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Blu-Ray Review: Kino Lorber’s Terminal Invasion (KL Studio Classics) 

Terminal Invasion

Bruce Campbell teams up with Sean S Cunningham on the alien invasion thriller Terminal Invasion.  New to Blu-Ray thanks to Kino Lorber.  

The Film 

Bruce Campbell.  

That’s a name for some in fandom (especially in the horror and genre fandom) that is all one needs to seal the deal when it comes to watching something.  This reviewer is one of those fans since he saw Army of Darkness in the theaters at the ripe old age of fourteen.  It wasn’t until after the film that I had begun to truly understand the awesomeness of Campbell.  Not just Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn but the various other pieces of genre madness he was involved in like Maniac CopMoontrapMindwarp, and others as he moved forward in his career like the TV Series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.; his five minutes of CongoRunning Time – and excellent underseen heist film, and others… 

I did not remember seeing Terminal Invasion – a clever riff on the alien invasion movie on a budget until I actually started watching it.  I then remembered seeing it on Sci-Fi Network (when it wasn’t called Syfy Chanel).  Its concept of a group of random assortment of people trapped in a blizzard at a small airport is nothing new.  The likes of John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino, and of course the mother of the concept Agatha Christie (read her book 10 Little Indians).  Even the concept of an alien species backdooring their invasion isn’t new Siegel’s The Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Carpenter’s The Thing are definitely inspirations here.  

All that said there’s something about the script that’s the right amount of clever and true archetypes that result in a fun ride of a film with Campbell swaggering around as the anti-hero lead.  The smart-ass wit that Campbell brings to his best roles is here as a convicted killer simply named Jack.  The rest of the cast is uniformly fine with Chase Masterson as the co-lead doing a decent Ripley impersonation through the run time.  The other cast members are a who’s who of early ‘00s genre character actors from Canada cast like C David Johns, Chuck Byrn, Kedar Brown, and Jason Jones.

Director Sean S. Cunningham does a perfunctory job here, not unlike his work on Friday The 13th.  Which isn’t bad.  It’s smart and sharp in the way that a lower budget single location film has to be to even approach being interesting.  There are some truly fun (albeit goofy) set pieces like the X-Ray machine that Cunningham understands just the right tone to set.  

You could do a lot worse than Terminal Invasion.  Crack open your favorite libation and be prepared to talk on the screen.  Midnight cult sci-fi abounds!!! 

The Transfer

The transfer is generally good for this production’s shot-on-digital.  The image is surprisingly verbose and so good it shows the defects of some of the digital FX work.  The only caveat appears to be that the image itself at times is darker than it needs to be necessarily and would have been aided by a slight adjustment in the contrast as the detail seems to be crushed in the deeper blacks.  All around a surprisingly sharp handsome transfer.  

The Extras

They include the following;

  • Audio Commentary by Director Sean S. Cunningham and Executive Producer Chuck Simon
  • Alien Costume Test
  • Trailers

The archival audio commentary by Director Sean S. Cunningham and Executive Producer Chuck Simon opens with how they became the first Sci-Fi Channel “Saturday Night Movie”.  Some of the details include the development of the script by Lewis Abernathy – who coincidentally is a James Cameron Collaborator and Deepstar Six Screenwriter for Cunningham; the fact they wanted to initially make this in 3D – back in the 1980s; why they chose Canada and the rise of the production in Canada; how the Sci-Fi Channel/Universal greenlit a series of movies (8 to be exact); working in Toronto at the time – production time frame, budget and more; working with Bruce Campbell as an actor – and his rise during these series of movies, as he worked with Sci-Fi (before it was called Syfy) multiple times in this film series; a detailed conversation about the Hi-Def shoot and some of the issues that are inherent with the digital format and how it applied to the production; the various tricks and solves they used to solve issues with the smaller budget they had; the reasons why Campbell did not appear on the commentary track; and much more.  Cunningham and Simon deliver an informative, technical commentary track.  

Alien Costume Test (6:45) – the footage shot on film/digital (?) is exactly what it states a series of takes with a person in the costume testing the lighting and movement and different potions in the suit.  There is no sound just the raw footage taken.  

Rounding out the special features are trailers for Deepstar Six (1:57), The Puppet Masters (1:45), Spaced Invaders (2:05), Without Warning (1:44), Deep Rising (1:25) 

The Final Thought 

Terminal Invasion is whack-a-mole style sci-fi goofy good times.  

Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray edition of Terminal Invasion is out on April 25th

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