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20 Million Miles To Earth


Title: 20 Million Miles To Earth
Year Of Release: 1957
Running Time: 83 minutes
DVD Released By: Columbia Pictures
Directed By: Nathan Juran
Writing Credits: Charlotte Knight (story), Christopher Knopf & Robert Creighton Williams
Starring: William Hopper, Joan Taylor
Taglines:
1. Space Nightmares!
2. Monster From Outerspace Runs Wild!
3. Out-Of-Space Creature Invades the Earth!
Alternate Titles:
1. The Beast from Space
2. The Giant Ymir

Review Date: 7.7.05 (updated 1.1.10)

Shadow's Title:
"Giant Space Monster - 0, Annoying Italian Kid - 1"

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20 Million Miles To Earth
 

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DVD
Sci-Fi Creature Classics - 4-Movie Set - 20 Million Miles to Earth - The Giant Claw - It Came From Beneath The Sea - Mothra

Characters
Col. Robert Calder – He commanded the XY-21, the first spaceship to land on Venus. He is also the only survivor of that expedition. He is very adamant that the Ymir be caught alive, and this passion is about the only fire he ever shows...aside from trading biting remarks with Marisa.
Dr. Leonardo – A zoologist from Rome that is wandering the Sicilian countryside in his truck and trailer in order to…you know I have no idea why he was traveling around. Maybe he was like Bruce Banner and just drifted from town to town helping out before moving on.
Marisa Leonardo – Dr. Leonardo’s American granddaughter. She is "almost a doctor," having one year of study left, which makes one wonder why she is traveling around the Sicilian countryside in a trailer with gramps. That just sounds icky. No wonder she was so cranky to Colonel Calder at first.
Maj. General McIntosh – He seemed to be in charge of the entire XY-21 project, which makes it curious as to why on Earth he put inept Calder in command. Rather than being one of those closed-minded stereotypical military types that listens to no one, this guy was actually pretty level headed.
Doctor Uhl – He works in the XY-21 project. He doesn’t exactly have a huge role here, just backing everyone up and being on hand to speak some expository dialog on occasion and act all scientist-y. The IMDB lists him as Uhl but I wondering if it was Yule instead.
Police Commissioner Charra – This guy commands the local police force in Gerra. At first he is quite pleasant and accommodating with the Americans. Then when some idiot farmer provokes the Ymir and gets his ass handed to him, Charra suddenly turns into a freakin’ Captain Ahab clone.
Contino – An Italian government official. He coordinates the help being given to the USAF. A pretty decent guy, despite an early moment when he assumes the USAF officers are morons. When Charra goes all Ahab, Contino still leaves room for the Americans to capture the beast without killing it.
Pepe – This sneaky, selfish little shit is the reason for all the trouble. He found the Ymir on the beach. Instead of turning it over to the authorities, he sells the creatue to Dr. Leonardo so he can use the money on a cowboy hat from Texas. Later he extorts more money from the USAF. Ultimately, eaten alive by an alligator.
Verico A fisherman from Gerra who operates a boat in partnership with Mondello. They seem to employ that little shit Pepe. It's while out at sea that the XY-21 crashes nearby. While all the other boats head for shore, Verico is the only one that makes the effort to rescue people.
Mondello – This Mario-clone runs a fishing boat along with Verico and is supposed to be the bravest man in all of Sicily, which must work under the same logic utilized when calling a really fat guy Tiny. He is about as brave as Ashlee Simpson is talented. In other words, not a lot.
The Ymir The poor critter from Venus. It started off cat sized and ended up a midget Godzilla. Peaceful, it doesn’t look for trouble and eats sulfur…which means it's not a predator. You’d think this would make for a pleasant stay on Earth. Wrong. The real monsters are the mean little Humans.
 

 

The Plot

Next rest stop 16.78 million miles.This is one of those films from the 50’s that opens with an annoying narrator. Looking at some shots of outer space and good old planet Earth, we hear him say, "Great scientific advances are often times sudden accomplished facts before most of us are dimly aware of them. Breathtakingly unexpected, for example, was the searing flash that announced the atomic age. Equally unexpected was the next gigantic stride, when man moved out of his very orbit to a point more than 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH."

On those last five clearly and purposely annunciated words, the title appears and the opening credits ensue – which are superimposed over aerial shots of clouds. I am left to ponder the meaning of Mr. Annoying’s words, especially that first sentence: "Great scientific advances are often times sudden accomplished facts before most of us are dimly aware of them." Either that is saying that the rate of our scientific advancement increases all the time, often without us realizing just how fast…or it is telling us that the government is keeping a lid on many astounding breakthroughs like planes that are invisible to radar, flying cars and a health care system that works? Considering the events of this film, I am opting to believe it means the latter, though both are probably quite true. Anyway, we are fortunate that the annoying narrator has said all he is going to say and unlike other films from this era, he will not be putting in a return appearance. Yay!

After the brief credits, an establishing shot shows us a small community overlooking the sea and some text tells us that this is a fishing village in Sicily. Then we see several fishing boats out at sea, their crews working hard to pull their nets in. On one such boat we see Verico, Mondello and Pepe…though the latter doesn’t seem to be working very hard. Rather, he is playing with a length of rope, swinging it overhead and using it to lasso Mondello. This is a subtle clue that tells us early on of this kid’s obsession with cowboys. Mondello gets on his case and tells him to help pull up the net. Pepe starts blabbering about how in Texas; one rope can catch a big cow. This doesn’t faze Mondello, who just says, "The net! The net!" This is easily translated into "stop yaking and get your ass to work, kid!" While they work, Mondello asks Pepe what the deal is with Texas. Pepe begins by explaining that Texas is a country across the sea, "near America." I take it that geography isn’t high on the list of subjects this little puke is learning in school. Maybe he should go back to playing with that rope, after all if you give someone enough rope…

Pepe is blathering on when suddenly Verico calls for silence. A strange sound can be heard all around them, which prompts all the fishermen to gaze upwards towards the sky in puzzlement. It seems Ned Scott’s warning at the end of The Thing From Another World wasn’t soon forgotten after all. Pepe is the first to spot the gigantic rocket that comes hurtling out of the skies and plunges into the sea. There is a deafening roar as the rocket hits the water, but amazingly enough; there are no waves of any kind produced by this mighty impact. Not even a freakin’ ripple. At this point, self-preservation wins out over valor and all the fishing boats begin rowing towards shore…all except Verico and Mondello’s boat. Verico begins heading towards the huge rocket, which is sticking up out of the sea, ass-end up. Mondello, in a moment of chickenhearted-ness, wants to know what Verico is up to and the latter explains that there may be people aboard the aircraft that are in need of assistance. Mondello thinks no one is aboard and wants to flee along with the others, but Verico will have none of it and continues towards the downed spaceship.

