I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the Alien is my favorite movie monster of all time, and I’ll go see the insectoid, double-jawed acid-for-blood chestbursting spawn of H.R. Giger in any incarnation — even this budget-bin junk, which wasn’t screened for critics and cost me $11 at the Queens midnight screening. I thought I was ready for anything, but you know you’re in trouble if you find yourself holding up the “original” AvP as any kind of standard.

AvP:R picks up at the exact moment the previous film ended: a “predalien,” product of gooey space miscegenation, causes a Predator UFO to crash in the Colorado woods, and a few exploding rib cages later, all of Gunnison is under Alien attack. What should have been a fanboy’s wet fantasy — Aliens on Main Street! — turns into a piss-poor attempt at the kind of 50s horror we’ve seen plundered, satirized, and bowdlerized a million times, from The Blob to Slither.

Instead of showing us the creatures battling it out in bright sunlight (which would have required a few fresh ideas), the entire movie takes place over the course of one rainy, moonless night, which means that you can’t see the monsters you came for. Instead, the “talent” behind this film (“the Brothers Strause”) cranked up the gore: victims usually considered taboo all become Alien fodder, including children, pregnant women (“I think my water just broke. Ahhhhhh!”), and the hot high school chick (Kristen Hager) who takes the pizza boy skinny dipping. The ostensible heroine — a poor man’s Ripley indeed — is a returning Iraq vet (Reiko Aylesworth) who brings her daughter — get this — a pair of infra red goggles as a homecoming present. Gee, I wonder if those will come in handy!

On a downward spiral ever since Fincher’s failed Alien 3, the series has now hit rock bottom. This is the Return of the Son of Dracula meets Jesse James vs. Frankenstein’s Daughter Unbound of Alien films, or whatever the classic equivalent would be. It’s been a long way down from the polished horror by Ridley Scott and James Cameron. Bad as it was, AvP was savvy enough to slyly quote from the original movies, but AvP:R doesn’t even bother with genre conventions like the pithy catchphrase. (The wittiest thing these people can think to say after killing an Alien is “Fuck you.”)

Too underlit to qualify as splatter, too bloodless to qualify as fun, too unaware of its own idiocy to be enjoyed Grindhouse-style, AvP:R is a real education in the finer stratifications of badness. A straight-out parody may be the only move left for the franchise, and then, perhaps, in another few years, the Gods governing the cycles of genre may just smile upon us again with another high-minded attempt at returning the monster to its former glories. Where there are sequels, there is hope.

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. Colin Strause and Greg Strause, 2007. *