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Killers From Space


Title: Killers From Space
Year Of Release: 1954
Running Time: 71 minutes
DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Directed By: W. Lee Wilder
Writing Credits: William Raynor (screenplay), Myles Wilder (story)

Starring: Peter Graves, James Seay, Steve Pendleton
Taglines:
1. Attack by monsters from another planet!
2. Earth attacked!
3. The last word in science-fiction thrills!
4. Strange creatures from another world attack planet earth!
5. It's a nuclear nightmare!
6. INVASION FROM ANOTHER PLANET!
Alternate Titles:
none found

Review Date: 1.1.16

Shadow's Title: "Big Talkers From Space"

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 Killers From Space (1954)

 Killers From Space (1954) (Restored Edition)

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Killers From Space

Characters
Dr. Doug Martin – The lead scientist on a government project where they study the results of atomic detonations. Aliens cause his survey plane to crash, after which they abduct him, repair his damaged heart with their advanced science and then hypnotize him into being their bitch…which luckily for him doesn't involve leather chaps and an anal probe. It does involve stealing classified material and secretly delivering it to them.
Ellen Martin – This is Doug’s wife and I have to wonder how long the two will stay married. Before Doug’s plane crash he was infamous among his colleagues for being a workaholic. After his accident while under the aliens’ hypnotic mojo or just consumed with a need to stop the extraterrestrials, he hardly even notices her and ignores almost everything she says. Then again, that does sound like the average married man to me.
Dr. Curt Kruger – This is Dr. Martin’s associate on the project where they repeatedly detonate A-bombs and then study the results. After four or five blasts, I think the result would be a case of glowing green skin and imminent organ failure from radiation exposure. In any case, it might have given him something of a personality, as from what we saw in the film, he was more wooden than Steven Wright on dope.
Colonel Banks – This guy is the top military officer at the airbase where the A-bomb testing is being planned and carried out. Well, it’s not being carried out at the base itself, but in the nearby desert, as that would tend to put a slight crimp in the operational well-being of the installation. Personally speaking, I know that where I work, when an A-bomb is detonated on site, it really makes for a crappy day.
Major Clift – This is the chief surgeon at the airbase, who examines Dr. Martin when he reappears after his deadly plane crash with no memory of what happened, where he vanished to for several hours or how he came to have a strange L-shaped scar over his heart. I’d say he got off rather light. I once lost an entire weekend and awoke on a Monday to discover a tattoo on my…uh, never mind.
Agent Briggs – This guy works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is almost instantly suspicious of Dr. Martin after his mysterious plane crash and subsequent memory loss, thinking that perhaps Martin is an imposter sent to replace the real Dr. Martin and enact some nefarious scheme. Well, he was half right. He also displays this strange ability to constantly arrive at locations before other people get there.
Deneb – The movie never gave his name in dialog, only in the end credits. He refers to himself as a scientist like Dr. Martin. I just referred to him as Alien Dude. No, that facial expression is not the result of an unexpected colonoscopy, but the result of his home planet’s sun slowly dying. His people, the Astron Deltans, then enact one of the worst invasion plans in history in their attempt at conquering Earth.
CLOWN – Aargh! Yet another movie with a CLOWN : Continuously Lurking Omniscient Wearisome Narrator. I do have to give this one credit, though. At least he shut the hell up after the first few minutes of the film and did not pop back up later to annoy everyone like an unwanted pimple on the ass…not that I have any experience with such things. Oddly enough, he sounded like star Peter Graves but the film listed him as a Mark Scott.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

With a name like that, you just know this film is going to be a bloodbath.Right off the bat I can see that we’re in serious trouble. We open on the Nevada Desert…someplace called Soledad Flats to be specific. How do we know this? Because just mere seconds into this film and a voiceover is already fouling the air like a fart in church. Could this be a CLOWN?

What’s a CLOWN you ask? Well, it is a Continuously Lurking Omniscient Wearisome Narrator. You know the type…they chime in unexpectedly, more often than not at a film’s beginning, to impart some piece of obscure arcana that the film’s producers thought was vital information relevant to the movie’s story. This is usually comprised of references to some past event involving atomic bombs, twisting known scientific principles into near unrecognizable technobable to better fit the movie’s ideas or just prattling on aimlessly about a whole lot of nothing. CLOWNs have been known to interject their often near incoherent ramblings into the film in question at all manner of junctures – the beginning, throughout the middle as well as the end. In essence, they represent the producer’s contempt for the audience, personifying their efforts to explain things for the idiots the filmmakers perceive the audience to be (and often they are quite right). Thusly, CLOWNs infest B-Movies from the 1950’s at only a marginally lower degree than white trash at your local Walmart.

Of course CLOWNs are not to be confused with another breed of annoying narrator – the type that physically shows up in the film, usually only once and at the very beginning. Most times they are located within a laboratory or library of some kind and lecture the audience on all manner of pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo, occasionally opening a book or playing with their nearby chemistry sets in order to stress a point. These narrators are known as a PAIN or Pontificating Attendant Irksome Narrator. There is of course that rare specimen that is a mixture of the two breeds, but they are so seldom seen and heard that a name has yet to be coined for them.

So the narrator begins. “Soledad Flats, Nevada. The time, Six-Fifteen AM.”

We see planes lifting off from an airstrip. A couple of fighters and a larger bomber that is emitting so much vapor/fumes/smoke from its engines and rear section that I almost thought it was about to explode and litter the landscape for miles with twisted metal and charred body parts.

“The climax of arduous planning, operation A-bomb test underway.” That seems like a dumb name for the project. Think about it, can you get more obvious? Were previous military operations so overt in their designations? Operation Overlord was not called Operation Land 160,000 Troops In Normandy. Neither was Operation Desert Storm referred to as Operation Liberate Kuwait. I think a better name for a project that tests atomic bombs would be something more like Project Kablooey or even Project Air Biscuit.

