GODFATHERS OF SCI FI #3: It Came from Outer Space

Another look at the classic sci fi films of yesteryear. The 1950’s were considered by some as the greatest decade of science fiction and it spawned many films that were the key inspirations to many of the modern classics including some direct remakes. So join us once again as we look at the Godfathers of Sci Fi.  This time we delve into 1953’s It Came From Outer Space.

This was Universal’s first film to be filmed in 3D and I wished I had seen it at the cinema with my red and green glasses as it looks like the effects would have been great.

The credits open and we get a glimpse of a ship of some kind heading towards earth and then it switches to our two leading characters author and amateur astronomer John Putnam (Richard Carlson) and schoolteacher Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush) enjoying a night together watching the stars. It is here they witness a meteor crash into the earth not far from their house in Arizona.

At the crash site Putnam investigates and see what he thinks is a spaceship of some sort but then narrowly escapes a rockslide that buries the evidence under tons of rock and earth. Unfortunately no one believes him apart from Rush’s character and that is only after some convincing takes place.

Back in the town the Sherriff has to investigate the disappearance of several of local populace. It turns out that the life forms that crashed in the space ship have the ability to take on the form of human beings. They need to do this in order to repair their ship and go back to outer space. The people they have copied are captured and held at the crash site but not harmed. We find out that the aliens are not dangerous but rather just want to get back home and leave Earth.

The creatures force Putnam to help them but the Sherriff wants the people back and does not trust them. After a fight between the two the Sherriff rounds up a posse and goes to attack the creatures at the crash site. Putnam gets there first and confronts the aliens and demands the people back which they do and then they manage to fly away before the posse attack.

Firstly this is not an alien invasion flick but rather a taught psychological thriller that hardly ever shows the creature. In fact originally the script did not have the creature see at all but rather only seen from its point of view. I really enjoyed the fact that the creatures were not deadly or aggressive but had to do what they did just so they could leave and go home.

Credit must go to original screenplay by Ray Bradbury who has done a great job here flipping the expectation of the audience on its side to deliver a worthy thriller of any genre. Credit also goes to the fairly small cast who are all adequate in their roles here and it is interesting to see how they go from happy townsfolk to paranoid hunters in such a short space of time. One thing that is a staple of all these 50’s horror films is how easy the characters are to jump straight into the unknown, but I guess if they didn’t then we would not get the everyman to lead the fight.

The special effects are decent enough especially the point of view from the creature which slowly watches and follows our leads. Also the initial crash of the spacecraft is quite impressive. The few glimpses of the creature e do get are short but enticingly intimidating and scary especially as we get our first one about 6 minutes into the film. Also the use of imitating the humans was a clever move as it meant that they could save money on the special effects budget.

One another note if you pardon the pun I was very impressed with the music on this film as it was not the normal background music but rather here there was the very clever use of the a musical instrument that gave off a spooky electronic sound.

Overall a great thriller set within the Sci Fi genre that still beats the odds by delivering that truly delivers movie.

GS Rating 4/5

GS Reporter: Montoya

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