• Alien From L.A. (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 29th, 2021.
    Director: Albert Pyun
    Cast: Kathy Ireland, William R. Moses, Richard Haines, Don Michael Paul, Thom Mathews, Linda Kerridge
    Year: 1988
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Alien From L.A. – Movie Review:

    Directed by the sometimes mighty Albert Pyun for the usually mightier Cannon Films, was the writer/director of this oddball misfire that stars supermodel Kathy Ireland as nerdy and bespectacled Wanda Saknussemm, the daughter of an archeologist who has been missing for some time now. After a trip to the beach where she’s brushed off by her boyfriend (Thom Mathews) and then a drive-in diner with her friend (Linda Kerridge), she winds up learning that her father, Professor Arnold Saknussemm (Richard Haines), died somewhere in Africa. She makes the trip to the Dark Continent and falls into the very same bottomless pit where her old man supposedly met his demise.

    After surviving the fall, Wanda learns that this hole is actually a gateway that takes those who travel it to the lost city of Atlantis. Pyun’s Atlantis, however, looks nothing like a lost Greek city or anything like that, but rather like something out of any post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie you’d care to mention. Regardless, Wanda, now an ‘alien’ (from Los Angeles), and of course she finds out that her father is still alive and sets out to find him, even if the Atlantean powers that be would prefer she be stopped.

    Alien From L.A. has some problems. Pyun has made some legitimately bad ass movies, let there be no doubt, but this isn’t one of them. It’s a pretty family-friendly affair, which would be fine if it were more interesting than it is, devoid of any real action. It’s also basically a remake of Jules Vernes Voyage To The Center Of The Earth. Pyun’s odd fascination with post-apocalyptic landscapes is on full display here, and to be fair, some of the sets are pretty cool, but the story works off of one cliché after the next – Wanda is a nerd to start with, and isn’t treated well by her boyfriend, but by the end she’s a hot chick. Didn’t see that coming! The subplot with the love interest isn’t particularly interesting or even important to the story and supporting characters show up and disappear pretty randomly.

    Ireland looks great here, never convincing in her nerdy persona but beautiful. She isn’t going to win any awards for her acting in this picture but neither does she embarrass herself or anything. She’s fine, though her high speaking voice may put some viewers off. Haines is amusing enough as her quirky father but he’s basically playing the weird old professor cliché.

    Really though, it just isn’t that interesting a movie, despite a few odd visual touches here and there.

    Alien From L.A. – Blu-ray Review:

    Alien From L.A. arrives on region A Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 and taking up 23.6GBS on the 25GB disc. Presented “newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive” the movie looks excellent. The colors are beautiful during the opening scenes and appropriately dusky once things shift out of Los Angeles. There’s impressive detail throughout and great texture here too. There’s very little print damage at all, barely a speck, though the film’s natural grain is retained. Compression artifacts are fine, and there are no issues with any visible noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, in the film’s proper English language, sounds very good. The dialogue is always easy to follow, the levels are properly balanced and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. An optional Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also provided as are optional English SDH subtitles.

    There are three extras of note on the disc, starting with Making A Fairytale, which is an interview with director Albert Pyun that runs for fourteen-minutes. He speaks about how he was in Mexico shooting a film when an earthquake hit and how seeing the destruction and ruins gave him the idea of the setting for the movie which he then wrote the story around. He notes how he wanted to focus on the collapse of society, incorporating archeology into the movie, shooting in South Africa, aiming the film for the family market, how Cannon Films didn't quite know what to do with the movie, how he got along with the cast members on the film, how Ireland was cast at the last minute, the film's budget, working with the film's producers and lots more.

    Putting The Puzzle Together is an interview with actor Thom Mathews. Here, over eleven-minutes, he talks about how he heard about the role when Pyun called him and offered him the part, his thoughts on the script, how the film was originally titled Journey To The Center Of The Earth, how great Ireland was to work with and what Pyun is like as a director. He also shares a few interesting stories from the set and talks about a few other films that he's been in over the years as well as his experiences meeting fans at horror conventions over the years.

    Lastly, the disc also includes an audio interview with actress Linda Kerridge that runs a quick three-minutes. She talks about how Pyun offered her the role, who she'd worked with before, and how she needed the money at the time and had no problem taking it. She also talks about how well she got along with Ireland, what it was like shooting in Africa, how much she really liked working with Pyun and how a lot of his ideas were ahead of his time. She finishes by

    This release also comes with an embossed slipcover and some reversible cover sleeve art.

    Alien From L.A. - The Final Word:

    Alien From L.A. is pretty dull, Pyun’s usual quirks not really gelling the way you want them to. Ireland looks great here but the acting is nothing to write home about and the story is derivative and contrived. That said, this movie has its fans and those fans will certainly appreciate the quality of Vinegar Syndrome’s excellent presentation.

    Click on the images below for full sized Alien From L.A. Blu-ray screen caps!