Monday, December 28, 2009

Plaguers (2008)

Directed by Brad Sykes
Starring Steve Railsback, Alexis Zobolis, Noelle Perris, Paige Le Pierre
Rated R

"You're more trouble dead than alive."

In the gooey, slime-dripping vein of 80's sci-fi/horror-mash-up Aliens (or, more accurately, dimestore Aliens knock-offs like Galaxy of Terror, Creepozoids, and Contamination) comes Plaguers, a spunky bit of outlandish space camp that pits sexy space pirates - disguised as mini-skirted, go-go booted nurses - against extra-dimensional, face-eating demons.

The story involves a fuel-transport ship called Pandora, which is listlessly floating back to Earth to bury its dead captain. Said deceased cap's girlfriend Darian Holloway (Alexis Zibolis) is now running the show, much to the chagrin of her motley crew. One fateful day, the Pandora gets a distress call from another ship nearby. They stop to investigate, and find a crew of gorgeous girls dressed in tight dresses and knee high boots wandering around the ship, dirty and disoriented. As it is lonely in space, Darian allows them to board the Pandora. Bad move.

Besides their new guests, the Pandora also picked up another stray along the way - a glowing green orb with mystical powers called Thanatos. The nurses, who are actually pirates in disguise, attempt to take over the ship, disturbing the magical ball. Somehow or another, it starts turning everyone into slavering cannibal demons. Mayhem ensues.

Toplined by Steve Railsback as a sympathetic man-droid, Plaguers is clearly a very low-budget effort - the ship miniatures are almost Ed Wood-ian - but it makes up for its threadbare qualities with a stripped-down, always-moving script and a cast of good-looking, enthusiastic newcomers.

Strangely, with one glaring exception, the actors all play this absurd premise as straight as possible, derailing the film's potential high-camp factor. And then there's Paige La Pierre. As Sadie, the most aggressive of the sexy space nurse/pirate crew, La Pierre chews the scenery wildly and gloriously, rampaging through the ship like a lusty, wild-eyed glamazon. Even with half her face ripped off, she's the hottest, wildest space-girl in this demon-possessed galaxy, and she tips the film over from agreeable time-waster to potential cult classic.

Plaguers may be the first DVD-era film that would actually make more sense on VHS, since everything about it positively screams Saturday night at Blockbuster Video in 1987. Egg crate spaceship? Check. Copious gore? Got it. Rampaging monsters? Sure, half a dozen of 'em.

In fact, the only missing factor is a high-profile scream queen (Tiffany Shepis must have been booked that weekend) and a slathering of gratuitous nudity. Luckily, according to the lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette included on the DVD, director Sykes claims that two sequels may eventually surface, so perhaps those glaring omissions will be rectified then. In the meantime, if you're looking to scratch that old retro junk-horror itch, Plaguers should do the trick.

Visit the official Plaguers Website!

- Ken McIntyre

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