Now we see a radio tower outfitted with numerous speakers. A voice announces over the PA system that detonation will occur in two minutes. The very next shot shows us a couple hundred soldiers walking in the desert and then climbing into trenches in preparation. Hey morons, ya only got two minutes, ya better start hauling ass! Seriously, either these guys are the slowest morons in the army, or they have the worst CO in history, if they got their orders this late in the game to go march out into the desert and line up in a trench as part of an A-bomb test with just minutes to spare. Wouldn’t you want to get all these guys in position in plenty of time before the blast to assure that no one gets hurt? I think they may be cutting it a bit close with two minutes left and hundreds of men still walking in open ground.

So dumb ass continues. “Military personal, from buck private to top ranking brass, men from research and news services move into position.” Never mind news services…what about craft services? Nothing stirs the appetite like a couple hundred rads of radiation.

Now we get a shot of some of those “Top Brass” guys and they’re just leisurely walking through the desert with the rest of the morons. Do any of these guys have a clue as to what an A-bomb detonation will do to them if they don’t get their asses to cover and like RIGHT NOW?! Either the blast is set to occur about a hundred miles away and no one is worried at all, or some general at the Pentagon is taking this opportunity to rid the armed forces of every fool, idiot, moron, imbecile and dingleberry in uniform without having to pay their pensions.

“The bomb-carrying plane makes its initial run. Radar with eyes that never sleep (I don’t think he means that dude from MASH). Special equipment goes into operation. All orders are carried out with split second precision. Warning is given to all commercial aircraft to stay out of the test area.”

Hey at least they’re lookin’ out for someone. God forbid an airliner full of civilians gets bathed in radiation and they all exit the plane sprouting third eyes out of their foreheads. Another shot of the radio tower and we learn that there are now seventy seconds left until detonation.

“______ take to the air, carrying sensitive instruments and nuclear scientists, ready to record the radioactivity from the closest possible vantage point.” What the first word in that sentence is, I don’t know. I’ve listened to it at least a couple dozen times now and I just cannot make it out. The film shows us a jet fighter when this is said, but the word does not sound like jet or plane. Who knows, who cares.

Another shot of the radio tower. Forty seconds to go!

“The bomb carrying plane nears the target.” At this point, I am sincerely hoping the target is my house, then I can find peace before this movie traumatizes me any further. Oh wait, too late. It is at this juncture, after showing us all sorts of stock footage of planes and morons on the ground walking around the desert, they we are now shown stock footage of flight crews and pilots.

“Tension mounts, as all members of the flight crew anticipate the task. To pinpoint the bomb on a tiny circle of earth below.” You wanna know what I’m anticipating? Something happening in this damn movie!!!

“Now the plane makes its way towards ground zero. The warning signal is sounded. All observers prepare for the blinding flash of the bomb” More shots of people just milling around the desert as if they were trying to mingle at the world’s worst party. I suppose the blast is going to be far enough away that no one need worry about finding cover.

“Command of the plane is given to the bombardier. Ground zero is dead ahead. The key man now goes into action. Bomb bay doors open.”

“These new 3-D glasses suck!”At this point the unseen guy who was giving countdown updates over the PA system begins counting down from ten. When he reaches zero there is a huge explosion. The only thing is…I never say anything dropped from the plane. Did the bombardier forget to push the right button? Was he so drunk with power at being given command of the plane that he totally forgot to release the bomb and it detonated in the plane’s bay? Who knows. I realize that the film makers just cobbled together a shitload of stock footage and overlaid a voiceover to tie it all together and that nothing we’ve seen was intended to convey any type of story, but part of me would just like to believe that the plane was obliterated because the bombardier totally dropped the ball…and not the bomb.

“And this is the beginning…” So there is a huge explosion and as we look down on it from above, the film’s title comes rushing up at us from the mushroom cloud like a wave of superheated air and with all the latent pain and misery of 10,000 rads of radiation. I suppose the detonation killed the CLOWN as well, as he doesn’t intrude again during the movie. Thank goodness for small miracles.

So instead of further assaulting us by listing anyone and everyone who made this movie, the film launches right into its story…and right away I can see again what we’re in store for with this flick. After the A-bomb detonation, we see a shot of plane flying over a large blast cloud. THEN we see a shot of a toy plane superimposed over a shot of some clouds. The toy plane is obviously on a string as all it does is swing around and around again and again in a circle so tight, the pilot must be passed out from the G forces incurred from such a maneuver.

Inside the plane is a pilot as well as Dr. Doug Martin, one of those aforementioned scientist types launched into the air to study the detonation. The jet is circling ground zero at 15,000 feet so Martin can get his readings. He begins relaying them over the radio to his counterparts on the ground. Once this is done, the jet moves in closer to the massive column of smoke and dust. This is when the pilot notices something shiny on the ground below. Suddenly the pilot announces in a worried voice that they’re in trouble. The plane starts to dive towards the ground (literally straight down) and the pilot reveals that the controls are frozen, and I don’t think he means that they are cold to the touch. Things get all blurry and I think this is supposed to imply that the pilot and Martin pass out from the g forces.

On the ground, contact is lost with the jet, designated Tar Baby 2 for some reason – so more planes are scrambled to look for it, which means hauling out a few more stock footage shots of planes. The wreckage of Tar Baby 2 is finally located, completely demolished. Well it was aimed straight at the ground. I’m surprised that there isn’t anything larger than a matchbook left of the thing. A rescue helicopter is dispatched and stock footage shots of no less than three different helicopter models are used to showcase this. I wonder if anyone in the theater noticed that the helicopter changed in appearance in those three back to back shots.

Next we see a Colonel Banks speaking to Martin’s wife, Ellen, explaining that despite the wreckage having been located hours earlier, there is no sign of her husband. Again, I must point out how fast the jet was going and its descent angle when it impacted the earth. Instead of looking for a body, maybe they ought to be looking for a big smear of pasty goop. A Dr. Kruger comes in now to help comfort Ellen and Banks says that the pilot’s body was found in the wreckage but Martin’s was not there. Nor was there any opportunity for him to bail out beforehand. It looks rather conclusively that he is quite dead. Fade out.

