Filmmaker Fred Olen Ray spends most of his time these days producing Skinemax-ready movies like GIRL WITH THE SEX-RAY EYES and GENIE IN A STRING BIKINI or straight-to-video mediocrities like VENOMOUS under a variety of pseudonyms, but he'll always be best known for his golden days of exploitation pictures during the '80s when he made such memorable pictures as HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS and BEVERLY HILLS VAMP. Today's entry, 1980's THE ALIEN DEAD, predates those glory days, harking back to Ray's pre-Hollywood era when he made films in his native Florida with largely non-professional crews.
THE ALIEN DEAD--initially titled IT FELL FROM THE SKY, but changed to cash in on the success of ALIEN and DAWN OF THE DEAD--is about a fallen meteor that crashes in a Florida swamp, causing the dead to rise. A reporter named Corman (Ray Roberts), a backwater beauty (Linda Lewis), and the obligatory former B-movie veteran playing the sheriff (Buster Crabbe, this time around) attempt to figure out what's going on, but not before a whole lot of incidental characters are eaten by the amphibious zombies.
Say what you will about certain films of Ray's like ARMED RESPONSE and CYCLONE, they at least had the technical polish of professional films; this looks more like the kind of cheap regional production sicked up by Larry Buchanan or Don Dohler. Whether by accident or design the film recalls other aquatic zombie pics like SHOCK WAVES or ZOMBIE LAKE (though why you'd want your film to resemble that movie I don't know); there's a dash of primitive gore, including a still-breathing disemboweled corpse, and a sprinkling of unimpressive nudity, but it helps little in saving this suspense- and tension-free storyline. Ray does have a few sequences that could've been effective, but they're often ruined by a heinous bluegrass soundtrack that robs them of their potential.