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Killers From Space (1954)
The last word in science-fiction thrills!
Filmmaker(s): W. Lee Wilder

Atomic scientist/pilot Doug Martin is missing after his plane crashes on an reconnaissance mission after a nuclear test. Miraculously appearing unhurt at the base later, he is given sodium amethol, but authorities are skeptical of his story that he was captured by aliens determined to conquer the Earth with giant monsters and insects. Martin vows to use existing technology to destroy them.

Killers From Space (1954)

Fools You, You Fools

You know, slogging through 50’s scifi through the same stuff in the seventies is a dreary business unless you invent your own film on top. Most of the viewers who do this, simply hoot at the silliness and bad production. But there are other, more rewarding challenges.

Superficially, this has a lot going against it. It is more or less the same story Depp did in “Astronaut’s Wife.” It has atomic explosions, some mysterious use of electricity (as if that could be a mystery) by some aliens (white guys in mime suits with buggy eyes) who are bent on taking over the world. Theirs is broken, you see.

They’re going to do this by loosing giant insects and reptiles on us, so we get to see that cheesy effect too.

My favourite: all these kinds of movies (which we see on a screen) feature a screen that the aliens use to see us. Its a necessary element of self-reference that goes as far back as the first movies.

Anyway, we have all these loose parts thrown on the floor in typical b-movie fashion. Here’s the one minor pleasure: our scientist has been coopted by the aliens. Hypnotised, what else? Er, there’s also some chest surgery that is never fully explained.

Through drugs, he breaks the spell and sets about warning the others, but some don’t take him seriously. We know surely that there are other “pod people” whose real identity will be revealed and countered in due time. This is telegraphed several times, using the closeup of the eyes bit, as well as some obstructionist behavior.

(There’s also a hint that our hero’s wife could be having an affair or somehow be involved with the main suspect in this regard.) This expectation of finding other enemies continues to the very end.

Guess what? No other compromised scientists. Fooled me.

Cinefiles may notice that the operation scene where three aliens are working on Peter Graves’ heart is taken from Orson Welles’ Macbeth. The witches scene.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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