Alien Express Sci-Fi Channel Original Review

Unlike so many other Sci-Fi Channel cheapies, Alien Express had some small potential. It's goofy fun until the effects take over (and these are mercifully done practically for the most part), which showcase the budget in the worst way possible. It's a somewhat enjoyable low budget schlock, but only for those used to this type of movie.

The film makes a critical error in failing to follow its own rules. Alien creatures come to Earth on a flaming asteroid to attack an overly rich presidential candidates train. When the time comes to dispose of the little beasties, it seems any heat source is enough to take them down because they're partially made up of methane. How exactly did they manage to survive entry into the atmosphere?

Lou Diamond Phillips leads the assault and the now uncontrollable train continues as the creatures multiply. They're an odd, toothy mix of Alien and the oversized snapping turtle Tokka from Ninja Turtles II. They look fine when not in motion. Then the puppeteers and men in suits take over, hardly even mobile in any form. It also turns out these are speedy little suckers, moving rapidly around the screen via a cheap CG motion blur.

Gore splatters in gratuitous amounts, with some great shots of bodies torn open that work far better than aliens do. The train is handled, refreshingly, through miniatures. It's obvious most of the time, though it works better than CG. Failing to provide the same effect is the incompetent poof the aliens burst in to when taken out, and the explosion of a helicopter is impossible to describe through words.

About as rare as miniatures, there are even some small attempts at creating some character depth, even if doesn't go anywhere. Phillips has the added burden of his ex-wife on board. It never amounts to much, though it's more than most of these films work with.

If any Sci-Fi films work, it seems to have something to do with trains. Bugs was probably the last truly memorable one, involving a subway system overrun by, well, bugs. They also feature snobbish rich people building trains, only to see them demolished. None of this is supposed to be original, but it's not hard to see Alien Express working with its tight corridors and crowded cars. It just needed a budget to handle it.

*Note: The original title of this feature was Dead Rail.

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