Hooptober 9.0 – The Alpha Incident (1978)

Being Film #21 for Hooptober 2022

One of the themes of this year’s Hooptober marathon is taking a closer look at lower budget, regional filmmaking. Bill Rebane did a lot for filmmaking in general and specifically for the Midwest, creating the first full-time film studio there, as well as pioneering a 360 cinema view that kicked off all manner of technical innovations with cameras. So if his great ambitions sometimes exceeded his grasp as an actual filmmaker, I’m okay with that. Case in point: The Alpha Incident, which from an execution perspective is rough at best but manages as cruel commentary I haven’t yet shaken from my mind.

THE QUICK SUMMARY: When a space probe from Mars returns to Earth, the scientists have a field day studying the mysterious organism brought back. Due to its volatile nature, they of course decider the best course of action is to transport it via overnight train up north to a hidden base, with only a study biologist to oversee it. Well, before you know it a clumsy train hand breaks lens of the bottles thinking it’s just medicine and soon a small train station and its five people are put under quarantine. And they can’t call asleep because, you see, this pesky space organism will make your head explode the second you close…your…eyes…

If we’re going by sheer execution The Alpha Incident is a terrible film. It’s essentially a pot boiler as we watch the people in the train station fight and argue over being quarantined, and then have the further pressure of not being to fall asleep for fear of having the organism attack: there’s something about sleep that makes the body ripe for the space bacteria to attack, causing the brain to swell until the head explodes…at least that’s it does to mice in one quick shot. Other than that there’s a few scenes intercut at a lab where two scientists say nonsense science words and try to throw break the monotony of 90 minutes watching 4 people in a train station. It doesn’t help that the film looks to be out of print – from a streaming perspective there are various VHS rips available on YouTube you can watch which only adds to the frustrating nature of the film.

And yet…

The movie also has a vicious mean streak when it comes to its nihilistic point about the government, and their use of its citizens. In a way it takes its inspiration from early George A. Romero, especially its very quick ending where things come to a head (sorry not sorry) for everyone when its announced that a cure has been found. It’s a cure, but not what the poor infected people might are looking for…

Here’s your one gore scene

Those looking for a good film will be disappointed. Those looking for excessive gore will likewise be disappointed – there is ONE scene of a head exploding and, well…spoilers:

But despite all that I can’t quite shake how bleak and effective that ending is, so if you’re going to check The Alpha Incident out, there is that to look forward to.

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