They Came from Beyond Space
Conquerors from a dying world invade Earth!
Year of Release: 1967
Genre: Science Fiction
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 85 minutes (1:25)
Director: Freddie Francis
Robert Hutton ... Dr. Curtis Temple
Jennifer Jayne ... Lee Mason
Zia Mohyeddin ... Farge
Bernard Kay ... Richard Arden
Michael Gough ... Master of the Moon
Maurice Good ... Stilwell
John Harvey ... Bill Trethowan
Hedger Wallace ... Alan Mullane
Aliens have come to Earth intent on exploiting mankind to save their own dying race. One by one the extra-terrestrials take over earthling bodies, turning the world into a land of wandering humanoids.
They Came from Beyond Space, remindin' us that when your girlfriend gets promoted to the head of 'er science division and ghosts ya the only logical course of action is to launch guerilla attacks on 'er installation in a bid to win 'er back.
And speakin' of red flags (with optional hammer and sickle), you'll hafta excuse me if I'm a little torqued off this week, but I tend to get this way when Commie slimeballs show up in my backyard tryin' to destroy the American way of life. Normally I wouldn't go spoutin' off about my personal problems, but if this kinda thing can happen here, it can happen anywhere.
Last week the City Council of Concerned and Learned Nazis passed an ordinance banning: "any and all behavior of a sexual nature in recreation areas open to use by the general public." Now, you're probably thinkin', "So what? Maybe this'll help air out the crawl tunnel in the park," and while that's probably true, it's only the tip of the iceberg. I know this 'cause the day after the resolution passed Horst Gaskins (the local code enforcement officer) came puttin' out to the Grime Time on his Suzuki ALT125 that's been on life support since 1994, and handed a copy of the legislation to Skunky Hernandez and warned 'im that he'd be "on patrol" for any "acts of wonton carnality."
"Ees thees beeg problem? Why anyone geet nasty weeth Chinese dumpling?" Skunky asked as he handed me the notification.
"They mean 'wanton' Skunky. You can't expect people who've been drinkin' outta lead pipes for 60 years to..." I trailed off as I read through the letter.
"Those sonsabitches!" I growled through gritted teeth.
"Ees bade?" Skunky asked.
"They're tryna cancel our culture, Skunky. 'Cept when *these* people do it they call it 'standing up for traditional values,'" I summarized as I wadded up the form.
"They're good, too. Picked a night where you're showin' movies that're so bad a nun might be bored enough to consider alternative activities to avoid lookin' at the screen. I TOLD you never to show these two comatizers on the same night!" I hollered as I chucked the paper ball at the side of his head.
"Oh sure, blame veectim!" Skunky whined, rubbin' his ear where the paper wad's stuck.
"This's a real problem, Skunky. Even if the crowd can stay focused on Jive Turkey for the full 86 minute runtime, FIVE minutes of They Came from Beyond Space is gonna have everyone on the lot maulin' each other to escape their failed escapism," I explained.
"So we change movies then. Time-tested crowd favorites... mebbie Tomboy, ane... Invasion of Bee Girls?" Skunky suggested.
"Nuh uh. We're not negotiating with terrorists. Even if we are the ones likely to kill the hostages with this crapola," I declared.
"What then?! Fine for violateen ordinance... times feefty cars... exceed national debt!" Skunky wailed as he crunched the numbers on his pocket calculator.
"We're gonna do the only thing we CAN do, Skunky. We're gonna fight city hall. And we're gonna fight dirty."
Buncha strong-armin' motherfu... um, excuse me. Anyway, they thought they had us this time. Matter of fact, they were so sure of it that every city council member packed their families into their foreign-made SUVs and sat in attendance in preparation for their moment of triumph when insatiable lust inevitably broke out in backseats all over the lot and the Grime Time got shut down like an Arkansas sushi restaurant on health inspection day. Actually, that's not quite true - *most* of 'em brought their families. Clem Glignit ain't got no family - and if you've ever seen 'im on a day where he forgets to wear his belt, you know why. Fortunately, I was countin' on Clem showin' up alone.
