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It Came from 

Outer Space

Part Five of The IT-athon!

     "We are not yet ready to reveal our true selves to you."

--  a very modest, mono-optical blob alien   

 

     

Reviews:

Gonzoid Cinema

 

 

Buzzkillers!

"Please. Just put the coconuts down..."

The rest of the Castaways finally realize this so-called genius, with all that available timber, can't fix a three-foot hole in the boat.

 

Watch it!

AMAZON

DVD

 
Sights &
Sounds:
It Came from 
Outer Space
(1953)
 Universal
 International

It Came from
the '50s...
The Films of
Jack Arnold &
William Alland.

It Came from Outer Space

This Island Earth

The Creature Walks Among Us

The Mole People

The Land Unknown

The Space Children

Monster on the Campus

 
Milicent's
Monsters:
The Creature
Concepts of
Milicent Patrick.

It Came from Outer Space

Abbott & Costello meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This Island Earth

The Creature Walks Among Us

 

When a young couple makes it official by professing their true feelings for one another, they celebrate the occasion by moving things outside for a romantic stroll under the stars. Since the beau is an astronomer by trade, the budding lovers mosey on over to his telescope for a little star-gazing and general mooning over each other. The lady gets first dibs, but suddenly, a streaking meteorite rudely interrupts their courting. Tracking its blazing course to impact, when the man deduces that the meteor landed not all that far from Sand Rock, their sleepy little desert town, they quickly mount up and head toward the still glowing impact site to investigate.

Leaving his girl, Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush -- who had already survived When Worlds Collide), at the rim, and after crawling down into the crater, John Putnam (Richard Carlson -- a solid B-movie vet and another fan favorite here at 3B Theater) soon makes a startling discovery -- it wasnít a meteor at all, but an alien spacecraft! And closer inspection finds something inside is spying on him through the opened hatch! But the occupants are a little shy, though, and quickly close the door and trigger a landslide, burying the ship.

Somehow, Putnam escapes this avalanche unscathed, and then  manages to crawl out just as some other curious locals arrive, including the Sheriff, Matt Warren (Charles Drake). Forgetting he has no visible evidence, Putnam excitedly blabs to everyone about what he just saw and what's buried at the bottom of the crater. And without any of that aforementioned proof, of course, no one believes him. Worse yet, the others quickly begin to question his mental capacity. Then, on the way back to town, Putnam and Ellen have a close encounter of the third kind when a large, glowing, one-eyed cephalopod-like monster suddenly appears right in the middle of the highway! They swerve and miss it, but when they look back, the creature has vanished, leaving only a glittering trail of some unknown substance.

The next day, the wary couple return to the crater. Now swarming with investigators, rubberneckers, and the media, they search but no trace of Putnam's alleged spaceship can be found. So the young astronomer is written off as either a crackpot or a publicity seeker -- or both. Frustrated, Putnam and Ellen leave. On the way back to town, they come across Frank Daylon (Joe Sawyer) and his assistant, George (Russell -- ohhhh-just sit right back and youíll hear a tale -- Johnson...Okay! Enough. I'm calling an official moratorium on all Gilligan's Island references for the duration of the review), the town's local electricians, who are out repairing the telephone lines. After Frank lets Putnam listen to some strange noises coming over the wires, he then gives everybody the heebie-jeebies by waxing about the strange mysteries of the desert. Sufficiently creeped out, the two groups part and head off in different directions. Down the road a spell, Frank and George have a closer encounter with the aliens, that also causes them to run their truck off the road. But this time, the aliens don't disappear and slowly close in on them...

When Putnam and Ellen circle back, they find the wrecked truck but no sign of their friends. Suddenly, George appears, and rather stiffly offers that all is well, and then resumes staring blankly, and without blinking, into the bright sun. Noticing the same glittering trail around the wreck, the couple are horrified when they see a bloodied arm sticking out from behind a rock. Figuring it's Frank, and since there's something really, really wrong with old George, they decide to hightail it out of there. But after they're gone, it's revealed that George isnít really George at all as Frank wakes up and spots the real George beside him, still unconscious. (The bloody arm the others saw was actually the real George's.) Obviously, these aliens are shape-shifters, and the fake George basically states that the two men have nothing to fear (-- aside from the violent car wreck), and that they are a benevolent species that wouldn't suck Frank's brain dry even if they could. (Well, we'll see about that.)

