Movie: (1953/4) An atomic scientist disappears, reappears, acts strangely, and eventually spins a fantastic yarn about being held captive by odd-looking aliens. When no one believes him, he commandeers the local power plant to try to fight back.
First released: 8/7/2007 (on DVD)
Opening: Kevin electrocutes himself just before Bob Honcho calls. Mike, Bill and Kevin and are given a riddle along with their assignment, while Honcho recovers from a leg extension treatment in St. Bart’s with Tony Danza.
Lunch Break: Kevin shows some alternate designs for the aliens from the “original sketchbook of the original costume designer of the original movie.”
End: Mike and Kevin describe and then demonstrate the movie’s most unusual technique, “Robichet”; an insert shot of an actor in extreme close up with all life drained out of them.
Extra: Kevin invites viewers to choose a translation of the backwards-masking in a scene. Although just watching and waiting is also pretty entertaining.
Availability: Amazon, Amazon instant, and Netflix. Strangely absent on Hulu.
Reminds me of: The beginning is reminiscent of Amazing Colossal Man, and overall the alien’s plan is close to Teenagers from Space as well as MST3K: the Movie.
This is the first movie that is really similar to early MST fare. The limited cast, heavy use of stock footage and drawn-out scenes are all typical of very low-budget films of the time. IMBD says it was released in 1954, and you can spot a 1953 license plate tag on a car.
I doubt they were meant to be very menacing in the first place but the alien costumes are really hard to take seriously. The googly-eye look just cracks me up.
The atomic testing being a danger to the world is a plot point that has also been used before. Were people really that concerned about them at the time? The weird surgical scar is a nice touch to suggest something happened, but since the cause was a jet plane in a nose dive, was his heart really the only thing that was needed help? Also fun is when aliens threaten to colonize Earth, bringing “one billion” new people to a planet that already has “three billion.” We’re at about 7 billion now.
I do enjoy the use of the slide rule here. I’ve always wanted to learn how to use one.
The print here is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. There is also a strange disconnect between foreground and background at times—was this supposed to be in 3D?
Cast and crew roundup: Peter Graves is the most recognizable face here, having appeared in Beginning of the End, It Conquered the World and Parts: the Clonus Horror. The only other face that pops out is Frank Gerstle (Dr Kruger), who we’ll see again in a few weeks on Wasp Woman. The director’s son was the story writer. Most of the cast had long careers as character actors on various TV shows.
Callback: Several Biography jokes, but probably less than in Clonus. Also they mix it up with some Mission: Impossible references.
Fave riff: “Wee-hoo. I’m as happy as a clam.” Honorable mention: “More like Killers of time.”
Next week: Cinematic Titanic takes us past the end of the world with “Doomsday Machine”!