Alien from L.A. is directed by Albert Pyun. There’s a bit of a cult around Pyun, although some people say he’s the modern-day Ed Wood. His first film was The Sword and the Sorcerer, and other notable credits include the original Captain America movie, which was a mostly direct-to-video release made with Menahem Golan’s 20th Century Film Corp. after he left Cannon, about as different from the glossy Marvel Captain America movies we have today. He also did a Van Damme film Cyborg and for Full Moon Entertainment Dollman.
This film however was done for big bad Cannon Films! Alien from L.A. is a utterly bonkers science-fiction film. The “alien” is Wanda Saknussemm, who isn’t from outer space. Her last name is one of several links between this film and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Her father is an archaeologist in North Africa; she’s a slightly nerdish Valley girl. When her father disappears on an expedition, she goes to try to find him. When she gets there, she falls into a bottomless pit and finds herself in an underground city called Atlantis.
It’s not a very good film, nor is it the kind of film you watch because you think it’s going to be good. There’s a bit of Alice in Wonderland, a bit of Wizard of Oz, and the underground city is a bit Blade Runner-ish. The film it reminds me most of is Steve De Jarnatt’s Cherry 2000 in terms of how the film feels. There’s also some really obvious steals from Brazil, including one scene that’s a total rip of its final scene. Surprisingly, the special effects are pretty good for a movie with a low budget, and the production design is relatively impressive, including some good matte paintings. The story is what’s wack: Wanda meets all these bizarre subterranean people and creatures, including a miner, as she tries to find her way back out. The Atlantians don’t like visitors very much, so there’s some conflict.
It’s not intelligent, but it is what it is: an enjoyable kind of movie, with a fun ‘80s neon colour scheme. Kathy Ireland, who was a supermodel during the time period, has the lead in what was her first starring role. She also stars in the sequel, Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Linda Kerridge, who viewers may recognise from Fade to Black, also appears in a dual role. She had more than a passing resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, so has appeared as Monroe in a few things as well; this was Kerridge’s last film role.
You can expect a fun, quirky watch with an absurd plot, a good look, and a film that’s never quite sure what it means to be. It’s fun to spot what they’ve nicked from other dystopian films. The disc comes with some extras, too, including interviews with Pyun and actor Thom Mathews, and an audio interview with Linda Kerridge. Due to licensing agreements, the disc is restricted to Region A, so if you’re in the UK, you’ll need an all-region Blu-Ray player.