Year Of Release: 1957
Running Time: 78 minutes
DVD Released By: Image Entertainment
Directed By: Kurt Neumann
Writing Credits: Lawrence L. Goldman (screenplay), Irving Block (story)
Starring: Jeff Morrow, Barbara Lawrence, John Emery, George O'Hanlon, Morris Ankrum
1. PLANET ROBBER TRAMPLES EARTH...STEALING ENERGY FOR OTHER WORLDS!
2. The Most Incredible MONSTER of All Time!
3. Conqueror of the Universe!
4. World-Destroying Monster!
5. Destroyer of Worlds Attacks Earth!
1. War of the Universe
2. Kronos, Destroyer of the Universe
3. Kronos: Ravager of Planets
Review Date: 11.1.20
Shadow's Title: "01010010 01101111 01100010 01101111 01110011 01110101 01100011 01101011"
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Dr. Hubbell Eliot – He is the head of some government run observatory called Labcentral. The nameless aliens take over his body to help facilitate the introduction of Kronos on planet earth. I’m surprised they didn’t take him for a wild ride through Vegas where they could over indulge in food, booze, smokes and hookers before trying to consign humanity to the cosmic scrap pile.
Dr. Leslie Gaskell – He works at Labcentral in some capacity, though I think it is in the astronomy or astrophysics departments. It might as well have been in the fiction department for all the scientific knowledge he brought to the table. Seriously, I think I know more about science from watching Star Trek than this guy. His idea to defeat Kronos is to make it eat itself. In that case, maybe they should have named it Ouroboros.
Dr. Arnold Culver – Now this guy was the happiest nerd I ever saw. He worked at Labcentral and specialized in computers, especially the big one whose’ acronym spelled SUSIE. He talked to that thing like it was his girlfriend, which makes me wonder what he was up to with it when no one else was around. He probably went on to invent robot sex dolls.
Vera Hunter – She works at Labcentral in the darkroom, developing photos taken with the huge telescope. She and Gaskell seem to have a romantic relationship developing, but the guy was more obsessed with his work than with the possibility of getting laid. Maybe after everything was said and done, she could finally interest him in a little boom-boom action.
Dr. Albert Stern – When Dr. Eliot is taken to the hospital after collapsing from the strain put on him by his alien possessor, this is the doctor that oversees his care. Stern tries electro shock therapy, which seems to quiet the alien presence long enough for Eliot to reveal its intentions. Sadly, once the alien reasserts control, it is not too thrilled with the idea of Stern knowing all of its plans. Shocking are the results.
Kronos – This futuristic gumball machine monstrosity is the alien machine/robot that comes ashore after its ride crashes in the ocean. With one positive antenna and one negative antenna, I bet that sucker could have jump started half the cars in the U.S. Instead, its mission was to absorb all nuclear and electrical energy on earth. Talk about a glutton.
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After the credits unfold, accompanied by blaring music that I’m pretty sure got re-used in It! The Terror From Beyond Space the following year, we open with a flying saucer zooming through outer space. The underside seems to be blinking, the glow emanating from the craft dimming and brightening rapidly, which might be the interstellar version of a check engine light for all we know. Or perhaps it’s a sign the craft is running low on anti-matter. When was the last time the pilot checked the plasma levels? Anyway, the craft seems to stop for a second and a small bright light emerges from the bottom. The larger craft then zooms away while the smaller vehicle travels in the opposite direction.
On Earth, some guy is driving an old pick-up truck across a barren locale at night. He’s enjoying a smoke and whistling to himself, no doubt in an effort to stay awake. The bright light that exited the big saucer has made its way to Earth and is now buzzing about nearby among the Joshua trees, like some enormous pest. Its presence seems to be interfering with the guy’s truck radio, and soon after the truck itself craps out, rolling to a stop on the roadway. The alien ball of light emerges from behind some trees and flying low to the ground, approaches the guy who is now out and checking under the hood of the truck. He sees it, it flies closer and then things get very bright. The light seems to cover the guy’s body before vanishing. Now, with a blank look on his face, the guy slams the hood down, gets back in his truck, starts it up and flips a U turn.
The guy drives to some place called Labcentral, a government facility. At the gate he claims to be lost to the guard on duty and when the guard is examining a map provided by the guy, he knocks him over the head with a wrench. Ouch. The alien-possessed guy now marches into the complex likes he knows exactly where to go. Showing the security measures really need to be tightened up beyond just a single guard at the entry gate, this guy waltzes around the place with no trouble at all. I realize that it is night and most folks who work here have gone home, but there should still be another level or two of security, like card reader locks or simple numeric keypads for gaining further entrance. Hell, maybe another guard or two to patrol the hallways. Anyway, he makes his way to a door marked Dr. Hubbell Eliot – Director.
Inside the spacious office Dr. Eliot is sitting at his desk going over notes. He looks up when the door opens and the two men stare at each other. Eliot asks who he is and how he got past the guard, but there is no answer. Then the guy’s face lights up and the alien light flies from his body over to Eliot’s body. While Eliot looks, the guy falls to the floor. About now the guard and a guy dressed in mechanic overalls come running up. The guard is still holding the back of his head where the alien-posssed guy clobbered him with a wrench. They examine the guy laid out on the ground, but he is dead, seemingly from a heart attack. Eliot, now possessed by the alien light, coldly orders the others to get the dead guy out of his office. Once the two others leave with the body, Eliot closes the door and then removes a file folder from a shelf and begins looking over the papers within.