Fade in. We see Martin stumbling around the street in front of the airbase, looking as if he just woke up after an all night booze and hooker binge and is having trouble remembering which way is home. A guard sees him and he is quickly ushered to the base hospital where after a checkup by the base surgeon, Major Clift, he seems to be fine. He just doesn’t remember what happened to him. Aside from the gap in his memory, he has a strange L-shaped scar over his heart, which his records show that he did not have before the crash. The scar is an obvious result of surgery, but Martin insists that he has never had an operation.

Later Colonel Banks and Major Clift meet with a guy from the FBI named Briggs. As is usual for Feds in films such as these, Briggs is suspicious of Martin. A guy with high level clearance, access to top secret info and who now can’t remember how he survived a plane crash? Yep, Briggs thinks something fishy may be going on. He asks colonel Banks, “Did you ever stop to think that perhaps this Doctor Martin isn’t really the Doctor Martin?” He thinks maybe Martin is an imposter. Either that or he thinks Martin has been replaced by a duplicate grown from a giant seed pod.

So they run Martin’s fingerprints against their archives in Washington and they turn out to be a match. It appears he is the real deal. Still mystified by the scar on his chest, they have no choice but to let him go home. They caution his wife ahead of time that since he is such a workaholic, he needs diversion once he gets home, so he won’t deal with anything that will upset or excite him. Talk about a recipe for disaster! I know exactly how she will keep him diverted…with a honey-do list a mile long. By the time he’s cleaned the rain gutters, swept out the garage, installed new cupboards, mended the fences and washed all the windows, the poor bastard will be too damn tired to do much of anything except keel over and crap in his pants from exhaustion. And that’s probably just what she has planned for the first day! Show me a man with some free time and I’ll show you a woman with a list of things to strip it away.

At home, Martin awakes in the middle of the night and thinks he sees a pair of large, disembodied eyes floating in the air, staring at him. He blinks and they are gone. Heading into the kitchen under the pretense of getting a glass of milk, he instead makes a phone call to the base and inquiries about future atomic testing. When he is told that he cannot be told that info, he gets all huffing and decides to head to the base. Ellen is annoyed and doesn’t want him to go. They kiss and we fade out.

“And this little piggy went…holy shit, look at these bunions!”The next day arrives. Apparently he stayed home, as we next see him up and about with her asleep in bed. I guess after that kiss and the fade out, she had other ways of persuading him to stay. Either she let him put it in the dirty place or she let him have two hours to himself to do with as he pleased. Martin gets the morning paper and is shocked to see the headline: Another Atom Bomb Exploded.

The next thing we know, he’s down at the airbase laying into Colonel Banks and Dr. Kruger for proceeding with the next test without him. They spell it out for him: right now he is a potential security risk. They want him to return home and relax, or be confined to the base hospital. I guess there isn’t a third choice as he then storms out. He heads to his office to pick up a few personal items, but hides out there for a couple hours after telling his secretary that she can take the rest of the day off (gee what a generous boss, given that it was already after 4:00 PM at this point, there could not have been that much time left in the work day).

Once Dr. Kruger has finished for the day and gone home, Martin sneaks into his office and opens the secured vault containing all the top secret info on the bomb blasts. He looks over some papers, jots down a few notes and then leaves, managing to avoid the MP Officer making his rounds. Alas, Martin was quite sloppy and failed to close the secured vault. The MP Officer strolls in and sees it hanging wide open and is instantly on the phone calling the main gate, asking about Dr. Kruger. The gate guard informs him that Kruger left twenty minutes earlier and then hangs up the phone. Martin drives up and manages to leave without raising any suspicion.

Day-for-night has now fallen across the land and we see Dr. Kruger arriving at his home, where the FBI guy Briggs is there to meet him. How did he get there so damn fast? Seriously, Kruger left twenty minutes before the MP found his vault wide open. Then a call had to be made to the gate and then to Colonel Banks (who it turns out was at the Officer’s club, no doubt getting blitzed and hitting on 20-something waitresses) and then sometime after that the FBI would have been informed. Yet somehow this Briggs guy got to Kruger’s house before he did! How far away does Kruger live and how damn fast was Briggs driving in order to beat him there? Briggs convinces Kruger to return to his office in order help straighten out a few things.

Back at his office, Kruger confirms that everything in the vault is where it is supposed to be. Briggs wants to know who else has access to the vault and Dr. Martin’s name comes up. They realize that Martin did not leave the base when he was supposed to have done so and in fact left after Dr. Kruger (everyone has to sign out at the gate when they leave).

Briggs examines the vault again and finds some pipe tobacco on the ground. This is bad news for Martin because Kruger doesn’t smoke at all and Colonel Banks is a cigarette man, but guess who has been shown lighting up a pipe on more than one occasion? Yep. Doug Martin.

The tobacco matches the canned stuff Martin has at home, where we now see Briggs talking to Ellen Martin. It seems her husband has not come home and she does not know where he may be. Starting a new life in another state away from her would be my guess. Briggs proposes the idea of there being another woman, but this just annoys her. He can hardly spare a minute for her, why would he add another woman in the mix? Briggs asks if her husband has made any new friends lately (ones with Russian accents perhaps), but she says no. Then the phone rings and someone asks for Briggs.

Now we see Doug Martin driving at night. That’s it. We don’t see where he is going or anything else. Just him driving at night. Alas, the cops have been informed to look for Martin’s car and soon enough it seems half the force is out looking for him. Well, either that or it's rendezvous time at the local Dunkin' Donuts.

Next we see Martin out in the desert. He has stopped the car and is placing the paper with his notes (the ones he copied from those vault papers) under a large boulder. FBI man Briggs appears out of nowhere and asks Martin what he is doing. How in the hell did Briggs get out there so fast? He just pops out of the shadows like Batman! More to the point, how did he know where to go? Is he psychic or something? Martin looks into Briggs’ eyes and then panics. He decks the FBI agent and then hops into his car and flees.

