Movies & TV / Columns

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Attack of the Unknown

September 25, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Attack ot the Unknown

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #571: Attack of the Unknown

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that is freaked out by the mere idea of tentacles because, come on, they’re goddamn tentacles, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seventy-one, I take a look at the new sci-fi action horror flick Attack of the Unknown, which hit digital and Video On Demand August 28th, 2020, and will hit Blu-ray, according to Amazon, on October 27th, 2020.

Attack of the Unknown


Attack of the Unknown, written and directed by Brandon Slagle, is one of those low budget sci-fi action horror flicks that has its heart in the right place but just doesn’t quite succeed as much as it really needs to. It has all of the necessary parts to be a truly good movie, but due to odd choices made by director Slagle, the movie just sort of exists. It isn’t a complete disaster, but it also isn’t a winner, either.

Attack of the Unknown stars Richard Grieco as Vernon, a badass Los Angeles SWAT team leader who, after taking down and arresting the notorious crime lord Miguel “Hades” Aguirre (Robert LaSardo), goes to the hospital and finds out that he has blood cancer. Despite the terrible diagnosis, Vernon plans on fighting his condition with every fiber of his being. Vernon doesn’t give up, even if it looks like there’s no hope. Before his doctor can create a full treatment plan, Vernon is called back into the office to participate in a high tension assignment that involves moving Hades to a secret location so Hades can then go into FBI custody. Vernon doesn’t tell his SWAT teammates what’s going on with him because the job comes first and, hell, he’s got time. Even though Hades is a big time criminal, Vernon’s team has moved prisoners before without any major issues. Once Vernon completes moving Hades he can let his team know what’s going on.

And so, as Vernon’s team is moving Hades, Los Angeles is attacked by space aliens. Gigantic ships appear in the sky, and the aliens start blowing up buildings and cars and bridges and whatnot. Vernon’s team gets knocked on its ass for a few moments, but they regroup and try to come up with a plan to still deliver Hades to the FBI and get out of the alien invasion alive. When Vernon and what’s left of his team finally arrive at the FBI safe house or whatever the hell you want to call it, they find out, definitely, what’s going on.

The American west coast is under siege. Space aliens are attacking. Most of Earth’s satellite communications have been knocked out. The odds of anyone coming to help anytime soon are very, very small. If Vernon’s team intends to survive they’re going to have to hide, armor up, weapon up and, if necessary, fight.

Now, Hades seems to know more about the invading aliens more than anyone else. Apparently, the aliens are part of an old story from back during the “frontier” times in California, and Hades, as someone who knows the old stories because the stories were passed down (one of his relatives was attacked or something during that first sort of invasion in the 1800’s), knows why the aliens are invading. The aliens need/want human blood because… I’m not really sure why they want human blood. They want it, though.

And so Vernon and his team and anyone else who happens to get caught up in the ongoing hooha (there’s a podcaster from Texas who ends up a part of Vernon’s makeshift assault team) come up with a plan to stop the aliens in the event that they show up in the FBI safe house. They don’t have a lot of weapons, but Vernon will make sure that they all do what they can with the stuff that they have on hand. It’s really their only shot at surviving.

The aliens, who kind of look like a cross between the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth and the cenobites from Hellraiser, move very slowly while on foot, but they are deadly as hell. Most of the weapons humans have at their disposal are ineffective against the aliens, and the aliens have a tentacle weapon thing that pops out of their hands that functions as both a stabbing weapon and a device that allows the aliens to drain the human body of all of its blood. The aliens really don’t try to communicate with humans. The aliens just show up, corner their victims, and take their blood.

The opening twenty minutes or so of Attack of the Unknown are the best minutes of the movie as we see Vernon and his SWAT team take on Hades, his henchmen, and an assortment of other criminals who were having a meeting with Hades about new criminal schemes just as the SWAT team attacked. The action on display is well handled, the gun battles are fairly exciting, and everyone seems engaged in what’s going on. The rest of the movie never generates the same kind of excitement. It’s almost like everyone involved in the movie suddenly lost interest in what they were doing and the rest of the movie is just a series of events that need to happen so the end credits can roll.

I mean, the alien invasion of Los Angeles that we see in this movie is one of the least interesting and least exciting alien invasions I’ve ever seen. Despite the presence of gigantic alien ships in the sky and skyscrapers blowing up and whatnot, it all comes off as meaningless. So what if Los Angeles is being destroyed? None of the characters seem to be scared or all that concerned about what’s happening. It’s just something that’s happening.

As for the actual aliens, they, again, move incredibly slowly. They look great and scary, yes, but whatever fear they create by their appearance is gone as soon as they start moving and try to do something. The killer hand tentacles aren’t very formidable as a weapon because you can barely see them when they are used, and because the movie doesn’t have much in the way of gore we never really see what the tentacles are capable of. We see someone get very quickly stabbed, they say they’ve been stabbed, and then they sort of just die. We do get a few cool gore scenes (when these aliens remove the top of a human head they goddamn remove the top of a human head), but there aren’t enough of them. The alien attacks in this movie should be caked in blood and gore but they’re not. That makes no sense.