You know, that guy never even had a name. Somewhere out there is a couple kids waiting for daddy to come home and he never will. Or there’s a lonely housewife waiting for her lover to rendezvous with her in some shady motel. Hell, the guy might have been on his way to work the night shift somewhere and there’s some angry boss pacing up and down wondering why Johnson is late again.
As the guard and mechanic drag the dead guy through the hallways, another guy in a white lab coat – A Dr. Culver – gives them a funny look and then enters some kind of computer lab, with what was no doubt state of the art computing technology in it, but which these days would have trouble powering my old Atari 1200 text games. He gets a printout from the computer, looks it over and then smiles. He pats the terminal and refers to the computer as Susie. He takes the printout over to the office of Dr. Leslie Gaskell. Apparently Gaskell was supposed to be taking someone to the movies and claims he is waiting around to check on something. The two look over the latest information from Susie using a flat top monitor desk that is tied directly to a large telescope. On the monitor is a field of stars. Gaskell points to one and refers to it as an asteroid. What I see is the same blinking saucer-like ship we saw at the very beginning. So smarty pants here is under the illusion that he has discovered a new asteroid. Don’t go printing his name in the astronomy journals just yet.
A quick cutaway shows Dr. Eliot gazing out his office window at the night sky. He’s looking at where that blinking UFO is located. In the lab, Gaskell is noticing that the “asteroid” is changing course. Checking to see that their equipment has snapped plenty of photos, he and Culver now head to where these photographs are developed. See kids, in the old days, photos were not stored digitally on your device, but were imprinted on special film which then had to undergo a specific chemical processing or “developing” in order to see the images. People would take their undeveloped film to a place like Fotomat which specialized in overnight film development. Then later came minilabs which could do it within an hour and were located in grocery stores, drug stores and the like. Wait, such places are much rarer, but they do still exist? Never mind, then.
Dr. Eliot has left his office and now heads to a door marked Insulation Chamber. He uses a card reader on the wall to gain entrance. Why wasn’t one of these installed on the front door? Then that dead guy would never have gotten inside. This room has a single seat in the middle, which is surrounded by control panels. On each wall there is some a single piece of machinery, each with about a zillion little dials and gauges on them. The walls themselves seem to be designed to minimize the travel of something. Sound? Germs? Bad breath? I dunno. A sign on the wall outside lights up, signaling that the room is occupied and that others should not enter. In that case, maybe the room is just a really fancy, ultra-sleek shitter! Think about it: there’s a single seat and the room is no doubt made to contain the nasty odors from wafting out the door or through the air vents. Who knows what all those controls around the seat do? Maybe it operates a bidet or some type of air freshener that sprays fragrance into the room to cover the smell of a nasty dump? Perhaps it even initiates a mechanism that wipes your cheeks and then powder puffs your ass after pinching off a loaf.
Elsewhere Gaskell and Culver enter the darkroom, where a woman named Vera has developed the photos. Note that when we see Gaskell enter the room from the hallway, the interior of the room is pitch black. When we switch to a shot from within the room, showing Gaskell entering, suddenly the lights are all on. There is no light switch anywhere near Vera, so she could not have turned them on, neither do we see Gaskell or Culver flipping a switch as they enter. Motion detectors maybe? Gaskell looks over the recently developed photos and confirms that his asteroid has altered course. Culver suggests using Susie to double check the numbers. Gaskell agrees, wanting to do that before taking their findings to Dr. Eliot. ‘There goes our movie,” Vera says as the men leave. I guess she was the one Gaskell was supposed to be taking to the cinema.
Later back in the computer lab, Gaskell, Culver and Vera are waiting for Susie to analyze the information and give them the results. We find out that Susie stands for Syncho Unifying Sinometric Integrating Equitensor, whatever the hell that means. Good thing it wasn’t a Synchronizing Heuristic Integration Tabulator. While Culver is explaining that bit of esoteric bullshit to Vera (who should already know that if she works in this place), Dr. Eliot has left the fancy bathroom and is now lurking about the hallways, looking creepy. He hears the three of them talking and comes in just as Susie starts to make funny sounds and stops. Culver is perplexed by the computer’s inability to complete the analysis. Gaskell tells Eliot about what he found, but without the concrete proof from Susie, Eliot thinks it’s all just assumption on Gaskell’s part. Eliot leaves. Culver then tells Gaskell that he’s going to have to pull an all-nighter to get Susie functioning again, so he suggests Gaskell go ahead and take Vera to the movies. I wonder if she slipped him five bucks to say that.
We now see Gaskell and Vera getting in his car in the parking garage. He is noticeably distracted and starts talking about getting confirmation from other observatories and having further photos developed. He wants to go back and see what he can do to help Culver. Vera gets a resigned look on her face, because she knows that she won’t be getting to the movies tonight. The Other Half gets that same look when my friend comes over for a game of Warhammer, only she’s thinking about the chores that won’t get done instead of movies.
The pair head back inside and we see them in the dark room, developing photos. There’s some pointless talk about the asteroid which he thinks he has discovered and then suddenly they are lip locked in a tight embrace. So, I assume that means that they are a couple and not that one was giving the other a performance review. Culver buzzes them from the computer lab before they can get too freaky and tells them that Susie is back up and running. Gaskell leaves and the next we see, he and Culver are presenting their findings to Eliot, now with Susie’s analysis backing them up. It seems the celestial body they have discovered is quite big (4.9 miles in diameter, weighing over 6000 megatons and travelling over 1750 miles per second according to Culver) and heading straight for earth! Eliot says that perhaps it will burn up in the atmosphere, but culver points out with the object’s mass, that is not going to happen. This object – dubbed M47 – will hit the Earth in about sixteen hours and Gaskell recommends alerting the army and letting them blow it out of the sky. After a moment of thought, Eliot grabs the phone.
