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Alien Private Eye (1987)

Directed by Viktor
Raedon VHS

Alien Private Eye is a 1980s burst of direct-to-video energy, written-directed-produced and edited by a man known simply as Viktor. There are car chases, shootouts, an extended sex scene, guys with ridiculous voices, long scenes of people shooting up alien drugs and spontaneous outbursts of expressive popping and locking. There are also a lot of scenes that involve people explaining the plot to other people. And long scenes where our alien private eye hero, Lemro, describes his home-world to Suzy, an Earth lass he’s fallen for. And it goes on and on and the scenes kind of mush together…  and it moves fast and then slow…  and then there are flashbacks…  and then I fell asleep…  and my mind became hazy the way it did during Desperation Rising.

Except Alien Private Eye is more of a regular movie that Jason Holt’s cinematic assault. Viktor’s adventure never goes off into a post-synced world with random captions relaying incoherent time and place information to us. Alien Private Eye could have been the pilot episode of a show for the FOX network in its very first days, alongside Werewolf and The New Adventures of Beans Baxter. The action scenes are OK. The story isn’t bad. The acting goes from serviceable to kind of funny. There is one alien guy who does a very good Peter Lorre impersonation, which is hilariously distracting every single time he speaks. The lead guy, to me, personifies the second half of the 1980s. All of it and all at once. He’s everything I’ve always wanted in a decade. And more. It’s just that whenever the movie begins to thrust forward, say after a big fight, everything stops for a long scene of exposition. It’s as if Viktor was adapting his script from a novel and he forget that endless scenes of people explaining themselves may work on the page but just drags down a movie.

Alien Private Eye is my own private miasma. I can see through the fog. I can see what it’s getting up to but it kept putting me to sleep or losing my attention. In the past week, I’ve had this film on five times. Each time I’m either asleep by time we meet the bad guy, Kilgore, who is pushing an alien drug named Soma. Or I’m doing some light housecleaning when the Peter Lorre man begins explaining the concept behind the alien disc that everyone is after. Or I’m just plain not paying attention when Lemro has another scene where he pines over Suzy.

Maybe it’s meant to be watched in 20-minute segments? Maybe it’s not meant to be taken as a whole? I should just lock onto isolated moments of bliss. I can enjoy the over-excited 80s music. That loud slap bass synth that cannot be subtle no matter what it tries to do. (Please see the Shadow Chasers  pilot for confirmation.) I can appreciate how Lemro dances or the Michael Jackson-style way he sneaks around rooms. I can marvel at the final fight scene, which has a lot of spinning kicks and snarling. I can watch and smile at Kilgore’s front tooth with a little silver skull on it and then giggle at his false tooth filled with acid. (The acid is for spitting on people, mainly priests.) Or I can frown and wonder at a brief scene where Suzy is sitting in her apartment by herself and caressing her own legs. I couldn’t figure out why she was doing it. But I thought, if she enjoyed doing it, why not do it? It’s probably fun.

Let’s hop to the fourth time I watched this film. I was about 45 minutes into it. Suddenly, I found myself doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with my wife. During the remainder of the film, she kept looking up at the TV and laughing or simply cracking wise at whatever she saw. To me, there seemed to be too much monkey business going on in the film. Too much distraction and extraneous material. My wife, though, seemed to enjoy the moments she saw. Then it hit me: This is a Crowd Film. A solitary viewer might fall asleep every time. But, a viewing of Alien Private Eye on the big screen is probably absolutely awesome. The moments of goofy acting or strange plotting that seem completely normal to me might just send a crowd into paroxysms of laughter.

That’s my assessment. Alone, this movie might have trouble keeping your attention. With a crowd, I think Viktor’s opus will be a great evening’s entertainment, possible very good alongside Never Too Young To Die. So, assemble your pals, put on Alien Private Eye and let’s caress our own legs and see where that gets us.