pop culture: sci-fi movie page review
STARRING: David Love, Bryan Grant, Harvey B. Dunn, King Moody, Ursula Pearson, Dawn Anderson
1959, 86 Minutes, Directed by: Tom Graeff
Not a 1980s teenage comedy as one might surmise from the title, but a peculiarly entertaining B&W 1950s effort - or at least for the first hour or so of its 90 minutes running time.
A race of "superior" aliens lands on Earth. Why do we know that they are superior? Because they keep on proclaiming it all the time. "We are the supreme race. We have the supreme weapons," their captain repeatedly intones. That may be. The aliens have these nifty ray guns that instantly turn their targets into skeletons - I sometimes wish I had something like that when dealing with my fellow motorists, but it's probably better that I don't.
Anyway, they don't seem all that advanced to me since they arrive in these really small UFOs that dig themselves into the Earth. "Just how many aliens did they manage to squeeze into that flying saucer?" I marveled watching them all disembark. In an interior shot it later turns out that their flying saucer is bigger on the inside than the outside - a bit like Doctor Who's TARDIS I suppose. That's pretty advanced I thought, but it still looked like a tight fit in there. They may be a superior race that has invented space travel, but they haven't discovered comfy space travel...
Also, the spaceship isn't anywhere big enough to cart back a full-grown Gargon. Now Gargons are these lobsters - and I swear: they are real life crayfish! - that grow to the size of a house within a few days, feeding on humans. The aliens leave them behind on other planets so that they won't feed on their own populace and collect the full-sized ones for food later on. They're going to need a bigger flying saucer, I thought watching some humans battle a giant floating silhouette of a superimposed lobster later on in the movie.
One of the aliens (named Derek!) rebels against this sort of behavior early on and flees his fellow aliens. An alien (named Thor!) is sent off in hot pursuit to kill him with one of those nifty ray guns, and the rest of the movie plays a bit like The Terminator but without the Terminator itself of course. Derek, having seen Michael Rennie do the same thing in The Day the Earth Stood Still, finds lodging in a near-by small town. (This being the kinder and gentler 1950s, he is allowed to rent the room without having to put down a deposit first.)
Not usually someone who harps on too much about bad acting, I must admit that the acting in Teenagers from Outer Space is particularly bad - and the source of most of the movie's unintended hilarity. The giant lobster shadow is also very bad, but I really dug those ray guns leaving mere skeletons behind - something Mars Attacks! would steal later on. Also, aficionados would enjoy Teenagers from Outer Space's genuinely 'Fifties pulp look and feel.
Ultimately you wouldn't be too surprised to learn that Teenagers from Outer Space was actually featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 once (it will actually be one of the episodes on the upcoming Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection Vol. 6 DVD box set). It is probably preferable that you see it this way, but Teenagers from Outer Space is pretty much enjoyable on its own...
Oh yeah, the dialogue has some real clunkers too, and I'd thought I'd include some of my favourites:
CAPTAIN: "When we return to our planet, the high court may well sentence you to torture and death for your treason."
[Upon discovering the skeleton in Simpson's office]
THOR: "I will find you. I will find you. I will find you. I will find you. Ahhhhhhggg."
CAPTAIN: "Morrow! Go below and bring up the young Gargon specimen. Now the decision depends on its reactions."
DEREK: "You make me angry. But I like you very much."
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