The Alpha Incident (Gift from a Red Planet) Reviews
Bill Rebane's THE ALPHA INCIDENT : from infamous Wisconsin cult movie producer & director Bill Rebane the same man behind other "gems" like MONSTER A GO-GO [1961/1965]& THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION  comes another one of his low budget wonders on my viewing list. THE ALPHA INCIDENT sees unknown bacteria from outer space being transported on a freight train in rural Wisconsin under the watch of a government Scientist. However when the train stop at a remote station a rail employee opens the case which leads to everyone at the station becoming the subject of quarantine. Much to the luck of everyone it's too bad that the bacteria strain has a bad habit of killing people.
Thoughts: Sadly for Rebane's cult legacy, THE ALPHA INCIDENT despite its potential to be a real intense claustrophobic thriller has several drawbacks. One is the fact that its climax is a blatant rip off of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD . However for the most part the film is a good late 1970's post-Watergate, government conspiracy, American Sic-Fi thriller set in the narrow confides of a remote Railway office. Despite its drawbacks this Rebane feature is worthy of a solid 60%.
Starring: Stafford Morgan, John Goff, Carol Irene Newell, George Flower, Paul Betzen, John Alderman, and Ralph Meeker
Director: Bill Rebane
After a dimwitted, clumsy railroad worker (Flower) breaks open the badly secured samples of a Martian virus being moved from one government lab to another, the agent escorting it (Morgan) must keep himself and a small group of local yokels at an isolated trainyard until a cure can be found.
I should have stopped the DVD when the words "A Film by Bill Rebane" appeared on the screen. I should have known that a film from the void of talent that brought the world "They" wouldn't be giving me anything worth my time. I didn't stop the DVD, and I witnessed a movie even worse, even more pointless than the other Bill Rebane film I've subjected myself to.
While the acting is a little better here, the story goes nowhere, the characters never even rise to the level of figures they're so badly developed, neither the writer nor the director seem to have much of an ear for dialogue, or a sense of how to tell a good story. Whenever the film seems to start making a point--it repeatedly flirts with what stress and danger does to transform a person--it either backs off from it, or does it so ineptly the viewer (and just one viewer.., the person so wired on coffee and chocolate they've not been bored into a stupour, so they are still paying attention) must wonder if anyone involved with the production side has ever had any relationships with real people.
The acting here is generally better than what might be witnessed in the other Rebane opus I've seen, but the story is worse and even more pointless. Its slow, and, like the train featured in it, seems to start a trip but ultimately ends nowhere.
Take my word for it and skip this one. The only reason for watching it would be to confirm that Bill Rebane is, indeed, in the running for Worst Filmmaker Ever.
"The Alpha Incident", produced and directed by Bill Rebane.
Bill Rebane ... that rings a bell. But how. Let's check the ol' IMDB for directors.
"Monster A Go-Go (1965)"
Well, there's a mysterious microbe that came in on a space probe from Mars. Some guys are obviously concerned about it being infectious and dangerous. So they decided to ship it to a safe place:
...near Denver, Colorado ...
Gee, what could [i]possibly[/i] go wrong?:rolleyes:
Then again, this is from the guy that made "Monster a Go-go".
On the train, we get a guy who apparently is 'guarding' the booty. However, he falls asleep and then this guy (hobo? railworker?) steals the guys keys 'cuz he just HAS to know what he's guarding. He goes to the lockbox and opens the case containing the virus. The car jolts, the vial breaks and [i]viola[/i] - we have a movie.
Inevitably, the guard dude finds out the vial was broken when the train stops at Moosepoint (a podunk railway station). He calls his superiors and the area is quarantined. So, hobo, guard (now biochemist), and 3 other people who happened to be at the station are now stuck together. Unfortunately, Hank (da hobo) escapes into the woods. Not a good start.
Meanwhile, the scientists who are testing the virus have their own mystery. How the virus works and kills. Unfortunately, they have to come up with a cure for it. Trouble since they don't really know how it works yet (eg: a mouse's head blew up after being otherwise normal).
The movie ALMOST gets interesting at this point, but then the biochemist then says that they can't fall asleep because they'll die. Huh? Where did this come from? I had to rewind to make sure I didn't miss something.
Other than that, the movie becomes a long Twilight Zone episode. ("Submitted for your approval...") These people who don't particularly like each other to begin with are stuck together. Can they stay awake? Can they make it through?
There's only one gory scene in the whole film (towards the end) so this isn't for gorehounds (sorry). The final 10 minutes or so of the movie actually moves rapidly - even though the ending is lifted from a classic; its still actually good.
The movie has some really bad patches (the acting and sets are particularly bad in the beginning). The sound is atrocious at times as well. The acting is acceptable if not great; though John F Goff as the wisetalking Jack has some of the best lines in the film and makes the most of his role in this lean movie.
Carol Irene Newell, who plays Jenny has some decent moments (not to mention that fact she's actually well-endowed - as well learn for a few brief seconds).
Despite being a born cynic, I have to give them credit for actually coming up with a unique story (at least to me). Under a different director and perhaps budget; this actually would be quite effective.
[b][i][u]Fun rating:[/u][/i][/b] 6 - watchable and reminds me of my "Project Terror" days. Would have been a drive-in staple back in the day. What saves this film is Goff's performance and the original storyline. Its a movie that is watchable despite obvious flaws.
[b][i][u]Interest rating:[/u][/i][/b] 6 - If you're looking to re-create "Drive-In" night - this belongs on the tail end of your triple feature. B-movie fans will enjoy this. Gorehounds need to watch. Worth a view if you see it on the tube or in a multi-pack. Strangely enough, I concede this might have some repeat viewing potential.
[b][i][u]TOTAL RATING:[/u][/i][/b] 6
I'm not going to bother rattling on about the plot, instead I'm going to say that the little official man all alone in the 'control room' is awesome. He's the only one allowed to answer the red phone and he seems to spend his days pushing toy boats and tanks around on his light up world map table. So awesome. I want his job when I grow up.
Also, if you've seen lots of Carpenter movies you're going to recognize Hank the bum. Pay particular attention to a lovely cut done early in the movie with Hank begins babbling about good lookin' country, good lookin' men and gettin' some good lookin' women, then gazes off to the side and the camera fades out.
Strange...but compelling. A must see movie if you're a fan of the B-movie genre.
1) If you're not shooting for a punchline, when you say "The National Guard is coming!", don't follow it up with a shot of two guys in a jeep driving around the woods. It makes our military look rather pathetic.
2) When somebody gets shot, don't just have a bunch of sparks fly off of their chest and call it good. Unless they're a robot. Then you can make it spark all you want! But if it's a human... don't. But what's even worse is freezing the frame for an extended period of time so we can all clearly see how low your makeup budget was.
3) *possible spoilers* If you start the movie by introducing two scientists, you should probably end the movie with them. Or at least allude to them somehow. The last time we saw them they said something on the lines of "Let's try re-creating the martian environment and see what they do!" "Okay sounds good!" And then they're gone. Forever. Did they decide to actually travel to Mars to test out this experiment or what?! Why did they drop off the face of the film without the slightest hint of conclusion!?!?
Alright, I'll stop now. Again, I am expecting far too much from a very under-budgeted horror film.