Review: ‘Niagaravation’

Low-budget schlocker bowing at SF21, the Boston area's 21st annual science fiction movie marathon, is limited to such specialty venues. It could also find a home among purveyors of grade-Z genre films, like cable's Mystery Science Theatre 3000 or Rhino Home Video.

Low-budget schlocker bowing at SF21, the Boston area’s 21st annual science fiction movie marathon, is limited to such specialty venues. It could also find a home among purveyors of grade-Z genre films, like cable’s Mystery Science Theatre 3000 or Rhino Home Video.

Shot over six years — as money and locations became available — the story is a spoof of alien invasion films, set in 1961. Aliens from the planet Humidor are suffering a drought and intend to steal Niagara Falls to replenish their water supply. Only a honeymooning couple (played by filmmakers Joe Romano and Maria Cristina Newsom) can battle the aliens and several other problems, including the ghosts of people who have died going over the falls.

The pluses are few but worth noting. Chief among them is the musical score by Rick Howard, who re-creates a bright, pre-Beatles sound for the film. Producer Newsom, as the nudgy bride, also helps the pic with a game performance.

Overall, while tyro director Romano does his best with his low budget, the campiness of the film never rises above the sophomoric. The aliens all look like humans badly made up, and one can see where the rubber appliances are separating from their heads. Later, they are defeated with special weapons that are obviously firing the novelty item Silly String.

The one exploitable commodity is that viewers of a certain age will get a kick out of seeing old-time horror movie host Zacherley as the narrator of the story. Given low-grade tech credits and amateurish production values, selling pic will remain an uphill fight.

Niagaravation

Production

A Panola Prods. presentation. Produced by Maria Cristina Newsom. Executive producers, Robert Newsom, Joe Romano, Maria Cristina Newsom. Directed by Joe Romano. Screenplay, Maria Cristina Newsom, Romano.

Crew

Camera, (Duart color) John Murphy; editor, Tony Pellegrino; music, Rick Howard, Romano; art direction, Newsom, Romano; costume design, Teresa Snider-Stein; sound, Kira Smith, Aaron Zimmerman, Felix Olivier, Sanjay Durani, Kevin Skvorak, Jennifer Schwartzoff, Lucia Davis, Gautem Dutta, Paul Schoenberger; assistant director, Nina Shaka. Reviewed at Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, Mass., Feb. 19, 1996 . (In SF21, 24 Hour Science Fiction Movie Marathon.) Running time: 91 MIN.

With

With: Joe Romano, Maria Cristina Newsom, Cathy Haase, Kimberly Anne Ryan, Jim Farmer, Hugh Hayes, Zacherley.
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