Before this week, I’d never seen a “film” by the Polonia brothers. I was certainly aware of the oeuvre of the twins, Mark and John, from Pennsylvania, but something in my primal instinct kept me away from their shot-on-video titles like SPLATTER FARM (1987) and SAURIANS (1994). With their bespectacled and mustached look (surely the envy of hipsters everywhere) the brothers set out to do their own thing in as they made no budget affairs in hometown. In the mid-1990s, the brothers Polonia teamed up with shot-on-video powerhouse Jon McBride, director of CANNIBAL CAMPOUT (1988), the film that still haunts Tom’s nightmares. The resulting feature was the alien invasion flick FEEDERS (1996). If you haven’t seen FEEDERS (and I’m going to assume you are sane and have not), the plot revolves around two buddies – Derek (Jon McBride) and Bennett (John Polonia) – cruising around the Pennsylvania countryside where they encounter a deadly group of carnivorous extra-terrestrials. The film ends with Derek killing his friend Bennett, who had been cloned by the nasty E.T.s, and running wild on the streets as aliens zap buildings (allowing for demolition footage). The final shot is a fleet of UFOs heading towards Earth, leaving audiences dreading the idea of a FEEDERS 2.
Daughter: “When is Santa bringing us presents?”
Bernice: “In about one more day.”
Alan (whispering): “Only if daddy gets paid tomorrow.”
Wait…so you haven’t bought any presents and plan to do your shopping on Christmas Eve? Someone needs to introduce Alan and Bernice to layaway. That evening Alan is woken up by some strange lights outside his house and sees a UFO. The craft’s inhabitants beam down and quickly take up residence in Alan’s basement. However, THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983) this is not as the beasties mainly freak out the family dog and cause the lights to flicker off and on for the film’s first hour.
“I’m the mannnnn in the box!”
only slightly more of a script. The idea of Santa Claus whooping ass on screen isn’t exactly anything new. René Cardona had him fighting the devil himself in SANTA CLAUS (1959) and ol’ Saint Nick had already fought aliens in SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964). However, it is a rather novel concept for the shot-on-video realm, where the finding new ways to hide blood tubing is considered a major achievement. Unfortunately, the Polonias do very little with it and their filmmaking skills are pretty shoddy. As mentioned earlier, just as Santa works his way into the picture and things pick up, he is summarily forgotten for the McBride flashback which offers nothing to the film but padding. I kid you not, after he gives us a recap of the events of the first film, McBride just shrugs his shoulders and walks off camera, never to be seen again. The script is about as anemic as aliens’ tiny little bodies. Speaking of which, you won’t believe the FX on display here. The alien dummies from the first film return, but they also inject a new version with heads that look like a tennis ball covered in latex. The computer effects are only slightly better with computer generated flying saucers that would make Ed Wood proud. And speaking of Wood, wait until you get a look at the film’s acting. They say the camera adds ten pounds, right? Well, the video camera adds even more, causing the performers to slog around almost comatose onscreen under the weight. My favorite bit is when Alan ponders aloud what to get a woman who has everything and Bernice flatly replies, “More” with all the inflection of a zombie demanding brains. And don’t get me started on Carpenter as Santa, who feels the best vocal inflection is to sound like Pee Wee Herman. It says something when the best acting is done by the dog.
All that said I still have an odd level of appreciation for the Polonias. They managed to follow their dream and crank out a bunch of stuff during their two decades working together (sadly, while looking them up, I found out that John passed away unexpectedly in 2008). I can admire the men, while decrying their efforts right?