By the time Putnam and Ellen bring Sheriff Warren back to the scene of the crime, everybody's gone and the area cleaned up. With no evidence of foul play, a steamed Warren is getting a little peeved at Putnam for all his wild speculations and accusations. (And it doesnít help that he and Ellen used to be an item.) With nothing to see, the three head back to town, where they all spot Frank and George, alive and well, walking down the street. With the couple at a loss for words, the Sheriff disgustedly returns to his office. Chasing the errant electricians down an alley, Putnam corners them in a doorway, where the doppelgangers reveal themselves to him. Again, they stress that the others are fine, that they mean no harm, and they only need sufficient time to repair their ship so they can vacate the planet. Seems they feel the human race just isn't quite ready for them yet. Reluctantly, Putnam agrees to keep quiet. 

The next day, needing more raw materials for the repairs and more freedom of movement, the aliens also capture the investigators at the crater and some local miners (-- whose mineshaft conveniently leads to the buried spaceship.) Assuming their shapes and identities, the alien doppelgangers head into town and start gathering what they need. Later that night, Putnam is summoned to the Sheriff's office. Apparently, Frankís wife is a bit frantic because her husband is not acting right and sheís convinced that whoever it was that came home for supper last night wasnít her real husband. Jane, Georgeís girlfriend (-- and her amazing rocket-bra), is there, too, claiming he broke a date with her. And believe me, no one in their right mind would turn down a date with what she's packing.

Now I know It Came from Outer Space was filmed in 3-D but, good lord ... And her *ahem* impressive talents proved so impressive that Kathleen Hughes got herself a big credit at the end for about ten-seconds of screen time; and not only that, but her face and figure figured prominently in all the promotional materials. Okay, enough of this knockers -- I mean knocking around. Now back to the review before I make an even bigger boob out of myself ... D'oh!

After the ladies leave, Putnam breaks his word and reveals the alienís plan to Warren -- who finally starts to believe him because it all falls into place with the other strange events of the day; the hardware store being robbed; the disappearing electricians -- and their truck, with all its tools and equipment; couple all that with several other missing person reports can only mean one thing: Putnam has got to be right. Despite all of this evidence, the Sheriff still can't quite accept that aliens are behind all of this. But then they get the clincher when the aliens telephone them! Reporting that they've taken Ellen hostage, the aliens want to palaver with Putnam. Warren doesn't like it, but lets Putnam go back to the crater alone.

Going to the mine entrance as instructed, Putman is greeted by an alien disguised as Ellen. Weirded out, Putnam manages to convince the creature to reveal its true form, and here we finally get a good look at the mono-optic blob aliens (-- and they hold up quite well.) Once more reiterating that they donít want any trouble, the alien emissary promises her comrades will free the other hostages as soon as theyíre able, and then begs for more time to finish the repairs to get the hell off the planet before theyíre discovered and wind up in a test-tube. Putnam promises to try, but, once back in town, he canít bring the Sheriff to his way of thinking. Wanting to just barrel in and rescue Ellen and the others by force, Warren then spots the fake Frank leaving town. And despite Putnam's protests, the lawman quickly rounds up a posse to go after him. The mob quickly catches up and forces the alien-doppelganger off the road, killing him --  sadly confirming the aliens reluctant feelings toward the human race.

Taking a short-cut, I guess, Putnam manages to beat the mob to the mine entrance and finds the alien-Ellen inside waiting for him. Feeling betrayed, the alien draws a nasty looking weapon. The intension is clear, but luckily, Putnam proves a better shot in the ensuing duel and the alien-Ellen plunges to its death down a deep shaft. With Warren and the posse right behind him, Putnam presses on and finds the alien spacecraft in a large cavern -- and is startled to come face to face with himself! (An alien has assumed his form, too.) Unfortunately, the aliens donít have enough time to escape and have decided to just destroy everything, including all Earthly witnesses, with some kind of big ray-gun. Pleading for a second chance, Putnam goes to bat for humanity and convinces the alien leader that he can hold off the vigilantes long enough if they'll just release all the hostages. Reasoning that if he fails they can always use that big ray-gun anyway, Putnam's logic works, the aliens agree and get back to work; and after the hostages make it out of the mineshaft, the miners dynamite the entrance shut, sealing it off before the Sheriff's posse arrives. Luckily, this drastic maneuver gives the aliens the precious time they needed. And after they blast off back to the cosmos, Putnam wistfully hopes that, someday, the aliens will come back; and when that day comes, mankind will be better prepared to greet them.

