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The year was 1997, I was more than three years deep into an X-Files obsession, and the Independence Day VHS had a lenticular, exploding Whitehouse front cover. It seemed like aliens were everywhere--on-screen media, magazines, inside 50 cent sticker machines, and I was in heaven. Little RevTerry, like others around my age, was entirely dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life or at least fascinated with the idea of flying saucers and small humanoids with big eyes. I consumed every book on UFOs at the library, read all the magazines at the store (without paying), and begged my parents (unsuccessfully) for every product that sported the cliche alien head. Not by chance, this would lead to my first run-in with the Polonia brothers. One night at the video rental store, I was forced to make a choice for my part of the weekend's movies. I could only pick one tape, and in the final moments, it came down to either Polonia's Feeders or Roswell (1994) starring Kyle McLachlan. The film's cover stuck in my mind even when, in the end, I picked what promised to be a dramatized retelling of actual events and left with Roswell. The next week, the tape was gone, and It would be many years till I finally found out what I had truly held in my tiny undeveloped hands.
A ship arrives at Earth, depositing it's conquering off-world contents to wreak havoc on the human inhabitants below. The little unearthly monsters waste no time hunting down unexpecting victims in the forested area of their touchdown. At the same time, Derek (Jon McBride) and Bennett (John Polonia) are roaming the same woods on a road trip to the "coast" while making a few stops to hit on women and take pictures. Unfortunately for the boys, the journey gets detoured when a bloodied man runs in front of their car. Being responsible youngsters, they take the stranger to the closest town. Things go downhill from there as parties get ruined, dead people give birth, and the galactic newcomers come for the duo.
Feeders is a bloodthirsty alien invasion with the body of a low-end slasher made in the backyard with love and duct tape. With high ambition, wide-scale implications, and more energy than resources, the film runs headfirst into a world-shaking plot, armed with nothing more than grade-school crafts. It moves fast enough, and that keeps it from being boring, but the real entertainment value comes from the dialog, which elicits giggles consistently. Between surprise attacks and a claustrophobic conclusion, if the antagonists weren't green toys from space, it could easily be a tame, no-budget summer camp horror film. Maybe the visitors have big plans for Earth, it's hard to know. The assault is less than targeted, and they just send a few snarling foot soldiers that eventually become exclusively focused on two random dudes. These invaders come from far away to ravage some example victims; before showing off their cooler powers in a final battle with insignificant slackers looking for tail. Storywise, the mini first contact situation is straightforward, whether or not the alien strategy makes sense. Aliens are killing people--the end. However, this movie pays out to those who pay attention, not because there is any message or deeper meaning but because each line and detail is an almost calculated misfire. Soaked in pure entertainment, the movie's delivery and content is an immaculate mix of gung-ho and inept. I could elaborate on the plot's intricacies, but that won't explain its charm-- also, there aren't any intricacies.
After what seems like the basic slideshow for a 90s ufologists documentary narrated by a high schooler, the film gives a computer-generated view of a spacecraft flying through space. As far as digital effects, it's more than dated, and even in the 90s, it's pretty far from Hollywood. To be fair, I remember being stoked about CG cartoons like ReBoot at the time this came out, so this backyard version is relatively admirable. The cheap, computer game graphic flying saucer makes other appearances looking increasingly unrealistic against the grainy landscapes on which it is superimposed. The movie's shot on video picture quality is inconsistent, shifting defective traits back and forth. Sometimes, the result is that beautiful neon ghosting you only get from a camcorder, used tape, and degradation. While most of the film makes do with whatever illumination is available at the time, there are some experimental choices during the last quarter in this regard. In the first chunk of action, the picture is washed out by the natural sunlight in the forest where it's filmed, mimicking a family's documentation of their fishing trip. This is contrasted later by the night-time indoor scenes where shadows should get first billing, and the colors engulf the subjects. The framing and camera work seem to tribute 50s monster movies with sloppy edges. Homemade gore makes an occasional appearance, usually little more than a red mess on the actors.The most ambitious example is a decapitation scene that is nothing if not pure comedy. Noticeably, the film lacks any sleaze outside of some bad flirting techniques. The lack of nudity somehow gives it a strange wholesome vibe, although I'm sure they would have added some if it was possible at the time. Everything in the feature is proudly amateur, half-assed, and rushed to cheesy perfection. However, it's all done with a sense of enthusiasm and love that speaks to me on levels I can't explain to the average earthling.
The gum wrapper jewel on the film's crown is the rubbery aliens themselves. Being operated from off-screen, the handcrafted creatures (with motionless mouths) are a sinister take on the era’s little green men cliche. From certain angles, they have an awesomely gross look to them, like a petrified loogie. The detail would be impressive as fuck if they weren't completely static. In action, the whole effect is somewhere between an outdoor minstrel puppet show and some kids recording action figures in tall grass. They come with some Critters-like grumbling and have a purple version of predator vision, which I thought was a nice touch. In all honesty, I have some deep love for these frugal monster effects, and once they popped on screen, the film had won over my heart. Just like everything else on display, they aren't what you can call good by most standards, but with little to no money, someone made these bulbous headed gremlins and brought them to life. I can't exactly give you a good reason why, but I'm glad they did.
The low budget, EBE assault was directed by Jon McBride, John Polonia, and Mark Polonia in 1996 from a script by Mark. Some tactical timing around Roland Emmerich's ID4 saw the film being picked up by the behemoth Blockbuster, and it became the chain's most rented title for the year. Two years later, the brothers released a sequel that brought the invasion to the holiday season, with a new set of characters to eat. By the time the first one was released, the Polonias had already released around nine films. Several included co-director McBride as well in various roles. The legendary figures would continue to make films at a rapid pace before John's unfortunate death in 2008. Since then, Mark has continued the prolific legacy, with a range of small, independent projects, including some with Amityville in the title, sharks, and even a few Camp Bloods. The duo's body of work is as entertaining as it is notorious. There is an unstoppable soul to each project and a unique eye to creative problem-solving. To this day, Mark Polonia's output holds on to the spark that makes each thrifty undertaking an outsider masterpiece in its own right. It's hard to pin that quality down, but it exists between an inspirational act of loving dedication to a craft, no matter the odds and a loud middle finger to the expected standards that surround the industry.
Like a finger painting on a fridge, Feeders is grade Z filmmaking at its most pure. It exploits a trend, bites off more than it can chew, and feels like it was made in one day. Above all, it's a lot of fun. If you want a riveting story, good craftsmanship, and realism, look somewhere else. In fact, if you want what is typically called a film, this is not for you. This is some goofy shit. But if like me, you have a taste for the silly trash of the world, this is a genuine, unfiltered brand in a 44-ounce plastic cup. Nobody does bad movies like the Polonias. If it sounds like your thing, grab some intoxicated friends and get ready to take on fake-looking shot on video aliens. I like to keep a copy close. That way, if by chance space-beings show up, we can all have a good laugh… before they dissect me or whatever. 
1h 9min | 1996
Directors: Jon McBride, John Polonia and Mark Polonia
Writer: Mark Polonia


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