I'm not gonna claim it was the most ambitious plan I ever concocted, and it certainly wasn't the most subtle, but it was the best I could do with an hour's notice. Roxanne Bigelow volunteered to help out with Phase II, but I had to turn 'er down on the basis that she has entirely too much class, and plus Cleave Furguson started threatenin' to throw 'imself off the roof of the concession stand if Roxanne went through with it, so I called up Bambi Mastrude. Bambi said she'd help, but after some thought, I decided even Bambi was too elegant for what I had in mind, and so she put a call in to Trixie Willager and secured her... um... services.
I knew the town's collective libido couldn't hold out against the mind-numbing might of Jive Turkey, so the moment I flicked the projector on I sent Cleave and Billy Hilliard down to initiate Phase I - which required liftin' the outhouse off the ground and movin' it 10 feet beyond its original location, and diggin' a fresh hole precisely 3' in front of the now exposed crap cavern. Cleave and Billy finished just in time and ducked behind the relocated outhouse as Horst came sputterin' down row four, at which time I gave Skunky the sign to kick off the festivities.
"Pssst. Horst. Ovare here," Skunky motioned from behind Cleave's Bronco.
"Make it quick, Hernandez, I'm on duty," Horst beamed with pride and a large quantity of corndog grease reflecting off the corners of his mouth.
"That why I call you. I not want trouble, so I tell you before they..." Skunky stalled.
"They what? Who?" Horst demanded.
"Not sure who eet was, but I see two people head for outhouse. Veeeeeeerrrrrry friendly, eef you follow," Skunky insinuated.
"You did the right thing, Hernandez. Now stand back," Horst said, before layin' down what little tread remained on his 3-wheeler en route to the outhouse.
Cleave Furguson ain't good for too much, but he calculated the distance between his pothole and the shit pit flawlessly, and when Horst's front tire went down into it he flew over the handlebars like a javelin and landed head first in our crap trap. With Horst brown for the count, I signaled Bambi with my flashlight to get a status update on Phase II, and this was where the only real wrinkles cropped up. She was supposed to flash either once for "hold" or twice for "proceed," but she ended up flashin' three times and so I figured everything was hunky-dory and whistled for Roxanne to uncork the coup de grace and put an end to this farce.
Unfortunately, it wasn't until Roxanne kicked the spotlight mounted to Cleave's Bronco on and swung it around to Clem's Honda Element that I understood why Bambi'd flashed three times. Apparently, Trixie either didn't fully understand the plan, or is a consummate method actor, because she was only supposed to *pretend* to make the sign of the pump-action swamp goblin with Clem, and ideally, STOP after the big hypocrisy unveiling.
Juanita told me the next mornin' that after everyone got an eye full of Trixie and Clem the concession stand only brought in $4 all night, and even that was only 'cause she started chargin' a dime for vomit bags. The rest of the council members snuck outta there as quietly as you can when you've got a rig loaded with spoiled rotten kids screamin' about missin' the second feature, and Clem got kicked off the city council for "behavior unbefitting an elected official" the next day. Horst, meanwhile, has since become (pardon the pun) scared shitless of anything to do with the Grime Time, so even though the ordinance is still on the books I don't expect anybody to be charged with crimes against Christianity anytime soon.
