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evfsFrom the video case: Featuring extraordinary special effects by cinematic genius Ray Harryhausen, the film pits earthlings against alien humanoids in a violent battle for earth’s survival! When the zombie-like aliens arrive at the U.S. army base in search of help for their dying planet, they try to make friendly contact with scientist Dr. Russ Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) and his recent bride, Carol (Joan Taylor). But the military greets their fleet of saucers with gunfire and the the aliens are forced to retaliate. Can Marvin invent the ultimate weapon in a deadly game of beat-the-clock to save the human race? (1956, b&w)

Mark says: Any film featuring the special effects of Ray Harryhausen (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) is going to rank with me. The flying saucers are definitely the main draw here, and put this otherwise camp picture a peg higher. Stop motion animation will beat out CGI effects in my book any day.

The acting and dialog in this film are substandard, but amusing enough to make the movie enjoyable. I especially think the amorous Hugh Marlowe (Dr. Marvin) is a grotesque mismatch for the demure Joan Taylor (Carol).

Morris Ankrum (of course!) plays an army general, and B-stock veteran, Tom Browne Henry, has a featured role.

The aliens, as well as many of the “scientific” principles introduced in the movie, are laughable. I am also amused by some of the advanced technology, such as a computer that writes in cursive when transmitting its message.

A combination of low-budget humor, and wonderful effects created by Ray Harryhausen (especially the climatic battle scenes in Washington, DC), make this a very watchable film.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is directed by Fred F. Sears.

Scene to watch for: Hugh Marlowe tries on an alien helmet and looks like a drunk with a plastic garbage pail on his head. Also: Note Marlowe’s hairy back as he runs into the sea at the end of the movie. Eeew.

Line to listen for: “When an armed and threatening power lands uninvited in our capitol, we don’t meet it with tea and cookies!”

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

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4 Comments

  1. This was one of the movies I had on 8mm when I was a kid. It was condensed down to about 12 minutes, but included the best parts, i.e. the attacks at Project Sky Hook and Washington D.C.

    IMO, of all the 1950s “visitors from space” features, this movie comes in second only to “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” which is my all time favorite sci-fi film. “Day” had a more intelligent story and the melting of the tanks and guns by Gort’s destructive ray is far more realistic than when the aliens did the same thing in “E vs. S,” but the as far as pure action goes, “E vs. S” beats “Day” hands down. When you get right down to it, the story isn’t as important as watching the flying saucers destroy everything is sight. This movie doesn’t pretend to be intelligent; its purpose is to be fun! The only thing that would have made “E vs. S” better would have been if Harryhausen had animated the aliens, instead of having guys wobbling around in metal space suits.

  2. Paul: You make some great points here. A lot of these old sci-fi pictures were produced for sheer entertainment purposes, and who can fault anyone for that? It’s funny that Hugh Marlowe is in both this film and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Marlowe is often noted as the “weak link” in the latter picture, yet gets top billing in this one.

    This is one of my earliest reviews, by the way. I would like to rewrite it to bring out more facts and trivia, but if I rewrote everything I wanted to I’d never get to anything new. Thanks again for your insights, Paul.

  3. I am looking forward to getting the new release of this film on DVD in Special Edition, with the colorized version included. The “50 Million Miles To Earth” DVD SE was awesome. Even though it means making my RH “science fiction” DVD box set obsolete one movie at a time. Looking forward to “It Came From Beneath the Sea” in a like SE also.

    I thought it was awesome how the saucers were used in Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks” without much change, even duplicating scenes from EvsFS. The solution that Burton used to defeat the Martians was basically the same as Harryhausen’s film, except for the humorous element. I also got a chuckle from the Simpson’s episode where Homer crashes Kang and Kodo’s saucer -also identical- into the White House in the same attitude.

    I get a laugh from the aliens in this film, with the arms and legs that don’t bend and the round ball on the ends of the arms. Clumsy is not even sufficient a word to describe it.

    But I always thought it was chilling when the aliens dump the girl’s father out of the ship onto the burning countryside. Somewhat brutal for a film of it’s time.

    Being in radio I discovered by accident how to make the same garbled effect used on Paul Frees voice for the aliens. Just wobble the tape reel as the pre-recorded voice is playing to make it drag over the tape head. Slowing it down and with feedback echo, it sounds exactly the same.

    I always thought it was a little cold how Ray used stock footage of a fatal airplane collision for one of the special effects scenes. But I guess back then folks weren’t so sensitive to such things. Nowadays he would get sued by the families for mental anguish!

    Enjoyed the review!

  4. Fred: Lots of great observations. A lot of sci-fi movies use WWII footage as stock footage and I’ve often wondered if anyone ever made a stink about it. How would it feel, for example, to recognize a ship your buddy was killed on being spliced into a movie used as a vehicle to entertain teenagers?

    Special Editions drive me crazy, by the way. I have so many movies I want to purchase, it makes me a little nuts to be buying the same one over and over again just so I can pick up a few extra perks. But I’m an addict, and I have no choice.

    Thanks for dropping by, Fred. Glad to have you anytime!

    Exclamation Mark


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