The Alpha Incident from 1978 is a Rebane film through and through. Twenty weeks ago I didn’t know the man’s name. Now he’s like my second father and I’d be able to sniff out one of his movie’s in a heartbeat. Smart hero who keeps quiet (mostly do to lack of acting ability)? Check! Random dance scene without a purpose? Yes of course! That weird sort of random chord that counts as music? As always. Unnecessarily complicated scientific background? Well, we saw it in Giant Spider Invasion. But even though I can guess the structure of every one of his movies now, I really have grown fond of this man. Even if The Alpha Incident is pretty shit.
The story begins with two scientists: one pre-dating Jeff Goldblum and the other is literally just a talking beard. I seriously never saw the man’s mouth move ones. Just the occasional beard twitch. The two are talking about their current project. A mission from Mars has returned with an organism that could kill the entire planet. They are informed that the organism is to be moved. Both think it’s a bad idea, and so do I.
For some illogical but plot-driven reason, the organism has to be transported via train to its new location outside Denver, Colorado. Boring Hero #1 and Hank the Idiot are the only two one the journey. Of course Hank digs through the cargo because he was told not to and gets contaminated. But it’s not fun when only two people die, so it’s time to spread some deadly Martian organisms! Along the way the train has its stops, but the next one will be it’s last. One of the stops is, of course, Moose Point, Wisconsin because where else in the world would a Bill Rebane film take place? Here are two employees and the local guy who has to be a jerk to everyone for no apparent reason other than to be the antagonist dick of the story.
Hank and Boring Hero #1 hop off the train and Hank instantly touches everyone and, of course, contaminates them and sentences them all to their doom. Once Boring Hero #1 figures out what happened, he tells the other four that they are quarantined until the scientists (Goldblum and Beard) figure out the cure. So there’s nothing else left to do but sit and wait. As exciting as that sounds, that is the only thing they do besides the occasional attempt to run away and have Boring Hero #1 shoot them.
As the resident sexy female Jenny says, “I’m sitting here waiting for something to happen only I don’t know what it is.” Me too, Jenny. Me too.
I have almost nothing to say about this movie. It plays out almost exactly like one would think only minus a plot and any action. But The Alpha Incident‘s real crime is saving all the action for last. There’s so much time spent waiting for something to happen that all the final action literally happens within the last ten minutes (I checked).
In a way, I could see that this might have been a sort of trying to emulate what George Romero’s work on Night of the Living Dead was: people of differing tempermants stuck together in a small space, all with different ideas of solving the problem at hand. Alpha Incident attempts to recreate the feeling of “everything goes to hell all at once” feeling, but unfortunately, this movie doesn’t do anything like what Romeo created. With all the action directly in the end, everything happens so quickly and the attempts to make suspense don’t work at all.
If anything, this film is pretty fun to watch for the last 10 minutes. Worth checking out that bit, at least. If I learned anything from the movie it’s this: never, ever spend time with your co-workers.