As they draw closer, they spy a large whole ripped into the hull of the spacecraft, located not far above the water line. They row up to this opening and Verico jumps through the hole into the ship. He tells Pepe to stay with the boat but wants Mondello to accompany him into the bowels of the ship. Naturally, Mondello squeals like a stuck pig at the notion. Verico finally coaches him aboard and the two make their way deeper into the ship. Verico opens a door that reveals a staircase leading down...er…up…no wait, down. Or is it up? The ship is sitting almost vertically in the ocean with the rocket’s point deep in the water and the landing stanchions sticking straight up into the air. One would think that it was upside down, right? Wrong. When the men board the ship, we can see a phone on one wall that is oriented right side up, and when they find the stairs, they obviously descend further into the craft. The lights seen are quite obviously oriented in the same direction as the stairs and phone…so this means the entire ship was designed upside down! When situated in a proper landing position – resting on the landing stanchions and the point of the rocket straight up – the crew would have been occupying compartments that were upside down in relation to the surface of the planet. Who was the freakin’ genius that came up with this design? Willy Wonka?

"Uh oh. I think I just bumped the self-destruct button with my ass!"So Verico and Mondello make their way through the ship, which somehow more closely resembles the innards of a water treatment plant than a technologically advanced spacecraft. They discover the body of one man along their route. Slightly unnerved, they continue until they stumble upon what can only be the control room of the ship. Again, this place looks more like central command for a waste treatment facility, as one side of the room is filled with all sorts of contraptions made from big pipes, while the other side is dominated by a huge wall that is covered with gauges, buttons and levers. Passed out in seats before this big wall are two men in cheap flight suits (no kind of faceplates at all on these helmets). The first is still alive and Mondello picks him up in order to transport him back to their boat. The astronaut is barely conscious and can only point to his seated companion and exhort Verico to bring him along also before passing out. The ship begins to tremble and shake, so Verico gets his ass in gear, collecting the other man and heading back to the boat. He hands off the astronaut to Mondello and then tells them to row the boat away. Pepe begins to row, but Verico remains on the rocket in case there are other people who are trapped and need help. Alas, the whole thing is shaking and rattling something fierce, so Verico decides to get out while the getting is good and dives into the ocean. As he swims away, the giant rocket begins slipping beneath the waves like the Titanic. Strangely, when the ship begins to sink, the large hole through which the men gained access to the interior is shown submerging below the water line. The next shot is one looking out towards the fishing boat from within that hole…yet it is still very much above water. Soon enough, Verico is back on board the fishing boat and the rocket has sunk out of sight. He laments the fact that there were probably more people on board the rocket, but there was not enough time to reach them. I don’t know about you, but I think this guy is one decent SOB.

An aerial establishing shot of the Pentagon lets us know that we are now at…the Pentagon. Within the office of Major General McIntosh, the General is playing with a model of the inner planets of our solar system – aside from the earth and moon, there appear to be only two other celestial bodies represented on this model. I suppose he isn’t really playing with it, but just looking it over as it spins and shows the location of the planets in relation to one another. Nearby, some other guys are fiddling with some instrumentation and one guy jumps up, removes some earphones and shakes his head wearily at the general. Somehow I doubt he has failed to place an order for a pizza to be delivered. No, it seems that they cannot track the spaceship seen earlier and according to McIntosh, all indications point to it crashing into the Mediterranean and sinking out of sight. How right the General is on that one! Some more talk follows about the crashed ship – descent angles, trajectories, sightings and such. The other guy, a Doctor Uhl, is "sick inside" because the ship was so close to returning home safe after its long and historic voyage.

The phone rings and a flunkie answers it. He hands it over to the General and McIntosh soon learns that the ship was sighted off Sicily, just a few kilometers from a fishing village named Gerra. He and Uhl consult a large map nearby and both men point to a spot on the map. "There it is right there," Uhl says. McIntosh turns to his flunkie and passes on some orders before announcing that he and Uhl will be leaving immediately for Sicily. The camera pans over to the map and in a close up, we see that NO WHERE on it does the name Gerra appear. In fact, Rome is the closest city shown. So, how in the hell did Uhl and McIntosh find where a tiny fishing village was located?

Back in Sicily, a crowd has gathered on the beach around Verico and Mondello, who have brought the crash survivors ashore. Police Commissioner Charra is on hand to order everyone around, including telling Mondello to fetch the doctor and giving Verico some mean looks. He grills the latter on what happened, and the fisherman says that there surely must have been more people on board the ship given its size. At this point, Pepe runs off after spying something that has washed up on shore. He runs down the beach and finds a glass container marked "U.S.A.F. Project 5." Ominous words if there ever were any. About this time Mondello returns to inform Charra that the local Doctor is not home and cannot be located. Charra then remembers an "old doctor from Rome, travelling with his American granddaughter." Verico knows to whom Charra is referring – a Dr. Leonardo, and says that Pepe would know where to find the man. He calls out loudly for Pepe.

However, Pepe has been busy hiding the container he found amongst some rocks. He makes it back to the crowd of people before anyone notices that he was gone and tells the adults where Dr. Leonardo can be found. Mondello leaves to retrieve the Doc while Pepe runs back to where he has stashed the container. Opening it, he removes a strange gelatin-like substance. Inside this odd mass is the silhouette of something small and which looks like an animal of some type. Quickly Pepe wraps the substance in a jacket for easier transportation.

Mondello has located the truck and trailer that Dr. Leonardo calls home. The place is almost surrounded by cages containing birds and other critters. Mondello pleads with Leonardo to come with him, telling him that there has been a tragic aircraft crash and that he is needed. Leonardo explains to the frantic man that he is a Doctor of Zoology and not of medicine – he cannot be of help. However, his granddaughter Marisa is only a year away from being a full-fledged medical doctor and can be of assistance. As Marisa gathers her things and Mondello continues to babble near incoherently, we see Pepe rushing down the road, the jacket containing the weird gelatin clutched tightly in his arms. He ducks behind Dr. Leonardo’s truck as Mondello and Marisa hurriedly pass by on their way to town, as if he is afraid they will divest him of his precious find (someone should have divested the little brat of a few layers of ass skin).

"Hands off, you old perv. This ain’t Neverland."Apparently Pepe sells various things he finds to Dr. Leonardo – seashells, plants, etc – at exorbitant prices. This little crook is well on his way to attaining a lofty position in the Sicilian mob. Anyway, Pepe wants to sell his new find to Leonardo and lays on the brown nosing something heavy. He wants two hundred Lira for what he has got. When pressed by Leonardo, he admits that the money is going to secure him a cowboy hat, like the ones from Texas. He refuses to reveal what it is he is carrying until the money is given to him up front. Yep, a real extortionist in the making, all right. Leonardo relents and forks over the coins. Pepe grabs them, drops the jacket on the table and is out the door before you can say, "make him an offer he can’t refuse." He quickly returns for the jacket and then just as quickly scrams again. Leonardo is amused at his behavior, even playfully threatening to come after the youth if he doesn’t get his money’s worth, but loses his smile when he takes a closer look at what Pepe has left behind (besides a foul stench in the air). Puzzled at what he sees, Leonardo calls after the fleeing Pepe, wanting to know where he found the thing. Pepe just says "In the water, Doctor. In the sea," before running off with his ill-gotten gains. The odd gelatin-thing seems to shake by itself as it rests on Leonardo’s table.

