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THE ALPHA INCIDENT (1978)

Article 2887 by Dave Sindelar 
Viewing Date: 4-3-2009
Posting Date: 7-9-2009
Directed by Bill Rebane
Featuring Stafford Morgan, John J. Goff, Carol Irene Newell
Country: USA

A group of people are quarantined in a small railroad station when they become infected with a microorganism from outer space. Since the microorganism is only activated by sleep, they must try to stay awake while scientists find a cure.

When I first began posting to message boards, whenever the subject of the worst directors of all time came up, my favorite one to nominate was Bill Rebane. I'd only seen three of his movies at this point (this one, MONSTER A-GO-GO and THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION), but they were enough for me. Nowadays, I'm not so sure; I don't really hold him responsible for the worst of this lot (MONSTER A-GO-GO) as it was only partially his and wouldn't have been released had Herschell Gordon Lewis not bought the footage and added his own, and I've seen enough movies by the likes of Jerry Warren to make me realize that there are far worse directors out there.

Still, this movie marked my first encounter with him and I ended up hating the movie with a passion when I first saw it years ago. I saw it when it popped up in the waning days of my local Creature Feature, and the combination of slow pace, unlikeable characters, bad special effects and downbeat ending left me with the feeling that my Creature Feature was indeed scraping the bottom of the cinematic barrel.

The movie itself is something of a low-budget THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN crossed with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with touches of THE CRAWLING HAND. Watching it again, I do feel compelled to give it some credit; it's not near as boring as it could have been (I was able to sit through the whole thing in one sitting), and certain scenes did wedge themselves into my memory from my first viewing (which is more than some other movies did). I still dislike it, though; the characters remain unlikeable, and once the basic premise is set up, the character interactions become repetitious and tiresome. The John J. Goff character is the worst. He has three character interactions: he whines to the doctor about govenment involvement in his life, tries to come on to the sole woman present, and torments the shy, meek office worker (played by Ralph Meeker, the only name I recognized in the cast), and his character is given the most lines. The script is full of bad dialogue, and the acting doesn't redeem it much, and the cynical undercurrent that pervades the whole movie just makes watching it an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If the ratings on IMDB are any indication, this is Rebane's best movie.

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