It Came From Outer Space


Rating 5

Directed by Jack Arnold

Written by Harry Essex from a story by Ray Bradbury

Starring Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake, Joe Sawyer and Russell Johnson

This is my all-time favourite science fiction film.

I know a lot of people posting online these days get very worked up about films being placed in their “proper” categories, especially fans of “genre” films and TV shows. I would call ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ a sci-fi film, but ‘The Faculty’, which is effectively a variation of the exactly same story, is called a horror film. I’m not sure how the distinction is made.

Anyway, that isn’t especially important. There is a real cult following for 1950s American sci-fi, nearly all of which is basically a metaphor for the Cold War – the real fear that existed at that time about the (then) new proliferation of atomic weapons and the paranoia about the spread of Communism in the Soviet Bloc.

Many of these films are also regarded as classics – the likes of ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’, ‘Them’, ‘This Island Earth’, ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’, ‘Forbidden Planet’, the wonderfully titled ‘I Married A Monster From Outer Space’ –- and, of course, ‘The Thing From Another World’. I love all of these films, with exception of ‘Them’, which I’ve never really taken to.

I was quite surprised to discover that although ‘It Came From Outer Space’ has many supporters it isn’t universally regarded as one of the true 1950s classics. I think it might simply be that the “monsters” in this case turn out to be peaceful and benevolent rather than the deadly “McCarthy-era paranoia” threat observed in some of the other films.

“On the way, though, the dialogue and mannered acting are as dated as the special effects... As well, it moves terribly slowly because the plot is overly simplistic with absolutely no surprises -- aliens arrive, aliens possess humans, humans investigate, secrets are finally revealed -- sort of. The ending is wholly unsatisfying. I give it points for history, but it's just not very interesting today.”

Christopher Null,

I think it’s a fantastic film. The Arizona desert setting is used brilliantly, especially with the black and white cinematography. I particularly find the scenes involving the two telegraph linesmen spooky and unsettling.

I’ve never seen the film in its original 3D format. I’d love to get the chance to do so on the big screen some day.


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