Martin heads back into town and stops at a gas station for fuel. He heads off to use the pay phone to call home, but the call can’t be put through. While he is on the phone, the gas station attendant overhears the radio bulletin asking people to be on the lookout for Martin. Martin returns to his car and hears the same report. He looks into the eyes of the attendant (has he suddenly developed an eye fetish or what?) and then jumps in his car and roars off…without paying no less! What a cheap bastard! The station attendant is instantly on the phone, calling the police.

Out in the desert, Briggs is coming to and brushing himself off after being laid out by Martin. He gets a call via his car radio on Martin’s whereabouts and then races off. Where was his car this whole time? There was no sign of it earlier when Martin arrived and attempted to conceal those papers or when he fled a couple minutes later. I’m sure Martin would not have even stopped if he had seen another vehicle parked nearby, yet now we see Briggs stumble over to his car, parked right out in the open and close enough that he could hear the radio from where he was stretched out in the dirt.

Hit the mushroom for a speed boost!Keep your eyes on the road!We see Martin racing down a country road where there seems to be an awful lot of trees for this supposedly being in the Nevada desert. Ahead of him, Martin sees a pair of large disembodied eyes floating in the air. Swerving to avoid them, he nearly collides with two other vehicles before crashing into a tree and coming to an abrupt halt. He apparently hits his head and is knocked unconscious, as he pitches forward and leans against the horn, which sounds in one long, continuous blast.

He wakes up at the base, surrounded by Colonel Banks, Major Clift, Doctor Kruger and Agent Briggs. Martin mumbles something about someone “coming to destroy us” and how they have to stop “them” before they kill everybody. He’s given a sedative to help calm him down. This stuff also works as a truth serum and Briggs gleefully announces that he will get the recorder ready in anticipation of interrogating Martin. What type of embarrassing questions is he going to ask him? When was the last time you flogged the dolphin? How old were you when you stopped wetting the bed? Does your wife’s carpet match her drapes? Do you like smelling your own farts? How can I get out of doing this craptastic movie?

So Briggs now asks Martin why he was leaving that top secret information under that big rock. Martin says he was ordered to do so. When pressed for more details, Martin says he will tell them the whole story. He remembers when he was in the jet, circling the atomic blast cloud. ..

Cue up the harp music kids cuz it’s time for a FLASHBACK!

Begin Flashback.

Martine relates how they spotted a bright, flashing object on the ground when the controls to the jet jammed and they crashed. He regained consciousness on a table, surrounded by a bunch of guys with huge, bulging eyes and really bad fashion sense. He saw his own beating heart being lowered back into his chest (a hell of a lot better in my book than seeing it being removed). The strange guys are waving what looks like welding torches back and forth over his chest. Don’t tell me that’s how they performed the surgery! Ouch!

With his heart safely back in his chest and with the new L-shaped scar that goes along with it, he now gets off the operating table and inquires into the identity of all these bug-eyed morons. He is marched off through some caves until he is brought before the bug-eyed morons’ leader, who introduces himself as a scientist like Martin, heralding from a planet as yet unknown to mankind.

Martin expresses his surprise at how the alien can speak his language. When the alien reveals that they can speak every language, this is too much for Martin and he decides that he needs to leave. NOW. People from another planet he can handle, but extreme multilingual invaders is too much for him. Is he afraid that they’re going to start spouting bad poetry in Esperanto?

He tries to run but the alien activates some type of gizmo that points at Martin and immobilizes him. When it is deactivated, Martin asks how they got there. Really? This is the guy that the government had in charge of their A-bomb tests? He has to ask how aliens got there? In a spacecraft of some kind, you idiot! There are six year old kids that could figure out that one!

The alien shows Martin a view screen and on it we can see the aliens’ saucer-like ships as they fly around. The alien says that they are magnetically propelled across an electron bridge…whatever the hell that may be, but I’d think using it would have negative consequences. Seriously, you’re gonna boo me for that joke?

The alien dude admits that their ships have been sighted on occasion by humans, but they’re just too clever to be caught or even tracked. He then reveals that they are in some caverns located in Earth’s upper crust and that the aliens have been camped out here since man’s experiments in nuclear fission have been on going. Furthermore, he explains how they have been collecting the energy released in each atomic explosion.

Along about this time Alien Dude gets a call on his Alien Phone. On the monitor we see another one of the bug-eyed morons standing out in the desert somewhere. He gives his report on the recent detonation in the aliens’ native tongue, which sounds like normal speech, only run in reverse. Martin asks where that other guy is at and Alien Dude reveals him to be located near where Martin crashed. Alien Dude fiddles with his machine and changes the view and we see the wreckage of the plane.

Now earlier, we saw the plane as it plummeted to earth, straight down I might add for what feels like the fourth or fifth time. The crash should have obliterated the vehicle from the impact alone. Once the fuel ignited, there should have been an explosion that incinerated most of what was left. Yet, now we see an image of a plane that is sitting in the desert and despite some scrapes here and there, and part of the nose having come loose, looks nothing like what you’d expect after having seen its descent trajectory earlier.

Alien Dude now lays a real big revelation on Martin: he did not in fact, survive the crash. Alien Dude explains that his heart ceased to function and it was necessary for them to remove and repair it before returning it to his chest. I know that I am on the verge of sounding like a broken record, but stating that Martin’s heart “ceased to function” after the crash that he no doubt experienced, is akin to telling someone in the path of a tidal wave, “you will experience moisture.”

If these aliens are so advanced, then why don’t they have widescreen TV’s?So Martin asks why they didn’t save the pilot and is told that the aliens need Martin for something. He is shown the monitor again where he sees images of the alien’s home planet, Astron Delta. A quick history lesson reveals how their sun began to die. Vegetation on their world began to vanish and the ever growing darkness caused their eyes to evolve to their present bug-eyed state. They then invaded the planets within their solar system that were closer to their sun, conquering the peoples that lived there. This bought them some time, but now that their sun is almost completely dead, they need to move – all one billion of them – once again. Guess where they have chosen to move to? You got it. They’ve been planning things for some time and when everything is right, they will strike from their space platforms (which I do not think are some sort of shoe).