Back in town, at the Comune di Gerra, Marisa is overseeing the care administered to the two crash survivors. One guy is banged up pretty badly, but the other is awake and trying to sit up. She tells him that he is in Gerra, a village in Southern Sicily. According to the man, this is "about where we figured." Then he asks about the others. She explains that his spaceship has gone to the same final resting place as untold seafaring ships, taking whatever people were aboard with it…except for the banged-up guy in the adjoining bed.

The man is instantly on his feet and trying to rouse the guy who is in bad shape…a Doctor Charmin. Marisa tells him to leave the other man alone and get back in bed. He responds by calling her a nurse. She is VERY stern in informing him that she is NOT a nurse, but a doctor. Well…almost a doctor (this line will haunt us later, so remember it). The man asks if she knows what is wrong with Dr. Charmin and she says no. He then says that he does know, and furthermore, he knows that it is fatal – eight of his crew already having given up the ghost because of it. He continues to shake Charmin, call his name and ask the poor guy questions. Ok, wait for it…wait for it…ok, everyone say it with me: Please don’t squeeze the Charmin (oh, go google it!)! Finally the doctor comes to and we learn that there was an animal specimen that apparently went down with the wreck. The man keeps asking Charmin questions concerning this specimen, but Charmin has died. When Marisa asks him what the dead guy was referring to, he says that he cannot tell her. Then she tells him to get some rest, which he does.

By the way, how did Calder and Charmin even survive the crash in the first place? We could plainly see a huge hole ripped into the side of the hull, and we are told that an encounter with a meteor shower is what caused the ship to crash. So this means the ship would have had to of collided with any meteors while still in space. Wouldn’t a big hole in the ship cause all the air to blow out? There didn’t seem to be any emergency bulkheads in place between the hole and the command deck, as Verico and Mondello easily made there way down (up) there. It is true that we see Calder and Charmin strapped in chairs…but their helmets were not self contained. They should have run out of air!

Later that night, as Marisa walks back to the trailer she shares with her grandfather, we see the gelatin-thing sold to him by Pepe. Still on the table, it begins to move by itself. A small, bipedal reptilian creature with a tail emerges from the gelatin. When Marisa enters and turns on the light, the creature is momentarily blinded and shields its eyes. It lets out a sound and Marisa sees it, calling for her grandfather. Leonardo enters and sees the critter. He explains that he obtained it from the fisherboy, Pepe. Donning some gloves, he grabs the creature and heads outside, where he deposits the poor thing in a cage on the back of his truck. He throws a tarp over it and the two head back inside.

Dawn arrives and when Leonardo emerges from his trailer and takes a look at the critter, he is astounded. He calls Marisa out and shows her what he has discovered: the strange creature is significantly larger than it was the previous night. Rather than being the size of a cat, it is now as large as a small child. Already, visions of the lauding and praise that will heaped upon him by his contemporaries at the biological institute in Rome begin dancing in his head and he sets off to the village to find Pepe and grill him on just where it was exactly the little shit found this creature. As he heads off, Marisa gets a funny look on her face, as if she is attempting to piece together all the clues that exist at this point: Pepe’s habit of selling stuff from the sea to Leonardo + strange aircraft crash + the injured man’s words about an animal "specimen." You can almost hear the gears screeching in protest at such a mental workout.

On the beach, the Bad Seed known as Pepe is playing cowboy, complete with toy pistols and a recently procured Texas Cowboy hat. When he sees Leonardo approaching, he removes his hat and hides. The guilty little bastard. He knows that what he has done has provoked the curiosity of others, but refuses to hang around to answer for it. Leonardo asks Mondello and Verico if they have seen the little puke. Mondello points to where Pepe is…or at least, where he was a moment ago. They tell Leonardo that they will send the little bastard his way the next day, but the Doctor informs them that he will on his way to Rome by then. Overhearing this, Pepe smiles…no doubt thinking his ass is now off the hook.

Now we see a water-plane landing and soon after a small boat unloading passengers at a pier. Police Commissioner Charra is on hand to greet the new arrivals: General McIntosh and Dr. Uhl. Charra explains that he has been ordered by authorities in Rome to cooperate and assist the two men as much as possible. He is ready to take them to a Colonel Calder. They pile into a jeep and are off. At the Comune di Gerra they meet up with Colonel Calder, and we see that he is the lone survivor of the rocket crash. The General and the Doctor congratulate Calder on his accomplishment, despite the tragic facts that he alone has survived. McIntosh wants to talk privately and Charra lends them the use of his office.

Now we see that it is night. Well…day for night, at least. Dr. Leonardo’s truck is making its way along a dirt road through the countryside, presumably on its way to Rome. Inside we see Leonardo and Marisa, the latter looking quite tired.

Back at the Comune di Gerra, a Senor Contino has arrived from the Italian State Department. Charra introduces him to the Americans and General McIntosh thanks him for coming and asks him to observe strict secrecy on what he is about to reveal. He tells Contino that Colonel Calder has just returned from an expedition to Venus. "To Venice," Contino replies. "Perhaps you mean Venicia." Contino gets a cocky smile on his face and he then shares a look with Charra that seems to acknowledge to one another that they are dealing with stupid, ignorant Americans. What an idiot! Why the hell would the U.S. Air Force be conducting expeditions to a city in Italy? To learn the secrets of cooking pasta? I’d think the Italian government would have something to say about such an expedition undertaken by a foreign power. Calder emphasizes that they mean the planet Venus and not some place in Italy where the plumbing is all f*cked up. Contino is appropriately flabbergasted.

McIntosh then provides some much needed expository information. It seems a meteor shower crippled the ship on its way back to Earth and good old Colonel Calder, who commanded the mission, is the only survivor. In those days such fortune may have been taken for granted, but in today’s more cynical age, it seems mighty fishy that the one guy who manages to survive was also the guy who was in charge. What ever happened to the notion of the Captain going down with the ship? Not usually a concern for space vessels, but this ship did go down faster than Monica Lewinsky. Anyway, the General then recounts how the atmosphere on Venus was deadly to Humans, despite the advanced respiratory and breathing equipment they took along. Several crew members died before they realized the danger…which just goes to show you the poor and inadequate planning that went into that mission. Didn’t any of them bother to read H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds? Breathing alien air is not always a safe thing! So now the Americans lay the big bomb on the Italians – a specimen of the dominant animal life form was brought back from Venus in a container and needs to be recovered ASAP. Studying this critter may help scientists better understand and prepare for further expeditions to Venice…er…Venus. Such return trips are vital as precious minerals were discovered there that would benefit mankind. Contino promises his help and asks what is needed. The General asks for divers that can explore the wreck of the ship and Contino assures him that they will have them there in the morning.

