Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

My son had asked what I had done on this particular day and I informed the boy that I had watched this movie ‘High Plains Invaders’, a film about aliens versus cowboys. He immediately starts to bust a gut in laughter and now he’s upset that I didn’t wait for him to get home so he could enjoy this obvious high comedy. Tragically I had to inform the boy that there was nothing funny about ‘High Plains Invaders’, a movie that seems ripe for humor and skewering, but this was a concept that was taken deadly serious by the filmmakers. Sometimes when we see ridiculous concepts taken seriously, say like the ridiculous flick ‘Ninja Cheerleaders’ which the filmmakers took more seriously than Steven Spielberg took ‘Schindler’s List’, we wonder ‘what were they thinking’, but here the seriousness of it all seemed to work out for the better.

Sometime before the turn of the century, somewhere in Colorado I think, we meet professional train robber Sam Danville (James Marsters). Sam is locked up and about to be hung for his crimes against humanity, and after spending some quality time with James it appears that death can’t come soon enough for the sour and dour train robber. Sam is sad for a couple of reasons. For one he is good man who turned to train robbing to make a statement of sorts, before something went terribly wrong. Secondly, simply by chance, he has turned himself in at the same town where his ex lady love has set up shop, pretty town doctor Abigail Pixley (Cindy Sampson), which only makes his death wish all that more urgent. So while Sam is dutifully strung up by the local sheriff to get his just deserts, politely turning down all last requests, there is a rumbling in the distance. At first the locals ignore it and are just waiting for the hanging show to get started but damn if this hanging isn’t permanently interrupted by a really angry, super large, four legged, projectile slinging alien who proceeds to shoot and skewer any and everybody who gets in its way. Abigail would’ve got it too if it weren’t for the quick thinking Sam distracting the beast temporarily and scurrying the towns few survivors towards the local jail while they formulate a plan.

Now we’re kind of watching a version of ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ with large Starship Trooper style aliens substituting for crazy gang bangers as our group old-time westerners are trapped in a one room county jail. In addition to Sam and his girl Abigail, we have Rose the Quick Draw Bounty Hunter (Sanny Van Heteren), who is adorably cute while at the same time pathologically violent. Also we have Jules the Man of Science (Sebastian Knapp) who just might be responsible for this alien plague, at least if you listen to Sandy (Adriana Butoi), the prospectors wife who swears that Jules and his deep digging has brought the plague to these poor people. One thing for certain is that whatever Jules is digging for, these aliens are looking for the same thing and while the one alien was disabled with some difficulty, unfortunately for our settlers there are hordes of these things to deal with, and more coming via that super fancy hot air balloon with all the bright lights. Add to this conundrum the fact that some of our survivors are less than scrupulous one has to wonder how a sad train robber, a pretty doctor and a well read man of science are going to stop a horde of aliens who are on the verge of destroying the entire planet earth. How indeed.

You know, I realize that ideally cinema should strive to achieve more than the simple statement ‘It wasn’t all that bad really’, but I think most of us have watched enough movies to realize that this lofty ideal is almost naďve right about now. So while stating that ‘High Plains Invaders’ wasn’t all that bad isn’t high praise, guess what? ‘High Plains Invaders’ wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Director Kristoffer Tabori keeps his story very simple as we have a group of aliens trying to get from point A to point B and killing anybody who happens to be in their way in this simple pursuit of theirs. James Marsters is engaging as the down trodden cowboy, the back story that they gave his character is reasonable and believable, and it does serve the purpose of adding to the story as opposed to just getting in the way. The special effects weren’t the best we’ve seen but for the most part the aliens looked pretty good, though they probably shouldn’t have introduced the concept that there were thousands of these things to deal with since there are only a few on the screen, at most, at a single time and we also liked they way that these old timers approached the concepts of a UFO considering such a concept really didn’t exist for these people back in the day.

Of course there were times the movie was unintentionally silly featuring characters doing real stupid things in order to get themselves killed, Actress Sanny Van Heteren might’ve been a little too cute to be taken all that seriously as a drunken angry gunslinger, but she worked it the best she could. Our main disappointment however, considering this is a western with words ‘High Plains’ in its title, is that the final conclusion didn’t somehow come down to man versus alien quick draw contest. I mean the aliens could shoot stuff, and we have observed them to be fast, so what better finale to a Western than a quick draw contest? Oh well, can’t have everything.

Again, we recognize that simply striving to be functional entertainment shouldn’t be any films ultimate goal but ‘High Plains Invaders’, at least to us, is exactly that and we are not going to turn that down.

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