Teen Alien (1978) – By Jonathon Pernisek

While looking around the dusty shelves of my hometown’s trade-in store for possible review subjects, I happened upon a little film called Teen Alien. The cover was intriguing, featuring a sketch of an alien bursting out of the body of a human teen. My b-movie alarm was ringing loud and clear, so I bought it on store credit and headed home to see what was in store. Looking back, I’m glad I used store credit.

You can’t really tear apart a movie as low budget as Teen Alien, since it was obviously made over the span of a week by a bunch of high school kids. Wait, did I just say I couldn’t tear this movie apart? I’m sorry, let me correct myself. It would have been one thing if these kids had simply made a movie and showed it to their friends, but fate allowed them to release it on video. Therefore I have every right to pick and prod this annoying, lame film until it’s erased from my memory.

The story, in contrast to the box description’s horror approach, is incredibly goofy and purposely ridiculous. As it has been said, however, bad comedy is the worst kind of cinema, so I spent most of the short running time groaning. The movie centers on a group of badly dressed teens who want to use an old mill for their “Spook Out.” See, there’s a competition every Halloween where kids set up haunted houses, and the best one wins a trophy or some lame thing. Of course, the mill is supposed to be haunted, and a rival gang of teens wants to use the mill for their own Spook Out purposes.

Every single character in this movie could be pulled straight out of a Scooby-Doo episode. They tip-toe around the mill in a compact group, deliver awful dialogue about hidden passageways and the like, and their eyes bug out whenever they’re scared. Heck, one kid passes out to the sound of a slide whistle. So obviously none of this is meant to be taken seriously, and that’s the problem. It almost makes it impossible for someone to criticize anything because the filmmakers could easily come back with, “Yeah, well, it was meant to be bad, so nyeah to you, sir!”

Don’t get me wrong, though, there are a lot of truly funny elements in this film. The fashion on display, as previously mentioned, is hilariously atrocious. My favorite outfit was the one the leader of the rival teens sported. This snazzy ensemble includes a Bill Cosby cardigan sweater, jeans tucked into cowboy boots, and a cane. The kid walks around wielding a cane like a back alley pimp! You can’t beat such an image, in my opinion. The hairstyles are also great, ranging from grease-dipped mullets to Farrah Fawcett nightmare inspirations.

Then of course there is the Teen Alien himself, who first appears onscreen as a totally average, totally normal, robotic and alarmingly bizarre human. You can almost hear the director thinking, “I wonder if people will know this character is meant to be the Teen Alien? I mean, he does talk like a Speak & Spell, and his inability to emote could be too big a clue…ah well.” Later on we get a glimpse of the Alien’s headquarters, a thrown together lab in the middle of the mill. See, he has the ability to transform into humans by taking microchips taped to their Drama Club headshots and inserting them into a toaster oven. Ain’t that futuristic?

Finally, I must mention the music that accompanies most of the driving, sneaking, and other miscellaneous montages in Teen Alien. Try to imagine listening to rejected tracks for the original Dr. Mario game only with piercing Calypso notes and a dash of the Pod People soundtrack. Now stuff cotton in your ears and pray to whatever holy deity you believe in, because the pain isn’t going to stop anytime soon. I swear, whoever wrote the music for this movie should be dragged to court.

So yeah, I was completely annoyed by just about everything in Teen Alien. The actors couldn’t effectively read a script if their lives depended on it, the alien itself was just some guy in a Novelty Shop rubber mask, and the ending rips off Invasion of the Body Snatchers by making half the town aliens themselves. Ooh, what a shocking twist. Even as a low budget community project, this just plain reeks of craptitude.