Friday, February 18, 2011

Film #55: Altered (2006)

Aliens have a raging affair with rednecks.
The lovefools just can’t keep their probes out of those good olde boys.
And who can blame the little green love machines? Just look at those hicks; their jiggling hairy beer bellies; the Kentucky Waterfall greased by years of bath-aversion; the black corn teeth festering behind blistered lips.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, hooooot.

The aliens in this week’s flick, Altered, are no different than their saucer-driving counterparts. Somewhere in the Deep South 15 years ago, five t'ween yokels were abducted by rapey ETs and made into lab gerbils. All but one finally returned, but faced ridicule after explaining their disappearance with tales of prison-tough space men.

The t'ween kept captive the longest by the aliens, Wyatt, decided he had enough of alien-play-time when he got back and self-removed an alien-GPS from his innards. Then, he went into hiding.
The other three survivors made it a habit of returning to their abduction site to try to trap/kill/probe the aliens that turned their lives into a post-traumatic hell.

Call it Southern ingenuity, or just dumb luck, but the SOBs actually managed to capture one of the ferocious Venusians. With pissed off outer space buddies hot on the missing alien’s trail, the rednecks freak out and search for a place to not only hide, but exact their revenge on their alien.
“Let’s take it to Wyatt; he lived with them the longest! He’ll know what to do!” they say.

Wyatt is not very pleased to see his fellow abductees for the first time in years, who have more than just a touch of bad yellow alien blood between them. Kill the alien, Wyatt warns, and other aliens will kill them. And he doesn’t just mean them them, but all of human kind them.
The aliens are so superior, it would be more a slaughter than a war, he warns.

What follows is a tension dance over just what to do with their alien, and later, how to avoid it killing them.

And you thought the government goons in ET were the bad guys. They were just trying to save us from the alien apocalypse! Not so much? Well, yeah, thing is, Altered’s aliens aren’t like ET. They are strong, clawed, telepathic, and don’t like warm-touch fingering humans. Then again, who does?

Will the four intergalactic travelers find the forgiveness and compassion to spare the alien’s life, thereby sparing humanity? Is Wyatt somehow the key to all mankind’s survival? Just what do aliens find so fascinating about human intestines?
Find out, in the 2006 splatter horror/sci-fi film, “Altered.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 4.5
Chris Dimick probes:
“I believe in aliens. There, I said it. And if you believe too, you shouldn’t be ashamed. Science and logic are on our side.
With billions and billions of stars in the universe supporting billions and billions of planets, the chances are more than good that Earth isn’t the only place that has developed intelligent life.

The bigger question people should ask is not if alien life exists, but whether it could travel to Earth. This I also believe is possible, given the right technology (wormholes anyone?).

But why would aliens travel millions of light years across open space, risking life and antennae, just to abduct and study backwoods rednecks? Why don’t they just plop their space ships down on the White House lawn and announce to the world “What up bitches! Let’s party!”
Why do they always seem to just mutilate cattle and rape morons?

The answer is simple: the mullet.

Yes, from Billy Ray to Altered character Duke, the mullet is so enchanting that aliens have come billions of miles to Earth to study it. Who can blame them? The mullet defies all science. There is business in the front, but party out the back! “Illogical,” Spock, an alien, would scream at the sight.

It’s more than a hairstyle, it is a religion and probably the key to all happiness (You never know…). Mullets take patience to grow, dignity to maintain, and hair gel to grease.
A mulleter in the 21st century has to sport chutzpa to rock a glorious mud flap, and are due an examination by an alien race as to their ability to shield all pop culture and preppy distain.

From the outside looking in, the aliens must think of mulleters as our leaders. The haircut screams pure intelligence (why choose between long or short hair when you can have them both) and steadfast resolve to habit.
What can’t a redneck teach the aliens that a Congressman would? Could Obama teach ET to hate other races and chug a 1/5 of Jack?
A direct path to understanding human kind is to “follow the mullet,” as aliens like to say.

In addition to its beautiful display of white trash language and streaming mullets, Altered has even more to offer than an explanation for extraterrestrials efforts. Directed by The Blair Witch Project’s co-creator Eduardo Sánchez, the film packs the edge of Blair Witch while backing up the scare with brilliant special effects.

