Forgotten Films: They Came From Beyond Space (1967)


They Came From Beyond Space: Cool ray guns, cool goggles and a not-so-cool ending.

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 133rd in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films

This week we have an odd film. I thought I was recording It Came From Outer Space, the 1953 3D film based on a Ray Bradbury script. Instead I got a British film based on Joseph Millard’s novel The Gods Hate Kansas. So, I watched this one instead.

The story begins with a meteorite landing in Cornwall. Nine meteorites land in a field in a perfect V. The British Ministry of Science wants Dr. Curtis Temple (Robert Hutton) and his crew to join a group of various scientists in reviewing the landing. Temple is an expert in extraterrestrial life and is interested but he is suffering from a recent car crash which resulted in a silver plate being placed in his head. His doctor refuses to let him go. Instead, his assistant/girlfriend Lee Mason (Jennifer Jayne) goes. When they attempt to take a sample of the meteorite, Mason finds herself possessed by an alien intelligence. The other scientists are also possessed. Being the first possessee, Mason is in charge and sets up a giant operation, which includes taking and possessing locals.

The DVD art for They Came From Beyond Space

Temple is in love with Mason and worries when he does not get the reports and daily phone calls he has been promised. Mr. Arden, the Ministry official who first visited him, comes by and tells him the doctor has cleared it so Temple and his other assistant, Allan Mullane (Geoffrey Wallace) can go to the site. Instead, Arden tries to possess the two men. Temple sees that Mullane is affected but is not affected himself, which results in him being summarily thrown from the car and told to go away.

Temple attempts to visit the site and is turned away by armed guards. He insists on speaking with Mason and when he does he is not pleased with her treatment of him. She orders him shot if her returns. He manages to sneak in, and he finds a spaceship being built.

What we have here is a British mashup of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, but without a lot of the good payoff. The paranoia does not run deep. Temple just barrels into things and eventually figures out that his silver plate may be what is saving him from possession. He enlists another scientist Farge (Zia Mohyeddin) to help him build a silver hat to keep the intelligences from taking over others and they develop a ray that can force them out of bodies. And there is a plague that kills within minutes of contact. Maybe. And a four hour roundtrip to the moon. And Michael Gough (Konga, Batman, millions of other films) is the Master of the Moon and leader of the alien intelligences who are looking for bodies to inhabit to do work. They have progressed beyond that eons ago but they still need manual labor.

IMDB shows this with 4.5 rating out of 10. Sounds about right. Some of the sets are pretty good. Story is a little weak. The ending is really weak. And definitely this is a product of the mid 1960’s. Some of the costume color choices are pretty laughable. When you realize that Nigel Kneale was producing Quatermass and the Pit (Five Million Years to Earth) at the same time, this becomes a little sorrier. Not a bad film, just not a good or great one.

And, as always, my taste is totally in my mouth and your mileage might vary.

Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.


Forgotten Films: Invisible Invaders (1959)

Who wouldn't want to witness a war-to-the-death of all civilization?

Review by Scott A. Cupp

This is the 127th in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films

Between 2011 and 2014 I produced a regular (mostly) weekly column of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films as part of the Missions Unknown blog and as a part of a loose gathering of writers and fans coordinated by Todd Mason (there should be a link at the end of the review).

But the Missions Unknown blog got hit with some form of ebola or other disease and has not been revived for more than a year. I loved doing these reviews and inflicting my weird thoughts on folks so when Sanford Allen asked me to continue them, I was ready to continue. So check here each week for cinematic wonders and horrors alike.

That said, let’s go a film I saw as a child and had fond memories of – INVISIBLE INVADERS. The film starts with an annoying voiceover about nuclear experimentation and a quick explosion which kills Dr. Karol Noymann (John Carradine). His friend, Dr. Adam Penner (Phillip Tonge) decides to renounce the nuclear experiments. After giving Noymann’s eulogy, he is visited by the animated corpse of Noymann, possessed by invisible aliens from the moon. They have hidden bases on the moon and have decided Mankind is a pestilence and gives the Earth 24 hours to surrender or be destroyed. They plan a mass invasion to annihilate all Earth life. They have bases on the moon hidden by invisibility.

Earth, being what it is, decides not to surrender on the basis of one man’s word, no matter how renowned. When no surrender comes, the invaders animate corpses and attack the living. Their blank stares and zombie walk would make Tor Johnson proud. When the destruction starts, the Army assigns Major Jay Bruce (John Agar) to assist Penner, his daughter Phyllis (Jean Byron), and co-worker Dr. John Lamont (Robert Hutton). John Agar is his usual semi-wooden self as the military man out to help scientists solve the invasion problem,

It’s not an awful movie. It’s just not good. Script and acting are weak. Special effect rival early Dr. Who for crudity. Many shots just use stock footage. The music overpowers several scenes with terrible results. And that annoying voice over keeps on coming, telling us the story rather than having the script and actors show us the story.

But it appears that it might have had an effect on George Romero as several Night of the Living Dead shots seem to echo scenes from this film. Could be coincidence, but I wonder.

Some of the logic of the film seems to belong to current political debates, with as much logic. The invaders are portrayed with drag marks through sand. Overall, it’s just a mess. Fortunately, at 67 minutes, it’s not an interminable mess. It just seems that way. Watch at your own risk.

Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.