Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|They Came from Beyond Space|
Actors: Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne, Zia Mohyeddin, Bernard Kay, Michael Gough
Director: Freddie Francis
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
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"I will not have sentiment interfere with our vital work!"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 06/22/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD of the film They Came from Beyond Space (1967) actually sat on my `to watch' shelf for awhile before I finally got around to it last night, and by that time, I had forgotten what my initial interest in it was, other than it being a science fiction film...that is until the credits rolled and indicated this was an Amicus film, produced by Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky. In case your not familiar, Amicus aka The Studio that Dripped Blood, was sort of the less popular sibling to the legendary British Hammer Studios, both primarily known for their exquisitely wonderful horror films (Hammer reveled in bringing to life the Universal creatures of the past while Amicus' forte' was in the horror anthology). Directed by Freddie Francis (The Evil of Frankenstein, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors), the film stars American born actor Robert Hutton (Invisible Invaders, The Slime People). Also appearing is Jennifer Jayne (Dr. Terror's House of Horrors), Zia Mohyeddin (Khartoum), Geoffrey Wallace (Torture Garden), and Michael Gough (Trog, Horror Hospital), probably most familiar to American audiences as Batman's manservant Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman films released in the 90's (you know, the ones that went down the toilet after the 2nd one?).
The movie opens with some groovy music played over the credits, which then we switch to the English countryside to witness some meteorites, flying in formation, and crashing to Earth. Cut to stock footage of satellite dishes and then to an interior shot where we meet a couple of the primary players in Dr. Curtis Temple (Hutton) and his assistant/girlfriend Lee Mason, played by Jennifer Jayne (you know Doc, it's not wise to dip your pen in the company ink...)...anyway some gooberment type shows up and tells the Doc and his assistants they're needed to investigate the recent phenomena, but Temple can't get clearance from his physician due to a recent accident and the subsequent installation of a silver plate in his head (which I'm figuring will be a critical element later on given the clumsy way it was related to the audience). The scientists (sans Temple) depart and begin their investigation, soon discovering (the hard way) the meteorites are more than just chunks of space rock but vessels for some type of as yet to be determined creatures. Soon after the discovery Temple stops receiving updates from the site, and decides to investigate. What he finds is his peculiar acting colleagues (his girly friend Lee has certainly developed a layer of frost) have since holed themselves up in a heavily guarded compound containing the landing site, one which he can't gain access. Not only that but the nearby townspeople are suffering from a mysterious, lethal plague, one that comes on quickly and with little warning. Temple finally manages to break into the facility (rather clumsily...stealth isn't among his strengths) and finds something utterly fantastic...and nefarious...is this the beginning of the end for the human race? Watch and see...
The story is based on a book by Joseph Millard titled `The Gods Hate Kansas', which I haven't read, so I can't provide any comparison information on that aspect. Some have compared this to science fiction films released by Hammer, and it's certainly a valid point as Amicus and Hammer both regularly utilized the same actors and directors for their productions. As I mentioned before, Amicus wasn't really known for their science fiction fare, and this film would be a good illustration as to why...it's decent enough, but overall pretty tame and, as someone else already mentioned, derivative of what came before. Despite that, I still enjoyed the film for what it was, a cheapie sci-fi thriller with decent acting and good direction. One thing I noticed quickly was a lack in the production values, but then I think this was due to a lot put forth later on in the film towards the underground alien lair...the weakest element here, in my opinion, is probably the story, only because it just seemed so familiar (hence the derivative quality mentioned earlier). The oddest aspect for me was the music. It was much more suitable for a spy movie rather than a science fiction film. As far as the cast, they did alright, but Hutton hardly seemed like he was a little lost in the lead role and it seemed like much more was expected of him than he could have provided. I will say, for a scientist, he had some pretty good hand-to-hand combat skills, more than I would have expected of the character. One element of the story that annoyed me a little was the quickness in developing scientific theories and putting them into practice, specifically when Dr. Temple, assisted by an associate named Farge (Mohyeddin) came up with methods of identification, protection, and such. These guys must have been a couple of real geniuses for the short amount of time (like a day or two) it took them to turn their theories into reality. There were three scenes I found really funny, but I don't think they were meant to be...the first involved an attempt to subvert Dr. Temple (the silver plate in his noggin protected him)...when it was discovered the method had no effect on Dr. Temple, the aliens dumped him and ran away, much like children in fear of getting caught for doing something naughty. The 2nd scene featured Dr. Temple developing protection for others in the form of a silver colander worn on the head and the 3rd was a further extension of said device, complete with google eyepieces allowing humans to spot the aliens. The ending felt pretty weak, as if those pages of the script were lost and they had to come up with something on the 'fly' (actually, I think it was probably written this way, so something thought up on the spot may have been preferable).