Next, a newspaper headline from The Daily Chronicle comes flying at us, which reads ASTEROID HEADING FOR EARTH! Kids, before the internet and even TV, we got our news from radio and newspapers, with each major city having one or more of the latter. Some were produced for morning circulation, others for afternoon. They were printed on cheap paper and if you handled them too much, you’d get the ink all over your hands. It was often the job of young kids to deliver these daily periodicals throughout their neighborhood to whoever was a subscriber. What? There are still newspapers being published? Never mind, then. A second headline from The Post-Dispatch then reads ASTEROID TO BE EXPLODED IN UPPER ATMOSPHERE. Ah yes, lets blow up a huge rock in the upper atmosphere, thus creating millions of smaller rocks that will then rain down on the planet’s surface, causing who knows how much damage. Didn’t any of these morons think about trying to deflect it at all before going with the “lets blow it up” option? I guess it depends where it gets exploded. Over the U.S. = bad. Over Russia = good. Anywhere else, who cares? I hear lead umbrellas are a thing now.
So stock footage is now rolled out and much of it is the same stock footage that nearly put me to sleep in the beginning of King Dinosaur from 1955. We see numerous shots of people working on a rocket in some sort of fabrication facility then several more of the rocket as it is being wheeled out to a launch pad. Before I have a mental breakdown and look for an oven in which to put my head, the stock footage mercifully ends and we see Gaskell, Culver and Vera in their lab, preparing to track all the action. After entirely too much additional stock footage shots, the missile is finally launched, but not after a radar check in which several shots of radar dishes spinning about are shown, thus making me flashback to yet another film, this time Fiend Without A Face. It seems several rockets are launched, but I think it was the same launch just shot from varying angles.
At Labcentral, Dr. Eliot is monitoring everything and then walks to the lab, again looking all creepy. It’s his eyes! His eyes look all wild, like he just witnessed the most extreme, traumatic, soul-crushing, mind-breaking site a human could withstand. I’m thinking it was the recent presidential debates. Eliot just stands there and watches everyone. More stock footage ensues of the rocket vanishing high into the sky as well as technicians on the ground monitoring their instruments. The countdown to interception begins while Gaskell, Culver and Vera watch it on their tabletop monitor. We see the “asteroid” which still looks like a flying saucer to me and three little dots that represent the missiles. The missiles hit the asteroid and BOOM. Much big explodey. Just as the explosion occurs, Dr. Eliot grabs his head like the biggest migraine just zapped him out of nowhere and then he falls to the floor.
No one has noticed him on the floor, because they’re too busy being amazed by the fact that despite having enough explosive material to blow up all of New York, the missiles have failed to destroy the “asteroid.” If that is the case, you know the drill, make for those underground bunkers in Missouri! No, wait, wrong movie. On their screen, the “asteroid” seems to fade away from view. Maybe they engaged a cloaking device! Gaskell tells Culver to get Eliot. Culver turns, takes about five steps and nearly trips over Eliot, who is sprawled out in the doorway.
After stock footage of a city at night, we see a TV news reporter talking about the missiles failure to stop the asteroid and how the trajectory of the falling object has now been diverted. They figure it will “land” somewhere in North America. I’m sure their definition of “land” and mine in this case are very different. I don’t imagine a giant rock hurtling out of the sky to strike the earth with more power than dozens of atomic bombs can be regarded as “landing.” At least not any more so than calling King Kong an oversized primate. Suddenly there is a news update and the reporter states that the asteroid will be passing over New York City, but is not expected to do any damage. It’s just making an odd sound as it zooms overhead. Several shots of the “asteroid” ensue, in which it continues to look like a flashing saucer. Really, how can anyone look at this thing and not take notice of how it is clearly not shaped like any sort of rock, but looks more like an old hubcap? Finally after it flies over land, illuminating the entire countryside while doing so, it crashes into the ocean in a stock footage explosion.
Gaskell, Culver and Vera are lounging around one of the labs back at Labcentral. Culver is reading The Daily Star-Press and the headline clearly reads: DANGER AVERTED! Beneath that are the words: ASTEROID PLUNGES INTO PACIFIC. Danger averted??!!! How about the danger of a colossal tsunami? Has anyone bothered to think about that? And how did it get over the Pacific so damn fast? It was buzzing over New York one minute and then seconds later it was in the Pacific. That is moving FAST! Fast enough to create a huge sonic boom I would imagine. How far out in the Pacific did it hit? Will North America or Japan be the first wiped out by a giant tidal wave? Oh, right, there is no wave. The danger was “averted.”
Gaskell is annoyed that everyone seems to be putting the whole affair behind them. Culver notes that no doubt expeditions to study the fallen asteroid will be made, but Gaskell is impatient and doesn’t want to wait the months it would take for such trips to be organized. Besides, after watching the “asteroid” change its course before reaching earth and doing so again when the missiles failed to pulverized it, Gaskell is sure there is intelligence behind it. He wants to travel down to Mexico to check things out for himself. I guess that is the closest to where the “asteroid” landed in the ocean. With Dr. Eliot still unconscious in the hospital, they won’t need to ask for his permission.