Martin freaks out again and this time manages to run off before Alien Dude can turn on his whammy machine to freeze him. Martin runs helter skelter through the caverns, but everywhere he goes, he runs into bug-eyed moron aliens, either alone or in groups. He cannot seem to avoid them. They’re just like door-to-door salesmen. Alien Dude is monitoring Martin’s flight through the cave and pushes some buttons on his big HAM radio. This causes a fence-like barrier to drop and trap Martin on one side.

Martin runs on and comes face to face with several giant tarantulas! The big spiders just ignore him as he runs on and then encounters some giant lizards! Now these aren’t Godzilla sized lizards, but look like the size of your average city bus. Martin races on and comes across what looks like a giant cockroach, then a giant grasshopper, another giant lizard (kinda looks like a Gila Monster), a giant horny toad (no, not a toad that is in the mood, a toad with horn-like protrusions on its body), more big lizards, bugs and oversized pests of all sorts…which does not include Gilbert Gottfried.

Martin finds his way back to the fence where Alien dude laughs at his unease and lets him back over on the “safe” side of the fence. Alien Dude explains that the super size of all these pests is due to a change in their genes. When the next A-bomb is detonated, the energy will help these beasts to grow even larger. The aliens will unleash them on the earth and watch and wait as the giant critters devour every living thing on the face of the planet. Well, except for Durians. I expect the gawd awful smell of those things to drive everything away.

Once the earth is cleansed of all living things except for one strain of gross tropical fruit, the giant monsters will be killed with the aliens’ advanced technology – with weapons that look like oversized heat lamps to be more precise. The dead monsters will help fertilize the surface and allow for new crops to be grown (in addition to the leftover Durians no doubt…seriously, I hope those aliens like that stuff).

Okay, if the aliens just want us gone, why not nuke our cities from orbit? Maybe they don’t want the colossal mess as well as the radioactive fallout that would result from such a course of action. Okay, these guys seem pretty adept at medical science. They removed Martin’s heart and repaired it, then replaced it and effectively brought him back from the dead. They can also alter all these bugs, spiders, lizards and things on a genetic level in order to increase their size, so why not just engineer a virus or something that targets humans and then release it? I think these moron aliens haven’t really thought out this whole invasion thing very well.

So Martin continues to get the grand tour of the place. Alien Dude explains that they have accumulated several billion electron volts. This alarms Martin who theorizes that a “chain reaction at this point could release enough unstable isotopes to create a new and powerful element.”

Huh? Was that English? I didn’t understand a word of that.

Alien Dude admits that may be true, but it will be an element that will never be known by humans. Martin does a lot more thinking out loud and realizes that the aliens are getting their power from somewhere on the surface. This annoys Alien Dude, who testily orders Martin to step into another cave. Here he explains to the human that because of his position at the airbase and connection to the A-bomb tests, he will forward information on the tests to them as soon as it becomes available. If he does this, his life will be spared.

Martin agrees, but Alien Dude, through the use of some fancy alien lie detector, knows that he is lying. Since Martin will not willingly help them, the aliens are forced to compel him in another fashion. No it’s not money, booze and/or hookers. Nor is it an unlimited pass to Disneyland. It’s not even the threat of an anal probe. Nope, it’s hypnotism! He is forced to watch the monitor where an image of an alien who introduces himself as The Tala (and played by the same guy as Alien Dude) in all his bug-eyed glory gives him his orders, tells him to obey and then tells him to forget everything he has seen in the caves. I wish I could forget!

Things begin to get all blurry and for a fleeting second I thought that it was my own eyes that were failing as part of some autonomic response on the part of my brain to protect itself from the rest of this movie. Alas, it’s just Martin getting all sleepy again. Fade out.

End Flashback.

“What do you mean I was talking about gladiator movies in my sleep?”We return to the present where Martin is finishing up his story. Everyone just looks at him as if he just shit in his pants and called it a sausage. Martin wants to set off another atomic bomb as soon as possible and as strong as possible, thinking the blast will overload the aliens’ power systems and destroy them. Needless to say, they don’t believe him at all. He tries to get out of bed, but they restrain and then sedate him.

Banks, Clift, Kruger and Briggs walk out into the hall where Clift reveals that under the effect of the drug administered to Martin, he would have been unable to fabricate any stories or tell lies. Does this mean that the fantastic story he told them is true? Clift doesn’t know, but he does know that medically speaking, Martin was being truthful.

Despite it being night, Dr. Kruger decides to pay a visit to the desert, notably the big rock where Martin was trying to hide the top secret information. As Kruger exits his car and approaches the rock, who should emerge from hiding? Why it’s Agent Briggs of the FBI. How and when did he get there? I swear, this guy is always arriving at someplace BEFORE one of the others. I’d say he was one step ahead of everyone, but if that were really true, he would have cracked this case by now and not be standing out in the desert alone at night waiting for Dr. Kruger to arrive.

Kruger explains that he came out to see if there was any truth to Martin’s story. He had hoped to find an entrance to the caves his colleague had mentioned, but Briggs says that the entire area had been searched and nothing found. Kruger then mentions Martin’s strange scar and asks Briggs if he can disprove that. Fade out.

Fade in. Martin’s wife Ellen arrives at the base to see her husband, but before she can get to his room, Martin has already jumped out of bed and is running loose down the halls, seeing bug-eyed alien faces over all the people he encounters. Major Clift manages to stop him and get him back into bed. Martin requests some paper, a pencil and a slide rule.

Later, Martin is in bed, working on something with the requested items. Whatever it is he is doing, his attention is focused squarely on it and not on his wife, who after calling his name three times and being ignored, leaves the room. She encounters Dr. Kruger and the pair returns to Martin’s room.

