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When I first saw Martin Faltermeier’s Zombies from Outer Space I was bit underwhelmed, the movie didn’t live up to the awesome poster and goofy trailer. I’ve always felt it was ambitious and original. but something was lacking. Now when I’ve seen it a second time I find I’ve changed my mind. I’m better prepared for dialogue heavy first part and also come to more fully understand the concept of Heimatfilms. Which is very important to really, really GET Zombies from Outer Space.
Bavaria in the fifties, crop circles has started to appear and in one of them the police discovers a shallow grave… containing a dead alien Grey! The bring it to the local morgue, but what really stresses the small police force is the sudden deaths of young women around the neighborhood! There’s a local American base nearby? Do they have anything to do with it, or is the UFO’s visible over the place the reason for the mysterious deaths? Prepare for a melodrama with love, broad comedy, blood-spurting terror and of course beautiful Bavarian landscapes!
There’s a lot of landscapes, romantic melodrama (the local doctor wonder boy vs the military super-soldier, who will get the girl?!) and a portly cop as the comic relief. And that’s what Heimatfilms is about. Countryside drama, views over mountains, cows, corny dialogue and some kind of humour which will attract every kind of viewers. Nothing upsetting, nothing too radical. That’s why mixing this with living dead aliens is nothing short but brilliant! The thing is, if you manage to get through the Heimat stuff, you’re treated to an equally entertaining alien invasion film - just a lot gorier than we use to see them.
The idea of the aliens using the crop circles as their graves, maybe even connected to some kind of intergalactical black magic, is a fantastic idea, and here the filmmakers use it to it’s potential - and so far the budget could go. The aliens themselves are most more or less slender men dressed in nylon tights and masks, but the bizarre living dead alien walks are creepy, almost crab-like, and it often leads to a lot of blood spraying everywhere. The gore itself is not that plenty, but there’s a few instances of nice graphic violence - but it’s the spurting blood that gets most of the screen time. This comes later in the movie, and together with nice small-scale war scenes and village-panic sequences, it kinda seems a bit more expensive than it probably was.
The acting is so-so. It’s a bit stiff, and it seldom works with German actors pretending to be Americans, which is the case in - I think - in all of the American parts. The long dialogues, which I guess should be funny and romantic and whatever, well, they rarely translates well to someone who never seen a Heimatfilm. It’s more like “Come one, get on with it! Give us some blood and gore!”.
Now after seeing it a second time I’m more impressed. The story works (quite) good and it delivers entertainment in good doses, even if I wished more graphic gore and less talk. It’s already a bit too long, so I - if I was a producer - would have demanded some cuts, maybe to get it down to 85 minutes. Then it would have been perfect, cheesy entertainment. Now it’s a ambitious, good, crazy and very well-made oddity that deserves a bigger audience!
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