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 Book: Slaves of Sleep by L. Ron Hubbard (1939)

Review by Scott A. Cupp

This is the 152nd in my series of Forgotten Books.

There was a time when Ron Hubbard was considered a very good writer of science fiction, fantasy, western, adventure and other types of pulp fiction. Then came the Dianetics and Scientology works and he entered into the religious field. Regardless of your opinions of his later efforts, his early writings contain some fine work.

I first read SLAVES OF SLEEP about 20 years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. The other day I was looking for a new Forgotten Book and this one jumped up and said “ME! ME! ME!”

Never being one to refuse a book screaming to be read, I picked it up again. Instantly, I was back in its thrall. Jan Palmer is a young man who has a problem. He’s the head of a transportation company worth a lot of money and he has no interest in it at all. The business is run by his lawyer and business manager. Jan likes his books, boats and other stuff. He lives with his Aunt Ethel who respects the local mutts more than Jan.

When visited by Professor Frobish, Jan finds himself with a problem. Frobish recognizes a large brass jar in Jan’s home as a sealed bottle containing an Ifrit, a type of genii. Jan refuses to let Frobish examine the bottle, so Frobish breaks into Jan’s home at night and breaks the seal on the bottle, releasing the Ifrit, one Zongri. Zongri has been imprisoned for many thousands of years. At first, he promised himself that he would reward anyone who released him with incalculable riches. Then he promises revenge on the human race. Zongri kills Professor Frobish and curses Jan to a life of eternal wakefulness. When the police arrive, Jan’s story is met with derision and he finds himself facing murder charges. Unwilling to lie, he is universally despised.

The problems really escalate when he tries to sleep. Suddenly, Jan finds himself in a fantasy world where Ifrits flourish and he is known as a sailor named Tiger. He is in trouble in both worlds, facing certain death in either one. People from his Earth world seem to be prevalent in some form in the fantasy world. Living in both worlds, he gets no rest and is running ragged in both.

It’s not a great novel or an important one, but it is fun. Some of the characters are stereotypes but I found I could not stop reading and enjoying it. The paperback I was reading reprinted some of Edd Cartier’s illustrations from UNKNOWN magazine which are quite fun.

If this sounds like fun, check it out. There was a hardcover edition from Shasta Publications with a striking Hannes Bok cover. There is also a sequel MASTERS OF SLEEP which I have not read and cannot comment on. SLAVES has had several paperback editions, some in combination with the sequel.  You might also check out THE ASTOUNDING, THE AMAZING, AND THE UNKNOWN by Paul Malmont which features Hubbard in a World War II adventure with Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and L. Sprague de Camp.  It was quite a bit of fun, too.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.