It's a good thing too, 'cause after a few minutes of They Came from Beyond Space the only eye pointed at the screen belonged to Rocky Pogue, and even that was just the lazy one. I don't wanna be rude or anything, but the American Sleep Association should see about locatin' a 35mm print of this flick for use in clinical sleep trials. It's not that the flick is slow, necessarily, but if you screened it at a meth house every night you might breed a new race of super soldier that's too depressed to engage in self-destructive behavior, but that can still function without sleep. And, ya know, I wouldn't say that it's boring, exactly - alls I'm sayin' is that if Richard Simmons had seen it when it came out in 1967, he'd be an accountant today. Other'n that, I like it just fine. One thing I will tell ya, though - all the folks who decided to test their rear shocks rather'n partake of the classic British science fiction experience on display missed out on some pretty enlightening material. But, since I acknowledge and respect the right of the American public to do any disgusting thing they want to within the privacy of their own automobile, I'm gonna go ahead and publish a few of the highlights as a public service so nobody falls behind the philosophical 8-ball. First, if alien consciousnesses invade the bodies of your scientists and empty their expense accounts, no fraud investigator is ever gonna find in your favor. Second, if you send an assassin to execute a prisoner being held in an air-tight vault and that prisoner escapes, don't expect a medal of commendation any time soon. And third, if you hafta have a silver plate implanted in your skull followin' a car crash, make damn sure you trust your mortician.
The movie begins in Cornwall where a formation of soup cans crash lands in a farmer's field, promptin' B.O.R.A.D. to assemble a crack team of investigators to scour the location and determine whether the phenomenon is meteorological, extraterrestrial, or just a lone Nazi fighter pilot who never got the memo about the war bein' over. Unfortunately, the center's head arsetronomer (Curt) is in no condition to visit the site due to health concerns surrounding a recent automobile accident and the effects of dating a woman half his age (Lee), and so Curt hasta stay behind with this egghead mathematician (Alan) makin' pouty faces like his mum wouldn't sign the permission slip for 'im to join the rugby squad. The rest of the team (now managed by Lee) head for the crash site to test for radiation with a cordless egg beater, and everything's goin' fine until one of 'em decides to chisel off a chunka meteorite to impress stoned hippie chicks at The Flamingo Club. This goes over about as well as World League Football, and the instant they try breakin' up the space rock it sets off an intergalactic car alarm and causes intracranial krakatosis as an alien force invades their brains and turn everybody into droning, emotionless Space Commies intent on takin' over the planet and flooding the British airwaves with agonizing international Perry Mason adaptations. Then Lee mind controls the loan officer at the Pound of Flesh Credit Union to secure the capital needed to build a rocket launch site and destroy all the Earth-based television transmitters sendin' Father Knows Best reruns into space. While that's goin' on, Lee's henchman (Arden) drives back to the city to recruit Curt and Alan and pad the limeystone supply in their quarry, only the sterling silver commemorative plate implanted in Curt's skull post car crash rock blocks Arden's hypnoray gun; allowin' 'im to maintain his identity and irrational affinity for Benny Hill. So now the aliens hafta found their Rocky Jonestown spaceport on their own, only Curt keeps showin' up at their security checkpoints and stalkin' his ex-girlfriend at work until she eventually comes out and tells 'im that if he don't bugger off she's gonna send Pia Zadora and 'er Rock Aliens to voyage on over to his flat and roll his stones.
Eventually things get so bad that she hasta zap 'im with 'er self-defense phaser and dump 'im at a gas station where he ends up pickin' up some M.U.F.O.N. private dick who wants to help 'im rescue his lady before the illegal aliens can probe 'er, 'cept when they drive into town the guy goes into a phonebox and comes out with the Who-bonic plague that immediately spreads and kills everybody in the surroundin' area except Curt. Then the Men in Slacks show up to threaten Curt a little bit but he ignores 'em and keeps nosin' around the alien timeshare facility and gettin' roughed up by cauliflower-eared Scotsmen and shot at by pro-Brexit militiamen until he witnesses a clandestine rocket test from a launchpad hidden beneath a sewage lagoon. Or a loo-goon, as it's known in the local vernacular. That's fun for a while, but eventually he gets serious and heads out onto a nearby hill with a high-powered rifle and starts blastin' the insulators off the alien substation and sendin' everybody into an extraterrestrial tizzy so he can descend into an underground vault in an elevator disguised as a giant yellow jacket where they're keepin' all the plague victims wrapped in cellophane. The sight of this is so unnerving that the corners of Curt's mouth start tremblin' like an engine that's bein' cranked for the first time in 19 years, but just when he's on the verge of a change in facial expression the zombie space Commie inhabitin' Alan's body slams the vault door shut and locks 'im in before he can sulk out. Unfortunately, every ship's crew has a Gilligan, and when Lee orders Alan to zap Curt into the ozone layer he becomes a victim of his race's cliched insistence upon a dark, dismal prison atmosphere when Curt jumps 'im from the blindside and punts 'im right in his space junk.
