Trash cinema, disreputable and marginalized as it is, has standards and goals that are met to satisfy the sickening appetites of the creatures who devour such films. Director Eric Mittleman’s Escape from Area 51 has no standards, no goals, and is completely inedible. It achieves none of the benchmarks of utter sleaze nor attains the ripeness of cheese to be “so bad it’s good.” The film wishes it was trash, but that doesn’t come true. Instead, it is broken down, thirsty-a*s crawling wreckage that wasn’t meant to be built.
The plot is so simple it would have been rejected for an Atari game back in 1980. Sheera (Donna D’Errico) is an alien who escapes Area 51 thanks to meddling kids but can’t leave Earth until she rescues her fellow alien warrior Kyra (Anouk Samuel). Meanwhile, Sklarr (Chris Browning), the evil Baron Von Baddie Bad of the picture, has beamed down to Earth to hunt Sheera. That’s about it. It all takes place in the woods, which is usually the hallmark of an impoverished sci-fi picture.
There are weird snippets of internet podcasts involving aliens that appear and disappear throughout Escape from Area 51 that do little to alleviate the pain. There are also these out of nowhere pieces of dated computer animation that seem to be there to fill in potholes. Other than that, we are left with jokes that are not funny with characters we couldn’t care less about, leading to absolutely nothing. The film, written by Mittleman and Carlos Perez, may be the longest 76 minutes you ever have to limp through.
“…Sklarr…has beamed down to Earth to hunt Sheera.”
Let’s also face the elephant in the room and pull its pants down. There is no intentional nudity here. We see a little squeak of something by accident in one sequence, but otherwise, this is not an excuse to have women take their clothes off. This is a good thing, as nudity has ceased to be a marketable commodity in cinema, and we need to build new exploitation foundations for the bright future of trash. All Escape from Area 51 does, though, is deliver the dreaded skin flick with no skin. This means all that’s left is the careless filler that was only accepted in yesteryear because viewers were waiting for the next nude scene. And the filler here is really bad.
Mittleman frequently indulges in the more disgusting elements of alien humor, like anal probes and cattle mutilations, and freely crosses the line into “bad” bad taste, like mass shootings jokes. And above all else, 99% of it is not funny at all. The only funny smidge in the whole mess is delivered by Frankie Sixx in her debut when she is reenacting the bird funeral from Poltergeist.
The real tragedy of Escape from Area 51 is that D’Errico is perfect for the role of the alien lead. She possesses a self-assurance that sits well with an ultra-powerful warrior and could do wonders with better material. There is a certain knack for pulling off the Galaxina-style character that D’Errico has in spades, even more so than the late Dorothy Stratten. To be successful, the filmmakers should dump the humor completely, as the truly lovable bad movies are the ones that play their cut-rate execution seriously.
Also, introduce costume setpieces. Make the whole point women changing into different outrageous outfits while they run around with rayguns. That would be some trash cinema worth watching. As it stands, we have the worthless slag heap that is Escape from Area 51, and I am sure Mittleman and Perez are expecting nothing but bad reviews. So here is another one it has worked so hard to deserve.
"…D'Errico is perfect for the role of the alien lead."