Directed by Ted Nicolaou
Written by Charles Band & Jackson Barr
Starring – Robert Factor, Martha Quinn, Aaron Lustig, Michael Huddleston, Paul Hipp.
Out on DVD from 88 Films UK .
Bad Channels is a sci-fi comedy which tells the story of an invading alien taking over a small town Californian radio station, in order to hypnotise and shrink earth women for its collection back home. That is pretty much all that can be said for any synopsis.
The movie is basically critic proof. It is brought to us by writer / producer, Charles Band, the man who, in various writing, producing and directing guises, is responsible for well over a gazillion movies (mostly of the “B” variety), ranging from well received horror genre pieces, such as Puppet Master, through to the downright silly, like Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong – and including everything from thrillers to “erotic comedies” in between.
Although not as silly as something like Evil Bong, Bad Channels has an all pervading sense of fun and nicely captures the atmosphere of a 1950s “B” movie, coming across as something of an homage to what were, one presumes, the movies of Band’s childhood. It is this air of fun which makes criticising the film seem like a pointless and churlish exercise.
Now, Bad Channels is professionally made and obviously has some productions value (when compared to a lot of the stuff that manages to find release these days) and it is not as “out there” as, say, a Troma movie (nor, it should be made clear, is there any suggestion that it is trying to be). However, it is intentionally silly and lighthearted and some of the design is poor to the point of perfection in reflecting 1950s sci-fi schlock; the alien looks like he has a big rubber rock for a head and his robot sidekick looks like a refugee from a Smash commercial. Everywhere this horrible pair go, they cover everything in green rubber stuff and the alien carries a staff-like weapon which either makes people disappear, or gives them a nasty case of green jock strap rash all over their body.
Whenever the alien identifies a female target from his radio studio headquarters, he wiggles a lever about and the girl hallucinates being in some kind of promo video for whatever track the alien plays, seemingly going crazy to any onlookers, whilst, in her mind, she bumps and grinds along with the band. Eventually, this process ends with the victim (now only a few inches tall) teleporting into captivity in a test tube in the radio station. There was obviously some kind of deal with record companies in place here, or something going on, because for every kidnap scene, the audience is treated to an entire song – and guest appearance – from a different, awful, left-field rock band of some ill conceived sub genre or another (it was that early 90s period when cock rock was on the way out and ten tonnes of various shite were jostling to be the mainstream face of rock, a battle eventually won by grunge).
A proper “popcorn movie”, Bad Channels won’t revolutionise your life, but it will make you smile, which is a precious commodity itself in today’s world of torture porn, unhappy endings and rampant cynicism.