Then Curt hasta slap Lee around for bein' an intergalactic tramp and toss 'er into the backseat of a stolen Jeep and plow through the perimeter fence like Rambo so he can take 'er to see his Pakistani colleague (Farge) who got his Master's degree in extraterrestrial de-brainwashin' techniques while practicing parapsychology at Area 51. But before they can go rootin' around in the underwear drawer of Lee's psyche they hafta smelt a coupla Farge's bowlin' trophies into a protective plate and weld it onto a bingo cage so Lee won't be able to muddle his medulla. Then they strap on View-Masters and give Lee an epilepsy stress test until they find the precise wavelength of the cosmic subspace spectrum where pushy, egocentric, photonic space creatures are vulnerable, switch their phaser to the "Exorcism" setting, and deep fry its essence into an antimatter platter. By this point Curt's pretty pleased with 'imself, and with Lee back in control of 'er faculties, he figures he and Farge can just stowaway in the back of the Jeep while Lee makes like a space Karen at the front gate, only when they get there the aliens detect the scent of irradiated comrade and the three of 'em hafta separate more transdimensional trespassers from their Cockney hosts as they fight their way onboard the alien rocketship. I'm gonna go ahead and quit flappin' my gums right here so's I don't go spoilin' the ending even though I'm not sure such a thing's possible. Honestly, this movie's so painful that it'd probably count towards my community service to finish the entire movie and prevent anyone else from bein' subjected to it, but I refuse to violate my personal code of conduct for anything less than $20, so you'll just hafta fish this one outta the 10-for-a-dollar bin at the Dollar General if you wanna see how it turns out.
Alrighty, They Came from Beyond Space, presumably to commit genocide by boredom. It's an efficient flick, I'll give 'em that much, 'cause it not only works perfectly on the back end of a double feature where everybody's already switched to in-car forms of entertainment - but it can also be used to extract confessions from Russian spies AND keep nap time at the daycare center runnin' on schedule. Marla Ostman laid on the horn of 'er El Camino three times to complain that my snorin' from the deck of the projection booth was "ruining the mood" in the back row; it was pitiful. Anyway, the movie was based upon a novel called The Gods Hate Kansas, and it's actually pretty faithful to the book except that Amicus didn't really have the scratch to make the plague worldwide, and so they just kept it confined to a small contingent of rubberneckers loitering around the highway. 'Course the reason they didn't have any money, according to director Freddie Francis, is that it was shot as part of a double bill with The Terrornauts and apparently Amicus blew all their money on that flick, leavin' They Came from Beyond Space nothin' but hand-me-down sets and props from the Dr. Who film, Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., and moon-man costuming purchased on the cheap from a gay circus that was liquidating it on the basis that it was too flamboyant. What really kills it though is how it's made immediately clear to the viewer that the crew would sooner bore us all to death than take a chance and risk humiliating themselves (although it's apparently okay to humiliate Michael Gough in that get-up). This approach in itself has destroyed more movies than Jack Valenti and CGI combined, and it is this philosophy that leads to movies like The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues when there's really nothing preventing the crew from churning out an Octaman if they'll just get over themselves. On the one hand, I suppose you can't blame them for selling us down the river given that a laughable result (no matter how entertaining) would go on their permanent records and possibly lead to the loss of jobs in the future; but on the other hand, putting the audience into a coma isn't exactly gonna make the phone ring off the hook either. In short, I think R. Lee Ermey might've had something to say about these folks, 'cause they definitely got us right in the ass without the common courtesy of a reach-around.
