A few months ago, I ordered and watched THE DARK POWER, the first film from North Carolina low-budget auteur Phil Smoot, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's very cheap, low-budget fun, made all the more entertaining for me because the filmmakers seem to be taking their work - though not themselves, necessarily - very seriously. I'm not entirely how true the portrait of Ed Wood in Tim Burton's film of the same name is - but picture a guy like that and you've got it pretty much. Anyway, like I said, good cheesy fun and Smoot only made one other film, so I decided I had to get it.
Alas despite this being made after THE DARK POWER, it's less professional and generally a lower quality effort all around. For one thing the acting is just horrendous; the earlier film is about a bunch of college girls set upon by spirits of dead Indians, and the actresses seem like...dumb college girls, so it basically works. In ALIEN OUTLAW you've got a very mediocre actress (Kari Anderson in her only performance, apparently) chosen I suspect for her spectacular legs and rear end, which she shows off to great advantage in a skimpy cowgirl costume early in the film. She's professional trick shot Jesse Jamison (ha-ha get it?), and the plot of the film concerns aliens which look like cheap CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON knockoffs who come to earth to hunt humans for sport with our own weapons. They get ahold of some of Jesse's guns and go on a little spree, and it's up to our modern western heroine to take 'em out.
Not a bad premise really - with a certain similarity you might note to PREDATOR, which actually came out 2 years later - but the film does nothing with it. Lots of long, inane dialogue scenes with Jesse getting mad at her lazy manager, a terrible interview scene as she tries to get a better gig, and a few old b-western stars trotted out because presumably director/writer Smoot liked them and they worked cheap. Lash LaRue, the star of his previous film, is featured here but doesn't even get to use a whip (his trademark) and just plays the lame role of Jesse's sort-of mentor who keeps talking about how bad a cook he is. Very poor action sequences and some dreadful editing and continuity problems; basically what the film has going for it is some nice scenery of the North Carolina hills - and the young female varieties. Anderson has a nice smile and great long wavy 70s hair to go with her nice backside; she probably could have had something of a career but for whatever reason didn't. And neither did Smoot after his two initial efforts failed to do anything even on video at the time. No loss, really; much as I like to see regional filmmakers who don't want to sell out and make the Hollywood compromises, I'm not sure Smoot had much to offer.
The DVD presentation, though, like that of THE DARK POWER, is first rate. Both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film are offered, there's a director commentary which is probably going to be most interesting to other would-be low-budget indie filmmakers, and a few short interviews and behind-the-scenes videos. I don't know if Smoot or the film have some kind of cult following, or manufacturer VCI is trying to create one, but somehow the loving attention given to this crappy film wins me over to some extent, and a 2-star film overall gets 3 in this review for the attention it's given. And, frankly, bad as it is I had some fun. Connoisseurs of cheese could certainly do worse.