Next we see Gaskell and Culver in a helicopter, flying over the western coast of Mexico. Gaskell is flying the vehicle, so I guess he’s a pilot, too. Let’s just hope he doesn’t see any battleship-sized birds. As they fly, Culver is making notations on a map of the area. Eventually they fly out over the ocean and circle the area where the “asteroid” fell. Culver notes that they are getting low on fuel, so Gaskell turns and begins to head back to their landing pad along one of the beaches. He and Culver seem to be staying in a cabin not far away. Inside we see the pair of them alongside a Mexican couple. Are they the caretakers of this place? The three men seem to be sitting down to eat while the woman is fixing dinner (typical), so does the Mexican guy also work for Labcentral? I’m not sure who is who. I think the Mexican couple live there and are allowing these gringos to stay for the duration of their trip. In the middle of dinner, Gaskell gets up, opens a large crate and then complains that Vera packed the wrong equipment. Lucky for him, she just walked through the front door with the proper stuff. I’m sure she did that on purpose, as an excuse to travel to Mexico. Culver then samples some of the local cuisine before desperately calling for water. He downs half a pitcher as the others laugh at him. Yeah, those Ghost Peppers are a real hoot when you’re laid out on the floor, convulsing and gasping for air while your insides feel like Satan just gave you a rectal examination with his fist.
Elsewhere, we see Dr. Eliot is a hospital bed, overseen by a Dr. Stern and a nurse. Eliot begins mumbling in his sleep. Stern holds up what seems to be a recording device of some kind.
Back in Mexico, Gaskell and Vera are lounging outside when Culver comes up with the Mexican guy – who we now learned is named Manuel – and invites the pair to go digging for clams with them. Both Gaskell and Vera pass, and after the other two leave, they talk about their trip down here. Gaskell starts blabbering on about alien life and other stuff. He talks so much that we are able to cut quickly back to Eliot in the hospital, where Stern is preparing some kind of device to use on him, and then when we return to Mexico, we see that Vera has taken the opportunity to change into her swimsuit inside a jeep while Gaskell has been waxing poetic. She runs to the water and he joins her in the surf.
Returning again to Eliot’s hospital room, we see that Stern has strapped something to his head that connects to another machine via wires. The setup is recording his brain activity and I’m surprised it registers anything at all because at this point in the movie even I am feeling only marginally more cognitive than your average corpse, or maybe even your everyday southern republican. Eliot opens his eyes and sees visions of bubbling, glowing water. While the doctor administers a sedative, we cut back and forth to Gaskell and Vera splashing around in the Mexican surf. What’s the connection? We know Eliot is possessed by some alien intelligence that came from the vessel now under the pacific. Does he share some link to that vessel? Is it, and in turn he, now aware of Gaskell and Vera nearby? The sedative has no effect, so they are going to prep him for shock treatment.
Gaskell and Vera come running out of the water to fall on the beach and kiss, in a scene ripped straight out of From Here To Eternity. Then Vera notices that there is a glow coming from under the ocean’s surface some ways out from shore. A colossal saucer-shaped craft rises from the deep, its upper portion visible for all to see. Everyone on shore just stares at it. “I knew it,” says Gaskell.
Back in the U.S., Stern has administered the shock treatment to Eliot and claims to see an improvement. Eliot seems to be awake and somewhat aware of his surroundings. Suddenly he’s very aware, the alien presence within now silent. He tries to explain to Stern, but he sounds incoherent and is restrained and told to rest. We see him asleep, which is intercut with a scene of the others in the cabin in Mexico. The fog has rolled in and a brief earthquake shakes the area. This constant cutting back and forth between these two locations is starting to wear thin with me.
Morning comes and Manuel is the first one up. Vera is asleep in the lone bed, Gaskell is passed out in a chair and Culver is snoozing at the table. I guess Manuel’s old lady is still in bed in their tiny room. Manuel gazes out the window and nearly shits himself in surprise at what he sees. He excitedly wakes everyone up (except his old lady) and they all rush to the window to look. Outside is a huge…thing the size of a decent-sized office building. It looks like two colossal toy blocks stacked on top of one another with multiple long cylinders for legs. There is a dome at the very top along with a pair of weird antenna. The thing is making some odd beeping sound and suddenly the beach is flooded with dozens and dozens of Mexicans, who no doubt have mistaken the odd structure for a new covert transport into the United States and are lining up to board it. Apparently, Hawaiian shirts are favored by most Mexicans, or so the stock footage of people would have us believe.
We return to Dr. Stern, who is reviewing a recorded interview with Dr. Eliot where he talks about the period where he has no memory. He expounds on the feeling that he is not himself and that there is “another” that asserts control over him. Of course, it all sounds like crazy talk to Stern who makes his own recorded notes about the case. He mentions how Eliot believes he is possessed by a demon from another world, whose society subsists on electrical and atomic energy. Finding their planet depleted, they are searching the universe for a new source. He notes how shock treatment seems to bring on the delusions rather than quiet them. Well, duh. The electric shocks must allow Eliot to assert control again for a short while and allows him the only chance to relate what is happening to him, but then again, no one believes him. Done with his notes, Stern opens the latest edition of the Herald Gazette newspaper, left by a nurse. The headline reads: FANTASTIC MONSTER DISCOVERED. Then below it says: Giant sea creature washed up on Mexican shore. Below that is the shittiest artist’s rendering of the object imaginable. It doesn’t look much like the object on the beach, but it also doesn’t look in any way like some sort of sea creature, either.