And then there are the performances. My God why is everyone whispering? No one in this movie seems alive. Richard Grieco seems like he’s bored out of his mind playing Vernon. He kicks ass in the first section of the movie, but then he just sort of gives up. I’m going to assume that he’s playing Vernon as a guy who is contemplating the next stages of his life due to his blood cancer diagnosis, but would he be thinking about that in the middle of a full on alien invasion with the fucking aliens right outside the door? I doubt it. You would think that he, and everyone else, would be scared, trying to hold it together, and ready to kick ass with energy because that’s how you kill aliens. And on top of that, why is everyone else following Grieco’s lead when their characters have no idea what Vernon’s diagnosis is? It just makes no sense to me why no one is upset/openly scared/agitated about what’s happening.

Robert LaSardo plays Hades exactly the same throughout the movie, regardless of what’s happening. There’s a scene where he confronts an alien face to face and actually plays Hades as subdued. Would that really happen? I just don’t believe it. And Tara Reid is in the movie for maybe a minute, in a flashback scene, and then isn’t seen again. The movie could have used more of her.

So what the hell is the point of this movie? Why does it move at a snail’s pace and why does it seem like everyone is bored? Why isn’t this movie moving at break neck speed? Why isn’t this movie scary? I don’t get it.

So what works in Attack of the Unknown? That opening twenty minutes is fantastic. The sound design in the first twenty minutes is great. The alien space ships looks formidable (especially for a movie that isn’t a big mega Hollywood studio movie). The aliens, as they walk around LA, look scary. And just the overall look of the movie is top notch. There’s a slickness to the sets and the costumes that make the movie seem bigger than it is. And the overall idea behind the movie is solid. An alien invasion by aliens that want human blood for some reason? The end of the movie implies that there could be a sequel as there is more story to tell. If and when that sequel happens, I hope that Attack of the Unknown 2 is more action packed, gorier, and just plain faster than part 1. That strategy would serve the potential franchise better than the seemingly deliberate slog that the first movie engages in.

Still, even with the myriad issues that Attack of the Unknown has baked into it, it’s worth seeing at least once. There’s a chance that you will dig it. The movie didn’t really work for me, but there’s some good stuff in it. That good stuff is worth checking out.

See Attack of the Unknown. It has some good stuff in it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 30 on screen. Untold hundreds of millions off screen.

Explosions: Several, both big and small.

Nudity?: Yes. Some of it is pretty good.

Doobage: Drone shots of Los Angeles, a Mercedes van, a gun hidden in a toilet paper dispenser, a guy banging a woman, communal dope smoking, a big hooha criminal gang meeting, a big plan, likely sexual harassment, infiltration, a brief shootout, arming up, a headshot, shotgun hooey, a bigger shootout, attempted kid murder, multiple weird drawings, a strip club, a distressing phone call, a hospital visit, a bad diagnosis, a crashed spaceship, exploding space ship, alien tentacle attack, an unsettled sky, exploding helicopter, exploding car, car stealing, exploding highway, tooth spitting, face punching, a giant alien ship, exploding van, skyscraper destruction, a guy getting dragged away, regrouping, welding, weaponing up, devastation everywhere, attempted radio fixing, talk about psychological warfare, a flashback to, maybe, the 1800’s, pepper spray to the face, little brains, bloody top of the head removal, smoke grenade rolling, an off screen massacre, blood drawing, bullet to the head, chest stabbing, shotgun blast to the head with exploding head and we see it onscreen, off screen human kidnapping, the inside of an alien spaceship, alien tentacle into the mouth, needle to the side of the head, a sort of explanation of what’s going on, and the prospect of a sequel.

Kim Richards?: Almost.

Gratuitous: “and Tara Reid,” Richard Grieco, Robert LaSardo, cigarette sharing, Richard Grieco using a shotgun, a brief scene where it looks like a machine pistol’s clip is somehow in backwards, a kid listening to music and coloring while a shootout ensues all around him, a verbal assault on the FBI, strip club hooey, Richard Grieco watching the news, California being invaded, an old woman smacking a young man with her purse, “Fresh meat!,” Richard Grieco talking about psychological warfare, Tara Reid, Tara Reid singing, Richard Grieco drawing his own blood, elevator hooey. A remote control helicopter that’s supposed to be a real helicopter (and if it is a real helicopter it’s one of the greatest shots in movie history), and the prospect of a sequel.