In any event, I'm gonna be open-minded and unbiased in spite of the fact that there're states where this kinda flick could be successfully prosecuted for attempted murder, so let's see what these production values have to say for themselves before declaring a verdict. The plot's interesting in that it somehow manages to trip over itself every few minutes even when there's nothing happening. The biggest problem is that the writer(s) can't decide whether Robert Hutton's character is or is not critical to the alien agenda, because for a while the border patrol agents just try to scare him off before Jennifer Jayne finally gets tired of his bullstuff and orders his execution. Of course, he escapes and returns with weapons that're even more formidable than the ones he had before, and by the time this happens they've gone back to refusin' to blow his head off again. This, we learn, is because the moon monarchy needs his galaxy brain knowledge in the field of rocket propulsion so they can get back to their planet, but if that's the case why'd Jennifer Jayne try to off him? The answer is probably because there's no suspense if Hutton's got impenetrable plot armor for the full running time, but what we end up with is a situation that's so ridiculous that it starts makin' you notice all the *other* little absurdities, like, why's Hutton's brain plate made of silver, and just how much street cred with the rap community does that translate to? Why do the aliens try to leave without him if he's critical to their plan? In what way IS he integral to their plot if they've already managed to build a spaceship and blast off without his help? And why the heck do the aliens just let Farge run amok in their ship with his Exorcism Ray instead of sending security after him? How is the threat of biological warfare going to pressure the scientific community to help the aliens leave if these intergalactic terrorists never bother to tell anybody that they're causing the plague, and what their conditions for stopping said plague entail? These kinda plot holes are indicative of a director who sees he's not gonna have the money to do what's necessary to make a decent flick, and thus, doesn't bother to even plug the holes with a little exposition, causing the viewer to abandon any and all hope in the early going.
The acting performances are about as wooden as you'll see even if you live to experience 10,000 films. If these actors were any stiffer they'd have tags on their toes, and with the exception of Michael Gough giving it his all in the last five minutes, the cast has inexplicably managed to create a negative charisma vortex that sucks even the tiniest hint of excitement out of scenes that should yield at least a bit of it. These actors make a C-SPAN budget committee hearing look like a Motley Crue concert, to the point that you not only don't have any concern for their safety but there's not even a single character that's distinct enough to inspire a desire to see them get their comeuppance; it's absolutely pathetic. Movie oughta come with a warning from the Surgeon General instructing viewers not to operate heavy equipment for six hours after seeing it on the grounds that side effects may include persisting drowsiness and clinical depression.
