Starship Invasions (1977 Canada)

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Starship Invasions (1977 Canada)

Post  BoG on Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:36 pm

I don't remember this one from my childhood, but I may have seen parts of it a long time ago on TV, like 30 years ago. I ended up buying a DVD-R  from Sci-Fi Station out of curiosity. Ah, yes... this is Canadian sci-fi at its height. Rolling Eyes

This is another of those cheap sci-fi pics that went through a few different titles before it became known as STARSHIP INVASIONS. The other title, Alien Encounter, sounded too similar to Close Encounters. Before this one, producers Earl & Norman Glick bought the Hal Roach Studios to produce the semi-sci-fi pic The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972).
Also, though I call this cheap, it was - believe it or not - the biggest-budgeted film from Canada at that point, at $1.8 million cost. Much of this money may have gone towards one shot of a flying saucer striking a large building at the 53-minute mark; the building is a model, but a pretty good one by the standards of seventies low budget cinema. The full-sized saucer was a big inflatable; other shots, such as when it hits the ocean, are frizbee-sized miniatures or smaller. There were 60 saucers made for this! But, many of these were 3 inches in diameter.
This begins in as hokey a manner as can be, but fans of UFO stories may like this: the aliens abduct an old farmer and then let him have sex with a female alien (nothing is really shown, in case one wonders); this is the only way for them to obtain a male sperm sample. Uh-huh Rolling Eyes  I was astonished that some parts of this were better than I expected - not the FX, which are bad, but some ideas. The alien villain, Rameses (Lee), states/thinks at one point that his people are actually descendants of "transplanted earthlings." Hence, he plans to exterminate his own parent race - sort of an alien oedipal thing taken to a grand extreme.
Also, Earth is considered off limits to such alien predation due to a galactic treaty, so Rameses is like an alien outlaw/anarchist. The good aliens, who monitor Earth events, are located in an underwater pyramid in the Bermuda Triangle. I wonder what motivated Lee to take this role - he must've known he wouldn't be speaking throughout the film, just supplying his voice like a narrator (all the aliens use telepathy, not vocal speech). If I were cynical, I'd venture to say that Lee got a good paycheck out of this.

The film deteriorates quite bit as the 2nd half begins. For some reason, the director really liked to shoot scenes of Allan Duncan (Vaughn) walking with some other character in the Canadian rural areas. The whole suicide ray plot is not very consistent; at one point, a citizen shoots a couple of others before killing himself, so which is it? Homicide or suicide ray? A military guy states that the suicide rate had increased some in a certain area, implying that the suicide rate was already high before the aliens' ray.
Duncan's wife (Helen Shaver in an early role) takes her small daughter shopping with her as if it was a typical day after the mass suicides are already known to be occurring - she even drives past a body and behaves just... a bit worried. The pace is very slow for a good three-quarters of the film. BoG's Score: 3 out of 10
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