Martin explains what he is working on. He says that they don’t need another atomic blast to overload the Aliens’ systems. Since they are obviously tapping electricity from the power company, all they need do is shut off the power for a few seconds and the disruption should have an adverse effect on the Aliens’ system. Kruger doesn’t think it is a good idea, as shutting down the power, even for just a few seconds, could cause major trouble. Incensed at having his idea shot down, and convinced that the Aliens and their army of gigantic pests need to be stopped; Martin bolts from bed and flees, grabbing Ellen’s car keys as he goes.

 

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.

 

Martin, still dressed in his pajamas like Arthur Dent, manages to get in Ellen’s car and roar away off the airbase. Ellen and Kruger follow in his car. Elsewhere, Colonel Banks and Agent Briggs are informed of Martin’s escape and his intention of heading to the power house and turning off the power. The two head out. Hell, I’m surprised Briggs isn’t already at the power house, waiting for Martin, given his ability to arrive places ahead of everybody.

So Martin now arrives at the power house, where he ignores a guard’s protest over where he parked. He runs inside, but the guard has alerted everyone to the intruder. Martin runs around quite a bit from one room to another, trying to avoid everyone in what has to be the most boring cat-and-mouse chase committed to film. Soon enough Ellen, Kruger, Banks and Briggs arrive and rush inside as well.

Within, Martin has overpowered a few guys and after what seems like five hours of running around, locates the control room and strong arms the attendant into flipping the main switches and cutting the power. Somewhere along the way, he managed to find a gun with which to threaten the power worker. A quick rewind reveals that the worker had pulled it from a desk and in their brief struggle, Martin had commandeered it.

Hey, look! Victory at Sea is playing outside the window.And the grand total of people killed by the “Killers from Space:” ONETwo switches are flipped, but before the last one can be flipped – the one that will cut power for a radius of a hundred miles – all the others come barreling into the chamber. Martin threatens to kill the worker if the others don’t stay back. So what does Agent Briggs do? He backs away and sneaks round some back way to take Martin by surprise. Alas, it doesn’t work and Martin maintains the upper hand. He claims that if he is insane, by ten seconds after cutting the power, nothing will happen. So he flips the switch and begins counting.

He gets to eight before the entire place is rocked by a distant explosion. Everyone runs for a window…well except for the power worker, who quickly restores the power, after all…he could get fired for letting it lapse. Outside the window, amazingly enough is the South Pacific Ocean! Well, not really. It’s just that the filmmakers roll out footage of the atomic blast at Bikini Atoll, which is standing in for the Aliens’ underground lair going KABOOM beneath Soledad Flats.

As we see the stock footage through the window blinds, the credits start to roll.

The End

WAIT! I just realized something. All Martin has managed to do is wipe out the aliens here on earth along with their giant bug collection. As Alien Dude mentioned and even showed to Martin, they have ships and space platforms from which to launch their invasion. The threat is not over. These morons could still threaten the earth in some fashion, perhaps even opting for some sort of orbital bombardment to help soften up we humans. Martin and his buddies had better stop testing bombs and start building laser cannons or something in preparation.

 

Review

This is one of those films that I was really expecting to be terrible, but wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is by no means a great film, but it didn’t suck at the levels at which I was lead to believe after reading about it for decades. I was quite surprised at how quickly things moved along, especially for a movie loaded with stock footage the way it is and where hardly anything really happens.

The Storyline.
A scientist is abducted by aliens and hypnotized into doing their bidding. It sounds more exciting than it ends up being on film…and it doesn’t even sound that exciting in the first place. Back in the 50’s, it seems every other cinematic threat to mankind came from the stars (the other half usually came from man’s own incompetence in handling the new dangers of radiation). Some came in fleets of ships to conquer us, others came individually to pave the way for their cohorts while others took a more subtle and insidious approach by hiding among us and influencing our own people into unwittingly helping their efforts. This last method is how the titular Killers From Space decided to operate. Too bad they were all morons.

Characterizations & Acting.
The first selling point of this film is star Peter Graves. While he made his fair share of cheapy sci-fi and monster flicks back in the day, he at least approached them in earnest. Despite the low budget limitations of this movie, never once did I get the impression that he wasn’t trying. Maybe he wasn’t giving it his all, but he was by no means phoning it in, either. His Dr. Doug Martin comes across as a real person, the scientist utterly engrossed in his work and who finds himself in a perplexing situation. When confronted with the truth, he decides to act, even when others do not believe his tale of alien abduction and imminent invasion.

I have to say that many of the other characters come off pretty good as well. While Colonel Banks seems like he isn’t overly invested in anything going on under his command, at least Major Clift and Dr. Kruger seem genuinely interested in helping Martin, even if they doubt his story about aliens. FBI agent Briggs is all too real in his instant suspicion of Martin and while he may not credit Martin’s strange behavior to extraterrestrials, he was no doubt imagining the Red Menace (the long gone Soviet Union for those of you who have yet to crack a history book) as the culprit. Even Martin’s wife Ellen came across as genuine in her concern for his wellbeing and her worried annoyance at his sudden compulsions and lack of interest in her. So overall, I’d say most of the characterizations in this film were believable.

However, there is one instance where I must draw the line and that is with the aliens themselves, represented solely through their scientist leader Deneb or Alien Dude as I liked to call him, since his true appellation was never mentioned in dialog. It’s not that good old Deneb doesn’t seem real; it’s just that the alien plan for conquest is just so…dumb. Deneb explains their history as well as their intentions for earth all quite matter-of-factly in the true dispassionate manner of a scientist. I guess it is just because the plan is very, very stupid in my book, that he (and by extension his entire species) comes across as more than just a little shortsighted. For all their technological superiority, showcased in their mastery of interplanetary travel as well as medical knowledge far beyond the scope of man’s limited understanding, they are not the infallible invading force one would think alien conquerors to be. Truth be told…they’re kind of idiots and are defeated quite easily. Not exactly the type of aliens that inspires fear. This had to be the first time an alien invasion was thwarted without a single weapon being fired or life lost on the part of humanity. Just a few switches thrown and game over.

