, some random scenes edited in here and there that bork the plotting and pacing...this almost isn't too bad.  The idea is there, but the writing is stilted.  It's got a clear idea, and actually tells it.  In better hands, this could be something, and say something about man's cruelty to something they don't understand.  But as is, it's a bit muddled and confused.  But it does try, and it could surely be worse.  Three out of five round things.

Entertainment Value: My decision to watch a movie for the sole reason of I wanted to know why the hell some other movie was in Pod People's credits was one of the best things I've done.  I actually rather enjoyed this movie.  YES it's bad, but it's bad in all the right ways, and it is earnest, and they tried.  And it's fun.  The costume is great and silly all at once, the acting is hammy, the names MY GODS THE NAMES are amazingly repetitive.  This could have easily been on MST3K, and been a blast.  Four out of five hunting parties.