I noticed a number of different DVD releases for this film, but my review is for the Platinum Disc Corporation release. The picture, presented in full screen format (it was obvious this wasn't the original aspect ratio, especially at the end as the credits were cut off on either side), looked decent, but did show signs of wear exhibited by a couple of missing frames and the occasional vertical line. The case claims the audio is presented in Dolby Digital stereo, and it did come through well enough. There are chapter stops, and the only special feature is a really lame interactive quiz (five questions) that uses screen shots from the film based on your answer (if you get a question right, you'll see a screen shot of a smiling character, and if you get one wrong you get a stern expression).
Mediocre. Then the ending ruined even that.
Doghouse King | Omaha, NE United States | 07/03/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I wondered why this Amicus production was rated so poorly by Maltin and others. It was directed by Freddie Francis of Hammer renown, and featured known names in the cast, such as Michael Gough as the alien leader. Then I picked it up and watched it. It is not that bad, for 98% of its runtime. It's the 2% at the end that I'm sure has soured people's tastes for this movie.It has to do with rocks from outer space landing in a British field and taking over the minds of all those who study them. One scientist is immune to their attacks, however, because of a metal plate in his head. Sound goofy? Well, it might be. But the whole thing is so solemn that one can overlook the funny-looking headgear the scientist fashions to protect his friends. And there is a lot of activity- not gripping action or suspense per se, but activity: gun battles, sneaking around, etc. You are sure it is all leading to... something.Then after all the buildup, the ending is such a letdown as to enrage. I don't know if the filmmakers were trying for irony and failed, or were trying to make a statement on Southeast Asia, or just ran out of time and money. Imagine if The Longest Day had ended with Bob Mitchum and the Nazis playing pinochle while they talked out their differences; that will give you a feel for the bland ending of They Came From Beyond Space.It is low budget and almost completely humorless- except for one scene where the scientist's friend has to melt down his silver cricket trophies to make a helmet to protect himself. Even that was really only a chuckle. But I'm not sorry I watched it. It's not that long, and I just would've thought about my job otherwise.See also: Quatermass 2."
"Have You Ever Known Meteors To Land In Formation?"
Robert I. Hedges | 05/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This little known gem was made in England in 1967, and is a surprisingly effective and captivating sci-fi film. The movie opens with a very mod lava lamp credit sequence and the whole movie features period music that makes it clear what decade it was made in.
The hero, Dr. Curtis Temple (Robert Hutton) is a brilliant scientist involved with space exploration. Early on there is a formation of nine meteors that crash in a nearby farm field. Upon examination the meteors emit a powerful beam of some sort, which allows aliens to take possession of the humans in the vicinity. The good news is that Temple is immune because of a metal plate in his head. Eventually he notes the farm being transformed into an industrial facility and is quite interested when rockets begin taking off from below the surface of a lake. Much drama ensues before the good Doctor and friends end up on a rocket to the moon where they meet the "Master of the Moon," who has more than a passing resemblance to a Vulcan. It turns out that all these moon people want is for the humans to help repair their ship so they can go to their home planet to die in dignity. In a moment of composure Temple persuades them to eschew violence so they can work together. It all sounds quite hokey, but it actually works quite well.
The acting is generally good (far better than most 1960s-era sci-fi films), the futuristic sets are excellent (although I don't understand the presence in an elaborate paisley upholstered sofa in the rocket launching area), and the pacing is great. The film does have a few quirks. I noted that the film had a feel reminiscent of the great television show "The Prisoner" down to the same style music and the fixation on wacky automobiles. It also struck me that in many ways this film is a very sophisticated update of "Zontar, the Thing From Venus," albeit with considerably more finesse. A couple of the special effects were laughable by today's standards, but the "Crimson Plague" pox and palsy effects were excellent and actually somewhat frightening.
This is a great sci-fi film. It is understated and refined, yet powerful, well paced, and action packed. I recommend "They Came From Beyond Outer Space" to any audience.
Awful DVD transfer
Andrew Hunter King | Middletown, CT | 08/20/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is a real fun movie but this Platinum Disc release looks and sounds like a bad VHS tape. I've seen a good, clean version of this on TV so it's a shame to have to watch it this way"