FX & Music.
The low budget does not allow for any fancy FX, so the alien threat is comprised of stock footage. Hell, almost anything that would have cost money is represented by stock footage. There certainly are enough generic shots of aircraft, soldiers, police cars and what not to put even the most hardy b-movie enthusiast to sleep if they are not careful. And then there are the giant bugs and lizards. I’m not sure if all the shots featuring them were taken from a vault somewhere, but I would not be surprised in the slightest if it were so. Needless to say, every one of these critters is represented by footage of a regular specimen of the requisite species, only blown up to make them look big, or having a small scale image of Peter Graves superimposed over it. There might have been a moment or two of rear screen photography, but to be completely honest, that portion of the movie was really dragging on a bit too long and I was having trouble keeping track of everything. In the end, the bottom line is this: the FX in this movie are super cheap by even 1950’s standards.

The music is credited to Manuel Compinsky, who, according to the IMdB, had only two credits as composer other than this film, The Snow Creature (1954) and The Big Bluff (1955). I thought nearly everything about the former film was just crap, and I have never seen the latter, so I cannot say anything on its music. In this film, the music is…passable. On more than one occasion, the film sounds like the typical music you’d hear in an old 50’s educational film (like something on how to brush your teeth or how not to have bad body odor when around others or even how to deal with constant boners), but at other times it is rather forgettable. This is sad, because in scenes where music could really liven things up a bit, it’s just rather flat. On the flip side, it is never annoying or distracting, so when looking at the big picture, it fills its role and does not detract from the viewing experience.

Technique.
One of the aspects to this film that I found rather intriguing was how Doug Martin’s experience with the Astron Delta aliens is told in a flashback. This allows the film to set up something of a small mystery, mainly what happened to Martin after the jet crash that killed the pilot, and why he acts so strange afterward. Poor Martin himself is unable to recall what befell him after the crash, which only deepens the mystery. Of course, given the way preview trailers work, everyone who saw this in the theater way back in 1954, had to know that aliens were to blame. The movie title itself pretty much gives that away. Still, I like how the film sets up the mystery and then waits a bit before answering the big questions. Of course, after that point, it is all down hill…and a rapid descent it is.

After the film establishes that Martin has been manipulated by aliens and that the whole world is in danger, we the audience want to see those aliens receive their comeuppance. Martin tries to convince his friends and coworkers of the situation, but naturally, they do not believe his fanciful tale. So now we must cheer him on as he takes on the role of underdog, working against his own people in his attempts at thwarting an alien invasion that will wipe out the human race. My only problem is this: the aliens are never seen again. Yes, we see Martin achieve his goal of cutting off the power. And, we see the resulting explosion that denotes the presence of the aliens hiding under the desert. However, the whole thing just comes across as a little too neat. It’s almost as if the aliens were defeated off screen and we only heard about it afterwards. Not exactly a very satisfying end. Plus, it makes for a rather anticlimactic ending. It seems all the “interesting” bits with the aliens take place in the second act and the third act just forgot to show up at all and just peters out. Still, despite a distinct lack of action of any sort, the movie manages to move along at a good pace and never bogs down into terminal boredom.

The Summation.
As long as you don’t expect too much, this film won’t disappoint lovers of B-Movie cheese. The characters work well enough given the constraints of the story. Likewise, the plot doesn’t meander all over and sticks to what it wants to convey and nothing else. The FX are almost non-existent and the music barely noticeable. The movie is shot with no creativity in the camera work, but with a quick running time, that is easily overlooked. The story has a different approach in how it is structured, which allows for both an interesting first two acts as well as a slightly disappointing third. Overall, a good film to watch with friends and riff, or by yourself when looking to turn off your mind.

 

Expect To See:
Aliens - A bunch of bug-eyed morons who claim to come from a planet named Astron Delta, which sounds more like the model name for a new car. I can hear it now, “Come see the new 1954 Astron Delta at your local Ford dealer,” or something similar.
Desert Hijinks - Since the entire movie takes place in Nevada where atomic bombs are being detonated, we cannot avoid being in the desert. Still, there is not a whole lot of actually running around in the desert itself. Must have been way too hot even for invading aliens.
Giant Bugs - Dr. Martin encounters a few giant bugs in the Aliens’ underground lair. These are just normal bugs which the aliens have decided to supersize to colossal proportions and then set loose on the surface so they can gobble up all the humans.
Giant Monsters - There are also a few lizards that the Aliens have enlarged as part of their stupid plan. I don’t think these morons really thought everything through very well. All the lizards will end up eating the giant bugs and half their “army” will be gone.
Science - I hesitate to use this icon, as there wasn’t much “science’ in this film. There was however a bunch of technobabble about how the aliens are stealing electricity to power their base and how the tables could be turned against them by simply shutting off the power.
Stock Footage - As is far too common in old films like this, whenever the audience needs to be show anything involving the military – soldiers marching, planes taking off, flying and landing or even a general scratching his ass, stock footage is rolled out.
Underground Hijinks - Dr. Martin spends some time as a “guest” of the Aliens in their underground base. At one point he gets loose and runs amok through the caves, encountering their army of giant critters. Not anywhere near as exciting as it sounds.
Violence - There really is not a whole lot of violence here. All deaths take place off screen, so the only real violence we see is a few physical altercations which are really nothing more than some slight shoving and pushing. I’ve seen worse on Black Friday at Walmart.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Human deaths: 1
Alien deaths: undetermined
Most Killers from Space seen at once: 4
Cigarettes smoked: 11
Alcoholic drinks consumed by characters: 0
Alcoholic drinks consumed by audience: too many
Atomic explosions: 3
Times Briggs seemingly pops out of nowhere: 3
Times Martin sees disembodied alien eyes/face: 4
People punched out by Martin: 3
Giant critters encountered by Martin: 29
Words spoken by CLOWN: 181
Fade in/Fade out scene transitions: 9
Dissolves: 16
Wipes: 2
Percentage of movie comprised of stock footage: 6.64%

