Director: Glen Coburn
37 pix

Let’s not waste any time here folks, BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE is bad. Now for cult fans, bad films often come in a varying array of shapes and sizes. Sometimes a film is so bad that it’s good, achieving that rare formula of horrible acting, cheap sets and threadbare plot that somehow transcends its meager budget to find an endearing place in your heart. Sadly, those pictures are often few and far between, as the majority of so called “bad films” are just plain horrendous, to the point where you wish you could travel back in time and use those wasted 90 minutes for something productive, like washing dishes or folding laundry. While BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE is most assuredly bad, it is hard to easily categorize the film as it seems to fall somewhere in the middle, leaving you more or less ambivalent. Glen Coburn, the film’s writer/director, describes the movie best in an interview for the reunion documentary found on this release: "The movie is in color, in focus and you can hear it." Well said.

Newspaper photographer Jeff Rhodes (Thom Meyers) has just stumbled onto the biggest story of his career. Residences of a small Texas community are turning up dead left and right, drained of blood, and local authorities are baffled as to what or who could be responsible for the horrid acts. A visit with his Uncle Joe (Robert Bradeen) and Aunt Kate (Billie Keller) stifles Jeff’s excitement about the big scoop as his Uncle has decided to present his nephew with an ultimatum. He can either quit his job as a photographer to work on the family farm or risk losing the inheritance left to him and his brother by his departed parents. Meanwhile, Jeff’s brother Ralph (played by writer/director Coburn) has been consulting with his fellow colleagues just down the road in Research City. They have concluded that an alien life-force has recently traveled to Earth in the form of a gust of wind. This alien gas is able to enter the human body through the nasal passages, where upon it expands, forcing the body's contents out of the victim’s mouth until death occurs. The extraterrestrial presence is then able to reanimate the corpse, sending the undead on an endless hunt for fresh, warm blood. Government officials have been called in to discuss all available options for immobilizing the deadly breeze but little headway is made, as General Sanders (Dennis Letts) sees dropping “the” bomb as the only available option. After hooking up with city girl Julie (Laura Ellis), it quickly becomes apparent to Jeff that the only ones who are going to be able to save the small Texas town from an invasion of otherworldly bloodsuckers is a pair of young lovers.

Completely comprised of static shots, BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE was written in three days, and subsequently shot over a series of weekends in and around Dallas, Texas. Intended as a spoof of the conventional sci-fi films that where the bread and butter of drive-ins across the country, BLOODSUCKERS misses its intended mark by not taking full advantage of the familiar trappings of its subject. That, and it’s not very funny. While all of the typical characters are present, the teenage lovers, lab coat drenched scientist and military officials who are quick to shoot and ask questions later, any attempt to satirize such B-movie staples fall flat as the characters are obviously very much a product of the 1980s and in no way feel characteristic of their intended counterparts. The scientists in particular feel misused and abused as they are portrayed as hapless stoners, less interested in the mysterious alien breeze killing dozens than they are in maintaining a healthy buzz. The actors, who if any one of them are members of SAG should have their cards revoked, also had a tendency to look straight at the camera (a wink to the audience to remind them that they are watching a comedy). The first time it was slightly amusing, the second a little irritating, but the fifth time was borderline infuriating. I’m supposed to be watching a comedy, I get it. Thankfully, the acting and make-up effects are so dreadful, and the writing so amateurish, that there are several scenes and characters that will draw out a smile. At least everyone present was trying and it shows. The production as a whole gets an A+ for effort but a C- for presentation.

Premiering at Joe Bob Briggs’ 3rd Annual World Drive-In Movie Festival and Custom Car Rally in 1984, BLOODSUCKER FROM OUTER SPACE would shortly find its way onto VHS through Karl-Lorimar Home Video, a subsidiary of Time Warner. Twenty four years later, BLOODSUCKERS is now available on DVD direct from the filmmaker himself, presented full screen in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Mastered from a virgin 35mm print, it’s safe to say the film has never looked better. Picture quality is typical of most independent horror films churned out in the 1980s, soft but sufficient. There are several exterior scenes that suffer from persistent wind noise, but for the most part the soundtrack and dialogue are surprisingly lucid, as the majority of the movie's exteriors appear to have been filmed on the edge of a tornado.

A short 30-minute reunion documentary is included as the disc’s sole extra. It's a collection of interviews with the featured cast and crew as they recollect the film's shoot and inception. There are a number of amusing anecdotes discussed, such as the persistence of turkey poo on set during the anticlimactic kung fu scene and Laura Ellis’ reluctance to go topless, despite having no qualms about nudity when she was hired. Those interviewed are quite vocal about how proud they are of the film, and with good reason. It's rare to see a small group of filmmakers set out to make a movie with virtually no budget, and they not only ended up with a finished product, but were able to screen it theatrically and then have it distributed on home video. No small feat indeed, although it should also be noted that almost all interviewed also fully admit to the film being God awful.

To order BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE, go to its official site (Jason McElreath)