It Came From Outerspace (1953)

Because “Why not?”, and as it makes picking viewing easier, Trash Or Treasure is going through every movie in “Science Fiction – Double Feature”, the opening song for that trash culture classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

This week

Then at a deadly pace
It Came From Outerspace
And this is how the message ran…

We’ve made it to the end of the first verse, and it’s a happy surprise that things are still watchable. This goes double for this movie, as its main selling point at the time is that it was Amazing! Exciting! Spectacular and was so 3D! it would leap off the screen and punch you in the tits. It being based off a work by Ray Bradbury probably helped though, as does it having unexpected twists lying all over the place.

“Don’t put your hand there!”

The overture of the movie is pretty straightforward, starting with a UFO crashing into the Earth because someone stuck it on a massive wire. John Putnam (Richard Carlson), All American pipe smoker and astrologist, and Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush) All American fiancé and School Teacher, see it happen so head off to have a look at the crash site. They’re both clearly living together and not married, and we’re hardly 10 minutes into the film!

“Are you following me?”

When they get there, John goes for a jaunt into the unstable crater spewing possibly toxic fumes, sees the UFO, and then comes out of the crater to be told he’s full of shit. Mostly he’s told this by Sheriff Warren (Charles Drake), who used to go out with Ellen and thinks having her new boi arrested will get her back to his arms. She politely tells him to bugger off and believes John once she is witness to some pretty compelling evidence, so that’s female agency and logical deduction. My god, next thing the women folk will be able to take out credit cards in their own name! (Kidding, that was 1974).

Formal evening wear is a life style, not an option.

Meanwhile, the aliens are off doing the usual hijinks of looking at stuff so that the 3D effect can be shown off from their view point, kidnapping people then unconvincingly pretending to be them whilst walking around town, and drawing a whole load of attention to themselves in the name of going undetected. Pro-Tip: if you want to not be seen, don’t manifest in the middle of a road when there is oncoming traffic!

“Oh no, we’re about to be eaten. In Terrifying 3D!”

All of this is creepy, compelling, and very well shot. More impressively, the 3D sequences work in 2D; so instead of it feeling like someone dicking around to show off their new trick, they actually contribute to the story. James Camron and Steve Miner could have taken extensive notes from this. The non-3D effects are also good, even now, except for the aforementioned opening shot. Which is a downer, as it makes the film look far less technically competent than it is.

“Okay ladies, make it good, This is your only scene”

The plot unravels at a reasonable pace, with the 80 minutes run time never feeling rushed or drawn out. The conclusion is a nifty bit of unexpected storytelling, though maybe not as smart as it thinks it is, and you’ll discover that you are far more attached to the characters than you realised when they all ended up where they are at The End. It doesn’t try to be overly dramatic, and it trusts the audience to get the stakes that are in play.

“Did I leave the gas on?”

By keeping things from going overblown, and by having relatively little monologuing for it’s time, it keeps you engage. There is an actual story about actual people going on, and what should be an effects film is driven to an extra level of Treasure and watchability after all this time. More alien invasion stories should try mixing up their concepts like it did, and have more shocking pictures of unmarried couples holding hands in very determined ways.

The Raggedyman

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