Here's who matters and why: Robert Hutton (The Slime People, Trog, Cry of the Banshee, Torture Garden, The Vulture, Invisible Invaders, The Colossus of New York), Jennifer Jayne (The Crawling Eye), Bernard Kay (Psychosis, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Trog, Witchfinder General, Torture Garden, The Shuttered Room), Michael Gough (Batman 1 - 4, Sleepy Hollow, The Haunting of Helen Walker, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Venom 1981, The Boys from Brazil, Satan's Slave, The Legend of Hell House, Horror Hospital, Crucible of Horror, Trog, The Crimson Cult, Berserk, The Skull, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, The Phantom of the Opera 1962, Konga, Horrors of the Black Museum, Horror of Dracula), Maurice Good (The Skull, Quatermass and the Pit, Trog, The Deadly Bees), John Harvey (Rollerball, Legend of the Werewolf, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, The Deadly Bees, The Psychopath, The Old Dark House 1963, The Kiss of the Vampire, The Phantom of the Opera 1962, Horrors of the Black Museum, Curse of the Demon, X the Unknown), Hedger Wallace (The Creeping Flesh, Torture Garden, Son of Dracula, Tales from the Crypt, The Oblong Box, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Nightmare 1964, Gorgo), Diana King (Schizo, Die! Die! My Darling!), Paul Bacon (The Asphyx), Norman Claridge (Torture Garden, The Woman Eater), Frank Forsyth (Craze, Tales that Witness Madness, And Now the Screaming Starts!, The Vault of Horror, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, The Terrornauts, The Deadly Bees, Eye of the Devil, The Psychopath, The Skull, Devils of Darkness, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, The Evil of Frankenstein, Nightmare 1964, The Brain 1962, Konga, Horrors of the Black Museum), Michael Hawkins (Torture Garden, The Hound of the Baskervilles 1959), Jack Lambert (The Exorcism of Hugh, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, X the Unknown), Robin Parkinson (The Asylum 2000), Katy Wild (The Deadly Bees, Dr. Terror's House of Horror, The Evil of Frankenstein), Kenneth Kendall (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Brain 1962), S. Newton Anderson (Slipstream, The Wicker Man, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Quatermass 1979), George Hilsdon (An American Werewolf in London, The Skull, Britannia Hospital, At the Earth's Core, See No Evil, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Trog, Quatermass and the Pit, Blood Beast from Outer Space, The Curse of the Snake Woman, Konga, Quatermass 2), Kiwi Kingston (The Evil of Frankenstein).
Not many mainstream credits to speak of, but they are as follows: Michael Gough (Delamore in Out of Africa), Robin Parkinson (Ernest Leclerc on 'Allo 'Allo!), Katy Wild (Lieutenant French on Spyforce).
The special effects consist of bad to acceptable miniatures representing the rocket launch base, specks of blood on the plague victims' faces, ridiculous (if standard for the time) rear projection for the driving sequences, and the Star Trekian styrofoam meteorites found in the farmer's field. Now, you might say, "look, it's low budget, and it's 1967, how about cuttin' 'em some slack?" My response to that is that they should have split the budgets between this and The Terrornauts a little more evenly, and the age of the flick doesn't really buy it that much leeway when you're familiar with movies like Gojira, The War of the Worlds, The Blob, or flicks with minimal effects but good ideas, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Those excuses don't hold water, particularly when you consider that good ideas are free, and the fact that this film is based upon a novel that was never that effects intensive to begin with. The shooting locations are alright, if not especially awe-inspiring. The interiors were filmed at Amicus' usual go-to studio, Twickenham Studios, and as previously mentioned, feature sets recycled from a Dr. Who movie filmed a year earlier. Basically, anytime you see a set that looks like somebody put time and effort into it (cheesy though they may be), it's from the Dr. Who flick. The street sequences were shot in Berkshire, and provide the only geographical hint as to where it's set because if not for these brief scenes and the actors' accents, it could just as well be anywhere. One can only imagine the swelling of pride a young Brit must have felt when they saw the film that caused them to miss a job interview because the streets were shut down for filming. The soundtrack has occasional smatterings of public domain music previously sampled on The Twilight Zone, but generally relies upon scoring more fitting of a spy thriller than a science fiction flick. It's not exactly incompetent or unpleasant to listen to, but it adds zero in the way of atmosphere, and likely *would* prove damaging if indeed there was anything of value to damage. I think it's fair to say that the composer, James Stevens, was a little out of his element; having spent most of his career creating scores for documentaries for British television. But his part in this disaster is of little consequence, and furthermore, there's nothing he or any other composer could have done to salvage it. Overall, there's no redeeming value to be found here. The only moment that elicits any emotion whatsoever is the sequence where Hutton goes to see his pal Farge so they can melt his trophies down into a Pastafarian helmet for protection against the moon men, and by then it's far too late for any kind of redemption; genuine or ironic. Forget it, Jake. It's Cornwall.