The End

Initially put into production to cash-in on the new 3-D craze, It Came from Outer Space is a nice change of pace for those of us who thrive on hostile alien invasion films. No Red Scares. No mass disintegrations. And no attempts to steal our womenfolk for seedy breeding purposes. Just some rubber-neckin' blob-aliens that missed their turnpike, threw a rod, and crashed on Earth, who want nothing more than to fix their jalopy and vacate the premises before they're busted by the authorities.

I've never seen It Came from Outer Space in its original 3-D format, but the one thing you can't help but notice, in whatever dimension you view it, was the total lack of any scenes where things are deliberately thrown out at you for no apparent reason -- aside from that aforementioned rocket-bra. Wowsers. A film that relies solely on a gimmick to get it over the cinematic hump is just a bad idea. Believe me, I've seen more than a few with very little positive to report; so credit to director Jack Arnold for not relying too heavily on it. No one can make the wide-open desert appear more creepy and claustrophobic than Arnold, and there are plenty of scenes where he pulls the rug out from under you when things suddenly pop-up out of nowhere only to just as quickly disappear again. This was Arnold's first foray into science fiction, his first collaborative effort with producer William Alland, and far from the last on either. Their most famous feature would come a year later, when they ventured down the Amazon in search of a living fossil, but it was this film that officially re-ignited Universal International and launched the silver-age of sci-fi monsters throughout the 1950's. 

Harry Essex -- who I will never, EVER forgive for Octaman -- adapted the screenplay from a treatment by Ray Bradbury; and the film manages to capture the eerie and foreboding atmosphere of his pulp sci-fi novels. In fact, Bradbury wrote two different screen treatments for the proposed film: one with belligerent aliens, the other more benign. Amazingly, the studio opted for the later version and Bradbury was so happy with the decision that he stayed on the project for further consultation. The F/X work is solid -- except for that visible wire guiding the flaming tennis ball/crashing spaceship -- and the alienís design is really quite good, and it even holds up in the bright light of day when we finally get a good look at them. And here we're gonna pause to give some proper credit where credit is due:

Milicent Patrick was a pioneering female designer and animator for Walt Disney until Bud Westmore coaxed her over to Universal to dream up some new monsters as the studio geared up for its resurgent creature-feature movement. Putting pencil to paper, Patrick came up with two inventive and distinctively different conceptual designs for Bradbury's bashful aliens. Producer Alland was so impressed by both efforts that he eventually used the rejected design in a later project, where it eventually turned up as a Metaluna Mutant in This Island Earth. What I love most about her vision of the shape-changing blobs from It Came from Outer Space is that they are so alien in appearance and not some Frankenstein's monster surrogate. Patrick's best and most famous design, however, was for the gill-man in Alland and Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon. Sadly, as was customary at the time, folks like Patrick, Jack Kevan, Chris Mueller and Bob Hickman were often left off the credits and were represented en masse by the head of the make-up department, usually Westmore; who was more than happy to take all the credit from conception to creation over the ensuing years. And this, I think, is a far greater tragedy than the whole Ben Chapman/Riccou Browning controversy; but luckily, we live in more enlightened times and the truth -- and more importantly, the recognition -- is finally coming out.

Add it all up and you've got yourself a pretty interesting and intriguing movie watching experience with It Came from Outer Space that is in no way, shape or morphing form as dull or boring as some would have you believe.

It Came from Outer Space (1953) Universal International / P: William Alland / D: Jack Arnold / W: Harry Essex / C: Clifford Stine / E: Paul Weatherwax / M: Irving Gertz, Harry Mancini, Ronald Stein / S: Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake, Joe Sawyer, Russell Johnson, Kathleen Hughes

Back to the IT-athon!

Originally Posted: 04/01/00 :: Rehashed 04/18/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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