We now return to that dirt road on which Dr. Leonardo and Marisa are traveling – presumably on their way to Rome. Of course, since this is Sicily – an island – they will have to get their asses out of that truck and onto a boat or plane at some point. Marisa offers to drive, but Leonardo refuses. That’s it. That is all we see here. I suppose that little segue was just to remind us that the Venusian critter is heading away from where the USAF guys are trying to find it.

This pic is just sooo disturbing.In Gerra, we see divers climbing aboard a boat and preparing to go out to sea. Nearby on the pier, decked out in his Cowboy hat, is that annoying little shit Pepe. Calder wishes the divers luck and they wave back like morons. McIntosh then wants to speak to the two fishermen that were aboard the doomed spacecraft and Charra leads them to the beach where they are working. The General then launches into his ugly American routine by talking slowly and purposely, as if that will make him any better understood. He says they are looking for a cylinder and nearby the Antichrist…er…I mean Pepe overhears. McIntosh stresses how important it is that they recover this container and adds that a reward of 500,000 Lira has been authorized.

Hearing this, the greedy little bastard approaches and says he knows something, but wants assurance that no one will take away his freakin’ Cowboy hat before he shares that information. Plus, he wants to know if a half-million Lira is enough to buy a horse! After he is assured that no one will take away his damn hat, he leads the Air Force personnel down the beach to the spot where he had hidden the container. The little snot has not even finished handing over the empty container to Calder when he asks if he can have his horse now! That self absorbed little puke-snot! Calder sees that the container is empty, but Pepe tells him what became of the contents – how he sold it to Dr. Leonardo for two hundred Lira. The General asks where this Leonardo is and Verico says that he must be on his way to Messina, as the old man said he was going to Rome. Calder wants to know how to locate him and how they will know who he is. Verico replies by telling him that Leonardo drives a truck that pulls a trailer...well, he doesn’t say it so succinctly. It was more like "he drives a truck with a house that follows it around on wheels like a goat" or something like that. Calder knows what he means and is off, Charra and Contino accompanying him. McIntosh stays behind to give the little puke Pepe his 500,000 Lira.

You may have noticed by now that I cannot stand Pepe. I think he is an annoying little shit that deserves severe punishment, not a freakin’ reward. Giving this little puke money just tells him that it is ok to do whatever you want to satisfy your own greed, no matter what the consequences may be. And just where the hell were this kid’s parents? It was obvious that neither Verico nor Mondello was his father…at least, neither was admitting to it. Was somebody paying them to look after that brat? Maybe his own family didn’t want him around and was hoping he’d fall overboard while at sea. Fortunately, Pepe will no longer be appearing in the movie. Thank god. As a matter of fact, neither will any of the other fishermen. They have served their purpose in the script and will now be ushered quietly out of the movie. By the way, if you have read the character description of Pepe above and wonder what I was referring to when I said he will be eaten by an alligator, it is just that the actor who plays Pepe also played a nosy reporter in 1980’s Alligator. A reporter that got too curious and ended up as a snack for the title beast. Just desserts I say…in more ways than one.

Night has fallen as we return to Dr. Leonardo and Marisa out on the road to Messina. Then we see Colonel Calder and company in hot pursuit. Leonardo stops the truck when the canvas that is tied over the Ymir’s cage comes partially loose (and yes, the creature will henceforth be referred to as the Ymir). The two set about tying things back up, the Doctor blabbering on about his theories on the Ymir’s origin. Suddenly a big scaly arm reaches through the bars of the cage and grabs Marisa, who quite naturally screams. She gets loose with help from her grandfather and the two watch in amazement as the Ymir, which has now grown to be the size of a man, breaks loose from the cage and takes off into the woods. Marisa is ok, but describes the touch of the creature as strangely hot. Of course, to the Ice Queen, any touch is hot.

Right about now, Calder and gang pull up in their jeeps. Calder jumps out and Leonardo tells him that a strange animal has escaped. Marisa says that it grabbed her by the arm before it broke out of its cage. Calder looks at her and says, "Well, hello…almost a doctor." HAHAHAHAHA. I told you that line would come back to haunt us. Marisa throws him a look that could drop a herd of elephants. Leonardo relates how quickly the Ymir grew in size and Doctor Uhl asks Calder if that is the normal rate of growth for the species. Calder says that he is not sure, but the truth would be in the late Dr. Charmin’s notes. He asks where the critter is now and Leonardo tells him in fled into the woods. Calder and his buddies go after it, but Leonardo wants to come along and to know what the creature is and where it came from. Naturally, Calder cannot share this information and just thanks the older man before running off.

Elsewhere, the Ymir has come across a farm in the Sicilian countryside. As it makes its way towards one of the buildings, it disturbs numerous animals, who all run in fear. All except for one small lamb which walks closer to the Ymir. The Venusian creature just looks at it and walks on, not the least bit interested in harming the baby animal. A barking dog draws it to a barn where it causes the horses and chickens to wig out, but again the beast is not interested in livestock. Rather, it is the large bags of sulfur which has gotten its attention. It rips open one bag and begins to eat the contents. As it feeds, a dog enters the barn and attacks it. Eventually the Ymir prevails, but the commotion from this fight brings the farmer. The farmer finds the dog in pretty bad shape, but still alive. Knowing that something did this to his dog, he is even more cautious and begins to back out of the barn when a hand suddenly grabs his shoulder.

The hand belongs to Colonel Calder, who tells the farmer not to move. Both men see the Ymir up in the hayloft and begin to back out quietly. Everyone gets a good look at the creature and Calder insists that it needs to be taken alive. He even says that the species is not ferocious unless they are provoked. They make some quick preparations to capture the critter in a cart. Calder takes up a long pole and tries to herd the Ymir into the cart. The beast jumps down from the loft and Calder is gradually pushing it towards the cart, but the Ymir grabs the pole away from him and makes a break for the door. This is when the farmer, in his utter stupidity, takes a pitchfork and stabs the creature in the back as it passes by him. Needless to say, the Ymir goes postal on his ass, tackling him to the ground and then clawing and biting him. The poor schmuck screams like a girl, but he did have it coming. Calder takes a shovel and uses it to hit the Ymir, but it does little good. Then he grabs a rifle from one of the local cops and shoots at the creature. This gets its attention and it advances towards the group of men, who quickly flee the barn and close the door. The Ymir just makes a new door for itself and runs off into the night.

The action now returns to where Dr. Leonardo stopped his truck. Everyone has re-grouped there and Police Commissioner Charra is pacing up and down and muttering about how he "doesn’t like it." Marisa exits the trailer and approaches the sullen Calder, intent on changing the bandage on his arm. She puts her staggering Sherlock Holmes-style detective skills to work and deduces that Calder is worried about the monster and where it is now. Well, duh! He’s not moping away because he missed out on free tickets to a strip show. Marisa offers an apology for being selfish and inconsiderate. Calder says that he is the one that needs to apologize to her, as he has done nothing but snarl at her. He wants to make it up to her after this is all over, id est take her to bed and marvel her with his Captain’s log. Though he mentions something about dinner in a dark café, we know what he is really thinking.

