Wednesday, September 8, 2010

V is for Vlizard People

Recently I watched a miniseries that I hadn't seen since childhood--"V". V, as you may recall if you were a kid in the early '80s, was a made for TV movie that featured an invasion of Earth by an advanced alien army, made up of lizard people with fake human skin covering up their lizardness to fool bigoted humans who wouldn't have been all friendly to lizard people if they'd known of their lizard qualities. The "visitors" as the aliens are called, pretend to be our friends but are really--SPOILER ALERT!--planning to steal all of our water and use humans for food. (Likely they had stopped at a space-Denny's on the way to Earth and decided anything had to be better than that). The visitors wore bright red uniforms that had an '80s look with shoulder pads, sunglasses (due to Earth being all bright and all), and blaster guns.

The fascist-style takeover by the aliens was supposedly an allegory for the Nazi takeover of Germany and Europe--and just in case subtlety sneaks by you easily, their symbol is based on the swastika (an alien historian might have considered redesigning that before going to Earth, but fortunately no one in 1980s America had read a history book) and they marched around in jackboots alot. Plus, just in case you were really dense, the aliens initially rounded up human "scientists" for extermination, forcing the scientist families to hide in neighbors' houses, all Anne Frank style, and just to hit you over the head with it they even had an old Jewish guy saying that he had to hide the scientist family in his pool house because the same thing happened to his people forty years earlier. TOO SUBTLE!

Anyway, the humans finally organize an underground resistance, find some aliens who dissent with their leaders and help the humans out, discover a bacteria that kills only the aliens and somehow has no negative effect on anything else on earth (holy Deus ex Machina, Batman!), yadda yadda yadda, humans win. A few observations:

1) The aliens were really good about looking like humans--the fake faces fooled everyone until a human (played by the Beastmaster, Marc Singer!) saw a lizard-man out of his skin on the alien mothership. They even got the '80s mullets down pat! However, one would think with alien advanced technology they'd also figure out how to make their voices sound normal, or even wear human civilian clothes so they could infiltrate the humans better. Being dressed in bright scarlet uniforms is rather poor camouflage, unless you're going to war in Elton John's living room.

2) Speaking of alien technology, what is the deal with sci fi films acting like blaster guns are the best weapon to have? They're single shot--unlike a fully automatic rifle--and they shoot a lit up projectile that allows the target to see exactly where the shot is coming from. WTF?

3) Doesn't the fact that it is somehow important to the humans to show everyone that the aliens are really lizard people actually indicate our own prejudices? It's not as though the lizardness proves that they're aliens--humans knew the visitors were aliens the minute the mother ships arrived. We were supposedly all cool with them because they "looked like us". Doesn't it say something that we're more okay with killing people when we know they're different?

4) Freddy Krueger playing a kind hearted yet mentally challenged alien was a nice touch.

5) Michael Ironsides really couldn't hide his Canadian accent in this miniseries. I half expected him to pull up a dish of poutine and a Molsons and challenge Beastmaster to a game of hockey.

6) As the series progressed and the visitor troops became easy cannon fodder, the suspense dropped to about the same level of suspense I have over whether James Bond will survive one of his films.

7) For an advanced alien race, the visitors have a mother ship that's not even as well guarded as a suburban shopping mall. Apparently, no security cameras, safety doors, or even anyone at the landing bay checking IDs. I half expected to see rowdy teenagers hanging out spray painting in the access halls.

8) The Nazi allegory missed perhaps the key point about the Nazis--that the Nazis were altogether too human, just like us--not some alien race. Also, the Nazis didn't go around promising friendship and scientific advances. They basically announced themselves as forces of destruction! A more telling parallel might have been if the aliens were approaching, and humans became fearful and surrendered their rights for "security" against the common enemy, squashed dissent, and established fascism voluntarily on Earth.


  1. Is it wrong that I kind of want to see this? I've seen bits and pieces, and may have even watched the redux at one point, I can't recall.

    I love a good Michael Ironside (callsign: Jester) film.

  2. J, it's definitely entertaining, if at least for the '80s nostalgia value and outdated special effects. It's available on Netflix with live streaming.