If there’s one reason to see Brandon Slagle‘s Attack of the Unknown, it’s the balls of the filmmaker to produce a low-budget alien invasion of Los Angeles and actually shoot it in Los Angeles and not in Canada or Bulgaria. The second reason is it’s a Richard Grieco vehicle with a Tara Reid cameo. It would be best if you streamed this movie right now.
The film opens with SWAT commander Vernon (Richard Grieco) and his team about to raid the hideout of cartel leader Miguel “Hades” Aguirre (Robert LaSardo) as a major drug deal is about to go down. Here we’re treated to a 12-minute gunfight as the competent SWAT team takes down the cartel. Their victory quickly turns sour as the Feds are now taking over the case—a multi-year investigation with nothing to show for it. No matter, it’s time to celebrate and unwind at a local strip club.
Meanwhile, at another part of town, two police officers and a drunk driver, they arrested, drive by what appears to be an alien spaceship that crashed in the outskirts of the San Fernando Valley. The three don’t fare so well. Now, the alien invasion begins. The build toward total annihilation is slow at first as the power and cellphone communications are shut off. Panic spreads, aliens show up at every turn, and people die. Of course, the aliens are bulletproof, so guns are useless. They then proceed to suck the blood out of every person they come into contact with.
The film pretty much follows Vernon, Hades, and their respective crews as they work together to survive and figure out a way to defeat the alien horde. Who will survive, and how will they save the planet?
“…what appears to be an alien spaceship that crashed in the outskirts of the San Fernando Valley.”
Think of Attack of the Unknown as the retelling of campy alien invasion movies of the 40s and 50s, but with some high quality off-the-shelf CG-effects tools and a crew of talented programmers and animators making the film look really expensive. What stood out CG-wise was the liberal use of fake gunfire and blood splatter, aerial shots of Los Angeles on fire, and enhanced images of guys in alien suits. It may all be fake, but it looks really good. NOTE: if you have a sci-fi screenplay that you’ve been holding on to, now a good time to pull it out and get it produced. The possibilities are limitless.
Then there’s the story. The invasion forces the cops and gang members have to work together to survive. Adding to the melodrama is Vernon suffering from a rare form of cancer. I personally love the addition of a tourist to the group of survivors, whose only skill is street fighting…I mean, playing Street Fighter. Lastly, Hades’ son drew apocalyptic drawings of an attack of his ancestors’ village in Mexico by the mythical Coo-Cooi.
Should you see Attack of the Unknown? If you’re into cheesy alien movies, then absolutely YES! The acting is consistently sub-par, the plots have huge holes, and the aliens are, again, guys in suits with their brains on the outside. What more could you ask? It’s fun to watch, and I’d see it over and over again. I mentioned lousy acting. If anything, the bad, stilted acting just makes Richard Graeco’s performance absolutely brilliant. Tara Reid’s cameo in a flashback is the icing on the cake.
I’ll say it again. My greatest admiration goes to the filmmakers of Attack of the Unknown for making an alien invasion movie set in Los Angeles and filmed in Los Angeles. Guerrilla filmmaking at its best with effective use of CG FX tools.
"…retelling of campy alien invasion movies of the 40s and 50s, but with some high quality off-the-shelf CG-effects..."