Dr. Uhl approaches with the late Dr. Charmin’s log. According to the dead guy’s notes, the staple of the creature’s diet is sulfur. Leonardo chimes in by saying that there are large sulfur deposits here on Sicily near the base of Mount Aetna. Calder plans on scouring that area in hopes of finding the Ymir and Leonardo offers the use of the Zoological Institute in Rome to study the creature. Charra approaches and says that such plans will not be necessary. He announces that the beast must die. It has already gravely injured one man and may kill others. He must think of the welfare of his people and not some crazy experiment. Naturally, Calder tries to talk some sense into him, but he will not listen. Can I say just how blindingly short-sighted Charra is? Yes, the creature is dangerous, but alive it is worth MILLIONS if not much more. Studying it could yield untold secrets and advances for mankind, including how to properly exploit Venus. A tremendous amount has already been expended in bringing this creature back to Earth in money, materials and lives…and that cost should not be for nothing. Yet, this small town police commissioner takes it upon himself to kill the critter. This, ladies and gentleman, is a true idiot. Take a good look. So Calder and Uhl quickly commandeer a jeep and race back to General McIntosh.

They arrive just as Charra is spelling out to both McIntosh and Contino his position (how did he get back so much faster?). If he is replaced, that is one thing, but until then he is going to do his job. Contino assures him that he will not be replaced, so Charra says at daybreak he will use everything at his disposal to kill the creature. Calder barges into the room at this point and argues against Charra’s plans. McIntosh reigns him in some, but Calder asks if anyone would oppose he and Uhl from tracking and capturing the beast themselves. Contino asks how this can be accomplished, to which Calder explains that on Venus they learned that these creatures were extremely susceptible to electric charges. He wants the use of two helicopters so they can drop a charged net onto the beast. Charra smirks at this idea but Contino says if this plan can be successfully executed before any Human life is lost, the Italian government will support it.

COPS! Goes to Italy.Cut now to the Sicilian countryside once again. Two U.S. Marine helicopters ( I thought they were Italian copters?) are being fitted with the equipment needed to catch the Ymir alive. Dr. Uhl goes up in one copter while Calder boards the other. Elsewhere, Charra and his men are running through the woods with dogs, intent on finding the creature and killing it. They seem to be closing in on the Ymir, which is relaxing by a river and a waterfall. Charra’s gang gets off some shots at it, but the Ymir climbs the rocks to get away. They follow and when it approaches, one cop lets loose with a flame thrower. Wait, a minute! A flame thrower? Since when are those standard equipment for small town police forces? The flames drive the beast away and the cops pursue.

Above, Calder spots the beast from his copter and drops the bags of sulfur to lure it out more into the open. This elicits the reaction they were hoping for and the creature approaches one bag, munching away on the contents after ripping it open. While it does this, Calder’s copter lands nearby. When he and his men take up their positions behind some rocks, he signals to Uhl to drop the net. The Ymir is caught and quickly Calder’s men race over, connect leads to the net and anchor it to the ground with spikes. Once this is done and everyone is clear (and Uhl’s copter has landed, affording him the chance to run up and throw the switch himself), the net is electrified and the Ymir collapses.

Now we get a nice big establishing shot of Rome, that lets us know that we are now in…Rome. At the American Embassy to be precise, where a bunch of newsmen (and women) have been called for some big announcement. They’re ushered into a room where General McIntosh, Colonel Calder and Contino sit at a wide desk. The General stands and greets them. He is here to address the rumors of an aircraft crash off the coast of Sicily ten days previously, finally able to pass on information that was up until now, forbidden to the public. He reads a cable-gram that lays out all the facts concerning the XY-21, the rocket that crashed into the sea, and its mission. It was launched thirteen months prior from some place in the U.S. and had landed on the planet Venus with its crew compliment of seventeen men. On the return trip it plunged into the sea and there was only one survivor – Colonel Calder, occupying the nearby seat. Notice how no mention is made of the meteor shower that damaged the ship? I guess they don’t want anyone to know how delicate the ship really was. The General then goes on and tells them about the creature brought back from Venus and now being held at a nearby zoo for study. One reporter asks if they will be allowed to see the beast and McIntosh tells him that the group of reporters must select three of their number to visit the site, with the understanding that they must pool their interviews with the entire press corps. McIntosh wraps things up and all the reporters rush out of the room like mad so they can get to phones and call their editors.

We cut to the zoo, where three reporters are being escorted by Colonel Calder. He takes them into a building where the Ymir is chained up and unconscious on a large platform. However, the beastie has gotten considerably bigger in the last few days and is now upwards of 18 to 20 feet in height. One reporter comments on its size and Calder says that just eight days ago it was much smaller. Another reporter asks if such growth is normal and Calder explains that scientists believe Earth’s atmosphere has upset its metabolic rate.

He takes them closer and introduces them to various scientists from around the world. One is monitoring the 1800 volts of electricity per minute that is keeping the creature sedated. Another tells them that they have determined that the Ymir’s olfactory system is more highly developed than anything on Earth. On the platform Dr. Leonardo and Almost-a-Doctor Marisa are feeding the creature a sulfur compound. When Marisa sees Calder she walks over to him and the two engage in some mild chitchat and flirting. This is truly the most horrifying moment of the film, as she describes a "nightmare" she had, which involves that dark café he mentioned once. The candle in that dark café is burning lower and lower and lower. Basically she is telling him that if they are going to go out to dinner, it had better be soon, or she will be looking elsewhere for companionship. She heads off to do something...I cannot remember what because I had shut my mind off at all that sugary flirting crap.

Calder then takes the reporters to where Dr. Uhl is working, where he explains to them that the critter has no heart and no lungs. Rather, it has a network of small tubes throughout its body. This is why firearms cause it so little damage. Another scientist approaches and mentions a piece of equipment being lifted onto the platform via a crane. Everyone steps aside and watches as whatever idiot operating the crane manages to smash the gizmo being lifted into some other gizmos. Things go POW, cables get torn loose and before ya know it…the Ymir is awake and screaming. Everyone now clears out as the giant beast tears loose from its restraints.

They are all gathered outside like morons as the Ymir comes clawing through the wall…and right into a pen with an elephant. Calder screams to get the animal out of there and some zoo guy tries his best to coax the elephant away, but the big pachyderm is more concerned with this intruder to its crib. The Ymir and the elephant begin to tussle and when the latter gets pushed over, it falls on two morons who were stupid enough to get too close. One was the zoo guy who was still trying to back away, but collided with the other idiot, who was some fool with a camera. Calder now yells that everyone needs to be evacuated. Panic ensues as people run all over the place. The Colonel calls McIntosh for backup and the General quickly apprises Contino of the what has happened. They need artillery and tanks immediately!