In Mexico, Gaskell, Culver and Vera have all crammed into the helicopter, which appeared to only have two seats, but which now accommodates three people. They fly around the thing on the beach numerous times before landing on the top of it, near the dome. They get out and Gaskell starts snapping photos like an annoying tourist. One of the antenna – this one with a cube-shaped tip to it, leans in their direction. There is a weird sound, the three of them look frozen in place for a couple of seconds, and what looks like waves of energy flow towards the antenna. Culver's eyeglasses fall to the deck and begin sliding toward the antenna, but Gaskell recovers them. The surface beneath them then slides open, forcing them to jump over the gap created so that they can remain close to their chopper. They gaze down inside briefly to see lots of large machinery glowing and pulsing, then bolt for the chopper to make a getaway.
Back again with Dr. Stern, he is dictating more notes into his recorder. Further shock treatment on Eliot has allowed him to reveal more details of his “fantasy.” A great energy storehouse or accumulator has landed on earth under the control of aliens. Unless it is stopped, others like it will arrive and deplete the earth of all electrical and atomic resources. As Stern is talking, Eliot quietly enters the room unnoticed. How did he get out of bed and down the hall without anyone seeing him? After finishing his recording, Stern sees Eliot, asking him why he is out of bed. Eliot wants the recording, as the alien presence within him does not want the information on it spread. Stern looks at Eliot then looks at the newspaper headline and puts two and two together. “You? Impossible!” Eliot says that Stern is the only one who knows these things and thus, must be silenced. The two struggle and Eliot pushes Stern up against the metal cage containing an electrical transformer – presumably something used in the shock treatments – and flips the switch. Stern is electrocuted and falls to the floor. Eliot grabs the recording and bolts from the room. What I want to know is what in the hell is the point of having a cage around the transformer if it isn’t properly grounded and would be dangerous to touch when the switch is flipped? That just seems the height of irresponsibility.
Next up is another TV reporter showing on a map where the “monster” is located and then plays part of a recorded report sent in by Gaskell, who he describes as reputable scientist from Labcentral. In his report, Gaskell refers to the monster Kronos from Greek mythology. The TV reporter thinks that is a good name for this new alien contraption. In other news he reports on how Dr. Eliot was released from the hospital after his attending physician was “accidentally” electrocuted in his own lab. A hand reaches up to switch off the TV and we see that it is Dr. Eliot himself, now back in his office at Labcentral. He starts to review a folder entitled NUCLEAR AND THERMONUCLEAR SOURCES. Inside are lists of power sources throughout North America. He is especially interested in the list for Mexico. I hope the Café Taco Atómico is on that list because that place has some salsa roja that will light your ass up, let me tell you. Eliot begins speaking aloud the name of a power plant in Mexico and then we see Kronos begin to stir on the beach. The big cylinder-like legs begin pounding up and down and soon the giant monstrosity is on the move, brought to life by the stunning art of …animation.
Yes, you read that right. Animation. Not Computer animation. No, we’re decades away from that. I mean old-school traditional cell animation. Like something Walt Disney would produce, only in black and white like the original Steamboat Willie that featured the debut of Mickey Mouse. Seeing Kronos moving across the landscape in such a fashion just makes it look like the worst anime ever. Having Mickey Mouse show up right now might not be too bad of an idea. Or maybe even some scantily clad females for a bit of fan service, even if it ain’t in color. Well, as long as those females are human. I don’t need to see anything like that from Minnie Mouse.
Overhead in their helicopter, Gaskell, Culver and Vera track Kronos as it stomps across the Mexican countryside. That sure is one strange helicopter now that I think about it. There’s been something bothering me about all this time and I finally realized what it was: it doesn’t sound like a helicopter. Now, all the shots of the thing are stock footage, but apparently that footage had no audio track, forcing the producers to use their own. The problem is, they were unable to find the sound of a helicopter, so what we hear is the sound a plane of some kind. Added to that, when we get the close ups of the three amigos in the cockpit, the blades overhead seem to be rotating awfully slow, much slower than the wide shot would indicate.
As they watch from the helicopter, Kronos stomps up to the Navros electrical plant and stops. A sound builds in the air and then Kronos begins absorbing all the energy from the plant. Part of this process is shown by having a miniature set explode and catch on fire. A squadron of Mexican fighter jets approach. Gaskell thinks attacking Kronos is a bad idea, but the squadron leader tells them to clear out, which they do, landing nearby to watch. The stock footage planes attack, having changed shape from the previous stock footage of a few seconds ago. This goes about as well as one would expect. Kronos starts making sounds like a submarine’s sonar and exerts some sort of energy field that destroys all the jets. At his desk many miles away, Dr. Eliot passes out.
After a quick shot of Kronos on the move again, we see Gaskell, Culver and Vera in a jeep, following in its wake. There’s a decent painting of the downed powerlines and huge tracks in the earth leading off into the distance. We get more shots of Kronos, some animated with it moving across the landscape while others just have it superimposed into a shot of people running away from it. Again, I never knew that Hawaiian print shirts were so popular south of the border. In a ridiculous scene, Kronos comes stomping through an inhabited area and the big, round cylinder feet come down, smashing a bunch of locals, half of whom are wearing sombreros. This short sequence is ludicrous for two reasons:
1. The speed at which we see the prop foot come down is much, much slower than when we see the animated Kronos moving about.
2. The diameter of each foot is not very wide and so in order for eight men to get squished by it at once, they all have to bunch up real tight together, like trying to all squeeze into a phone booth, and then not move as the slow “foot” comes down on them. Only morons allow this to happen to them.
