The Alien Dead (1980)
The Alien Dead (1980)
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The Alien Dead Review – This Notoriously Bad 80s Zombie Flick is a Lovable Trash Masterpiece

The Alien Dead (1980) – Review of the Deliriously Inept Zombie Cult Classic

Let’s be honest here – The Alien Dead is a certifiably bad movie. Like, really, really bad. We’re talking acting so wooden you could start a forest fire, special effects that look like they were crafted by a kindergarten craft class, and a plot so riddled with holes you could drain pasta with it. And yet…there’s just something utterly charming and entertaining about this amateurish low-budget zombie schlockfest from 1980. It achieves that magical “so bad it’s good” status that has turned many a trashy horror flick into a beloved cult classic.

I mean, where do I even start? A meteor crashes into a houseboat in the Florida swamps, turning the passengers into cannibalistic undead ghouls who start munching on the local gator population. From there, it devolves into a kaleidoscope of deliciously cheesy tropes – the dumb blonde in constant peril, the gruff no-nonsense sheriff who seems perpetually confused, zombie attack scenes so over-the-top it’s hard not to crack up. The whole shebang is amplified by brilliantly amateur execution at every level – hilariously stiff line delivery, shoddy makeup effects, and direction so inept you’ll be in a constant state of disbelief that this movie even exists.

But you know what? That’s precisely what makes The Alien Dead such a hoot to watch from start to finish. Writer/director Fred Olen Ray’s micro-budget living dead romp wholeheartedly embraces its own ineptitude with a goofy, infectious sense of fun. For fans of entertainingly terrible B-movies from horror’s peak sleazy era, it’s an absolute must-see experience in transcendent trashterpiece terribleness.

The Alien Dead (1980)
The Alien Dead (1980)

Let’s review The Alien Dead (1980)

So let’s dive deeper into the cinematic train wreck that is The Alien Dead. The plot, such as it is, follows our ragtag group of Floridian stereotypes as they start to realize something isn’t quite right in the swamps. Seems the zombie meteor crash victims have developed a hankering for human flesh after mowing through the gator population.

And boy, does the acting deliver in spades when it comes to overblown regional accents and character cliches. Buster Crabbe, in his final film role as Sheriff Kowalski, sounds like he’s gargling marbles half the time as he grumbles out his lines. The rest of the cast appears to have been plucked right off the street, from the scream queen blonde Shawn to her cartoonishly gruff father Emmett. It’s all so deliriously amateurish, you can’t help but crack up.

Speaking of cracking up, the unintentionally hilarious highlights are too numerous to count. There’s the inexplicable use of a twangy country ballad that plays over one of the zombie attack scenes. The endlessly silly zombie make-up that looks like leftovers from a community theater production of Night of the Living Dead. And my personal favorite – the moment when a character who’s just been grievously zombie-mauled is shown breathing heavily on the ground…while missing the entire lower half of his body. Subtlety, thy name is not The Alien Dead.

What really puts this one over the top into “best worst movie” territory is just how much bargain basement fun Ray seems to be having. It’s almost as if he’s daring the audience not to be entertained by the unrelenting onslaught of ineptitude. Well, consider that dare accepted and a raucous drinking game created. Because yeah, The Alien Dead is hands-down one of the most disastrously amateurish horror flicks I’ve ever seen. But it wholeheartedly embraces that beautifully schlocky spirit in a way only a true B-movie classic can.

The Alien Dead (1980)

As joyfully incompetent as the acting and zombie antics are, the technical merits of The Alien Dead are a masterclass in micro-budget limitations. The production values make your average student film look lavish by comparison. Watch closely and you’ll notice the same few indoor sets being endlessly recycled – the police station, the redneck household, the seedy bar. It’s all just different wigs on the same ramshackle sound stage.

The cinematography has all the finesse of a neighborhood kid filming their backyard haunted house. Scenes linger awkwardly, edits don’t match, continuity is a mere dream. In one unforgettable sequence, we see a character’s bloody makeup visible for a few frames before he’s even attacked! Such artless delights are around every corner.

Then there’s the special effects, which can best be described as…well, there’s not much effort put into describing them, really. The zombie makeup looks like it was done by a blind technician. The gore effects are so charmingly cheap and unconvincing that you’ll be doubling over with laughter. Heck, the climactic meteor crash that starts the whole shebang looks like it was rendered by an 8-year-old painting sparklers.

And yet, through all this amateurish mess, The Alien Dead remains a tonally committed piece of zombie schlock. There’s no winking at the camera, no self-aware satire. Just an earnestly inept D-movie monster flick that has singlehandedly rewritten the rules of what makes a “bad” movie an enduring cult classic. For fans of transcendently terrible B-grade horror, it’s an absolute must-watch experience.

So go ahead, grab some friends, some beers, and bask in the gloriously shoddy spectacle that is The Alien Dead. You’ll be too doubled over in laughter to even think about being scared. And really, what more could you want from an ultra-low-budget zombie romp? It celebrates its own awfulness with such lovable ineptitude that it becomes a paradoxically entertaining experience. An instant “so bad it’s good” classic was born.

Stream and Watch The Alien Dead for free!

If this review has piqued your interest in experiencing the “so bad it’s good” phenomenon that is The Alien Dead, you’re in luck. Right now, this amateurish zombie schlock-piece is available to watch for free on the Plex streaming service at

Fire up that cult classic and bask in its gloriously inept glory from the comfort of your own home. Revel in the wooden acting, the bargain basement effects, the near-indescribably cheap production values. It’s an endearing cinematic disaster of the highest order that has rightly achieved cult status.

The Alien Dead (1980)

For the true fans and collectors, you can even get your hands on a physical copy from the usual outlets like Amazon. Whether you opt for the DVD, Blu-Ray, or even the long out-of-print VHS tape, owning The Alien Dead is like holding a lovable piece of B-movie history in your hands.

However you experience this notorious low-budget zombie flick, just go in with the right mindset. Don’t expect high art or technical craft. Expect an amateurish train wreck so inept and endearingly shoddy that it achieves a sort of beautifully schlocky entertainment value. The Alien Dead wholeheartedly embraces its own disastrous cheapness with a celebratory enthusiasm that is impossible to resist for fans of truly terrible-yet-beloved cult cinema. It’s the perfect bad movie experience for anyone seeking an utterly inept zombie romp. Just try not to laugh too hard.

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