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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.

Unfortunately, as soon as Richard Denning (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Black Scorpion) shows up, the movie goes downhill.

We are gradually introduced to a series of characters, each one more inane than the one that came before him/her. Frank Brooks (Denning) is a traveling business man who wakes up in the deserted city after being rolled in a bar. Virginia Grey (Unknown Island, House of Horrors) plays Vicki, a loud-mouthed lush who is in love with fellow lush, Jim Wilson (Richard Reeves). Reeves vaguely reminds me of Lon Chaney Jr., but that may be because he drinks so much onscreen. Robert Roark (Killers from Space) is Davis, a gangster/killer. As hard as they try, the cast can not escape their two-dimensional stereotypes.

The corny dialog, which is supposed to help us empathize with these characters, does nothing but distance us from them. There does not appear to be any natural chemistry between the players and the film just can not keep momentum.

On the other hand, the robots, or I should say robot, as you never see more than one at a time, is worth a good giggle. Especially as it ascends stairs.

Target Earth, produced by Herman Cohen and directed by Sherman A. Rose, is not bad enough to be truly entertaining, and certainly not good enough to recommend highly. However, true fans of the genre will welcome it to their collections.

Scene to watch for: Richard Denning slaps Kathleen Crowley to her senses.

Line to listen for: “I should have known better than to flash a big roll in a bar.”

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ½ out of 5.



One Comment

  1. This is another film that used to scare the crap out of me when I was a little kid, for the simple reason that a woman who is seen lying dead in an alley in the film’s opening looks EXACTLY like a woman who used to live in my neighborhood! When you’re 8 years old, that’s enough to make a movie great. These days, I get more of a kick out of that lumbering robot; possibly the gawkiest-looking mechanical man ever seen on screen, outside of “Devil Girl From Mars”….

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