The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Friday, November 26, 2010

They Came From Beyond Space

A movie title can say it all sometimes.  When that's a positive thing, it draws you into the movie.  When it is a negative, you don't have to even watch the movie because you know everything.  Sure, the details are sketchy, but in a movie that bad, does it matter? That's 1967's They Came From Beyond Space, a low-budget British horror/science fiction flick that at least sounded interesting, but ends up being all-around awful.

When a strange meteorite hits a farm in England, a team of scientists is called is in to examine the scene, quickly finding out that the meteorites landed in a 'V' formation.  That's only the beginning.  The meteorites have the ability to take over a person's mind, but for some reason Dr. Curtis Temple (Robert Hutton) is immune. Temple tries to figure out what's going on, especially when fellow scientist and hopeful love interest Dr. Lee Mason (Jennifer Jayne) is taken under control.  Something isn't adding up though as the crash site is suddenly closed and all visitors turned away by guards with machine guns.  And for the cherry on top, a plague pops up out of nowhere so can Temple figure out what's going on before it is too late?

I'm going to get this out of the way and be done with it so look away if you don't want the classic twist revealed.  What's causing all this "chaos"?  A species of being from a distant galaxy so intelligent they basically wiped their whole race out by becoming too smart.  They left their physical bodies behind and only their minds existed.  Long story short, they ended up on our Moon, caught a ride on some low-flying meteorites, and whoosh...they're on Earth.  When we "see" these creatures, they're dressed up in long, flowing robes (a la Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat) and for some reason they're all old men made up with heavy face makeup that gives the appearance they're all albino.  It's a bizarre ending, no doubt about it.

With a low-budget movie and a lack of any future CGI at their disposal, a certain amount of cheesiness is to be expected, especially from the 1960s.  This one takes it a little too far.  There is some atrociously bad uses of miniatures standing in for sets that would have been far too pricey to make, and then one of the worst and most inappropriate musical scores I've ever heard for a movie.  Sorry, composer James Stevens, I try not to single people out, but this was bad news.  Instead of an eerie, mood-setting score, we get a cool, smooth jazz soundtrack that plays over any encounter with the aliens.  It's so bad I started to question if the score -- and the whole movie for that matter -- were done tongue in cheek.  Was director Freddie Francis up to something?  I decided it was all just too bad overall to be a spoof.  It's just that bad.

So if you've discovered a possible alien invasion where your closest friends and co-workers are at danger, what would you do?  Hutton's Temple basically goes MacGuyver on those aliens' asses, sneaking onto their secret base.  He even knocks out the electric fence by picking off the power transformer with a sniper rifle, no explanation offered.  It just seems to defy everything you've come to assume about this character.  Why go for help when he can become a sniper-rifle wielding ninja?  He can apparently take out an entire alien race by himself, and then to top it off, negotiate a peace.  People Magazine Man of the Year or what?

I think my favorite part was toward the end though when Temple realizes he need some help, and turns to a previously un-introduced character who is apparently an expert in handling alien invasions.  I introduce to you, Farge (Zia Mohyeddin). Working with Temple, he figures a way to prevent the alien powers from taking over your mind.  You guessed it...silver helmets that look like salad bowls!  It gets better.  After boarding the alien ship on its way back to the moon, Farge leads the aliens on a wild goose chase in hopes of buying time for Temple to accomplish his mission (whatever that is). Wearing a tie and a cardigan sweater with silver salad bowl helmet to boot, Farge runs around the ship using his homemade laser all the way.  A truly inspired sequence that had me roaring with laughter.

An awful movie that should be used only for laughs.  It's not only boring, it's just plain bad all around.  Steer clear of this bomb.  However, if your curiosity gets the best of you, the whole movie is available to watch at Youtube.  You can watch it HERE, but remember, I warned you.

They Came From Beyond Space (1967): */****

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