The United States' first space station, Skylab, re-entered the earth’s orbit in July of 1979. Due to a NASA miscalculation the debris that didn’t burn up on entry landed in greatest concentration in the area of Esperance in Western Australia. Desperate not to waste a golden PR moment The Shire of Esperance decided to fine United States $400 for littering. It was a fine the U.S. opted to pay in full …30 years later. Of course we could’ve softened the blow to our 2009 national debt had we just paid in 360 easy, monthly installments of $1.08 starting in 1979. This would have been a much more prudent fiscal strategy than just doling out the whole lump sum 30 years on. To illustrate, consider that if somehow we can get the Chinese to agree to the same interest free repayment rate that the good folks of western Australia accepted we could be out from under their 900 billion dollar thumb in 676 million, 691 thousand, 729 years and those living in the U.S. in the year 676, 693,741 A.D. will barely feel the pinch. Getting back to Skylab, the producers of “The Falling” aka “Alien Predators” aka "Alien Predator" aka “Mutant 2” decided that for the purposes of their story, most of Skylab actually fell in an arid region of Spain.
The film follows three friends, Damon, Michael, and Samantha (played by the outrageously sexy Lynn Holly Johnson) on a Spanish dune buggy adventure. The trio decides to stop awhile in the lightly peopled hamlet of Duarte. As bad luck would have it, two members of NASA, Dr. Tracer and Capt. Wells have also been called to Duarte to investigate some flagitious goings on that may be linked to Skylab’s visitation of the plains 5 years previous. Strange occurrences abound and eventually the happy go lucky trio find themselves fighting side by side with Dr. Tracer to help keep a malicious galactic parasite from infecting their bodies as well as the rest of Europe. Cows, dogs, and waitresses are victimized, a NASA base explodes and nobody ever even mentions Esperance, Australia.
I have a thing for Lynn Holly Johnson that goes back to “Ice Castles”. Hey, I was 11 okay, and she was like the naïve babysitter that just might decide to let her boyfriend go too far on the couch while the kids were watching from down the hall. To deepen the crush, when I was 13 I saw “For Your Eyes Only”. The coquettish LHJ’s attempts to bed a very pruney looking Roger Moore (as James Bond) sealed the deal for me. It doesn’t matter that when her demure breathiness gives way to gleeful tantrums you could almost misread her as being a bad actress, if Lynn Holly jumped off a bridge, I just might follow. And yet despite my libidinal allegiance to LHJ “Alien Predators” managed to do almost nothing for me.
The promise of a prologue that sees a wild dog sucked into a diseased cow’s stomach fizzles quickly. The film just spaces out its well-executed gore scenes too far to have them be effective. To compound this, the scenes that buffer the violence are either too tepid to keep the viewer’s interest or overfull with embarrassing Dennis Christopher (“Breaking Away”, “Fade to Black”) adlib high jinx.
Furthermore, the movie is none too visually interesting. On their first night of RVing the trio riffs on a popular 70’s TV drama by throwing out the over referenced “Goodnight, Johnboy” while they are bunking down for the evening. It is actually the most perfectly synchronous and self-aware moment of the entire production. This is because this is the film that answers the never-asked question, How would it look if the Waltons had to handle alien aggression in Almeria? The music is straight out of a Quinn Martin production and it is backed up by a luster free, flat angle shooting style that will have you looking for Frank Cannon to tear in talking on his rotary dial car-phone by the time all is said and done.
When I was a boy I fell for Lynn Holly Johnson. I also fell for a scam involving a $3 hunk of soldered metal that was being passed off as a remnant of Skylab by my local Sprouse-Reitz. I am older now and while I may still have that roughly hewn little paper weight as well as a place in my loins for LHJ, my susceptibility to space-age fool's gold and golden haired vixens has diminished significantly. “Alien Predators” has nothing to offer beyond initial promise and a misleading title. What is really sad is that if the producers had donated the 1 to 2 million dollars that they spent on this film to attacking the US/Chinese debt crisis, we’d be paid off in much more lender-friendly 676 million 541 thousand, 353 years.