Color, 1984, 81 mins. 59 secs.
Directed by Glen Coburn
Starring Thom Meyers, Laura Ellis, Robert Bradeen, Big John Brigham, Glen Coburn, Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), Media Blasters (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)
A film that baffled more than a handful of horror video hounds in 1984, Bloodsuckers from Outer Space has gained a bit of a cult following over the years to those who share its goofball wavelength. Shot in Texas for chump change, it manages to beat the odds thanks to an expectedly clever and witty script which pokes fun at zombie and alien movies without being either condescending or cartoonish. Perhaps it's the Southern humor at work or just the sincerity of everyone involved, but it's an always engaging and strangely lovable gore fest that's thankfully survived long after many of its peers have perished. And hey, Return of the Living Dead even reused a major climactic scene one year later!
An alien contamination becomes adrift on the wind through a series of small towns, wreaking havoc and turning the townspeople into flesh-munching ghouls (though some still retain their manners). Photojournalist Jeff (The Nail Gun Massacre's Meyers) picks up a pretty hitchhiker, Julie (Ellis), on the way to see the relatives who are pressuring him to return home to run the farm, but upon arriving they find themselves fleeing across the backgrounds to get away from the encroaching zombie menace. Meanwhile the dubious scientists at a nearby research facility perform tests on the undead to figure out exactly what the heck's going on, but their boozing and carelessness don't inspire much confidence either.
While some of the gags threaten to stray into Attack of the Killer Tomatoes territory, this is thankfully a much more consistent and entertaining film thanks to its cheap but effective gore FX, some great deadpan delivery, and of course some T&A thrown in for good measure. Or maybe the whole thing's just a happy accident that happened to turn out highly entertaining while fulfilling the requirements of a "good" bad movie, as many of the performers are clearly inexperienced or flat-out awful; the extras here allow interpretation to go either way.
Director Glen Coburn (who also plays one of the stoner scientists) prepared a special edition DVD he sold directly on the web, but Media Blasters has repurposed it for mass consumption with the same loving care in 2008. The transfer looked good for the time, presented completely open matte with lots of extra headroom. Extras include a loving audio commentary with Coburn and a "Bloodsucker Reunion" featurette (31m18s), with the director and most of the cast and crew appearing to talk about the making of the film. (For some reason, the male participants far outweigh the female.) Everyone seems to have a solid grasp of this film's minor place in the cult movie pantheon, while many of the anecdotes are often hilarious, especially when discussing the odd cop sex scene and subsequent shower attack.
In 2018, Vinegar Syndrome brought Bloodsuckers from Outer Space back into circulation with a dual-format Blu-ray and DVD edition. The new 2K scam "from 16mm negative elements" is matted to 1.78:1, which focuses the compositions a little more but doesn't seem to affect things too much one way or the other; much more significant is the improvement in color and contrast, with more natural flesh tones and a warmer, more organic overall look. The original 16mm elements don't lend themselves to a lot of detail in wide shots, but the boost in detail (as well as more defined film grain) makes it a much more pleasing viewing experience. The LPCM English mono track (with optional English subtitles) isn't a sonic powerhouse by any means but definitely true to the source.
On the extras side, the Vinegar Syndrome starts over from scratch with Coburn and company returning for a whole new slate. An audio commentary with Coburn, Meyers, and cinematographer Chad D. Smith is amusing and full of anecdotes ("Is this a farm documentary?"), though there's a lot of echo and background noise that makes it inadvisable to try out with headphones. "34 Years Later" (51m45s) essentially updates the older featurette with Coburn charting his course from amateur short films to this homegrown production; he's also joined by other vets including Meyers, Smith, make-up artist Tim McDowell, sound man Michael Haines, and actors-Dan Gallion (the blood-barfing farmer), Kris Nicolau, and Dennis Letts, among others. In "Back To Bloodsucker Town" (15m51s), Smith kicks off a look at the Enloe, Texas locations then and now with some of the other interview participants chiming in about finding the various streets and storefronts. This piece also has some really odd, extreme motion blurring at times, so don't worry, it's not your player's fault. The goofy "Bloody Arm Rip 101" (4m44s) featuring the makers of Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer is a very cheerful, silly guide to replicating the arm chop using Black Cherry Kool-Aid and corn syrup, complete with a splattery ending. Finally you get a hefty gallery of production photos (10m22s).