One thing I can say about “Zone Troopers,” is that it definitely wasn’t what I expected. Judging from the film’s poster, you’d probably go in thinking you’re going to see another “Bad Taste.” In reality, “Zone Troopers” is very much like “ET” except with soldiers in place of children. And it’s also directed like a television mini-series, with goofy fade outs, very limited violence, and colorful characters that paint this PG rated story about a group of American soldiers that befriend an abandoned alien.
Set during World War II, “Zone Troopers” centers on a platoon of American soldiers that are looking for a rendezvous point. When they are ambushed by German soldiers, most of the platoon are massacred save for four soldiers. They’re left behind enemy lines. To make things worse, their compasses aren’t working, and all radio contact has been cut off thanks to mysterious frequencies cutting them out. When they decide to look for help, they stop off at an abandoned barn for the night, and their youngest soldier Joey–a science fiction fanatic–comes face to face with a horrifying alien lurking in the dark.
During their attempts to stick it out for the night, they discover the ugly alien and are at a loss as to how to approach it. It’s bug eyed, has sharp claws, and speaks in another language, but the soldiers are hesitant to kill it. “Zone Troopers” is often a silly and cheesy B movie that doesn’t resort to violence and coarse language, and yet is oddly entertaining. The soldiers are all very unique personalities that have their own ideas for the aliens, including the sarge who wants to kill it, while young Joey is anxious to learn about it.
Tim Thomerson is very good as the bitter sarge anxiously trying to get his small group out of enemy lines back to their home base, but they have to also keep the alien safe. The effects for the most part are bargain basement, but work considering the small scale science fiction buddy dramedy that ensues. The characters are able to get in their own time with the alien, including Joey and the crusty Mitten, both of whom garner an education in the alien’s habits. In one scene it trades cigarettes that it eats for food, for a small toy that zap a human female out of nowhere allowing for a goofy bit of comedy. “Zone Troopers” is definitely an unusual and surreal science fiction comedy, and while it has its flaws, it’s at least original and often worth a laugh or two.