Best lines: “All right, let’s rock this shit!,” “You ever dance with the angel before?,” “That’s some prime cheddar, man,” “Drop it, blackjack!,” “Yo, I die he dies,” “Keep squirming and I will break both your wrists,” “Welcome back to the meat market, my friend,” “Hey, Vern!,” “Why does all of the crazy shit have to happen at the end of a shift?,” “Shut up or I’m gonna fucking handcuff you to a cactus!,” “You’re back in your fucking element, aren’t you?,” “Nothing like the smell of middle aged testosterone in the morning,” “Hey, look at this!,” “Shit! Shit! Stop cursing it’s fucking judgement day!,” “What the fuck is that?,” “What the fuck is that thing?,” “I’m a podcaster from Texas. That’s not a real fucking job,” “Miguel, do you like coloring books?,” “Louisville Slugger motherfucker!,” “Why don’t you go and play some Punch Out!,” “What, you don’t think I look sexy?,” “You got a type during the apocalypse?,” “Get the fuck off my planet!,” “They’re coming here, goddamnit, and we’re sitting ducks!,” “Took you long enough, man. Took you long enough to find me,” “It’s good to see you again, Dad!,” “Blood harvest?,” “I just wanted to see the Hollywood sign today,” “Kill me, you motherfucker! Come on!,” “I’m not dead. I’m alive,” and “So it really is the harvest? Yes.”

Rating: 6.8/10.0




The Gratuitous B-Movie Column The Facebook Page!

Please check out and “like” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which is here.


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!


Things to Watch Out For


Blood Quantum: This horror flick, which is also available on Shudder, is some sort of zombie flick that takes place on an Indian reservation, and for reasons no one knows the Natives on the reservation are somehow immune to whatever the heck is happening. Written and directed by Jeff Barnaby, this movie has been getting very good reviews, and it’s something I definitely want to check out. I do find the movie’s title odd, though. Doesn’t Blood Quantum sound like it should be a science fiction movie of some sort? The movie’s poster/DVD cover is sweet, though, isn’t it? Anyone out there see this yet?


The Dead Ones: This is apparently some sort of low budget horror flick that takes place in a high school that’s just experienced a major, horrific event, and the four main characters are detention students who have to help clean up the mess. At least I think that’s the set up. Then there’s a gang of killers/monsters/whatever that either are or mimic the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the students have to stop being killed/destroyed by these killers. Kind of sounds a little too high concept for its own good, but who knows? The movie has received some good reviews, and the trailer sure makes it look incredibly messed up. Definitely worth a rental.


Beckman: A mega low budget action flick that mimics John Wick from the Christian movie outfit Pure Flix? How the hell does that work? How is it supposed to work? I have no idea, but the trailer for Beckman makes me curious enough to give it a shot. Christian movie regular David A.R. White is the Wick of the story, a former contract killer that becomes a Los Angeles pastor because of his daughter or something. But then that daughter is kidnapped by a weird beard cult led by William Baldwin, and suddenly White’s Beckman suits up and kills a bunch of people. Well, I guess that’s what’s going on here. Jeff Fahey and the great Burt Young are also in the movie. Anyone else out there curious now about this movie?


Next Issue: The October Werewolf Marathon begins with Werewolves on Wheels!


Check out my Widow’s Point set visit!

Read it here!



Most Recent Interviews

Steve Latshaw
Rick Hurst
Douglas Burke
Jeff Farley
Fred “The Hammer” Williamson
Nico Sentner
Everett Ray Aponte
Max Martini
Tom Huckabee
Jason Kellerman
David Tarleton
Roxy Shih
Jesse V. Johnson
Tamas Nadas (2)
Jesse Thomas Cook
Adam Seybold
Liv Collins
Bryan C. Winn
Jeffrey Combs
Ezra Tsegaye
Alexander Nevsky(4)
Sebastian Wolf
Dana Gould
Janet Varney
Richard Brake
Steven Lambert
Rolfe Kanefsky
Robert Donavan
Lukas Hassel
Jessica Morris
Daniel Roebuck (2)
Clint Carney
Marco Siedelmann (2)
Sam Firstenberg (2)
Tamas Nadas (3)
Rene Perez
Lou Ferrigno
Lorenzo Pisoni
Sam Farmer
Craig Fairbrass
Anita Nicole Brown
Domenic Migliore
Michael Bugard
Alexander T. Hwang
Nicole Cinaglia
Eden Shea Beck
Brooklyn Haley
Amanda Iswan
Myron Ward
Parry Shen
Garo Setian
M.J. Bassett
Rickey Bird, Jr.
Carl Nicita
Sadie Katz
Brian Skiba
Jeff J. Knight
Brian Skiba
Rolfe Kanefsky (2)
Jessica Morris (2)
Sarah French


Follow me on Twitter!


Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Attack of the Unknown

Richard Grieco– Vernon
Tara Reid– Elizabeth
Robert LaSardo– Miguel “Hades” Aguirre
Jolene Andersen– Hannah
Douglas Tait– Madox

(check out the rest of the cast here

Directed by Brandon Slagle
Screenplay by Brandon Slagle, based on a story by Michael Mahal and Sonny Mahal

Distributed by Gravitas Ventures

Not Rated
Runtime– 105 minutes

Buy it here or here