When Operation Dumbo Drop goes horribly wrong.The battle between the Ymir and the elephant carries out into the streets of Rome. Calder is trying to keep up so he can track the beast’s movements. More shots follow of the two creatures fighting along with plenty of scenes of people running. At two different times we see the same three men stumble and fall in their attempts to get away. Finally the Ymir is able to put the smack down on the elephant and the latter collapses to the ground. The Ymir moves on. Calder arrives in a car at this point and we see that the elephant is still breathing. Leonardo and Marisa approach (how did they get here?) and she tells Calder that the monster is down one of the side streets. Calder tells Uhl (how did he get there?) to take the others back to the embassy while he tracks the beast for as long as he can. He hops back in the car and takes off.

Down the side street he comes across the Ymir trashing the neighborhood. Cars are overturned, the creature is turning a lamppost into a pretzel and it has some poor bastard in its hand, swinging him back and forth something fierce. It lets the poor guy go, who rolls away holding his face in his hands as if he was ashamed of something! The creature walks in front of Calder’s car and the Colonel floors the gas pedal. POW. The collision knocks the Ymir on its ass and ruins the car. The creature is soon back up on its feet and moving…but now Calder has no car with which to follow it. Moron. He chases after it on foot but loses the creature at the Tiber River. Somehow the water seems very calm and peaceful without any ripples or other signs that a large body just splashed into it. Calder quickly uses a pay phone to call McIntosh and inform him. The General wonders if hand grenades will force it out of the river and has all the soldiers nearby begin tossing charges into the water.

All the military units converge on the area and begin tossing grenades into the water. I don’t know about giant Venusian creatures, but I’m sure they’ll catch a lot of fish. Calder is on the radio with McIntosh when all the blasting finally drives the Ymir up out of the water…and through a bridge. It roars, waves its arms, tosses some debris around and takes off down the road. The General arrives with Contino in a car. Calder jumps in and says that the beast is heading towards the Coliseum. Quickly they pursue.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Everyone in a jeep or tank (and there are many) instantly rush towards the Coliseum like it's stuffed Pancake Day at IHOP or something. Soldiers that are already there and are patrolling, suddenly hear the creature’s roars. This sends everyone into a scramble. The beast shows up and he has gotten damn BIG. While not into Godzilla proportions yet, the men at his feet don’t even reach his kneecaps. These guys squeeze off plenty of useless shots then run like hell. A tank rolls up and fires flames from its main turret. Flames? I didn’t know that was even possible. The sudden temperature rise really pisses off the Ymir, which responds by knocking over some pillars in its haste to get away. The worst FX of the film now occur as debris rains down on some soldiers – the large chunks of rock are badly superimposed over footage of soldiers falling to the ground.

Calder and gang are still racing towards the scene as the Ymir reaches the Coliseum. Tanks and soldiers start pouring into the area, so the Ymir climbs the walls of the Coliseum to get away. By the time Calder and cohorts arrive, the place is surrounded with artillery. Calder rushes into the coliseum with a bunch of soldiers, but the giant creature cannot be seen. It has just vanished like some type of giant extraterrestrial ninja. The soldiers fan out looking for the beastie and several moments pass while the men comb the interior of the Coliseum. Finally, the Ymir announces its presence by dropping some debris towards some soldiers and Calder grabs a bazooka away from one guy and orders them up some stairs. Calder heads up some other stairs and now that both groups of men are on the same level as the Ymir, with the beast between them, they open fire.

The Ymir is noticeably wounded and climbs higher up the Coliseum walls. More bazooka fire is directed towards it as it goes. It is now at the very top of the walls and can be seen by the soldiers in the streets. The creature picks up a large piece of stone and hurls it at a group of soldiers within the Coliseum who were about to aim a bazooka at it. One guy lets out a variation of the "Wilhelm Scream" as he is crushed. If you know what that is…fine. If you don’t…then read about its history and listen to it here. Calder rushes to check on the men and takes the bazooka they were about to use (who knows if any of them were even still alive). All the soldiers in the street finally open fire with their tanks and cannons and again the Ymir is noticeably wounded.

‘Twas beauty that killed the beast.No…wait. It was a bazooka and a big ass fall that killed the beast.Calder finally gets off a shot with the bazooka and it hits the giant monster square in the gut. The beast grabs its stomach and falls to its knees, as if it just ate the spiciest meatball in town. As it struggles to rise, it slips over the edge and is now just barely hanging on with both its hands. Dr. Uhl and Marisa arrive about now in a car. I thought they were supposed to be at the embassy? Does this look like the embassy to you? Anyway, a couple more shots from a tank or cannon destroys the stonework around the beast and it comes hurtling down to the street. SPLAT. It is quite dead.

People start gathering around it and Calder emerges from the Coliseum. He and Marisa walk to each other and embrace. Dr. Uhl and General McIntosh take in the spectacle from a distance away and Uhl wraps things up with one of those nuggets of 50’s scifi wisdom: "Why is it always…always so costly for man to move from the present to the future?" A last crane shot shows the gathered crowd, with Calder and Marisa walking off in the distance...presumably to that dark café for a bite to eat and possible boom-boom afterwards. Fade out.

WAIT! I have one last burning question! Just how far did the Ymir fall at the end? The highest point on the Coliseum walls is 48.5 meters above the street. That translates into about 159 feet. Now…look at the following pictures to help gauge the height of the Ymir at the end of the film. The first picture shows him just before he climbed the Coliseum walls. Note the bench at the foot of the wall. Given the average size of a bench, let’s say that the area of the wall that is painted white (where the arrow is pointing) is about six feet high. That means that the Ymir is about six or seven times taller, or roughly 40 feet tall and it ended up falling a distance that was about four times its height. The second picture shows soldiers near the same area that helps in comparison.

Did you notice the last picture? That shows the Ymir taking its fateful plunge. Now…it sure looks to me like it is falling more than four times its height. Sure, it's slightly curled up as it plummets earthward, but the Coliseum wall extends out of the picture both upwards and downwards, so the entire wall is not represented in this shot. I still maintain that the fall shown is higher than what previous shots would suggest. Besides, the Ymir is always getting bigger, not smaller. If anything, the fall should be less than what earlier scenes would propose. I know, I know, I know…get a life.

The End.

Review

After the success of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) and Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), stop-motion FX wizard Ray Harryhausen turned to a story he had developed years earlier for his next big screen effort. As was often the case with the films he worked on, the initial story ideas and basic outlines were his, but then he would hand these over to somebody else who would then polish them into a workable script. Entitled The Giant Ymir, he turned his story over to friend Charlotte Knight and together they constructed a more smooth, coherent narrative. Harryhausen would always produce sketches of key scenes to help sell his film concepts, but was turned down several times by studios for this project, as it appeared to be too costly and overly complicated. Finally, he showed it to producer Charles Schneer, who had worked with him on his previous two films. Schneer agreed to produce and the two would form a working partnership that would last through numerous films and several decades, culminating with 1981’s Clash of the Titans. Morningside Productions was started and with funding, facilities and distribution coming from Columbia Pictures, the project got underway.