01 Min – Stock footage alert!
02 Min – Stock footage alert!
03 Min – Stock footage al…oh, never mind.
12 Min – Watch where you wave that cigarette around, you’ll set that plant on fire.
13 Min – Heaven forbid we show a husband and wife in the same bed.
16 Min – Time to push those two beds together.
27 Min – FBI agent with a glass jaw.
29 Min – Hey, he didn’t pay!
31 Min – Wasn’t that in my high school driver training film?
36 Min – Immobilized by a heat lamp!
43 Min – Time to go spelunking.
45 Min – I think you’re gonna need a bigger can of Raid.
50 Min – Ask Dr. Stupid!
56 Min – That spot in the desert sure is a popular place to go.
68 Min – That sure is one piss poor FBI agent.
69 Min – KABOOM!


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time the film shows someone on the phone or making call, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

There had better be some top of
the line airbags in that thing.


“Listen, this is a military command
bunker, not a radio station! Yes,
that means that you can’t make
a song request!”



“It’s okay dear, we’re stuck
doing this film, too.”

 
Upon completion of the BAR exams,
new lawyers must to submit to
having their heart surgically removed.

Until a major budget increase,
Dario Argento’s first cut of
Suspiria failed to frighten.

“Okay, okay, okay! So it’s happened
a few more times, but I wasn’t lying
that first time when I said that
it had never happened to me before.”



 
Do we really need an update every
time Rebel Wilson passes gas?

 
“I changed my mouthwash.
Whadya think?”

“I really don’t think I can justify the
budget for this temperature controlled
vault, just so you guys can have
a place to store your comic books!”

“Attention all cars, just this came
in over the wire…there’s a new
Dunkin’ Donuts at the corner
of 1st and Hurley.”


“Quick feigning a heart attack!
Now pick up your script and
let’s begin rehearsals.”

It’s the Marty Feldman fan club.

“I’m not just the president of the
Marty Feldman fan club…
I’m also a member.”


Hey look, Forbidden Planet is on.

“It’s standard issue tin foil,
so you can make your hat.”

Wait, is that the Death Star?

“With eyes like that, how can you
NOT see that those eyebrows need
some serious trimming?”


“The DNA test results are in and…
... you ARE the father!”

“We actors would like some audience
feedback on the motion picture.”

“Honey! I told you not to mix up my
papers when I’m building Warhammer lists!”

“I don’t understand…the script
doesn’t say anything about a
scene set in a Turkish prison.”

Geek Squad: The Early Years.

“Yeah, the computer simulations
have reached the same
conclusion: this movie blows.”

“No, my name is NOT Arthur Dent.”

 

Immortal Dialog

Dr. Martin begins to remember the alien presence.

Martin: “They’re here. They’re here and they’re trying to destroy us!”
Clift: "He’s coming out of it.”
Banks: “It’s all right, Dr. Martin, you’re with friends. You’ll be all right.”
Martin: “No, let me go. Let me go! They’ll kill everyone, we’ve got to stop them!!”

Shadow’s Comment: Methinks he has been listening to Donald Trump a wee bit too much.


Alien scientist Deneb explains what they'll do with all the dead giant monsters once humanity is wiped out.

Deneb: “We’ll use their bodies to fertilize the soil. Vegetation will rise up in abundance. A new era of civilization will begin!”

Shadow’s Comment: I imagine a similar sentiment expressed prior to Colorado legalizing marijuana.

 

Keep In Mind
  • It’s possible to survive a fiery plane crash without a mark on your body.
  • Instead of anal probes, aliens like to subject abductees to their home movies.
  • Aliens like showing off their math skills.
  • Aliens like to steal electricity.
  • The FBI operates the fastest cars on earth.
  • Paper, a pencil and a slide rule are all one needs to thwart an alien invasion.
  • Escaping from a military base is quite easy.
  • Pistols are standard equipment at power stations.



This Film & Me

As I have mentioned once or twice before in previous reviews, waaay back in the early 80’s, my mother bought for me a book entitled The Great Book of Movie Monsters by Jan Stacy and Ryder Syversten. This book was an alphabetical look at all manner of critters, aliens and madmen spanning movies from the silent era up until the (then) present day of 1983. It revealed to me many, many films that I had never heard of or provided more information on movies I had heard of, but had yet to see. One of the movies in the former category was Killers From Space. That book was my very first exposure to this film. A few years later, when I had sent away for and received the Sinister Cinema catalog, I saw a listing for this film. Back in those days the films came on VHS and were not exactly cheap. Well, not cheap for a teenager with little money. I only ordered tapes from Sinister Cinema once (don't ask about DVD's in later years) and Killers From Space was not one of them. More years would go by and as I found and collected old 50’s movies on tape, this movie still eluded me. Along the way I had come into possession of a tape or two that had compilations of movie clips and had seen a few from Killers From Space, but never the entire film. It was not until 2003 or 2004 that I obtained the Alpha Video DVD – which appears to be nothing more than a VHS print transferred to DVD – and finally saw the film…once. Just that one time. And to be honest, I think I fell asleep partway through it. It was not until December of 2015, when looking for a film to end my 4-year absence from this site, that I opted for Killers From Space and actually watched the movie from beginning to end for the very first time. I can see where it is nothing but cheap schlock, but at least it is short and entertaining.

Shadow's rating: Four Tombstones



The Good

  • Decent characterizatons
  • Quick pace doesn't allow film to slow down much
  • Alien threat countered through intelligent action rather than brute force

The Bad

  • Aliens only appear in a flashback
  • Threat resolution occurrs off screen
  • Stock footage overload

The Ugly

  • Truly pathetic plan for conquering earth
  • FX method used for "giant" creatures
  • Dorky bug-eyed look for aliens

 

 

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