Gaskell and company have returned to Labcentral, and we see him and Vera heading up in an elevator. The pair go to the insulation room where Eliot is located. He lets them in and then Gaskell confronts him with the latest edition of The Daily Globe, containing the headline: LABCENTRAL CHIEF ADVISES H-BOMB FOR KRONOS! Under that is Pentagon Gives Dr. Eliot OK. Gaskell thinks it is a bad idea, but Eliot tells him preparations are already underway. Eliot questions Gaskell on his belief that anything could withstand such a blast. Gaskell says that not only does he think Kronos will survive it, but absorb that energy to make itself stronger. He tries to make a case for not bombing it, but since he doesn’t have an alternative plan, Eliot dismisses him, saying that since Kronos has turned inland, they must hit it now before it reaches a populated area.
A stock footage bomber lifts off from a desert base somewhere. Meanwhile Vera is trying to find Gaskell. She walks into one lab, sees someone at a desk and before she realizes that it is Dr. Eliot, she blurts out something about the hospital calling. Knowing that the message contained something about him, Eliot confronts her but she tries to get away. He grabs her and she screams. He pushes her over by a big machine that says Danger – High Voltage, most likely intending to do away with her much as he did with Dr. Stern. However, Vera’s screams have alerted Gaskell, who comes running in and struggles with Eliot. Finally, Eliot gets pushed up against the panel and gets electrocuted.
The shock has subdued the alien within him, so now Eliot wants Gaskell to listen to him. Vera activates a recording device as Eliot explains all about the aliens and Kronos. Never once does Gaskell ask how he knows this and Eliot never mentions his alien guest. Gaskell asks how to stop Kronos, but Eliot doesn’t know, only saying that they need to find a way to reverse the process. Gaskell then remembers the bomb and rushes to the phone to make a call. Luckily he is in time to have the Air Force recall the bomber. Unluckily, Kronos doesn’t like having its meals taken away. The bomber is pulled towards Kronos and as it nears, Kronos compacts itself into one large cube shape. KABLAM, the bomber hits and the H-bomb detonates in a stock footage blast. Gotta love how the pilots shield their faces with their arms just before impact, as if there was any way in hell they were going to survive that or even have enough time to register impact before being completely vaporized.
While all of this is transpiring, Dr. Eliot has stumbled down the hall to the insulation room, entered and then smashed his magnetic keycard that allows entry and egress. He bounces around the room as if in a Fred G. Sanford-style heart attack, with the G standing for gauche and then collapses. His face glows with alien light and then something gross happens. He ejects a silvery liquid from his mouth. We don’t see it exit his mouth, as his head is turned, but we see it slosh out along the floor and accumulate in a pool. There are a bunch of sparks and a cut away shows the glowing form of Kronos as it sucks in all that atomic energy from the detonation. Then it actually grows in size before unfolding to its former shape. It seems both Eliot and the alien possessing him are dead.
The next newspaper headline from The Daily Chronicle simply reads FAILURE, which could easily represent many things about this film, but which I’m guessing actually refers to the failure of the atomic bomb to stop Kronos. At Labcentral (which now has TWO guards manning the gate, hahahahaha), Gaskell, Culver and Vera are going over what they know about the situation (no not that ass from jersey shore). They listen to the recording where a lucid Eliot mentions how the aliens can transform energy into matter. As Gaskell thinks of a way to reverse the process, Susie starts emitting bells and dings. Culver mentions how if Susie is fed too much information, it has a tendency to crap out. Gaskell gets a wild idea and wonders if they can do the same thing to Kronos, destroy it with its own energy. Gaskell goes to blackboard and draws a crude representation of Kronos. Then he mumbles something about creating a force field, using omega particles and a change of polarity to turn Kronos’ energy against it. The phone rings. It seems Kronos is headed for an atomic bomb stockpile. Gaskell’s crazy plan is gonna have to work.
Let’s stop for just a second to talk about how yet again, the Earth is being invaded/attacked by moron aliens. Whatever they look like, they are attempting to drain the earth of all electrical and nuclear power. For the most part, those are not naturally occurring sources of power. Sure, you can get zapped by lightning, but electric energy on the scale they need is generated with turbines. Surely these idiots, who have fashioned spacecraft to carry them across the gulf of space, constructed fantastic machines that accumulate and store energy for their later use and even mastered the science of turning energy into matter, according to Dr. Eliot, can generate their own electricity! Likewise, if their technology is any indication, then these imbeciles don’t need to worry about nuclear power either, which is just a means of heating water via nuclear fission to produce steam that is then used in steam turbines, which produce…you guessed it, electricity. Why attack the earth, when there is a near endless supply of materials out in the universe that can be used for such functions? Morons, morons, MORONS!!!
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.
After another shot of Kronos moving behind some hills, we get yet another newspaper headline. This time from The Post Dispatch: GIANT ON RAMPAGE! HEADED FOR H-BOMB STOCKPILE. Then we see cartoon Kronos stomping across some buildings, cartoon fire left in its wake. Stock Footage destruction ensues, with buildings crumbling and hordes of people in Hawaiian print shirts running like hell. Our next headline is from The Daily Globe and reads: ‘NO POSSIBLE DEFENSE’ SAYS GENERAL. MASS EVACUATION PLANNED. I guess things are looking pretty dire.
Next we see scenes of Los Angeles freeways at night. A radio broadcast talks about how the city is in the path of Kronos and how people are fleeing. Except…the scenes show plenty of cars travelling in both directions. If the majority of folks were leaving town, wouldn’t most be heading in a single direction? The announcer mentions how Gaskell is at a local Air Force base preparing something with which to fight Kronos with while a jet is flying in from Boston carrying rare elements. That must be the omega particles that were mentioned earlier when Gaskell was pulling stuff nonstop out of his ass.
