Alien Terminator

Weekly Alibi


REVIEWED: 06-06-97

This time around we're gonna focus on one filmmaker in particular--Albuquerque's own Dave "The Best Looking Guy In Wal-Mart" Payne! It seems our boy Dave's been making a name for himself out in Hollywood by toiling away in Roger Corman's ever-so-fertile fields, and we've got the goods on him.

First up in the Payne ouvre: the zero-budget monster flick Alien Terminator. The Videodrome panel of experts (me, Devin and Ernie) chose this one as our introduction to the world of Dave mostly because it stars our favorite cheese-goddess, Maria Ford--as a scientist in a half-shirt, for the luvva Mike! She and several other unlikely eggheads are working in a lab isolated five miles underground when they goof up a genetic experiment, creating a shwaggy-looking monster that chases them around the sets from another movie. Maria ends up going head-to-head with the beast, their battle culminating in an explosion from another movie. A.T. is more-or-less your standard Alien riff with the added bonus of shower scenes and silicone boobs. Given his limited budget and even more limited schedule (less than a week of shooting), the Davester wasn't able to do to a lot with it.

Much more entertaining, however, is Not Like Us, produced for the Showtime series "Roger Corman Presents." Nearly-unintelligible Joanna Pacula lives in the tiny town of Tranquility with her biologist husband Peter Onorati, who is trying to discover the cause of a series of bizarre deaths. While he's sloshing around in the river looking for a chemical spill, the strangely Aryan John (Morgan Englund) and his horny and falsely betitted sister Janet (Rainer Grant) are up to something mysterious. Y'see, John and Janet are from another planet, and they're looking for someone with A-B blood, but in the meantime they slice and dice a whole slew of townsfolk in very amusing fashion as Janet runs around doffing her top and using her galactic gazongas to lure subjects for their vile scientific procedures (including a truly nasty and prolonged evisceration sequence). Pacula finally stumbles onto the plot (but not before delivering a shitload of dialogue in an accent that defies description), and does a fairly awkward job of saving the day. Dave handles this flick like a wild man, wringing laughs out of the surprisingly good script on a regular basis--in fact, I'd go so far as to say Not Like Us is the most entertaining movie Corman has had his name on in many years. The Davester also deservedly lands on the Videodrome list of "Greatest Directors In The History of Mankind" by getting TBS' "Dinner and a Movie" co-host, the fabulously interesting Annabelle Gurwitch, naked and unashamed. Next time around, the beers are on me, Davey-baby.

Not quite as cool but still pretty darn good is Criminal Hearts, something of a change of pace from our other Dave movies. Aspiring actress Amy Locane leaves L.A. for Phoenix in order to catch her cheating fiance in the act, but is sidetracked when she runs across Kevin Dillon wandering along the side of the road. Dillon has been on a robbery spree, stealing money being laundered by nasty, stinky drug dealers (one of whom is played by Don Stroud, instantly recognizable before he was recently slashed up in a knife fight). However, our hero has been framed for the vicious murders of the folks he's been robbing, and the cops and FBI end up on Locane's trail as well. You can probably guess that the two end up in the sack, Dillon licking and fondling Locane's body double (where the hell was Annabelle Gurwitch, Mr. Payne?). The plot gets crazy-ass convoluted before we get to the final bloody showdown between the dirty FBI agents (played by Michael James MacDonald and the always-terrific M. Emmet Walsh) and our lovable Bonnie and Clyde. I have to admit, there were a few moments where I had to strain to figure out what was going on. I didn't dig the pacing or camera work as much as I did in Not Like Us, but the Payne-Master still delivers a lot of funky humor and some pretty cool gunfights, Amy Locane is cute in a cheesy kewpie-doll way, and Kevin Dillon looks kinda like Simon Garth, the living Zombie, so it all pays off. But I can't stress this enough, Dave: Use Annabelle Gurwitch in every movie you make.

--Scott Phillips

Other Films by Dave Payne
Showgirl Murders

Film Vault Suggested Links
Dracula vs. Frankenstein
The Brood

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