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#129 - Invasion of the Mindbenders (aka Alien High) (Eugenie Joseph; 1987)

By Dan Kinem

There’s some cult rarities that slip through the cracks, then there’s movies like this, that must have literally slipped into a crack in the earth which sent it back to the prehistoric times of the dinosaurs ala the 90s Land of the Lost show, because no one I know has ever said anything about this movie. I’ve never heard this one brought up in conversation or seen someone go after this tape. It doesn’t even have 20 votes or a review on IMDB. I mean, even Hellroller had at least one review! I don’t really know why, either, because this movie is a blast.

Despite advertising itself as a horror/sci-fi movie, it plays more like a teens-revolt-against-authority-type of movie (at least until the last 20 minutes). You know it’s going to be a romp, too, when the movie opens with people sliding down staircase railings, jocks slamming nerds into lockers, and even a giant food fight. What the hell is better and less realistic than a giant, entire school food fight?! Only a handful of things, maybe. This food fight sets the principal of the school on a disciplining rampage involving him failing to barb wire the entire school. When the barb wire fails, he finally settles on using mind-controlling experiments on the students. A Harvard graduate, Dr. Gunbow, has developed an experiment where a computer can program a bunch of random notes onto a CD, and when they are played long enough, the students will begin to feel whatever was typed into the computer. This highly plausible and scientifically proven theory actually works, all of the students begin to obey their every wish, except two hooligans.

Enter the pre-Bill and Ted, Bill and Ted (or as they’re known in this movie, Frankie and Crash). They run a Rock ‘n’ Roll radio station (which the principal also shuts down because it is “sexually provocative noise”) and devote their lives to RAWK. They manage to avoid the mind-changing music because they’re always wearing headphones! Blasting that R.O.C.K.! They team up with a nerd to put a stop to the principal and his dirty tricks, but little do they know, they have bigger fish to fry.

The principal writes into the machine that he wants to get rid of all non-violent behavior, because he doesn’t want “a bunch of pacifists.” This causes everyone to go insane and start breaking shit and fighting. There’s even a classic scene where a bunch of girls in a beauty class start beating the shit out of one another and light a girl’s hair on fire. Speaking of classic, nothing in this movie holds a candle to the scene where Crash and Frankie bust into a funky rap in the bathroom about why teachers are jerks for not letting them wear headphones. It’s a miracle on film.

The nerd, through his nerdy investigating, finds out the doctor never actually went to Harvard and that no one has ever heard of this experiment. He also finds out the only way to get them to change back to normal is to play loud music or scare them before orgasm. Crash immediately chimes in with, “I got it! We have everyone pull out their things and start to jerk off….” Then they cut him off for being an idiot, but oh how I wish the movie would have went in that direction. That would have been something to see.

By now the kids have turned into mindless, violent zombies and will stop at nothing to kill these disobeyers. That’s when they unveil the doctor as an alien and he shoots laser beams out of his eyes and freezes the principal.  The doctor even has the line (in case it was unclear since he still looks exactly the same), “Haven’t you figured it out? I’m an alien.” Thanks for clearing that one up, Doc. They run away and happen to find a record player and a loud speaker and through the power of rock ‘n’ roll they save the day. And in the most calm voice, the alien reveals his true form and says, “It was never our intent to harm you. We will meet again” and flies away.

It ends with Frankie and Crash realizing that rock saved everything and that all is back to normal, which causes them to scream BECAUSE THEY HATE ALL NORMAL THINGS! Get it?

I can’t get across to you how fun this movie is. I am so easily bored by bad movies, but this one holds your attention the entire time. It honestly feels like Rock ‘n’ Roll High School with a young Bill and Ted and aliens. Strangely enough, it was directed by one of the three directors of the movie Spookies, Eugenie Joseph, and is a much better and easier to understand movie, too. In America you might have seen it late night under the spoilerific name, Alien High, but for video market the name was changed. If you have the chance to watch this, do it. The VHS was released by Atlas Entertainment Corporation (most famous for releasing the rare Halloween Night aka Hack-o-Lantern). Their releases aren’t very common, but they’re really cool and worth grabbing when you see them. They pack the tapes with trailers and released some very interesting and unheard of films in the 80s and early 90s. Invasion has never been released on DVD and probably never will be. It’s just a lost gem of Canadian cinema that deserves more attention.

Filed under invasion of the mindbenders mind benders alien high genie joseph eugenie joseph teen revolt sci-fi horror atlas entertainment corporation roy thinnes montreal lee tergesen skip lackey vhs vhshitfest dan kinem 1980s 80s 1987

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