In the beginning, the story reportedly featured a giant snow creature, but this idea was altered so as to keep the project more topical and in touch with the current themes in the science fiction genre, which was overflowing with threats from outer space, thus the story ended up resembling a space-age take on the King Kong storyline. It was decided a creature from the planet Venus would fit the bill and an entire opening sequence showing the expedition to the second planet as well as the capture of the beast was contemplated but ultimately dropped due to both expenses and the desire to ground the film more by centering the action on Terra Firma. Harryhausen and Schneer traveled to Rome in order to shoot some background plates before they ever brought a director on to the project. This trip satisfied Ray’s desire to travel and also allowed him to put in an appearance on-screen for one of the scenes taking place in the zoo. The footage shot in Rome was brought back to Hollywood, where director Nathan Juran was hired to helm the film. Juran, who had directed 1957’s The Deadly Mantis, had a reputation for bringing in films on time and within budget constraints, plus his background in art direction seemed a perfect fit.

Several models of the Ymir were made, including a larger version for use in close-ups as well as small one for longshots. A third, still model was crafted for the scene when the newly released critter is picked up by Doctor Leonardo and a full size glove was made for when the Ymir reaches through the bars of a cage to grab at Marisa. Originally, Schneer wanted the film to be lensed in color, but Harryhausen felt that a newly developed black and white film by Kodak would make a better fit. The film was released and met with success, paving the way for Harryhausen and Schneer’s next film, which would arguably be their masterpiece – The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

20 Million Miles To Earth is basically a fun film, though it does try the viewer’s patience at times. Hang in there long enough and you’ll be treated to one of the better giant-monster-on-the-loose films of all time, brought to life by legendary FX master Ray Harryhausen. Still, you will have to sit through what very well might seem to be endless scenes with an assortment of characters who are uninteresting at best and flat-out annoying as hell at worst. The themes on display are nothing new and this film neither re-invents them nor expands upon them in anyway, but rather decides to focus on what works best out of those elements.

The Storyline.
Basically, this film is a spin on King Kong, but rather than have a fifty-foot ape from Skull Island loose in New York City, we have a ever-increasing-in-size bipedal reptilian from the Planet Venus running amok in Rome. At least this time the critter isn’t infatuated with some woman. This similarity is not overly surprising given the themes of Harryhausen’s earlier films. Each seems to feature a menace of some kind threatening a famous landmark - the Rhedosaurus stomping around New York City and Coney Island in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the alien ships laying waste to famous Washington D.C. landmarks in Earth Vs the Flying Saucers and the Golden Gate Bridge getting squished by the giant octopus (or quintopus) in It Came from Beneath the Sea. One can even imagine such films being fashioned from these core ideas and images.

Given the film’s running time, it seems to take a long time in getting things going. It is fully thirty-five minutes into the movie before the Ymir is able to get loose. Up until then we have to deal with several annoying characters doing various things: moping, arguing, running around and generally acting agitated. For the most part, the film slows to a crawl when it is focusing on its human characters. Once the hunt for the Ymir is underway, things unfold more quickly and smoothly, though there are still a few bumps to be hit along the way.

Characterizations & Acting.
Who and what? In a nutshell, the characters in this film, with one notable exception, are utterly forgettable and all too often end up grating on the nerves. The leads really don’t stand out any more than the rest of the cast, resulting in a film that plays more like a dry recital of facts. With no one with which to identify, the audience is left watching the cinematic equivalent of a textbook rather than a riveting adventure novel. It’s a pity because so much time is spent with these people. All the characters could easily have been procured via some “50’s Scifi Movie” bargain store. Any one of them could easily be lifted from this film and dropped into another without the slightest difference. The one exception is the character of General McIntosh. He is the polar opposite of the “shoot first and don’t listen to reason” type of military men that populate so many such films. It's quite refreshing, but he has such a small role that it cannot compensate for all the wooden acting permeating the movie. The American characters, despite Mcintosh’s unique spin, are all so terribly bland. The only ones in the film with any personality are the Italian and Sicilian characters. However, they quickly become annoying, and in the case Pepe, can induce anything from blind rage to nausea in the viewer. All in all, the Human characters are a near total loss.

The one character that shines, and rightly so since it is his movie, is the Venusian Ymir. One cannot help but feel something for the poor, beleaguered beast. It never asked to be brought to Earth and is only trying to get by as best it can, yet it is attacked at every turn simply for being so different. While not too overtly, the film does portray the creature as a true persecuted innocent. Calder tells us that the breed is harmless unless provoked and we see that to be very true. Despite upsetting various farm animals with its appearance, the Ymir does not seek to harm them. One moment even shows us how it bypasses a small lamb without becoming aggressive. How much more of a blameless soul can you get? Only when attacked by Human does the beast lash out, and then is demonized for defending itself. Even at the end, when it has wrought so much destruction on mankind, we cannot help but feel sad for the Ymir as it clutches desperately to the Coliseum wall in a futile attempt to keep from falling. I don’t know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing when an animated monster shows more emotional depth than virtually the entire cast.

FX.
One of the first things one will notice is the copious use of rear projection throughout the film. Why spend the money on sending your entire crew to Italy when you can just go yourself, shoot some background plates, bring these back to Hollywood and then stand your actors in front of them to create the illusion that they are in Rome…or on the beach…or at sea…or…well, you get the idea. Yes, the producers did bother to actually shoot their actors in some of the key locations – that is definitely William Hopper running around the Coliseum – but most of the time whenever any type of location work is called for, we get the old rear projection technique. The remainder of the FX are actually pretty good for the time period, though they are seriously dated by today’s standards.

The animated work by Ray Harryhausen is the real star here and the very reason why the films he worked on are remembered as “Ray Harryhausen films” and not by the other directors, writers or producers that contributed. It is through his careful, precise and painstaking work that the Ymir genuinely comes to life. There are numerous touches that help in portraying the creature as a real flesh and blood life form, such as when it shields its eyes from the light when Marisa enters her grandfather’s trailer, when it is feeding or when it reacts to the numerous painful attacks by Humans. It is not just the base actions during these moments that make the Ymir seem real, but the subtle body language that conveys the sense of a real animal. The scenes were the Ymir must interact with live actors are very well done and it is easy to forget that there are two separate elements going into these shots.

Music.
Standard 50’s scifi fare, with only the briefest of instances where it asserts itself and stands out above the events of the film. Whether those moments are original creations or recycled from earlier films, I have no idea…nor do I care enough to look it up. The credits do list an original score by Mischa Bakaleinikoff, so let’s assume those junctures are authentic.

Summation.
Despite a few bumps here and there, 20 Million Miles To Earth still manages to approach the giant monster subgenre better than most other such films from the same time period. Outstanding FX and a great monster elevate this film to the upper echelons of 50’s scifi. Not quite at the very top, mind you, but definitely above the cloud line.

