High Plains Invaders is set in the year 1892 on the Western Frontier in a small town called Avaranth where train robber Sam Danville (James Marsters) awaits execution by hanging for his crimes, as the Sheriff (James Jordan) has a set of gallows built Sam has no choice to wait the inevitable in his jail cell. The time of Sam's execution arrives but before he can be hanged Avaranth is invaded by large bug like aliens that kill anyone in sight, in the panic & confusion Sam manages to free himself as all around him are killed. Sam survives & manages to make it back inside the local jail along with a bounty hunter named Rose (Sanny van Heteren), a scientist named Jules (Sebastian Knapp) & his ex-girlfriend Abigail (Cindy Sampson) who come under attack from the alien invaders. The unlikely group must work together to find the aliens weakness & exploit it to escape Avaranth with their lives...
This Canadian & Romanian co-production was directed by Kristoffer Tabori & to go with it's cute title that puns on the classic High Plains Drifter (1973) there's actually a fairly decent sci-fiWestern genre mix here that is watchable enough if nothing else. Apparently had the working title Alien Western it's easy to see why as it's a Western with aliens, personally I think all round High Plains Invaders is better than your average Sci-Fi Channel fare from the script to the effects. The character's are your usual bunch of misfits & clashing personalities who all have to work together to defeat a common enemy, at least the script doesn't descend into lots of people shouting, swearing & arguing with each other even if you never exactly feel for anyone while the not entirely unexpected twist of betrayal at the end feels a little rushed. At a little under 90 minutes long at least it moves along at a decent pace & first twenty minutes with the sudden introduction of the aliens is quite memorable although the rest of the film tends to feel like your standard monster film cliché with a bunch of people trapped in an isolated location cut off from the outside world trying to survive. The aliens themselves have little purpose other than being addicted to Uranium, they never seem to communicate & they have no sort of story although i didn't mind too much. The script features the anachronism of the character's knowing Uranium caused health problems as this wasn't discovered until later but that's nitpicking & isn't a big issue.
Surprisingly the CGI special effects are much better than I expected, that's not to say they are amazing but they actually look quite good. The aliens themselves look a bit like simpler copies of the alien bugs seen in Starship Troopers (1997) & it's odd that a seemingly dumb bunch of aliens could build such a sophisticated spaceship with anything resembling hands or any sign of intelligence. It's also odd that despite being able to build a huge spaceship they have no weapons other than shooting spikes from their tails, wouldn't an advanced alien race have guns or laser beams or something? Despite there apparently being hundreds of these aliens we never see more than one or two in any one shot & as the group travel through the woods there's a fog which completely hides the supposed army of aliens probably due to budgetary reasons. The climax features the only scene in which a decent amount of aliens are seen in one shot. There's a bit of gore, a guy has half his face melted off, there are some bullet wounds & a dead guy is seen with his guts hanging out.
Filmed in Bucharest in Romania but set in the US Frontier this does actually look quite good with nice period detail even if it's not entirely accurate with modern guns being used for instance but unless you specifically knew that so what? The acting is alright, no-one is amazing but the performances are acceptable.
High Plains Invaders is a strange cross of sci-fi & Western that makes for a decent way to pass an hour & a half, it's not brilliant & I doubt I will ever want to see it again but for what it was I quite liked it. A good, solid & surprisingly competent attempt at something a little different that occasionally shines but maybe not often enough.
Review by Paul Andrews from the Internet Movie Database.