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Killers From Space

 

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Movie summary:
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.

Our Take: Killers from Space is a movie which, in some one else's hands, could have turned out extremely good. Myles Wilder’s screenplay makes a good attempt to transform a reasonably common fifties alien paranoia plot into a harsh espionage thriller, taking the subtext of movies like The Thing or Invaders from Mars and bringing it right out into the open.

The film wants very badly to be The Manchurian Candidate with little green men, and with somebody like Jack Arnold— or even Ray Kellogg— in the director’s chair, there’s a good chance that that’s exactly what it would have been. But instead, Killers from Space got stuck with W. Lee Wilder, one of the era’s true virtuosos of tedium and half-assedness. Scarcely a moment goes by after the somewhat competent first act that doesn't reveal some phenomenal creative misjudgment. Take the aliens, for example. Many modern film producers without any money to spend on their spacemen were happy to dress them up in strange costumes and leave it to the audience to accept that a planet with basically the same environment as Earth’s would create beings that were also fundamentally similar. Wilder, nevertheless, apparently wanted his space men to appear alien; regrettably, all the budget was good for was about half a bucket of table tennis balls, which the special effects people sawed in half and colored to make the bulgy eyes of the Astronites. Certainly any sucker would notice that a group of hombres in goofy futuristic jumpsuits make more compelling aliens than a bunch of guys in silly futuristic jumpsuits, who have ping pong balls for eyeballs! Then there is the scene in which Martin runs away from Deneb, and tries to escape from the Astronites’ headquarters.

After frolicking for a bit, evading and hiding out from space men, he makes a wrong turn directly into the quarries where the invaders are spawning their ground force of monsters. For the next 4 minutes, Peter Graves huddles before back-projected pictures of spiders, grasshoppers, roaches, horny frogs, skinks, monitor lizards, and God knows what else. Four minutes may not sound like ages, but it really, really is. By the time it’s all over, Deneb’s pitiful menagerie has several worn out its welcome— by then, it Is not even comical any longer. In the finale, Wilder concocts a way to squeeze boredom from both a pursuit scene in the bowels of a power station and a hostage situation inside its control room. - So if you want a good laugh then this will meet you need!

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