OK, so I'm not quite a full-time professional critic just yet, dabbled in a few tomes that I hope to peddle, worked as a Mac games journalist for a couple years & then did some freelance writing for a couple other computer geek oriented websites. You know, big deal. But I do pride myself at being able to maintain at least the appearance of having a professional demeanor when it comes to writing about movies or whatever, and one of the things I learned very quickly when reading other people's essayscomments was to avoid using expressions like THIS IS THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE or EASILY THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE. A good "THIS SUCKS" every once in a while is legit, since stuff either sucks or it rules.
Then I saw SHOCKING DARK (or ALIENATORS, as the version I saw was titled) and my view upon such things is shaken. There is an amazingly annoying movie called THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT that is a fake documentary about a guy's search for Sasquatch that is actually a lot of idle nature photography edited together with vacation footage and then about ten minutes of staged Bigfoot related scenes, one or two of which actually show some schook dressed up like Bigfoot for about 8 seconds in total. At one point they use a rigid, posed, stuffed bear lying on it's side to simulate one of Bigfoot's victims. The most dramatic scene in the film is when a groundhog is hit by a car and it's frantic mate drags it into their hole before a hawk circling overhead can eat them.
THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT is a better movie than SHOCKING DARK. JOHN Q. with Denzel Washington was a better movie than SHOCKING DARK. So was CROSSROADS with Britney Spears or even DOOM: THE MOVIE with The Rock, which bears a superficial resemblance to SHOCKING DARK. KID VENGEANCE is a better movie than SHOCKING DARK, and that is saying a lot. The science fiction films of Alfonso Brescia cannot even touch SHOCKING DARK's layers of utter awfulness. Larry Buchanan's ZONTAR - THING FROM VENUS is a cerebral masterpiece by comparison. MEGAFORCE is a better movie. GYMKATA is a better movie. They are silly, goofy, clumsy, cheesy, and hopelessly derivative, but they have the distinction of being watchable.
I will let others describe the plot: SHOCKING DARK is in many ways like Mattei's far superior (and highly equally stupid) ROBOWAR: It is a collage, a pastiche of moments, lines, specific incidents, plot ideas, individual shots and even the same title as other movies. They are turned on their side, mixed up, jumbled, re-arranged, given slightly different names, and re-assembled into a narrative that serves no point, tells no story, and exists as a collection of 90 second interludes that all segue into each other and are edited together to take on the appearance of a movie. I will admit that the LOOK of the film is pretty polished: they found some sort of a huge power plant, hung up a bunch of neon lights, dressed a mob of clowns up like the Power Rangers, and have them scuttling about pretending to be various cast members of ALIENS, PREDATOR, FULL METAL JACKET, ROBOCOP, PLATOON and THE TERMINATOR. If you watch the movie with the sound off it is actually rather impressive looking at times. But if you listen to what the people are saying it is so close to so many other movies we have seen so many times -- but just awkwardly different enough to avoid a lawsuit -- that it is disorienting and annoying. You want to fix it, or straighten the mess out so that it retains the original form Mattei was basing his film on. Sadly, art doesn't work like that and the result is a colossal annoyance.
The only analogy I can make is to sitting in the crowded waiting room of a doctor you don't particularly enjoy seeing, seated directly across from a really awful mail-order art print that has been framed, hung on the wall, and apparently brushed against by someone so that it's not hanging perfectly square. You sit in this chair and stare at this schwag art print and the only thing you can think of is how many other things you could be doing at that moment, and how pathetic that picture looks hanging there crooked. But since it isn't your picture in your office and there are other people present all you can do is sit there and suffer, waiting to be called for your turn. And then when you go back again the next month, the stupid picture is still hanging in the same crooked way, and it is time to sit and wait and stare at it all over again. The exasperation of futility.
That is what watching SHOCKING DARK is like when viewed the same way one would watch any other movie. My advice is to not do so, listen to some tunes or something, and that's why this is such a great party movie. It's awful, but if you need random cool looking images with violence and explosions while some Ozzy blares, this should be your first pick. Anyone else will need blood pressure medication before the thing is even half over: THE MOST ANNOYING MOVIE EVER MADE.
Review by Steve Nyland from the Internet Movie Database.