Friday, December 23, 2011


"Battlespace" writer & director Neil Johnson’s derivative, low-budget science fiction thriller “Alien Armageddon” (* out of ****) chronicles a breed of Martian invaders, ‘the Nephilim,’ who dominate planet Earth for 67 historic days. These hostile intruders establish their headquarters in Los Angeles after subjugating the Earth and then rely on our own scientists to modify our DNA so that we become fodder for them. You see, these ravenous monsters had to abandon their famine-stricken world. Actually, the villainous Nephilim have been quietly infiltrating Earth for many decades, acquiring knowledge about our character and culture. The computer generated special effects imagery of the alien armada during the first ten minutes looks like something out of a black & white graphic novel. This fleet of spacecraft, which resemble naval vessels, hover as if they were vultures over every major city. The lackluster battle sequences are comprised of ersatz mushroom cloud explosions and flashes inserted in photographs of California and other overseas locales. Johnson shakes his camera to give the fake explosions some impact. The Nephilim infantry look like distant cousins of the "Star Wars" robot C3PO. Decked out in metal football shoulder pads and breast-plates bristling with hoses, these soldiers shoulder deadly automatic weapons but they aren't too bright. When humans are struck by Nephilim ordnance, they dissolve into a splatter of blood and momentarily obstruct the camera lens. Not surprisingly, the nefarious extraterrestrials conquer and enslave humanity by the forty-fourth day or roughly the first half-hour of the action. Some of the treacherous humans, desperate to survive, turn into quislings, while the incarcerated humans are fed a diet of contaminated food which makes them edible to the aliens.

Johnson begins the action with a quotation from the Book of Enoch (10:9-10:15) out of the Apocrypha. "The Lord said to Gabriel: Proceed against the bastards, and the reprobates, and the sons of the fornicators, and destroy the sons of the Watchers from amongst men . . . bind them for seventy generations . . . Semyaza, the leader, will be destroyed with them. And destroy the Nephilim for they have wronged men." Following this quotation, Johnson employs horror icon Christopher Lee to provide some dramatic voice-over narration: "In ages past, the Nephilim Empire ruled the Earth, but they fell from grace. Once their slaves, Humanity rose up and defeated their gods. The Nephilim were purged from the earth and banished to the darkness. For centuries, they watched and waited. The Nephilim Empire would one day rise again." Afterward, Johnson introduces the hero, Cowboy (Don Scribner of "Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity"), who wears hair long and speaks through a grizzled beard. Cowboy is a convict at Folsom State Prison where he is serving time for the murder of his son and twenty-eight passengers on a bus. When a television reporter asks why he killed his son, Cowboy replies cryptically, "Boy had to die. He was cancer." Johnson cross cuts between this TV interview with Cowboy and the blitzkreig attack launched by the Nephilim against Earth. Later, dressed in an orange prison jump suit, Cowboy appears without explanation outside Folsom and takes the keys to an SUV from the corpse of its driver.

Our heroine is a feisty Jewish red-head, Jodie Elliot (British actress Katharine McEwan of "Sinners"), who operates a printing shop in contemporary Los Angeles. She is contending with a disgruntled customers who wants a discount when the alien ships appear over the city. The customer describes the ships erroneously as hot-air balloons, but Jodie fears the worst is about to happen. After the aliens have taken over Los Angeles and built a wall around the metropolis, Jodie joins an underground resistance movement. Eventually, the Nephilim ferret out her hiding place and capture her. Jodie shares a skyscraper prison cell with an African-American soldier, Markus (Benjamin J. Cain Jr. of "Dogma") and white, Catholic, B-2 Spirit bomber pilot Sheen (William David Tulin of "KingBreaker") who nuked Chicago before the Nephilim could make it their headquarters. An electronic force field substitutes for iron bars on the entrance of their cell, and she suffers a jolt when she tries to penetrate it. They dine on slop out of black plastic buckets and relieve themselves into a small foot locker. The meat that they are given is so vile that they puke it up, but this is all they are allowed to eat.

Meantime, Cowboy links up with another resistance unit. He sports a duster now with a Stetson riding low on his forehead. The Nephilim capture him after a firefight in the desert. Not long afterward, he winds up in the same cell with Jodie. Our heroine wants desperately to break out and rejoin her daughter who resides in the small town of Little Rock, California. She watches in horror as her cell mates are dragged off to become brunch. At one point, Jodie manages to escape briefly and witnesses a harrowing scene when a pregnant female inmate strapped down to a bed gives birth to several chunks of flesh. All along, two scientists Franci (Rochelle Vallese of "Scar") and Dr. Brenna (Julia Parker of "Girl Crazy") have been collaborating with the Nephilim to make humanity more palatable for their extraterrestrial taste buds. Once the Nephilim have used Franci, they stick her in the same cell with our heroes. The Nephilim take Markus and feed him to a flesh eating zombie like creature. Jodie, Franci, and Cowboy escape when Jodie stages a bout of illness. The girls head for Little Rock, but Jodie doesn’t find her daughter. Cowboy later rejoins them after commandeering an alien interceptor aircraft.

Meantime, Franci injects Jodie with some strange serum so that she becomes a bio-medical weapon against the Nephilim. Franci rhapsodizes about the pleasures of masquerading as a human and all the feelings that life has evoked for her. Predictably, she dies. Eventually, humanity triumphs over the Martian invaders. Before this occurs, we get to see revolting shots of giant, beady, orange slugs with pincers gnawing on the flesh and bones of decaying humans. Before Franci dispatches Jodie on her sacrificial mission to save mankind, they indulging in a lingering lesbian lip-lock. Jodie neither pukes nor repels Franci. Johnson concludes with another quotation from Enoch 16:1. "And the death of the Nephilim, and wherever the spirits have left their bodies, their flesh will be destroyed, before the judgement. They will be banished until the Day of the Great Consumption and this also will stand against the Watchers and all those who are impious."

"Alien Armageddon" qualifies as an abominable opus with shoddy storytelling, sketchy characters, second-rate special effects, subpar dialogue, and shallow acting. Little about this below-average sci-fi saga is either groundbreaking or sensational. The occasional clashes between Nephilim infantry and earthlings enliven the exposition heavy narrative, and the few revelations in this predictable, standard-issue invasion flick lack impact. The Nephilim chieftain looks menacing enough with his cadaverous, predatory complexion, but Johnson doesn't permit him adequate screen time to create more than a fleeting impression. Basically, this sci-fi actioneer spends more time on Earth than in the heavens. Clocking in at 95 interminable minutes, “Alien Armageddon” makes “Wing Commander” look like “Star Wars.”

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