IFC Midnight’s “Alien Outpost” is a visceral, on-the-ground perspective on combat

Caught this 2014 movie on Netflix tonight, and I’m very glad I didn’t pass it by. It uses a documentary style to relate the last days of Outpost 37, a United Space Defense Force base of operations in Pakistan whose soldiers are tasked with decreasing the remnants of the Heavy invasion (Heavies are the aliens) that attacked Earth. Humans were able to fight off the attack, but many alien combatants were left behind when the Heavy space fleet retreated.

Having served in the US Army, I found the special effects and combat scenes quite effective. I was fortunate to not see combat during my time in service, but I’ve heard enough stories from combat veterans  and recall enough of basic training and field exercises to know when it’s done poorly on film. This movie did nearly everything right, given that it’s an indie film and the budget likely wasn’t very large.

The characters are all people I recognize from my Army days, which means the script writers did their homework, something for which I’m grateful whenever I see it. War is a nasty business, and the troops on the ground always see the worst of any conflict. The actors did very good work, neither overdoing nor underdoing their roles; they looked and behaved like real soldiers. That’s what drew me in and kept me watching; in the short time the film ran, I cared about what happened to the characters. Credit the script, the director and the actors for that — they all did their jobs well.

It’s an intense film. For those who have been in combat, it may be triggering; watch with caution. The rest of us can enjoy an absorbing story acted by professionals that kinda grabs you by the neck and doesn’t let go — not even at the very end. Highly recommended.


Addendum on book review posts

Should anyone reading my blog have a book they’d like to get comments on, as long as said book is free or an ARC (advanced reading copy) and readable online, go ahead and make a comment on this post with the URL included. You will not get a full review, just a quickie review; full reviews get paid for. Quickies are freebies. If the amount of books gets too much for me, I’ll note that in a future post.

Quickie book reviews

These books have been sitting on my desk, awaiting review, for far too long. Thus, brief comments about each follow.

Queen of Iron Years by Lyn McConchie and Sharman Horwood. SFnal time travel centered on Boadicea, LGBTQ+ oppression and the Roman invasion, and every bit of it works. I cried at the end. The authors are acquaintances of mine, but they are fine writers all the same.

California Twist by John A. Connor. Brit-born PI in California takes a missing person case which winds up being far more than just that. Connor is also a friend, but again, the writing stands on its own. Great lead character in Harry Rhimes, just enough of all the right elements for a great PI mystery without all the sexist crap of noir. I think this is his first published book. Just go read it already.

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones. Truly a heart-novel, about modern werewolves, beautifully written and an elegant portrayal of a family on the edge of life. There is not enough good to be said about this novel. I won this in a book giveaway, and I was not disappointed.

All these go directly to my re-read shelf.

Danny Trejo tours the Underworld

National Geographic made a documentary called “Map of Hell” and got Danny Trejo, aka “Machete”and other nefarious characters in films and on TV, to host and direct it. The results are surprisingly informative and refreshing.

Trejo begins with asking the audience, “What if I died?” He casually admits he’d probably go to hell. “But which hell?” he wonders. Thus begins his tour of historical perspectives on Hell, starting with the ancient Egyptians and ending in the present day.

The tour is pretty thorough for a general audience, too. The doc delves into the ancient Greeks’ view of where we go after we die (if we go anywhere), stops at points in time where the idea of Hell evolves through their cultural development, and continues on through a timeline of changing perspectives on the nature of Hell and who ends up there.

As someone who started out on a very bad life road and later changed his ways, Trejo makes the perfect host because he’s believable. The exploration of Purgatory alone is worth watching the film, perhaps especially for Catholics both active and lapsed. God knows I’ve forgotten most of what I learned in catechism classes in my early years. It was comforting to be reminded that Catholics are the ones who invented the second chance of Purgatory, and of how it works for both the living and the dead.

Danny Trejo, as he says in the doc, is (these days) a nice guy who smiles a lot and does all he can to help others. He’s right; check out his bio (Google is your friend). His willingness to imagine himself dead and headed for some sort of hell is admirable; not every actor would be willing to do that. Highly recommended.


Eagle Films takes wing: “Malice”

Brilliant example of what a fantasy/horror movie can be when all the right people are in the right jobs on the crew and in the cast. “Malice” started as a webseries, and this film version of the series is spot-on. I’m a stickler on continuity, and if there were any burps in that department in this film, I missed them. Check out “Malice: Metamorphosis” on Hulu if you like this film. Both are amazing productions done on near-zero budgets. Eagle Films also has a YouTube channel. Disclaimer: I am not related to nor in any way employed by anyone working for Eagle Films. Just a fan here! Independent films are often SO much better than Hollyweird studio rehash schlock.

“The Corridor”: A Journey Into Otherness

A serious mindfuck of a movie. I love independent film: it gets it right when so much of Hollyweird gets it wrong. “The Corridor” deals, imho, with the unknown. What others experience as mental illness can never be truly understood by those who’ve never experienced it, regardless of the form it takes in any given person. I think the film also deals with friendship, trust, “male bonding,” and otherness, and the myriad ways those things can go wrong. The corridor itself, imo, represents the unknown and unknowable, that which is beyond the reach of human understanding. This film is a deeply engrossing exploration of all these themes, through the prism of the human mind. Light shone through a prism fractures into the colors of the visible spectrum, just as a human brain can become fractured when whatever causes mental illness acts upon it. Brilliant stuff.