Aliens, Science Fiction, War

Zone Troopers (1985)

0 Comments 12 February 2012

Studio: MGM

Theatrical Release: April 1985

DVD Release: December 6, 2011


Review by James Klein

If Cowboys & Aliens proved anything, its that mixing two different genres can be very difficult with the results not so good. Maybe Jon Favreau should have watched Zone Troopers before he started his big budget snooze-fest and maybe saved a few million bucks. Twenty five years before, Charles Band at Empire (who later went on to create Full Moon Productions) gave the world a war film with aliens. While I appreciated the film’s ambition for such a low budget, the results are pretty much the same.

Tim Thomerson stars as The Sarge, a no nonsense, pissed off American GI who is in charge of a large platoon of soldiers in 1944Italy. After a large fire fight with most of his men dying, he and three other men go behind enemy lines to take on the Nazi’s but instead find a spaceship that looks to have accidentally crashed. Little do they know, the aliens are on our side and soon help these men take on the Nazi’s.

While the plot is pretty basic, I do enjoy its originality with the film makers trying hard to make a fun action film. However, due to low budget, there isn’t a whole lot of action scenes. In fact, there really is only one alien. Even the opening fire fight shows guys running around shooting at one another with no gun flare coming from their guns and some men falling down without getting hit by any bullets. It reminded me of when I was a kid playing with toy guns in the woods, only these are grown men with better uniforms. When there is no silly action scenes, most of the film is of these men bickering at one another. I couldn’t stand Timothy Van Patten’s “aw shucks” Joey who is about as smart as a pile of rocks. I do like character actor Art La Fleur (he and Thomerson would star together in Trancers, a much better but still cheap sci-fi film that came out the same year) but he and Thomerson are just not enough to keep me awake. In fact, I had to stop and start this film three times as I kept falling asleep while watching.

Fans of the genre will notice the make up effects are done by John Carl Buechler who did the effects for other Charles Band films like Troll and would later go on to direct Friday the 13th Part VII. Richard Band composed the music and certain musical cues are taken right from his own score of Re-Animator. Director Danny Bilson’s direction is rather plain and its no wonder he only directed made for TV movies and television episodes after Zone Troopers.

While I give credit to the cast and crew for trying something different, Zone Troopers is no better than Cowboys & Aliens in that the idea is interesting but the execution is just mediocre at best. I think if I saw this film at age nine, I would have loved it and maybe still enjoy it for nostalgic reasons. While MGM’s DVD-R looks very sharp and the trailer for the film plays better than the movie itself, don’t go out of your way in seeking this lost film out.

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