DVD
The Outer Limits
Aliens Among Us Collection

Starring: Beau Bridges and Ally Sheedy
MGM
RRP: 15.99
10005391 MZ1
Certificate: 12
Available 11 April 2005


In five tales from the outer limits, a scientist becomes the master of a colony of intelligent Martian insects; a reporter investigates the mysterious "removal" of a controversial author; a US Senator realises he's not human; aliens make contact with Earth so they can possess deceased human bodies; and a disillusioned priest is given unearthly healing powers...

This themed collection drawn from the 1990s series of The Outer Limits contains the episodes Sandkings, I Hear You Calling, Birthright, The Second Soul and Corner of the Eye.

Despite the thematic connection (aliens on Earth), this is a pretty mixed bag when it comes to quality. The two-part Sandkings is over-long and I Hear You Calling also drags considerably, in spite of the guest-starring roles played by Beau Bridges and Ally Sheedy respectively. The other three episodes are better, though Birthright and Corner of the Eye are very similar to each other in terms of the aliens' plans.

The Second Soul is the best of the bunch, combining a conspiracy scenario with an emotive message about immigration and cultural integration. This time it's not the fact that asylum seekers are taking our jobs, our homes or our benefits that people are protesting about. This time they're taking our dead.

I have found that, in general, there are two types of Outer Limits story. The first is when an apparently good thing, such as a scientific discovery or an alien visitor, turns out to be bad. The second is when an apparently bad thing turns out to be good. I won't give away which episodes are which, but this collection contains both types. One episode manages to twist things further, when apparently bad aliens do good things - but then turn out to be very bad indeed!

This being a two-disc collection containing six episodes, you might expect a 3:3 split across the discs, but in fact the split is 4:2. Don't be misled into thinking that this means tons of extras on the second disc, because there is only a ten-minute featurette, The Outer Limits Story.

Talking of uneven divisions, I'm not sure why it was necessary to split the 90-minute pilot episode Sandkings into two instalments. The division seems rather arbitrary, leaving us with a 50-minute Part 1 and a 40-minute Part 2. A scene a few minutes earlier, in which a Sandking crawls up the bedroom wall unseen by Simon Kress (Bridges) would have made a much better cliffhanger. What's more, the second episode lacks opening titles.

Despite my whinging, this is a heck of a lot of Limits for your money. For four and a half hours, you can control all that you see and hear.

Richard McGinlay

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£11.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
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All prices correct at time of going to press.