I’m covering one of those awful-but-good(in a humorous vein) movies this week, folks. Here’s the basic plot. Aliens take over bodies of the dead in order to conquer Earth. Sound familiar? No, it’s not the immortal Ed Wood’s classic, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE This one preceded that one into the theaters by two months(though the former was filmed a few years earlier). One part of the plot is a group of people trapped in a bunker while zombies try to get in. They argue among themselves. Sound familiar? No, not George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. This one was nine years ahead of that MUCH BETTER FILM.
John Agar is the main star of this turkey, although he doesn’t put in an appearance until about a third of the way through. He plays a military officer(and the soon to be love interest of the scientist’s daughter) assigned to drive that scientist and daughter, and a colleague, to a secure bunker in order to find a way to stop these invaders.
They make their intentions known to the scientist, Dr. Adam Tenner, when they take over the dead body of a colleague killed in an accident. John Carradine plays this character, Karol Noyman(interesting side note: the same character name was used in the earlier THE GIANT CLAW, another of those so-bad-they’re-good movies and a favorite of mine)(second interesting side note: in the cast list at the end of this movie, the name was listed as Carl Noyman). Even though the body was seemingly vaporized in the accident, there it was for the aliens to take over. He appeared at the home of friend Tenner(Philip Tonge) to give warning that if the human race didn’t surrender in 24 hours, it would be destroyed. Then he walked out, Carradine’s last on screen appearance in the film. His disembodied voice served as alien contact the rest of the film. He kept promising they would eradicate all humans and rule the Earth(what’s left to rule if everyone was dead).
Here’s the story he told:
The aliens had come to this system 20,000 years ago, killed off all life on the Moon, and set up a base where they’d been watching the human race. We couldn’t see them, or defeat them, because they had the technology to be invisible.
Of course no one believes Tenner’s tale and laugh at him. So they give a demonstration.
The film is loaded with stock footage. Collapsing buildings. burning buildings, firemen hosing down burning structures, collapsing bridges, dams blowing up, plane crashes. On one of them, for that demonstration of their power, they use test footage of a plane crashing into the side of a mountain(you can see a big white X painted at point of impact). A massive explosion of fire erupts. Yet when they take over the dead pilot’s body, there’s not a sign of fire damage anywhere. He’s covered with cuts and blood though. He goes to a hockey game(more stock footage), kills the two announcers, and gives out the message of doom for the human race. The fans begin fleeing in fright. One wag in a review said if that really were to happen at a hockey game, fans would storm the booth and beat the crap out of the body, not flee. Another warning is given at a football game(again stock footage). More fleeing in terror.
So many things wrong with this one.
First off, hacks like the one who wrote this one never seem to understand the difference between a solar system and a galaxy. “We come from a planet outside your galaxy.” intones Carradine in a suitably somber voice.
The zombies, dead bodies taken over by the aliens. As they killed off the humans, I can see a ready supply of vehicles for them. But I never saw a female zombie in the movie(maybe the aliens were male chauvinists) and on the assault of the bunker and the attack on the alien ship at the end, they all wore clean suits and crisp white shirts. If they were raiding the cemeteries, as implied, there must have been a lot of recent burials. They looked dead(the pale faces), but otherwise no sign of decomposition.
In trying to devise a way to kill the aliens, Tenner and his assistant decided they needed a specimen to experiment on. How to capture one? Tenner believed they entered the body through pores, so a quick way to seal them off was needed. he devise a liquid acrylic to spray the body. The device to spray looked like one of those old fire extinguishers(long, metal canister). Guess who got the duty to go get one. John Agar’s character. That didn’t work, not fast enough(not to mention it looked like firing off an extinguisher, no liquid, but a mist like stuff).
The new plan was to dig a pit and fill it with liquid acrylic and trick a zombie into falling in. Here’s the goofy part. Agar throws a rope with a noose into the acrylic before covering it with branches. When the zombie falls in, the noose is miraculously around the zombie’s neck as they drag him out, the acrylic instantly hardening.
When they get back to the bunker, followed by radiation infuse zombies, no explanation here, they rush to seal off the bunker from said radiation. It took all four snapping a number of switches to accomplish that. Poor bunker design, when one switch could have done the job.
They put the zombie into a pressure chamber to crack the acrylic, keep ramping it up until the shell cracks to free the dead body. Remember, he’s in a PRESSURE CHAMBER. The body sets down at a radio console and picks up a mike to talk, in Carradine’s voice of course, demanding to be let go. Why would a radio console be in a pressure chamber?
Now a word about the assistant/protege(Robert Hutton) of Dr. Penner. I knew right from the start he was going to be a problem. he had the cheesiest mustache I’ve ever seen. All through the movie he was the whiner, the coward, the one wanting to surrender and release the alien from the chamber(on promise their lives would be spared). I will admit he got in some good licks in the fight with Agar, though he was destined to lose both the fight and the battle for the love interest of the beautiful daughter(Jean Byron).
Of course, the aliens were destined to go down in defeat, the world saved, and Agar wins his prize in the blond daughter.
I had a hoot watching this one. Hey, I like these bad-but-good movies. I kept having giggles all through the movie(a little unseemly for a sixty-one year old). But it was fun.
Check out the trailer:
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