Monday, November 17, 2008

They Came From Beyond Space

I've never understood why many 1960s dramas use those kind of Austin Powers-ish faux-jazz scores. To me, it's hard to take any sort of dramatic or action scene seriously when you've got this light, bouncy, almost comedic underscore playing against and undercutting the tension. Did 1960s film composers think this was an alternative to "old cinema"? Or were they just stoned all the time?
Fortunately, the music in this 1967 British film does not usually cut the film off at the knees. On the other hand, it doesn't help matters, either.
This is basically a rehash of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Scientists are investigating a meteorite that landed in a British field. They are summarily taken over by an alien life force, except for an American scientist who is recovering from a bad traffic accident for which a steel plate was installed in his head. He convinces one of his pals to wear a colander on his head as protection against the aliens' influence. It's not quite as goofy as it sounds, but not far from. The aliens have a plan to fly humans to the moon to use as slave labour.
The film holds together reseanably well until our heroes sneak aboard a rocket ship and confront the Master of the Moon.
No, really. That's his name.
The Master of the Moon is played by Michael Gough (Alfred from Tim Burton's Batman films) in whiteface and a bright orange robe and leotards. It's here that the film starts getting a little silly.
There's nothing terribly bad about this movie, expect for Michael Gough's leotards, of course. It's all done quite competently, yet like so many of these movies I've been reviewing it never rises above medicore.
The American scientist is played by Robert Hutton, and I spent the whole movie trying to figure where I've seen him before. He retired in 1975 (and passed away in 1994) and the only credit I recognize from his profile is the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (coincidentally also from 1967). Guess I'm going to have to dig out my Bond discs or I won't get any sleep tonight.
The special effects, which are cheap but effective, were supervised by Canadian Les Bowie who would be most know for working on Roger Corman films and Hammer horror films, but he also worked on such films as 2001, Star Wars and Superman.

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