The Alpha Incident (1978)
aka Gift from a Red Planet
Radio Times Review
A microbe from Mars terrorises people at a rural Wisconsin railroad depot managed by dim-witted Ralph Meeker. Only in sleep does the alien germ take control and destroy the body, so they must stay awake by playing cards and having sex. A micro-budget bore from director Bill Rebane, he of The Giant Spider Invasion and Monster a-Go-Go infamy, so you can't say you weren't warned. Apart from Meeker's messy death scene where his head turns to jelly, there's little incident worth commenting on in this over-talky feeble fable.
Bargain Basement Thrills Review
I admit, until this weekend, I had never seen this film. Heard of it, yes, but never watched it. It must have escaped the clutches of Channel 2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when I was addicted to their assault on my young senses known as "Night Owl Theatre". Okay, not an original name, but when you are swilling down liters of Mountain Dew and bags of Doritios, all you care about is entertainment. How they could have missed this film is beyond me as it fit perfectly into their concept of showing films that generally promised more than they delivered.
Let's pretend you've never heard of this movie. Here's the story: Craft returns from outer space (I think Mars is mentioned) and it brings some nasty substance that could be deadly. The bulk of this stuff is shipped across country by train, on which some drunk lunkhead (played by George "Buck" Flower) exposes himself to the substance. At the next stop, he and four others are quarantined until the effects of the substance can be determined. Well, it's terminal, and if you fall asleep, your brains will swell and pop your skull like a zit. So now it's a race to find the cure before these poor folks go to sleep and wake up dead.
If you're in the least interested in watching this film, avoid the Internet Movie Database as almost everyone gives away the ending. I mean, you'll see it coming before it happens, but it's the journey that counts, right? Please, God, tell me I'm right. Otherwise, I wasted my time watching this movie.
Entertaining stuff, but make sure you know you aren't watching an exercise in action and haute tension. It can be slow going. Have distractions. Soda, chips, marching bands. Okay, it isn't that bad. I just squeak by on five hours of sleep a day. Die Hard can put me to sleep on any given day.
Mill Creek's version is as good as any version you're likely to find. Well, maybe Bill Rebane has the original master copy and that might be sharper. Otherwise, learn to live with old broadcast television quality. I personally think it enhanced the experience.
Things to look for: Ralph Meeker. This was one of the last films he did. He acts heavily medicated. Don't know if that is just good acting or if he was medicated. He gets credit in this review for being the biggest name star in the film AND he gets the best exit from the film. You might want to hit the rewind button and review that scene just for cheap thrills.
Weird facts: George "Buck" Flowers (the lunkhead train employee Hank) and co-star John F. Goff (mucho macho guy Jack Tiller) wrote a fine piece of drive-in trash called, of all things, Drive-In Massacre. Oddly enough, this film also appears on the "Chilling Classics" Megapack as well as Bill Rebane's Demons Of Ludlow and The Cold. If you read the descriptions for the films, you see that his Capture Of Bigfoot is supposed to be in this set under the name Legend Of Bigfoot, but instead you get the real Legend Of Bigfoot, a reasonably entertaining documentary from the 70's.