Last time we began examining many of the invaders from outer space that plagued the Earth in 1950’s genre cinema. Naturally, not all of these extraterrestrials bent on the subjugation and/or total extermination of mankind graduated at the top of their tactics and planning classes. In fact, some of them were no doubt in the remedial class down the hall while others flunked out completely. To call them ill prepared is a gross understatement on par with calling Hurricane Katrina a slight inconvenience. I think the Marx Brothers, teamed with The Keystone Cops and Abbott and Costello could have mounted a much more effective – and more importantly, less problematic – campaign. So let’s look at five of the worst space invaders from the 50’s.
It Conquered the World (1956) – One of the last members of a race of beings that call the planet Venus home decides to come to Earth and help out poor mankind. Having communicated with one Earthling and getting the low down from him, “It” knows just whose minds are in need of control. It accomplishes this by sending out Bat-like things that fly to that individual and implant a control device in the neck. Shortly thereafter an entire town is under its control and soon enough the world will follow – a world where individuality means nothing and emotions are discouraged. Enter Peter Graves (yeah, the Biography guy), the one scientist who has not yet been controlled. He convinces his buddy – who was the lone Human who had been communicating and helping “It” – that his new friend means more harm than good. Eventually the cave where the alien is hiding out is stormed and the creature’s true appearance revealed. If that doesn’t send you into a fit of laughter then the notion that the entire planet was going to fall to a single lifeform capable of nothing more than power shortages and farting out alien bats will have you near hysterics. Far from what the title promised, “It” never conquered anything more than one town. Even Scientology can claim more territory than that. The creature design by Paul Blaisdell, nicknamed “Beluah” is considered a classic of B-movie monsters.
Teenagers from Outer Space (1959) – A group of teens from beyond the stars arrives on Earth and prepares for the arrival of their fleet, which will conquer the planet. One of the teens falls in love with an Earth girl while another of the adolescent aliens runs amok, firing his space pistol at damn near everything that moves, reducing any living thing to a skeleton in the blink of an eye. To say he has anger management issues is something of an understatement. Also along for the ride to Earth is the Gargon, a giant beast the aliens use for food. They intend to let them loose on Earth and use we Humans as food for their Gargon herds. By the way, the Gargons look like lobsters and sound like a transvestite gargling with glass. Eventually the one alien youth who has fallen in love with an idiot Earth girl decides that Humans need saving from his people, so he switches allegiances and kills the Gargon before putting a halt to the invasion plans – as well as creating political turmoil back home on his own planet. Worst invaders ever? Probably not. The Gargons, while big and deadly, would no doubt succumb to adequate doses of butter and lemons. The teens? Good grief, but take away those fancy flesh-disintegrating guns and I think the local high school varsity football team could whip their collective asses. Then again, these guys could be very dangerous. Think about it, teens behind the wheel of a car are cringe inducing, but behind the controls of a spaceship? Look out!!
Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) – Aliens land – where else – in the back woods somewhere. A local teen couple accidentally hits one with their car and kill it. This prompts the other aliens to unleash their fury by bashing the hell out of said vehicle with shop tools. The teens are also dealing with the detached hand of the alien they killed – which itself sports an eyeball and moves around on its own. To make things even loonier, the aliens have needle like fingers that inject…alcohol! Throw in an old guy with a rifle who is constantly trying to keep kids off his property as well as a cow that drinks beer and then gores one of the aliens and you have movie that cannot be taken too seriously. I mean really, these aliens have the technical knowledge and skill to design, construct and operate a spacecraft that is capable of taking them from one solar system to another…yet they cannot determine that the car than ran their buddy over is just a mere machine? Are they morons or something? And injecting alcohol? I don’t know about you, but in most parts of the world, they’d be welcomed and heralded as a cheap way of getting drunk rather than feared as world conquerors. Of course, the clincher is the way they dissolve into a cloud of smoke with a big POOF whenever a sufficiently strong light source is directed their way. All in all, not the most capable bunch for the job of enslaving the Earth.
Killers from Space (1954) – Somewhere out in the desert, the military is conducting a series of tests which involve the detonation of atomic bombs. After one such explosion, scientist Doug Martin is monitoring the situation from a jet when the pilot looses control and the aircraft crashes. The wreckage is soon discovered with one dead pilot, but no Martin. Soon enough Martin appears, sporting an odd scar on his chest, but looking no worse for wear. However, he begins acting strange and the authorities soon catch him trying to pass on top secret information about the atomic tests to….who? They sedate him and get him to tell his sad story. It seems after the crash – in which he died along with the pilot – his body was taken to some underground caves by aliens from the planet Astron Delta, which sounds more like an obscure fraternity than a planet. There they brought him back to life (hence the scar) and brain washed him into working for them…but not after revealing all their secrets. They come from a dying planet…yadda, yadda, yadda…plan on unleashing giant bugs and lizards to devour mankind then take the Earth for themselves…blah, blah, blah. Did I mention they have enormous bulging eyes? Martin gets loose and using his knowledge of their plans, manages to blow them up. I don’t know what was more idiotic – the fact that the aliens revealed their plans to him in such detail or the fact that their plans for eradicating Humans did not involve orbital bombardment. Giant bugs? Sheesh.
Invisible Invaders (1959) – A race of invisible aliens who have been living on the moon for the last twenty thousand years decide it’s high time they do something about these upstart Humans, so they contact one scientist and instruct him to warn the rest of mankind to surrender. Of course, this poor fool is just laughed at and sent on his way. The aliens choose to go ahead and wipe out Humanity and launch their attack…but first they decide to announce their intentions at a couple of sporting events Unfortunately for them, their superior technology does not work in Earth’s atmosphere, so they must use man’s own weapons against him in a war of terror and sabotage. This they accomplish by possessing the bodies of the dead and using them as their armies. A small group of people hiding in a government bunker must work feverishly to discover a way to defeat the aliens before mankind goes the way of the Dodo bird…or the audience falls asleep, whichever comes first. Now, I’ve got to say, these aliens are complete and utter MORONS. They have twenty thousand years to plan the invasion of Earth (and remember that they live on the moon, which in cosmic terms is not only on the same block, but damn near in the same room of the same house) and yet they fail to realize that their weapons won’t work in our atmosphere? For such a colossal oversight they deserve the scorn and derision of every space-faring species out there, even the Spaceballs.
That’s all for this installment, but that isn’t it for wacky invaders from space. Before we move on to something new, next time we’ll look at five more of the decade’s worst space invader flicks…and I think you know which ones will be popping up.