Director – Sean S. Cunningham
Cast – Bruce Campbell, Chase Masterson, C. David Johnson, Kedar Brown, Andrew Tarbet, Sarah Lafleur, Marcia Bennett, Chuck Byrn, Jason Jones, Stephen Joffe, Hannah Lochner, Dylan Bierk, Ian Downie
Release Year – 2002
Reviewed by John of the Dead
It was late, I was bored, and the movie starred Bruce Campbell, so how could I not watch what I was sure to be a horrible B-movie. I planned to fall asleep by the end of the first act, but much to my surprise I instead found myself actually interested in the film and watching it until its conclusion. Sure Terminal Invasion is a cheesy experience that I would not recommend to the multitude of genre fans, but if you need some late night cheese and enjoy seeing Bruce do his thing then you might find yourself as surprised as I was.
When aliens in human disguise take over a rural airport during a heavy snowstorm, the grounded passengers must determine who is not of this Earth and put their fate in the hands of Jack (Bruce Campbell), a wiseass prisoner in transport to death row.
Going into this film I had no idea that it came from the same filmmaking duo behind Deep Star Six – director Sean S. Cunningham, famous for Friday the 13th, and writer Lewis Abernathy. The story starts off well, leaving our protagonists in a nowhere to run scenario as they are stuck in the isolated airport due to a snowstorm the pilot is refusing to fly in. To add to the headache they must wait in the lobby alongside a hardened criminal, Jack, who soon makes “waste” of his security escorts. The passengers subdue him, but soon enough they realize that he is the least of their concerns when the alien impostors begin attacking, and leaving a gooey mess in their wake. As expected, they must now rely on Jack and his ability to kill in order to escape this ordeal, and the remainder of the film focuses on their quest to survive the night and fly on home. Abernathy’s story does not try to be anything it is not and instead focuses on the important stuff, like kills and alien action. Much to my surprise this was a much better story than I anticipated, especially when I learned that this flick is really a TV movie.
Cunningham’s direction is fair and it seems he did what he could with what he had to work with given the film’s very low budget. While the flick will appear cheap at first, once things get going and the action kicks in I found myself surprisingly hooked. The gore is live-action and the look of the aliens is positive, but what really sold me is the tension and action when the passengers go on the run inside the small airport. Cunningham brought Abernathy’s story to life during these scenes and gave us a full-frontal view of the carnage. Of course, the film’s biggest, and maybe only selling point, is Bruce Campbell, and he is his usual awesome self. I’m sure he did not have to try very hard for his measly paycheck, but seeing him portray an alien-slaying death row inmate is something we may never see again.
Overall, Terminal Invasion is a surprisingly better film than I expected, but it is still a mediocre TV movie. If you enjoy seeing Bruce Campbell in action then you may enjoy this more than you should, as I did. Cunningham and Abernathy do a good job at making the rest of the film watchable and even enjoyable at times, so if you find yourself like I did then this may be worth a shot.