The makers of the 1988 film “Alien from LA” chose to market their film with images like the one you see above. And why wouldn’t they? After all, they had landed Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model Kathy Ireland to be their leading lady. But, as you well know, truth in advertising is not a high priority in the movie industry. What you see above is actually one of the last images of the film. Miss Ireland spends most of the film in dirty rags, wandering around in the dark.
Ireland plays Wanda Saknussemm, a somewhat dorky southern California girl who works in her aunt’s burger joint. Things aren’t going well for Wanda since her boyfriend has chosen to dump her because…well, she’s a total drip. Then, Wanda receives word that her explorer father (Richard Haines) has died while exploring in Africa. Needing to prove that she really can be adventurous, she decides to head to Africa to get her dad’s things.
Upon arriving at the house where dear old dad stayed, she finds a tunnel which, surprise surprise, she falls through “Alice in Wonderland” style. After landing underground, she first meets Gus (William R Moses), a miner with a new claim and the world’s worst Australian accent. After Wanda does her part to get rid of some claim jumpers out to kill Gus, he agrees to take her into the city…the legendary Atlantis. It seems, perhaps, dear old dad is not dead but exploring the city.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the beautiful Atlantis we’re used to from other stories. This is a land of exposed pipes populated by outcasts from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” and Adam Ant music videos. The city is all abuzz with word that officials have captured an “alien” from the surface world. Perhaps it’s Wanda’s father. But, the flip side of this is that everyone is now on the lookout for other aliens. Unfortunately, Wanda sticks out like a sore thumb as she is so, as the locals say, “big-boned.” What tha?!?! Are they talking about her breasts!?!?
Anyhow, it doesn’t take long for Wanda to get separated from Gus. She ends up getting drugged by a resourceful low-life called Shank (Janet Du Plesis) who takes her to a crime lord with six-inch long eyelashes named Mambino (Deep Roy). What follows is mostly the same thing over and over…she escapes, she’s captured, she screams a bit. Along the way she gets some help from a guy named Charmin (Thom Matthews), has to deal with the evil General Pykov (Janet Du Plesis…again), and catches back up with Gus…all in the quest to locate Dad. Is it any surprise this film was featured on an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000?”
Remember when your Mom and Dad used to tell you, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” Well, here’s something nice: Some of the sets are interesting, and I will admit to a few moments of interesting camera work. Now, that the “something nice” part is out of the way…oh man, what were they thinking with this film? The story, literally, goes nowhere. You’re in trouble when the height of the action in your film is a supermodel wandering around in the dark!
The thing many people focus on with this film is Kathy Ireland’s acting ability, or lack thereof, and the incredibly annoying voice she employs for her character. I can understand why she was cast…she’s “big-boned,” after all. This was her first movie role and she’s done much better in other films, but this one could’ve killed her screen career before it even started. But, it’s unfair to heap all the complaints on her. The whole cast makes this one a struggle, with the possible exception of the always interesting Deep Roy. William R Moses’ Australian accent is so incredibly bad, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were banned from entering the country.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of “Alien from LA” will depend on your tolerance level for bad movies. You may find it unbearable, then again you may find it hilarious. Make no mistake, it’s bad…bikini or no bikini.