Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ten Statements About....THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967)

60's mod fashions took a weird turn towards the end...
"Have you ever known meteors to land in formation?"
"These did. In a perfect 'V'."

1) The fascinating thing about this Amicus-produced science fiction thriller is that even though it is made in the mid-60's, it feels 100% like a B movie from the 50's. The look, the feel, the dialogue all seem to indicate that this would not be out of place in a Drive-In circa 1957, directed by Roger Corman filtered through a decidedly British sensibility.

2) Of course, there's another influence that seems to have been overlaid on the proceeding in its set design and the way main character Temple is a punching, kicking foo'--namely, 60's spy culture. There are many, many moments that has definite echoes of The Avengers and other spy television series, especially when it comes to the sequences where Robert Hutton's Temple finds his way into the aliens' secret base. And speaking of Hutton....

3) ...throughout the film I couldn't help but think that the script was written with a much, much younger man in mind. The physicality of Temple, the way he seems to be a hit with the female leads, the way the script refers to his recklessness and love of sports cars, looks odd with the almost 50 year old Hutton doing it all, especially since in many scenes he's noticeably older than everyone around him. It's a weird sense of frisson that sometimes pulls you out of the film.

4) What the Hell was the point of Luanshya Greer's Gas Station Attendant? They give her quite a build up, flirting furiously with Temple (which is akin to your best friend in high school coming on to your grandma), saving him at a key point, being around when the Crimson Plague hits...and then is seen as a corpse later as an afterthought.

5) There's a good reason that Zia Mohyedden's Farge doesn't work as a sidekick--not only does he not come into the film until very late into the proceeding (well into the third act), but he has no characterization whatsoever...and no, showing us all his horse riding trophies doesn't count, as those trophies end up as a punchline that leads to the resolution of the hour and change of running around after alien-possessed scientists.
6) And while we're on the subject of those weapons that Farge and Temple devise to combat the, are they goofy. The trio running around with Silver motorcycle helmets and those big goofy goggles that seem made out of cardboard and aluminum foil is as ludicrous a sight as we can see in any of those Drive-In classic.
"Oh, that thing overhead?  It's my career, trying to escape the
awfulness of this film."

7) And then we get Michael Gough's embarassingly named 'Master Of The Moon,' another alien-possessed human....but my question is why, oh why did he and his pals on the moon swap their normal clothes for the cast-offs from a high school production of Flash Gordon? It's not as if these aliens have shown any concern for style or fashion or anything like that. And it's a pity that these bargain basement costumes detract, because Gough is his usual reliable self in his brief appearance.

8) Even though it's wildly inappropriate, I got a kick out of James Stevens' jazz score. There's something so of its time about the way that score just jumped in at strange points in the plot, seeming so at odds with the staid stuff that's being depicted on screen.
"I know, I know...whatever you do, don't mention the
collander on his head."

9) There's a decided lack of consistency in the plot--first we've got this whole 'Crimson Plague' thing that's referred to by Temple as the 'Scarlet Plague,' which then is dropped after a bit because we never know why or how the Plague has been introduced by the aliens, and then we've got all these intimations of something sinister going on with the aliens, only for them to drop all pretensions when confronted with Temple and confess they just wanna go home. This is a script that should've had another pass or two before it was shot.

10) I understand that they couldn't have used the original name of the novel this film was based on--The Gods Hate Kansas--but couldn't they have come up with something in the same vein? Just saying is all.

Overall...a not-very-good film that probably proves why Hammer stayed far away from science fiction after looking at what little brother Amicus wrought with this, it still has its moments as a goofy, so-bad-it's-funny (notice I didn't say good) curio. And it's available on for free!

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