 

Expect To See:
Aliens
Aliens - Only the one alien on display here, though that little shit Pepe acts like he is from another planet at times.
Annoying Kids
Annoying Kids - This film is cursed by Pepe the selfish, greedy, lazy little pukesack. He should be considered lethally annoying and should be confined for life on sight.
Giant Monsters
Giant Monsters - The Ymir starts off quite small – about the size of a cat, but soon enough it gets MUCH bigger and the film ends with it being about thirty feet tall.
Ocean Hijinks
Ocean Hijinks - The first few minutes show how Verico and Mondello rescue two men from the quickly sinking spaceship. About as exciting and action packed as a DMV training film.
Romance
Romance - Calder and Marisa somehow defy the natural order of the universe and get the hots for one another, despite all the snide remarks made at one another early one in the film.
Spaceships
Spaceships - One huge phallic-shaped rocket, that plunges into the ocean, point first. Draw your own conclusions on any symbolism. I won’t even mention the seamen.
Stock Footage
Stock Footage - Some shots of helicopters flying and soldiers piling out of them that looks like it was filmed on a South Pacific island during WWII rather than Sicily.
Violence
Violence - While not explicit, there is a lot of violence when the Ymir starts manhandling people and knocking over structures. Plus, confrontations with a dog and an elephant.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Annoying voice overs: 1
Deaths: 24 (15 offscreen)
Cigarettes smoked: 6
Sweaty Italian men: Too many
Times Pepe mentions Cowboys and Texas: 4
Amount in Lira Pepe extorts from others: 500,200
Times Pepe is annoying as all hell: Too many to count
Times Caldwell calls Marisa “Almost a Doctor”: 2
People beat up by the Ymir: 1
Animals beat up by the Ymir: 2
Divers in disturbing diving gear: 4
People who fall when running from Ymir: 5
Ancient structures damaged or destroyed: 3

00 Mins – Is that the voice of God? If so, God is annoying.
02 Mins - Just throw him overboard and save us all a lot of grief.
06 Mins - All that plumbing…it's like a 50’s version of Mario Brothers.
26 Mins - Calder enjoys a smoke.
29 Mins - Calder enjoys a smoke.
39 Mins - Somebody call PETA!
43 Mins - And this film’s Darwin award goes to…the idiot farmer.
45 Mins - Calder enjoys a smoke.
48 Mins - Did he just throw a cop out of his own vehicle?

61 Mins - Ask Dr. Stupid.
64 Mins - Oops. Someone just lost their job for doing that.
75 Mins - Those boulders are transparent.
82 Mins - The End. I’m sure Calder is gonna light up at any second.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time you see Calder smoking a cigarette, chug a beer.

 

Images

The Tidy Bowl Man investigates a
newly disposed French tickler.



Welcome to Mario and Luigi’s
cut-rate dentistry.


"Idiot! That’s not an island. It’s a
mustard stain from one of your hoagies."

 
"Damn, these Italian chickens sure
are fugly once you pluck them."

The General loved to admire the
size of his balls.


"Hey! What does this big shiny red
button labeled History Eraser
Button
do?" (BTW, doesn't
this dork look like GWB?)



 
Once again the Shark Gods
demanded white meat.

 
"Yuck, olive loaf again."

"…one foot closer…one foot
closer…c’mon…"

"Doctor, is it contagious?
Doctor…? Doctor…? DOCTOR!?"


Marisa realizes that it is not the
creature’s arm poking through
the cage bars.

"When you said you wanted a bite
of Italian I thought it meant
we were going to The
Old Spaghetti Factory."



"Oh my god, look what he is doing
to that sheep!"

"Ok, everyone. On the count of
three yell ‘BOO.’
One…two…thr…"

"Next time on This Old House,
we’ll take a look at replacing
that old sheet rock in
your home…"



"Surprise!"
 


"Friends, Romans, countrymen...
lend me your ears. I come
to bury Caesar, not to praise him."

 

 

Immortal Dialog

Dr. Leonardo asks Pepe why he is so eager to get his hands on some cash.

Leonardo: "Why is your need so great and so urgent?"
Pepe: "Because…with two-hundred Lira I can purchase the hat from Texas. Please, may I have my money now?"

Shadow’s comment: Leonardo hasn’t even agreed to the transaction yet and the little puke sack wants his money. Somebody slap that little shit.


Calder and his winning charm with the ladies.

Calder: "You’re getting lovelier every time I see you…or is it the lights in here?!"

Shadow’s comment: Definitely the lights. That or all that nicotine has finally irreparably damaged his senses.

 

Keep In Mind
  • Texas is a country "near America."
  • Skyscraper-sized rockets don’t produce a ripple when crashing into the sea.
  • The interior of rockets are designed and built upside down.
  • Mission control for interplanetary missions is in the Pentagon.
  • When a strange, possibly deadly monster walks past you, by all means, stab it with a pitchfork.
  • Flamethrowers are standard equipment for small town police forces.
  • Every reporter in Rome speaks fluent English…too fluently.
  • 35+ foot tall monsters are masters at vanishing and hiding like ninjas.



This Film & Me

Even when I was eight years old, I knew who Ray Harryhausen was. I spent a good portion of the years between 1975 and 1980 glued to the TV, watching reruns of monster flicks that heralded from the 50’s. Most times these films were shown during a weekly time slot allotted to such cinematic fare and presented by a comically creepy host. Quite often such Monster Matinee programs, in order to fill out a two hour period, would run short featurettes on the history of horror and scifi films. Those shorts would not only highlight the people responsible for such movies, but also showcase interviews with them as well as provide behind the scenes information on how the films were made. This was how I learned at a very young age just who Ray Harryhausen was and what he had accomplished long before my parents ever lived in the same state, let alone met, married and produced yours truly. I think it is safe to say that he was my very first idol. I was able to rattle off facts about his films and work methods that astounded people who had actually seen such flicks in the theater two decades prior! And while I did not pursue a career in filmmaking like many of Ray’s admirers did, I have followed my own path into fantastical storytelling (alas, written fiction doesn’t sell itself and I must rely on more…mundane methods of paying the bills for now). Thus, 20 Million Miles to Earth was one of my absolute favorite films when I was a kid. It was frequently shown on those aforementioned monster matinees and I made sure to watch it as many times as possible. The stop motion FX were just pure magic in my eyes and I never tired of seeing monsters brought to life via this process. The film gradually faded away when those monster matinee programs went the way of the Dodo, and it was not until the late 80’s before I saw the film again – this time on TNT’s Monstervision. Those intervening years apparently changed both my viewing tastes and perceptions, as the film was no longer as magical as it seemed in my younger days. Sure, I still loved it, but it just seemed more…blah at times. Today, I still love Harryhausen flicks and this one still ranks highly with me, it just doesn’t rank as high as when I was a wide-eyed eight-year-old.

Shadow's rating: Seven Tombstones



The Good

  • Great monster design
  • Awesome Ray Harryhausen stop motion FX brings Ymir to life
  • Ymir makes for a sympathetic monster
  • Good monster rampage at end

The Bad

  • Obvious King Kong clone
  • Short sighted Italian officials
  • Horrible flirting between male and female leads

The Ugly

  • That annoying little shit, Pepe
  • Upside down space ship still oriented right side up on inside
  • Space helmets with no face plates
  • Did I mention that annoying little shit, Pepe?

 

 

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