The Alpha Incident

The Alpha Incident

Sci-Fi | 95 mins | Released: 1978
Director: Bill Rebane
Starring: Bill Rebane, Stafford Morgan, John F. Goff, Carol Irene Newell, George "Buck" Flower, Paul Bentzen, John Alderman
Our Rating: 4

A space probe returns to Earth from Mars, carrying with it a deadly organism, which has the lethal potential to destroy all life on Earth. The organism is being transported across country by train, and is released when a nosy train employee inspects the cargo. This results in the entire train station being quarantined. Those trapped wait for the government to find a cure, while trying not to fall asleep because that is when this unseen killer strikes.

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Movie Notes:

The Alpha Incident is a 1977 American film directed by Bill Rebane. It stars Bill Rebane, Stafford Morgan, John F. Goff, Carol Irene Newell, George “Buck” Flower, Paul Bentzen and John Alderman.

Director John Carpenter gave Flower a cameo role in almost every film he made throughout the 1980s.

The film is also known as The Alien Incident in Belgium (English video title).

Deanna Wynand and Don Lasee and The Ramblin Fever Band – “The Gift”  with lyrics by Dale Kuippers (as Dale Kuipers) and Bill Rebane, music by Tom Barnet.

Decent zero budget science fiction suspense
26 August 2008 | by t-birkhead (United Kingdom)
“I had a pretty sweet time with this outing from the great Bill Rebane. Its probably the best film I’ve seen from him, perhaps lacking the lunacy appeal of The Demons Of Ludlow but better on the whole. The minimal plot involves some unfortunate folk quarantined in a rail depot after exposure to a nasty space microbe which will kill them if they sleep. The fun comes in seeing how they will attempt to make it through and the tensions that arise from their contrasting characters rubbing together in the nightmare situation. This could have been a real bore what with the talky nature of the piece and the slow pace but the overall fine acting gives it a real boost. George ‘Buck’ Flower, typically plays a chatty, mumbling, boozy type and gives it his customary fine performance, John F. Goff is suitably oily as the token obnoxious type and Ralph Meeker is sympathetic as the slow-witted manager. Carol Newell is just fine as the lady of the piece and Stafford Morgan is suave and convincingly calm and collected as a government man. Their interactions and efforts to stay awake make for good watching and the tension slowly rises throughout, to an ending that while not surprising in general terms has enough unpredictability to be somewhat effective and affecting. There’s even a cool cheapo effects sequence to amuse any folk put off by the talking. Altogether this is a decent movie, somewhat more effective than its low budget and low key nature would suggest. There are definitely a few bits that could have been tighter and the script does throw up a few ides that aren’t used to their best advantage, but this is still worth a look.”

Low budget Andromeda Strain, interesting story and worth seeing…
Author: rixrex from United States – 2 January 2006
“This is available on a double feature Eastwest DVD with Rebane’s 2nd best film, CAPTURE OF BIGFOOT. One reason these two are his best is that he is working here with unknown actors who are putting in commendable efforts, rather than has-been celebrities who are walking through their roles (well, except that Ralph Meeker is here and does a good job). This one is a bit better than CAPTURE mainly because of the interesting storyline involving a odd virus/enzyme micro-organism from space which infects earth life forms and causes a hideous death only when the infected are at sleep, the type of death I won’t give away, but it is pretty gruesome. Much more intellectually challenging than any of his other films, I just wish there had been a bigger budget, and some script holes needed filling. Still, for those who like literate sci-fi (relatively speaking) and enjoy things like 1950s Quatermass films, this will be fine. Effects are nearly on par with the Quatermass films too, though 20 years later. And so what if the ending is taken from Night of the Living Dead? What hasn’t been stolen from that gem by loads of filmmakers?”

A nifty and interesting little low-budget 70’s drive-in variant on “The Andromeda Strain”
Author: Woodyanders, from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left, 3 August 2006
“A surprisingly solid, engrossing and reasonably tense $1.98 one set wonder drive-in sci-fi thriller in the same strange, deadly disease from outer space medical chiller vein as “The Andromeda Strain.” The Viking space probe returns from Mars with an unwanted guest: a weird, fatal, positively unknowable plague which kills its victims when they fall asleep, causing their heads to expand until their skulls crack open and their brains come seeping out. A motley assortment of five people at a remote Wisconsin railway station get the lethal bug and must do their best to stay awake while scientists work around the clock to whip up a cure before it’s too late.

Directed, produced and edited as a true labor of low-budget love by Bill Rebane, whose largely awful cinematic track record includes the laughably horrible “The Giant Spider Invasion,” “The Alpha Incident” comes across as a most pleasant surprise. Granted, what we have here is very little money, a minimal set, a small cast, strictly elementary music and cinematography, but plenty of ambition and a welcome smidgen of genuine film-making ability. It’s the rare movie where its paltry five-and-ten-cent production cost and tight, pared down, stripped-to-the-bare-essentials look and feel actually work in its favor; the total lack of potentially credibility-killing high gloss razzle dazzle ensures that the picture’s gritty, no-frills style retains an oddly arresting and utterly convincing sense of plain, every day, true-to-life mundane plausibility which in turn both heightens and strengthens the steadily escalating suspense. Ingrid Neumayer’s uncommonly well thought-out script is another substantial plus, scoring points for its increasingly bleak, pessimistic tone (the dark, downbeat ending is especially potent), hard cynical attitude towards secretive, sinister military operations, barbed dialogue (“Don’t look at me like I’m crazy — I’m trying to stay alive!”), clearly drawn and distinctive characters, and an intriguing air of general mystery.

The cast of dependable B-movie vets come through with capable performances: frequent bit player and occasional screenwriter John (“The Witch Who Came from the Sea,” “They Live”) Goff in a rare meaty leading role as breezy, feisty, antagonistic blue collar hothead Jack, Stafford (“The Stunt Man,” “The Forest”) Morgan as enigmatic, levelheaded biochemist Sorenson, Ralph (“The Food of the Gods,” “Without Warning”) Meeker as weary, doddering train depot manager Charlie, Carol Irene Newell as perky secretary Jane, softcore sexploitation film regular John (“The Black Godfather,” “This Is A Hijack!”) Alderman as coldly rational researcher Dr. Rogers, and, best of all, the always entertaining and invigorating George “Buck” Flower as gabby, gregarious railroad worker Hank, a lovable ol’ slob who unwittingly first catches the maleficent contagion when his curiosity gets the best of him. Truth be told, this feature sure ain’t no earth-shattering major work of cinematic art, but for a down’n’dirty spare change grindhouse quickie “The Alpha Incident” is fine of its type and packs an unexpectedly strong wallop.”