“Two cops. One Killer. But who on Earth can tell them apart” (This tagline comes from a poster which makes a much bigger deal of Robert Davi’s role, probably because he was in a Bond film the year before.)
Directed by Kevin Tenney
Starring Robert Forster, Lance Edwards, Robert Davi and Hilary Shepherd
A spaceship crash lands in the sea and its occupant (Edwards) is shot by police while attempting to steal a shotgun. He then wakes up on the slab and kidnaps pathologist Dori Caisson (Edwards), only for them both to be chased by a mysterious man with an enormous handgun (Forster), with Caisson’s would-be boyfriend, tough cop Ramos (Davi) in pursuit.
The first man explains that he is an alien, named Townsend, and a Peacemaker; a space cop. He pursued the other man, Yates, through a black hole and crashed on Earth. Later, Yates kidnaps Caisson and tells her that he is the Peacemaker, running a witness protection programme on Earth, and that Townsend has come to kill one of the witnesses. This goes back and forth a couple of times, Caisson and Townsend have a close encounter (her words, not mine) and finally Yates plays his hand and is killed, while Townsend returns to the stars.
What’s wrong with it?
First and foremost, Lance Edwards, an actor too minor for a Wikipedia page. His primary emotions are dull surprise and constipation, and he seems to believe that a space cop should be called a ‘Bee Smegger’.
Shepherd is a triumphant diva compared to Edwards, but by any other standards is pretty poor. The acting tour de force is Forster, and it’s pretty tough watching this to believe that he would be nominated for an Oscar in just seven years time.
Caisson is a vacillating ninny, who basically believes the last man she spoke to more or less implicitly, and seems to view Ramos’ obnoxious sexual harassment (while taking a statement he belittles her and ‘flirts’ while the rest of the detectives pack into the room to cackle and cheer like a cross between a pep squad and a Greek chorus) as ‘charmingly intense’.
Ramos is clearly supposed to be a good cop and a respectable option for love interest. He’s actually a dick.
Townsend is also a dick, abducting Caisson for a pretty flimsy reason and then tying her to a chair while he learns English.
The aliens look completely human, down to complete anatomical compatibility, but can regenerate massive trauma to anything but the brain just by chillaxing for a while. This is remarked on, but never explained in any way. Likewise the fact that an alien cop and his quarry are called Townsend and Yates.
What’s right with it?
I approve of the attempt to differentiate the aliens by having Forster’s veteran of Earth having lost much of his super strength in acclimating to local gravity.
How bad is it really?
The best that can be said of this is that it’s a little above the curve for late 80s/early 90s low budget scifi. It’s no I Come in Peace, but then again it’s no… Okay, see, I can’t immediately think of a better film of the ilk; I’m just sure there must be some. The Last Starfighter perhaps, although that’s marked out by its CGI, where this (mis)uses purely photographic effects.
Oh, wait; The Hidden, for all its flaws, basically did most of the ideas in this film better, and three years earlier.
Best bit (if such there is)?
Shot repeatedly in the cut, Townsend reveals that he last healed with a gun inside his abdomen for emergencies. This is made all the more ridiculous by the realisation that he was either supposed to have done this while clinging (invisibly) to a moving vehicle, or should have had the scar and lumpy metal object inside his abdominal cavity while getting intergalactic with Caisson.
What’s up with…?
- Perfectly human aliens? How? As a gratuitous tie in to The Summer of Lovecraft, this is basically the opposite of Lovecraftian horror, much of which is about the narrator or a friend discovering their own inhumanity and alien heritage, rather than getting it on with an unalien alien.
- Ramos’ ‘charm’? Caisson’s mentor pushes her to go out with Ramos, despite being a surrogate father figure who should be aware that Ramos is a jerkass.
- All the cops being jerkasses?
- Everyone being jerkasses? There are actually no pleasant people in this film. Caisson gets a partial pass on the grounds that if I were a woman living in a world so desperately choked by testosterone, I’d probably be a snarky harpy as well.
Production values – Low budget, early 90s, for video. 16
Dialogue and performances – Ugh. Just… horrible. 17
Plot and execution – The script’s trick is that no-one knows who the good alien is, but Caisson never really sets out to find out. At one point she sees that Yates was found in a library and immediately assumes this explains his mastery of the English language and American culture, but not only is this her only actual reasoning in the film, she’s wrong. 16
Randomness – A couple of beat cops cuff Yates to a radiator, then decide to try to play detective and leave him unguarded so that plot can happen. Caisson changes her mind on the turn of a card. Ramos… Just, anything about Ramos. 11
Waste of potential – When The Hidden whups you on every level, you got problems. 15