Based on a short story by the great nutball sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick, Screamers is more like a high-pitched rip-off of Alien (it was cowritten by Alien's Dan O'Bannon). The year is 2078 on the radiation-contaminated planet Sirius 6B. Col. Joe Hendricksson (Peter Weller) and a small band of survivors are trying to make peace between the opposing sides of a war. (In Dick's story, it was the U.S. and the USSR; here, it's Hendricksson's Alliance versus something ominously Gingrichy called the New Economic Bloc.) The conflict has ravaged the planet, leaving it a dusty, rusty dump overrun by Screamers mechanical creatures of great strength with very sharp teeth, originally designed to protect humans, but who've developed their own intelligence and are now uncontrollable.
Christian Duguay directs a series of long, slow scenes, each culminating in a violent BOO! The Screamers are stiff stop-motion gadgets. Weller the Skull Who Can Act gives far more than the movie deserves, imbuing Hendricksson with both a steely sense of humor and despair. And as a glowering black marketeer, Jennifer Rubin, until now an unexploited find in exploitation films, gets the break she deserves as both a kisser and a kung fu kicker. C+