From the video case: A strange flying saucer lands in the desert near Hollywood, bringing a deadly menace to Earth: A mischievous gang of teenagers from outer space! Derek, the one alien whose not a hoodlum, makes his way into town and meets a cute little Earth girl, Betty Morgan, who has stars in her eyes. Interplanetary relations begin.
Thor, the teen alien bully unleashes his pet Gargon monster. It grows to titanic proportions and devours its way into the heart of Hollywood. Will Earth survive? (1959, b&w)
Mark says: As in many cases, the video box description above isn’t entirely accurate, but will suffice as a synopsis.
The first thing you notice about this movie is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a teenager in it, despite the title. At the very least, the aliens appear to be in their early twenties. But this is completely forgivable, as older people are often used to portray teenagers in movies (one of my favorite examples is Steve McQueen’s portrayal of a teenager in The Blob.)
Some other aspects of this movie are less forgivable, though. The acting, for example. It’s so cheesy you’ll find yourself craving crackers after the first ten minutes. Of course, you need cheesy acting to go along with all that cheesy dialog. That’s right, Teenagers from Outer Space is a complete cheesefest. Still, don’t let all that cheese stop you from enjoying the story. After all, sometimes we hanker for a hunk-a cheese.
You probably won’t recognize many of the actors, but a few of them do have a place in cult history. For example, Grandpa Morgan is played by Harvey B. Dunn, who also starred as Capt. Tom Robbins in the Ed Wood camp classic, Bride of the Monster. Furthermore, the alien captain is portrayed by Robert King Moody, who later went on to play Ronald McDonald throughout the 1970s. You can see the caliber of acting we are dealing with here.
The story itself is not without imagination. Aliens aren’t here simply to take over Earth, but to find grazing ground for the monstrous “gargons” they use as a food supply. The beasts are too dangerous to raise on their own planet, so they need to cultivate them at a safe distance. It turns out that Earth is the perfect atmosphere for gargons to thrive. Unfortunately, the rest of life on Earth, including inferior humans, will be destroyed as the gargon herds increase.
If you want to know exactly what a gargon looks like, go to your local grocery store and look in the lobster tank. That’s a gargon. Really. There is no attempt to hide the fact that the gargon is your basic lobster. Of course, by the end of the film, the lobster, um, gargon is much larger (see image above) but still a lobster. Beautiful.
The twist comes in the form of David Love as the sensitive alien, Derek. Derek has no problem using another planet to raise the gargon herds, but he objects to using a planet inhabited by intelligent life. He escapes the crew to explore a kinder and simpler life among the inhabitants of Earth. He then meets Betty (Dawn Anderson, aka Dawn Bender) and Grandpa Morgan. Betty and Gramps welcome Derek into their home and don’t even make him pay rent.
Little does Derek know that his crew mate, the kill-crazy Thor (Bryan Grant), is hunting him down and zapping everyone he meets with his ray gun. The ray gun apparently turns people into plastic skeletons, a marvel to behold.
I don’t want to give away all the thrills and plot twists, so I’ll refrain from discussing further adventures, but let me warn you, the ending is a tear-jerker. Fans of metaphor may want to look for signs of Christ imagery, too.
Though I thoroughly enjoy the cheesy elements of this movie, I have to say that the ending seems like it could have come much earlier. Still, this is a fine film whenever you’re in the mood for schlock sci-fi fun.
Written and directed by Tom Graeff (who also plays reporter Joe Rogers, under the alias Tom Lockyear).
Scene to watch for: Derek and Betty are attacked by a ferocious shadow of a lobster.
Line to listen for: “You know, I don’t get this guy. Animals or humans, he just seems to like killing.”
FYI: This film is also known as The Gargon Terror (UK).
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! out of 5.