Terminal Invasion Blu-ray Review: An Alien Walks into an Airport…

Back in 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel debuted Terminal Invasion, one of their first original productions, under their Saturday Night Movie umbrella. It is a low-budget TV movie (with the fades to commercial breaks included) starring Bruce Campbell wherein a group of people are trapped by a blizzard at a local airport while they determine which one (or ones?) of them are alien.

Two police officers are transporting convicted murderer Jack (Campbell) through a snowstorm. (The film never delves into the specifics of his case, so no idea if he was just in his actions or if he’s a sociopath.) The poor weather conditions contribute to a car accident, so the officers take their prisoner to nearby local airport. Unfortunately for the police and a number of stranded travellers, the aviation authorities have grounded all flights during the storm and no matter the fuss created, pilot Cathy (Chase Masterson) is following their orders.

Jack needs the restroom and the officers accompany him. They encounter an old priest, who is actually an alien that is part of an advance team that wants to take over the planet. The priest kills the cops and Jack kills the priest, but when the alien dies, his body dissipates, leaving no trace behind. Everyone presumes Jack killed the cops until a woman is shot and her body dissipates the same way.

Terminal Invasion then plays out like John Carpenter’s The Thing as the group has to figure out who is human and who is alien before it’s too late. Screenwriters Lewis Abernathy, John Jarrell, and Robinson Young have some good plot twists in this familiar story but then there’s also moments that are a bit puzzling as to how they got through. The special effects department clearly had a minimal budget.

The video is presented in 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 and presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Colors have strong hues. Blacks are inky but at times crush and impact shadow delineation negatively. Film grain is apparent and increases during low-lit scenes. There is some blurring of objects when they move fast as seen during fight with priest in bathroom. The CGI effects aren’t helped by high definition.

The audio is available in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0. Dialogue is clear. Ambient sounds and Harry Manfredini’s score can be heard in the surrounds. Predominant sound effects, such as those associated with police car crash into a tree, are presented in front channels.

  • An archival audio commentary by director/ executive producer Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th) and executive producer Chuck Simon together. It is very informative about low-budget filmmaking and what goes on during various stages of production.
  • Alien Costume Test (7 min) – footage with no audio of an actor wearing the costume.
  • Trailers for Deepstar Six, The Puppet Masters, Spaced Invaders, Without Warning, and Deep Rising.

Terminal Invasion makes good use of its genre premise and Bruce Campbell elevates his limited character, but there may not be enough of interest if one isn’t a fan of either. The Blu-ray does what it can with the source and although the Special Features are limited, the commentary track and the trailers are worth checking out.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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