It’s time for another edition of those truly awful films, so bad that one comes to appreciate them on a whole other level. One of those Roger Corman “classics” coming in at a budget of $30,000, it only ran sixty minutes and I had to agree with several IMDB reviewers that it seemed much longer. Music is credited to a Tom Jonson, but one reviewer says there is no other work in that name anywhere.
I noticed immediately that the plot seemed “borrowed” from Robert A. Heinlein’s THE PUPPET MASTERS and the master did indeed sue over the plagiarism. Corman didn’t argue, claiming unfamiliarity with Heinlein’s works and settled out of court for $5,000. Heinlein also got a guarantee of no mention ever in the credits as he found the film lacking.
Ed Nelson stars, billed as Edwin Nelson, and also serves as the producer. In money saving efforts, he wore the same jacket worn in another of his films and created the “monsters” out of wind-up toys covered with fur from a coat with pipe cleaners for mandibles. L.A. late night horror host Seymour often referred to the movie as the “attack of the bunny slippers.” They attach the mandibles to the base of the back of the neck into the spinal column.
A fifty foot high cone, with a base of fifty feet, suddenly appears in the woods outside the small town of Riverdale, Illinois. No one knows what it is or how it got there. A number of dead wildlife is found lying around it. Word and film gets to Washington and a senator is sent down to head the investigation of the UFO. Cornelius Keefe, billed as Jack Hill, plays Senator Walter K. Hill, who never mentions his name, or anyone else for that matter, without the K. Ed Nelson is Dr. Paul Ketterling who is the scientific mind of the investigation.
They spend a lot of time standing around looking at the cone, climbing the scaffolding built around it, and discussing what it might be. In that interim, the monsters are gradually taking over the town and it’s inhabitants, cutting them off from help.
They learn the things come from the bowels of the Earth, two hundred million years old, and are an advance to prepare the way for the ancient civilization to take over the surface. Ketterling finally at the end briefly meets a bearded old man in robes who’s the leader. Here’s where it gets funny. Unrecognizable, I only recognized him by his voice. Leonard Nimoy’s name is misspelled in the film credits as Nemoy.
Guns are used frequently and always seem to be pointed to the side of what they’re being aimed at, though they never seem to miss.
Hardly a gem, but one I could look at every now and again.
For probably better overlooked movies, check out Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.