STARRING: Eric Roberts, Sherilyn Fenn, Brendon Ryan Barrett, Dean Stockwell

1997, 95 Minutes, Directed by: Timothy Bond

The best way to watch The Shadow Men would be with some friends while drinking lots of beer and shouting abuse and derisory remarks at the movie in true Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fashion. Preferably you should not spend the price of a rental on it . . .

Yup, The Shadow Men is truly bad and worthy of MST3K treatment. Unfortunately I watched it alone on late night TV during a mild bout of insomnia. Do not, I repeat, do not watch this movie alone like I did. I had a few drinks and shouted a few caustic remarks at the television set, but it didn't help much and just felt plain wrong. Maybe I should have drank more or used some illegal substance. 

In the end The Shadow Men was just a drag and like a lot of made-for-TV movies, one feels like doing something else while it is showing: maybe wash the dishes or page disinterestedly through a magazine.

The acting is rotten, the plot doesn't make much sense and the dialogue is poor and incoherent. Also the central premise, about a nuclear family being harassed by the so-called Men In Black after being abducted by aliens in a flying saucer late one evening, is ridiculous to the extreme. No, not Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, but the mysterious men in black in UFO lore: shadowy figures that go around trying to intimidate UFO sightees into silence. Why they even bother I don't know: the shelves in bookshops are groaning beneath the weight of countless UFO books, the television airwaves a'buzzing with endless documentaries about UFO sightings, etc. They can't be too good at this.

So who are these men in black? Some say they are CIA, Air Force or maybe aliens themselves. Shadow Men offers the helpful solution that they are "alien hybrids" - thanks, that really cleared it up for me. Personally I think that they are long lost clones of The Blues Brothers, dressing exactly the same as Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi did in that classic comedy - black 'Sixties style suit and hat replete with sunglasses. At several points in the movie I expected one of them to intone "we're on a mission from God".

Why these "alien hybrids" would want to dress like the evil henchmen of Dr. No is a mystery. In a sense they reminded me of the alien impostors in Strange Invaders who thought that they were still in the 'Fifties. Except they're not and when the movie contrives a situation in which someone else is mistaken for one of these Men In Black I shouted "cheat"! No one dresses like that anymore - and drives black early 1970s classic cars into the deal as well!

You get the idea. Watching Shadow Men with some friends and lots of available alcohol is the way to do it, but it's really preferable to not see it at all . . .



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