'Top of the Food Chain' is set in the fictional small town of Exceptional Vista, where most of the people left town after the local nut factory went out of business, leaving only a small handful of oddballs. When a famous atomic scientist (Campbell Scott) and two traveling salespeople visit the town, the town is plagued with problems. First the television reception suddenly fails all over town, and then residents start disappearing one by one, victims of hostile aliens.
With the help of a sexy motel manager and her dimwitted brother, the people of town are forced to find and ultimately stop the invaders before they destroy the town and eventually the planet itself. The premise of the film might sound ludicrous, but that is an intentional part of the self-referential parody at the core of the movie.
This film comes as a great relief to those people who are tired of Hollywood's tired routine towards science fiction. In fact, this film accomplishes the very task that 'When Mars Attacks!' failed at when attempting to cover a similar subject. It is unpredictable and funny in a way that high-budget Hollywood collaborative productions rarely accomplish, if ever.
The fast paced and well-written dialog is funny in a much different way than found in films like 'Dude, Where's My Car?' or 'Dumb and Dumber' - but if you watch this film you should expect to have many of the quotes follow you around for a long time. In fact, even several months after watching the film many of my friends still refer to "the hilly, lumpy bumpy part of town outside of town", or "aye, says Jesus, there's the rub" - lines that do not sound funny when read in text but with the delivery by Campbell Scott and others they are unforgettable. In fact, you may want to go back and watch the film a second time, just to hear the parts of the dialog that you might have missed the first time.
However, this movie is most certainly not for everyone. It is quirky and odd, and very unlike the conventional straightforward plodding film that many moviegoers tend to expect. Some of the characters have odd sexual fetishes, while might make certain viewers squeamish, but there is no nudity or sex scenes. There is a little bit of gore and violence in the film, but it is done more in the low-budget tradition of implying violence and hinting at gore (a la 'The Blair Witch Project') - nothing that should bother most moviegoers.
Unfortunately, you will likely not be able to find this movie at your local Blockbuster. If you want to find 'Top of the Food Chain' for rental, you will probably have to find a specialty video store in order to find it. In the United States you may have to look for the film under the alternate title 'Invasion!', and in Europe look for 'Welcome to Exceptional Vista'. If you enjoyed this movie, I have to suggest you look for other works by John Paizs, in particular 'Crime Wave' (1985). 'Crime Wave' is a remarkably different film from 'Top of the Food Chain', but also quite enjoyable.
If you do end up seeing this film, or if you have already seen it, please reply with your reaction, I would be very interested to hear what other Kuro5hin readers thought of it.