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Category Archives: Movie Reviews 1954

Killers From Space 1954

From the DVD case: In order to conquer Earth, a group of aliens overtake the brain of scientist Dr. Douglas Martin (Peter Graves). When Martin realizes what is happening to him and what is about to befall planet Earth, he vows to stop the evil attackers at any cost. (1954, b&w)

Mark says: Any creditability that the script for Killers from Space may have had is thrown out the window once the bug-eyed aliens appear. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can make you take the movie seriously after seeing these creatures.

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Them!

From the DVD case: Them! is a landmark movie about giant radiation-mutated ants that gets better with age and boasts remarkable, Academy Award-nominated special effects. Starring James Whitmore, James Arness and Edmund Gwenn, Them! begins in New Mexico with a child wandering in shock, a ransacked general store and a battered corpse full of enough formic acid to kill 20 men. It ends with an epic struggle in the 700 miles of storm drains under Los Angeles, where the insect hordes are beaten. But they’re not conquered because they spawned a generation of films about radioactive creatures. Some approximate the terror but few have equaled the artistry of Them! (1954, b&w)

Mark says: Them! rates at least a few notches higher than your standard giant bug flick for its intelligent dialog and above par acting. It’s also the original radiation-mutated monster movie. Today, many aspects of the film seem cliche, but that’s only because Them! has been emulated so often.

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Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954

From the video case: Scientists drug and capture the creature, who becomes enamored with the head scientist’s female assistant (Julia Adams). The lonely creature, “a living amphibious missing link,” escapes and kidnaps the object of his affection. Chief scientist (Richard Carlson) then launches a crusade to rescue his assistant and cast the ominous creature back to the depths from where he came. Well-acted and directed, and with Bud Westmore’s brilliantly designed monster, Creature From The Black Lagoon remains an enduring tribute to the imaginative genius of its Hollywood creators. (1954, b&w)

Mark says: When I hear the term, “creature feature,” this is the film that comes foremost to my mind. As a boy growing up in the 60s and 70s, there was no scarier monster than the gill-man.

Richard Carlson (It Came from Outer Space) has always been one of my favorite B-movie heroes. In this film he plays the sympathetic scientist who, like us, feels a certain compassion for the monster. His love interest, Julia Adams, has been my favorite “scream queen” since viewing this movie as a preadolescent boy. She is not only lovely, but an intelligent researcher who is both feminine and strong-willed.

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Poster for Target Earth, 1954.

From the video case: A large city is ordered to be completely evacuated as an army of robots, believed to be from the planet Venus, organize a city-wide attack in search of planetary domination. As the army and a group of scientists seek a means of destroying the robots, the few people left in the city run for their lives.

Nora and Frank are two strangers who happen to later meet Vicki and Jim having a private party in a cafe. The two couples manage to escape the robot patrols and take refuge in a large hotel. There they confront a new danger, however, in a psychopathic killer named Davis. (1954, b&w)

Mark says: Target Earth has a promising start, but falls flat early on.

Nora King, played by Kathleen Crowley (Female Jungle, Curse of the Undead), wakes up from a suicide attempt to find the city deserted. As she wanders the empty streets we perceive an eerie sense of isolation (these scenes were filmed in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday mornings to get the desolated effect). It’s a enticing premise and we feel we may be on the threshold of a finely-crafted science fiction adventure.

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