Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Screamers: The Hunting
SCREAMERS: THE HUNTING (2009)
Directed by: Sheldon Wilson
Screenplay: Miguel Tejada-Flores
Starring: Gina Holden, Greg Bryk & Lance Henriksen
The original Screamers was a nifty little slice of hard boiled sci-fi directed by the underrated Christian Duguay (Art of War) and starring the always great Peter (Robocop) Weller. With some sharp dialogue (courtesy in part by Alien co-scribe, Dan O’Bannon) and some corking hard edged action it overcame hokiness and cheesy supporting characters to deliver a taught little sci-fi flick. Based in part on the short story Second Variety by Philip K. Dick, this belated sequel continues where the first left off and despite also featuring a whole heap of hokiness is actually a fun little sci-fi sequel.
A squad of grunts respond to a distress signal from the supposedly deserted planet Sirius 6B. Overrun by the self-evolving, blade-wielding, limb-severing robot Screamers, the space grunts find a band of survivors carving out a meagre existence all the while trying to dodge those body part-separating robots. On top of this they’ve got some kind of space storm on its way to destroy the planet, their ship has been sabotaged (isn’t that always the way?), the Screamers are taking on human form, the plot holes threaten to swallow the film whole and the so called space marines look like a bunch of rejects from 90210. Thank god for some decent action, a good dose of gore and the always-dependable Lance Henriksen.
While the budget is distinctly low, the so called “twists” sign posted a mile away and the platoon of lunar soldiers provide little grit or personality (did no-one learn from The Hills Have Eyes 2: populating your film with a group of charisma free youngsters and trying to pass them off as soldiers does not work) the film is still surprisingly entertaining. Sheldon Wilson’s direction is slick and the pace is swift meaning the killer robot action comes thick and fast. The action is a nice mix of extended gun battles and close knit robot-crunching action as the squad are, literally, torn apart by the razor sharp mechanisms. The gore is well staged and surprisingly bloody as the characters meet some nasty ends and for a cheap sequel to a cult sci-fi flick from the mid nineties, the production values and CGI are pretty darn good.
Good old Lance Henriksen makes a late last act appearance and this marks his umpteenth pay-cheque-collecting appearance in a cheap-jack sequel in the past decade (other highlights including The Mangler 2, Alone in the Dark 2, Pumpkinhead 3 & 4, Hellraiser 8, Mimic 3: geez!) but out acts everyone else and always makes anything he’s in somewhat entertaining. Despite a whole lot of plot absurdity, Screamers: The Hunting still has plenty of action, gore and weird human killing robots making it a perfect slice of B-movie sci-fi.