There’s a new and wonderful Live Tweet on Twitter.com named #SatMat. It takes place at 4:30 p.m. EST every Saturday and is devoted to Saturday-matinee-type movie fare.
In a momentary lapse of taste, the good people who run #SatMat have allowed me to choose the movie for Sat., Sept. 12. I have chosen Strange Invaders (1983), a little-seen but truly cult-worthy science-fiction movie that is both a send-up and tribute to the rich genre of 1950’s sci-fi.
Paul LeMat (American Graffiti) plays Charles Bigelow, a divorced etymology professor. Charles is asked by his ex-wife Margaret (Diana Scarwid of Mommie Dearest) to watch their daughter for the weekend, as Margaret must go back to her hometown of Centerville, Illinois to attend her mother’s funeral.
When Margaret doesn’t return for several days and cannot be reached by phone, Charles takes it upon himself to drive to Centerville and find Margaret. But when Charles gets to Centerville, he can’t help but wonder: Why doesn’t anyone know where or even who Margaret is? Why do the townsfolk still dress like they’re in the 1950’s? And what have they done with Charles’ dog?
This is stylish sci-fi heightened to an almost burning crisp. What saves it from campiness are co-writer and director Michael Laughlin’s heartfelt respect for some initially one-note characters, and (to the last actor) the cast’s delightfully deadpan performances of those characters. Besides LeMat and Scarwid, that excellent cast includes Nancy Allen (Blow-Out), Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), a very touching Michael Lerner, and Fiona Lewis in a brief but memorable turn as the most assertive Avon Lady you’ll ever see.
I appreciate having the opportunity to blog about movies that people might never otherwise learn about. Do yourself a favor, and schedule 90 minutes this Saturday for, by turns, a funny, scary, and riveting science-fiction movie that…well, they don’t just not make ’em like this anymore, they hardly ever make ’em like this at all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qegTbAKMsg #SatMat