If there’s any redeeming feature of Amicus’ quite bizarre They Came From Beyond Space, its possibly just that it makes its co-feature, the totally inane The Terrornauts (that I watched last month) actually look better in hindsight. I wouldn’t have thought such a thing possible, but there you go, films can be full of surprises, and no matter how bad a film is, there’s always a worse one out there. I seem to have a curious knack of finding them, unfortunately.
A film featuring a Crimson Plague so dangerous that its victims can’t be left on Earth but have to be shipped off to the moon for disposal has to be quite unnervingly topical in 2020, but its not enough to save it- nor is having Michael Gough impersonating a dangerous piece of cardboard as he plays the Master of the Moon quite crazy enough to raise an amused titter. There is very little here to commend They Came From Beyond Space to anyone- the script is silly, the production values somewhere south of a Blakes 7 episode and its patently clear that the films director, Freddie Francis was terribly bored, his disinterest can be seen in every shot and set-up. If the director didn’t care then why should we in the audience? While The Terrornauts rather exalts in its silliness there is a grimly po-faced seriousness to this one that just irritates.
The film is one of those alien-abduction movies in which unwitting people are taken over, or possessed by, nefarious aliens… or, as in this case, lumps of space rock. Its in the tradition of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or It Came From Outer Space, but woefully inferior. I suppose as a Nigel Kneale scripted Quatermass it might have been tense and dramatic fun, but really, Robert Hutton’s Dr Curtis Temple is no Quatermass and the film’s far too dumb to really engage, even though it indirectly taps into the paranoia of Kneale’s yarns (its inferred that the Governments of the world are in league with the aliens regards shipping the plague victims to the moon).
The film begins as a meteorite shower falls in steady formation onto a farmers field in Cornwall, England, landing in a precise ‘V’ shape that would shame the keenest parachutist team. A bunch of astronomers investigating the odd space-rocks are taken over by the strange alien forces that are possessing the space rocks and, using funds loaned from a possessed bank manager in the nearby village (!), the aliens transform the farm into an alien base/spaceport, launching rockets to the moon. Fortunately for humanity, Dr Curtis Temple is immune to the aliens because of a metal plate in his head and he leads a desperate effort to repel the invaders and rescue the enslaved human victims of the crimson plague (who, shock twist, are not dead, but merely rendered comatose and later revived for lunar slave duty to build more rockets for the Master of the Moon who wants to travel back to his planet in some other galaxy and…).
Well, of course it was going to be daft. A lot of these sci-fi b-movies were. The ones that are still fun, or perhaps naively sincere, are the ones that remain watchable. Films like this one really aren’t.
Add this one, though, to the list of films that are somehow on Blu-ray in a world in which The Abyss isn’t, because, well, I’ve discovered that this film was, incredible as it seems, deemed worthy of release in HD over in America. Why in the world anyone would want this film in their collection or think it worthy of one day re-watching it is quite beyond me, but I’ve said it before- every film, it seems, has its fans.