This was more than just a monster on the loose movie. Pockets of depth lined this premise, with apocalypse undertones and an X-Files type mystery feel to the plot.

The tension hummed steadily as the main players first fought, then defended against the alien. And let’s talk about that alien. He was a badass, a mix between Independence Day’s intelligent war hawks and Predator’s man-rippers.

The piece is pure in its intentions, to scare and disgust in equal measure. But Sanchez never trades effects for story, balancing both among dramatic dialog exchanges and freaky twists. Altered is a fresh take on the scary alien – its tone is like the film “Signs,” but with more punch and bite. Literary, the aliens bite.

Why do aliens abduct rednecks so often? The same reason it was great to watch them in this film.
They are rowdy, spontaneous, foul-mouthed, unintelligent and disorganized… yep, sounds like a representation of mankind to me.”

N-Rating: 4.2
Nick Rich probes:
"It feels strange to say, but who knew mullets could be so refreshingly fun? I genuinely forgot how much fun it is to watch rednecks (and their illustrious plumage) flail around in situations that are way beyond their depth.

First things first: you may notice that Chris and I are quite worked up by the mullet factor in this film... and rightfully so! The mullet is the universal symbol for "you are about to have a rockin' time" and it doesn't take itself seriously, so you can enjoy a guilt-free laugh at its expense (which is truly priceless). Yes, I referred to the mullet as I would a person... if you have a problem with that I suggest you take it up with him.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to Altered! What can I say? It was a fun-filled romp that had just about everything you could want in a sci-fi horror film offering. As mentioned, it is set in the Deep South complete with stereotypical characters, which in other instances might seem clichè, but in this film it truly worked. Chris and I were instantly put at ease with the film once we heard the ornery spewings of the puffed up redneck and witnessed the luscious mullety locks of the lead redneck swaying in the moonlight - it was like going in for a job interview and having the interviewer throw away their question list and instead opt to ask you what you thought of last night's episode of Fringe; instant ease. Needless to say this loosened us up nicely, allowing us to enjoy the ride the remainder of the film would present.

And present it did! I went into this film knowing nothing about it, but somehow assumed that it would be a low-budget film (possibly because of the Blair Witch connection, which makes no sense because that film made like a bajillion dollars) and boy-howdy was I wrong!
The acting was appropriate (except for the girlfriend, who was a bit stiff), the effects were extremely well done (and squirm-worthy!) and the story had a freshness to it. I dug that the story tried to be more than a simple monster mash, but for my money, there were some gaping holes in the logic at times... not enough to make me enjoy the film less, but enough to make Altered fall short of being an A-list film.

But the universe is as it should be, because somehow this film just wouldn't feel right if it were A-list (aka business)... there'd be no room for the party in the back! And while Altered may not be the smartest film in the world, in this case, country don't mean dumb.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you're in the mood for a workhorse film that will entertain and make you jump... or if you've ever wondered who would win in the coming war between rednecks and aliens."

Things We Learned From Altered:
-If you grow a mullet, you give up the right to be a human.
-Harpoons are ineffectual weapons when hunting aliens.
-Best way to wake up is with a whiskey bottle.
-Hillbillies love guns, “because guns are awesome.”
-Nick thinks the lead actor is comparatively more attractive than his onscreen wife.
-There is nothing worse than infected junk.
-Even in the 21st century, rednecks still love them some Confederacy.
-Human intestines fascinate aliens.
-Beer can disinfect a bear trap wound:

RDHP Salute:
The mullets! The drinking! The cussing! The stupidity! What’s not to love about rednecks? They are the sons of the Earth, drinking shine and spouting nonsense. Whether you like your rednecks white trash or cowboy, there is a genre for every preppy city-slicker to detest.
Below, we give a random salute to all things redneck, which could serve as a crash course on the species for any aliens reading. All hail rednecks! May your mullets grow long and your sister’s remain doable!

They love guns:

And gittin' dirty:

They outpopulate "normal" people:

Because even their men can get preggers:

They aren't very active in politics:

But can be ingenius when necessary:

Best of all, they know how to really unwind:


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