This post originally appeared online at MediaBlvd Magazine.
This weekend, the SyFy network gave us an early Valentine’s gift of their new original movie Iron Invader, directed by Paul Ziller (Android Apocalypse, Stonehenge Apocalypse). I have a love for made-for-TV movies, and while I’m partial to the “your baby will be kidnapped by a conspiracy” brand more common to the Lifetime network, there is a wholly different type of fun to be had with the B-horror revival on the SyFy network.
In Iron Invader, a pair of brothers living in the small farm town of Redeemer (a poignant name never to be used poetically) are startled when a mass of old car parts covered in Nickelodeon-brand Slime falls from the sky onto their land. At first it seems that the mass itself is the titular iron invader, making me think how unlucky these guys are that a deformed Cylon from the 1970s crash-landed there instead of Superman. Especially given that these guys are kind of good-looking, and if this movie were on deeper cable, I think the story would get a lot sexier from here on out.
The brothers, discovering that the twisted metal is a damaged Russian satellite, take it to old Earl’s scrapyard, believing they can sell it for some quick cash. There they see a giant metal sculpture, where they come to the obvious conclusion that it is the skeleton of one of the gorillas often used to draw customers to used car lots. Shockingly, they are wrong, and the sculpture is revealed to be proud Earl’s handiwork. He has created a golem out of scrap metal and plans to display it at the county fair. It’s unclear to me if Earl is Jewish, but I have to wonder if his not-Wicker Man would bring up any anti-Semitic feelings in this extremely tiny rural town.
The green slime begins “activating,” causing its metal hosts to move on their own accord towards the golem, where the slime grows, infecting the metal makeup of the entire sculpture. Now self-propelled, the golem wanders the night, looking for human victims for a reason yet to be defined. It finds the perfect first victim in an alternate universe version of David Crosby if he were a contestant on Gay Rock of Love, and leaves his corpse distended with swollen veins and arteries.
Making its way through the town, the infected golem strikes back at the farm of the two brothers, killing the younger one, Ethan. When his brother Jake finds his body, he reacts with a gentle “Aw, no no no no,” which is likely not how I would respond, but what do I know – I’ve never been involved in an attack by alien goop (plus robots). Meanwhile, Jake’s high school sweetheart Amanda is back in town with her teenage daughter, and Jake, being a regular Mystery the Pick Up Artist, asks Amanda out within literally one minute of hearing about her divorce.
The robot kills some more people, so everyone decides to take refuge in the local bar, and Amanda, being a high school biology teacher, figures out that the green goo is a space age bacteria that feeds on metal, so the reason it is draining people is because of the iron in human blood. Earl is getting blame from all sides for creating a killer robot, but his defense of, “I couldn’t build a machine; I don’t even have a high school diploma,” is pretty solid, except that it’s actually the most ridiculous thing ever. Basically everyone is clueless except for Amanda. Even the coroner, who’s a regular House, M.D., thinks that the dead people all died of E. Coli, even though there’s all these destroyed buildings and a giant living robot wandering the streets. (Maybe it’s lupus?)
The bartender’s got some pretty serious mutton chops, which alone is a pretty good indicator that he’s going to die, but when he jokes to Earl’s grandson, “your grandfather’s in the monster-making business now, is he?” he seals his fate. Eventually he is killed by an infected axe head that literally flies off the handle and stabs him in the foot. There’s a lot of ridiculous stuff going on at this point, with bar patrons trying to kill the alien bacteria using hand soap (“It says it’s antibacterial!”), Amanda slicing her arm all to hell with a knife to lure the robot away from her daughter, the robot sparing said daughter (“Thank God you’re anemic!” Really.), and then Jake blowing up the golem for some reason even though that doesn’t kill the bacteria. Of course, in the end , the bacteria can be killed by alcohol, so they pour beer and whiskey all over the shrapnel to save themselves. Of course, because the satellite was Russian, there is a comment about “Commie sonsabitches,” but surprisingly no link is drawn between this and the alcohol being what saves the day.
I admit, I would have liked a little more from Iron Invader. I was curious why the bacteria could take over a golem and make it walk, but it wouldn’t do the same to the humans it attacked, commandeering their bodies like Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black, giving the movie a bit more of a zombie edge. And the movie lacked a memorable catchphrase, such as “Release the Kraken,” or “Damn you, Sharktopus!” As to why the falling satellite was not noticed by any astronomers, or why the bits of infected shrapnel could float of their own accord, but the golem had to walk like a biped, instead of hovering or whatever, I choose ignorance. Join me in two weeks for a recap of the next SyFy original movie, Area 51, which premieres on Saturday, February 26 at 9/8c.