There have been some strange things happening in the Florida swamps. An area that used to teem with alligators now has none. When a couple goes out at night looking for gator skins the wife ends up missing. The husband, Griffith (Norman Riggins) runs to Sheriff Kowalski (Buster Crabbe) for help. The sheriff is useless but a local reporter, Tom Corman (Ray Roberts) decides to take a look at the swamp.
While out poking around, Tom meets Shawn Michaels (Linda Lewis) and her father Emmet Michaels (George Kelsey). Eventually Tom and Shawn find Mrs. Griffith (Nancy Kranz) dead in the swamp. Doc Ellerbe (Martin Nicholas) thinks it was some kind of animal that killed her. When Tom and Shawn run into, what turns out to be zombies, the sheriff doesn’t believe them. Tom and Shawn find a piece of one of the zombies stuck to their motorboat’s propeller. They take it to the local game warden, Miller Haze (Mike Bonavia).
Eventually they figure out that the recent destruction of a houseboat that was moored in the swamp was caused by a meteorite striking it. The meteorite turned the occupants of the houseboat into zombies. The zombies began eating the local alligators. Once the gator population was depleted, they started on the residents of the swamp. The sheriff believes the deaths are the work of a giant alligator, so he puts out a bounty on it. This attracts every yahoo in the area to the swamp and more food for the zombies.
“The Alien Dead” was released in 1980 and was directed and written by Fred Olen Ray. It is an American independent low-budget zombie horror film. It is often referred to as the poor man’s “Night of the Living Dead” 1968.
There are actually no aliens in the film, just zombies. The title is a combination of “Alien” 1979 and “Dawn of the Dead” 1978. Ray had intended for the film to be about giant leeches as homage to the 1959 film “Attack of the Giant Leeches” but the leech costumes were too expensive, so he went with zombies. Ray has a cameo as a pool player. Ray also used names from a lot of Roger Corman films for the characters names.
“The Alien Dead” is known for its bad acting and bad southern accents. I’ve seen worse, and the zombie make-up is not all that bad. For a low budget amateur camp movie, it’s basically basic. There’s also a little nudity tossed in.