At the Air Force base, we see Gaskell, Culver and Vera meeting with a general who is saying that if Gaskell’s plan fails, only the mountains will be between Kronos and its target. They get the word that the jet is near, so they all reconvene in the control tower. After more stock footage, we see Kronos reach the city limits. The tower radios to the jet the coordinates where it will find Kronos. Meanwhile Kronos has begun siphoning power from the closest neighborhoods. Sucks to live in Irvine now, doesn’t it? The pilot spots Kronos and they relay to him how to approach it and when to release his payload, considering wind and weather factors. The pilot sets up for a run at Kronos, but a shift in the wind forces the ground control to call it off. The pilot circles around and awaits further instructions.
Kronos continues to soak up all the energy around it and we see entire neighborhoods going dark. Hell, PG and E does the same damn thing these days when the wind gets too strong. A new approach vector is radioed to the pilot who sets up for another run. After more stock footage, the pilot releases his payload, which drops from the craft and then deploys a parachute. Looking back at it, the pilot crosses his fingers for luck. The bomb settles down right over Kronos and explodes while still above it. There are a lot of sparks and fireworks, which I suppose is supposed to be the Omega particles showering over Kronos. More shitty FX follow and then cracks start to appear on Kronos’ surface. The dome on top melts. In the tower, Gaskell remarks on how Kronos is eating itself alive. Finally Kronos explodes in a blast that surely had to take out half of Los Angeles.
With the threat eliminated, Culver states that he can get back to Susie and Gaskell and Vera can get to the movies. Vera asks Gaskell if he thinks the aliens will send any more down. “If they do,” he says assuringly, “We’ll be ready for them.” We get one last look at Kronos’ smoldering wreckage. Has everyone just forgotten about that 4.9 mile wide flying saucer at the bottom of the Pacific? I bet five minutes after the movie ended, a hundred more Kronos machines came ashore all across the globe. You got enough omega particles for that, Gaskell? Hmmmm?
If it’s one thing 50’s genre films are known for, its giant monsters. Most of these creatures were accidental freaks of nature due to mankind’s negligence when messing with things he didn’t truly understand. In this way they were cautionary tales about runaway science and humanity’s reach exceeding its grasp. Some were naturally occurring and these films warned we humans of thinking too highly of ourselves and our accomplishments, lest Mother Nature smack us back down the evolutionary ladder a rung or two. Either way the lesson was clear: there are things in this world and the larger universe as a whole that we are just not ready for yet. I would like to think at the top of that list of giants would a colossal beast from another world, something we humans would have no experience with at all up until this point. There were plenty of alien invasion films from the era as well, most of them thinly disguised allegories for communism and the fear of being subsumed into a cold, unfeeling social machine, that which makes us unique brutally stamped out by a conquering force. With Kronos, the producers seem to have a combination of both, with the twist being that the giant in question is in fact a machine, constructed by alien intelligences as a key component in our own downfall. Here, our scientific progress had garnered the attention of extraterrestrials who have earmarked our planet as a source of power to be used in order to sustain their own.
Let’s put aside the silly notion that a species capable of interstellar travel would even need to waste their time with the power a civilization like ours produces now, let alone what it did sixty plus years ago. If they truly mastered the science of converting energy to matter, then there’s more raw materials out in the universe that are more readily available and in exponentially larger quantities than on our little dirt rock. Let’s also put aside the even more ridiculous notion that a machine like Kronos could so easily be turned on itself, as if the designers did not think of such a thing or placed safeguards to prevent it. In theory, the idea of such a machine is a frightening one and while the sight of Kronos stomping across the landscape looks rather goofy, imagine such a monster of technology slowly, one by one, wiping out power stations that allow our society to operate. Much like the feared electromagnetic pulse that would render all technology useless, Kronos would have a very similar affect, leaving us with nothing to power our civilization. Once it and others like it had departed our world, we would be a species left literally in the dark, reduced overnight to a pre-industrial level of technology. Millions would die from disease and starvation and conflicts over what meager resources remained would flare up all over the globe. Sure, humanity would survive and eventually recover, but life as we know it would be over, redrawn to fit the new world. So I suppose what I am saying is that as silly as the Kronos machine looks, in theory it is a very real threat.
Alas, this world shattering threat does not come across on screen as all that frightening. It’s hard to get past its extremely dated aesthetics (I doubt it looked all that sleek back in 57, either) and when it movies, it looks more like a piece of Ikea furniture that has been assembled wrong and is now rolling down the street. I think the film needed to show the consequences of its actions to a further extent, to help really sell the idea that this thing is a world ender. Despite the urgency with which we see the characters act, the movie itself seems to treat Kronos like a lost robot dog. Then there is the whole subplot involving alien possessed Dr. Eliot. This just seemed unnecessary and the editing used to convey the idea of a psychic link between him and Kronos made for some jarring transitions from shot to shot. I think the movie would have better served if this subplot was dropped in favor of featuring more destruction from Kronos and the increasingly desperate efforts to stop it. Perhaps a better resolution could have been implemented, as the one we get on screen is just silly beyond description, more Groundhog Day than Independence Day. Then again, this was the 50’s and scientific accuracy in such films was almost unheard of with the exception of a few classics.
