THE ALIEN DEAD
IT FELL FROM THE SKY
Despite the science-fictional title, The Alien Dead/It Fell from the Sky is a zombie film. Fred Olen Ray was just making a copycat of George Romeros Dawn of the Dead (1979). (One suspects that it was slapped with the title alien due to the then-recent popularity of Alien (1979) and extraterrestrial monsters). From Romero, Olen Ray copies all the scenes of the dead pursuing the living and holding them down to tear out their innards. At which you have to say he does a serviceable job the zombie makeups look reasonably effective and he does not stint when it comes to gore.
It is just that The Alien Dead/It Fell from the Sky is deficient in almost all areas outside of gore-letting. The plot is haphazard, seemingly made up on the fly. The acting is amateurish. The only recognisable name present is Larry Buster Crabbe, the 71 year-old former Olympic swimming gold medallist who gained a fame in the 1930s in the titles roles of Flash Gordon (1936) and sequels, and Buck Rogers (1939). Crabbe only turns up in a few scenes and the rest of the show is played by no-name actors. Some of these are incredibly bad, in particular the cashier in a supermarket that the deputy flirts with who cannot stop herself looking at the camera twice and bursting into laughter. It is a scene that adds nothing to the film and could easily have gone on the cutting room floor.
Fred Olen Ray became a better filmmaker with successive films not through any innate skill but by the simple act of repetition. Thus it is interesting to watch The Alien Dead/It Fell from the Sky after having seen a couple of dozen of the films that he made subsequently. Few of them you would actually classify as good but at least they have a dramatic polish and you can see that there Olen Ray pays more attention to things like story. He has since become far more of a tongue-in-cheek filmmaker and actively invites an audience not to take many of his films seriously. The other aspect that is underdeveloped here is Olen Rays penchant for bimbos and gratuitous scenes where women shed their tops. We do get a couple of topless scenes but Olen Ray would develop it into an obsession with later films.
The one distinctive element of a Fred Olen Ray film that we do get is his constant referencing and paying homage to other genre films. In this case, all of the characters are named after actors, crew and characters in Roger Corman films. The reporter hero is named Corman and we have characters named after Charles B. Griffith, the writer of many of Cormans films, as well as Bernard L. Kowalski, director of the Corman-produced Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959). We have other characters named after regular Corman actors Dick Miller and Jonathan Haze, who were both in The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), and others named after Walter Paisley, the hero played by Dick Miller in A Bucket of Blood (1959) and Seymour Krelborn, Jonathan Hazes hero of Little Shop.
Fred Olen Ray has made a lengthy list of genre films. These include:- The Brain Leeches (1977), The Alien Dead/It Fell From the Sky (1980), Scalps (1983), Biohazard (1984), The Adventures of Taura: Prison Ship Star Slammer (1985), The Tomb (1985), The Phantom Empire (1986), Cyclone (1987), Beverly Hills Vamp (1988), Deep Space (1988), Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988), Warlords (1989), Alienator (1990), Bad Girls from Mars (1990), Spirits (1990), Haunting Fear (1991), Scream Queen Hot Tub Party (1991), Wizards of the Demon Sword (1991), Evil Toons (1992), Little Devils (1993), Dinosaur Island (1994), Mind Twister (1994), Possessed By the Night (1994), Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds (1995), Cyber Zone/Droid Gunner (1995), Invisible Mom (1995), Star Hunter (1995), Night Shade (1996), Passionate Revenge/Friend of the Family II/Hell Hath No Fury (1996), Hybrid (1997), Little Miss Magic/Kidwitch (1997), Billy Frankenstein (1998), Dear Santa/My Dad Santa (1998), Illicit Dreams 2 (1998), Invisible Dad (1998), Active Stealth (1999), Fugitive Mind (1999), Invisible Mom 2 (1999), The Kid with X-Ray Eyes (1999), Prophet (1999), Critical Mass (2000), Sideshow (2000), Kept (2001), Stranded (2001), Venomous (2001), Thirteen Erotic Ghosts (2002), Final Examination (2003), Bikini-a-Go-Go/Curse of the Erotic Tiki (2004), Genie in a String Bikini (2004), Haunting Desire (2004), Teenage Cavegirl (2004), Glass Trap (2005), Tomb of the Werewolf (2005), Bikini Girls from a Lost Planet (2006), Bikini Pirates (2006), Ghost in a Teeny Bikini (2006), Bewitched Housewives (2007), The Girl With Sex-Ray Eyes (2007), Nuclear Hurricane (2007), Super Ninja Bikini Babes (2007), Polar Opposites (2008), Solar Flare (2008), Tarzeena, Queen of Kong Island (2008), Voodoo Dollz (2008), Dire Wolf (2009), Silent Venom (2009), Bikini Frankenstein (2010), Bikini Jones and the Temple of Eros (2010), Housewives from Another World (2010), Turbulent Skies (2010), Twilight Vamps (2010), Lady Chatterlys Ghost (2011), Little Witches (2011), Rewind Time Machine (2011), Super Shark (2011), Dirty Blondes from Beyond (2012), Abner the Invisible Dog (2013), After Midnight (2014), Unwanted Guest (2016), Stage Fright (2017) and The Twin (2017).