For a movie with as large a scope as it aspires to, the character ranks are rather small. They are played by a capable cast who seem to believe they are in a much better movie than they really are. Lead Jeff Morrow gives a more reserved performance when compared to his other genre roles, instilling in the character of Leslie Gaskell a quiet passion for science that rises as the film unfolds and a secondary interest in Vera Hunter which frankly seems tacked on in order to check off a box or two from a list of things the movie should have. He would go on to give a more lively performance in The Giant Claw, where his more animated character would be so completely unbalanced by the crappy monster. In Kronos, his more laid back approach only works in tandem with the rather lackluster monster action to make the film seem rather flat and plodding. The rest of the cast work their best with what they’ve got. Barbara Lawrence as Vera Hunter is attractive and capable, but I note how she’s the only character in the main cast without a doctorate. At least she wasn’t a panicky, screaming woman. George O'Hanlon as Dr. Culver provides both a fellow scientist for Gaskell to bounce ideas off of, as well as a few moments of light humor throughout the film. John Emery as Dr. Eliot is appropriately creepy, looking wild-eyed and possessed while Morris Ankrum has a short role as a medical doctor that he plays with authority. Overall, the characters were one of the better aspects to this film.
Now we come to the visual FX for the film, and as is often the case for this time period, there are hits and many, many misses. There are some scenery paintings that look pretty good, as well as few shots of Kronos standing or moving behind some hills that also look decent. When we get a direct look at Kronos as it walks, it looks silly because of the animation used. Likewise the overall design of Kronos does not look futuristic in any way, reflecting the archaic design aesthetic of what people in the 50’s thought was a sleek design. The scenes of Kronos destroying ground installations and absorbing energy is brought to life through simple composite shots, miniature sets and an excess of stock footage….and don’t even ask me about the stupid life-sized props used for Kronos’ feet, that don’t move up and down at anywhere near the same speed as the animated version does, thus allowing large groups of stupid people to gather together in small eight-foot diameter spaces in order to get flattened. Then there is the appalling science, but we'll skip that, too. As for the music, it was composed by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter, who created music for dozens of films. The main theme here is re-used for It! The Terror From Beyond Space. The rest may have been recycled as well, but it’s just too generic for me to really notice.
In summation, Kronos is a film with a truly terrifying idea, but which lacks the funds and skill to really bring it to life. The acting is competent and the characters are for the most part not annoying, though they can be a little bland. The FX range from decent to pure crap while the music is barely noticeable. Fans of 50’s science fiction and/or giant monster flicks will want to check it out, the rest of you may fall asleep.
Aliens – We have nameless, invisible, non-corporeal aliens here that possess people and force them to do their will. Fortunately that only involves sabotage and not dressing in bright green lederhosen and singing my little buttercup on the street corner.
Giant Monsters – The aliens land their giant robot thing which humans dub Kronos. It starts out about 100 feet tall and increases to Godzilla size after a few meals. So, not unlike Marlon Brando, though it never once yells “Stella!”
Robots – Kronos is a mechanical monster having been constructed rather than being born. It looks like the cheapest robot ever made, just a couple of boxes with antenna on top. I guess the aliens were going more for function over form.
Science – Oh boy. This is one of those movies where the “science” is just a bunch of technobabble gobbledygook gibberish that characters pull out of their asses along with about ten pounds of poop. Reverse the polarity indeed.
Stock Footage – Yet another film where any sort of military airplane, fleeing crowds, exploding buildings, rocket launches and much more are all culled from stock footage. Did kids back in the 50's notice the same shots showing up in films again and again?
Violence – With a colossal robot stomping around the countryside absorbing energy from numerous places, someone is bound to get hurt. While there are no doubt plenty of people who die, we only see a few firsthand.
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 0
Cups of coffee consumed: 3
Cigarettes smoked: 6
Nuclear explosions: 1
Nuclear implosions: 1
Different newspapers seen: 5
Total number of headlines seen: 8
People possessed by alien: 2
Paintings or photos used for backgrounds: 5
TV announcers seen: 3
Attractive women in swimsuits: 1
Mexicans in Hawaiian print shirts: Too many
Percentage of film comprised of stock footage: 10.79%
Percentage of film during which I was drinking: 25%
Percentage of film during which I was drinking heavily: 14%
Min – Pigs in space!!
Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time a new scene starts with Gaskell, Culver and Vera all in it, take a drink.
for larger image
Gaskell is not so sure about using an H-bomb on Kronos.
Eliot: “Preparations are already underway.”
Shadow’s Comment: I don't know, I survived the after effects of nuclear bean dip and salsa night at the local cantina. That was quite the release of eneregy, let me tell you.
Using Science! To defeat Kronos.
draws chalk figure of Kronos “We’ll set up a field
of force here. A concentrated shower of omega particles, matter derived
from energy could cause change of polarity. The reversal process would
trigger the conversion. Kronos’ power to destroy would be turned
||This Film &
As noted many times before, in 1983 my mother bought for me a book entitled The Great book of Movie Monsters. This tome introduced me to many, many films I had never even heard of, let alone seen. One such film was Kronos. As a great enthusiast of monster movies from the 50’s, the movie sounded interesting, especially since this was a giant "monster." This was around the time when older such films were no longer being aired on TV. So I waited. A few years later I started collecting 50’s monster fare on VHS, but I was never able to find this movie. I did see it listed as a mail order option at some places, but I didn’t have a lot of money for those and when I did manage to scrape some funds together to make an order, I opted to purchase other films. So it wasn’t until the great DVD boom of the early 2000’s that I found this film and was able to buy it. I really was expecting a much more engaging film and was surprised at how easily I lost interest in it. I tried watching it a few times over the years, but invariably, despite a short running time, I would get distacted before the halfway point. It was not until this review that I forced myself to pay close attention to it. It's not nearly as good as other monster flicks of the 50's, but it's not flat out shit either like many others. Not something I see myself returning to watch too often, but if a Blu-ray was released, I'd upgrade in a heartbeat.
Shadow's rating: Four Tombstones