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Monthly Archives: June 2011

From IMDb:  (Note: I usually take the film description from the DVD/VHS case. However, in this instance, the DVD case is so full of inaccuracies that I thought I’d avoid confusion and use a plot synopsis from IMDb. – MM) Weird events in the life of atomic scientist Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) culminate in an invitation from the strange-looking Exeter (Jeff Morrow) to work at a secret lab in Georgia, supposedly for the cause of world peace. Other scientists are already there, including the gorgeous Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue). They quickly discover there’s more to Exeter than meets the eye. Is he benevolent? It may take an interstellar journey to find out.

Mark says: This Island Earth is one of my favorite science fiction films of the 1950s, and in fact, of all time. It has everything a B movie enthusiast could want, starting with a stellar cast.

Rex Reason (The Creature Walks Among Us) is Dr. Cal Meacham, a capable scientist with a sonorous voice that commands authority. This is my favorite role for Mr. Reason, and unquestionably the role for which he is most remembered. Faith Domergue (It Came from Beneath the Sea, Cult of the Cobra) plays fellow scientist and love interest, Ruth Adams. Ms. Domergue is ideal as the sensuous genius. Finally, Jeff Morrow (Kronos, The Giant Claw) is Exeter, the alien agent on mission from the distant planet, Metaluna. Ironically, Exeter exhibits more human qualities and pathos than our hero, Dr. Meacham. Morrow is a veteran of 1950s B movies, and though I’m not always impressed with his performances, he really shines here as a human sympathizer from outer space.

In smaller roles, Robert Nichols (The Thing from Another World) is Meacham’s assistant, Joe Wilson. Joe’s attitude towards his boss can be characterized as “adoring.”  This aspect was picked up by Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996), with some humorous results. Lance Fuller (The She-Creature, Voodoo Woman) is Brack, Exeter’s assistant, who is less than sympathetic to the human cause. The Monitor of Metaluna is played by Douglas Spencer, who I most fondly remember as Scotty in 1951’s The Thing from Another World. Rounding out the cast is Russell Johnson (Attack of the Crab Monsters, It Came from Outer Space) as Steve Carlson, one of the few people at the alien compound who has not been subjected to the Metalunan “Thought Transformer.”

Besides a great cast, This Island Earth features some stunning visuals and special effects, enhanced with vivid color created by the three-strip Technicolor process. Though simple by today’s standards, the creative matte paintings, colorful sets, and miniatures are some of the best of the era. We are also treated to a cool flying saucer and lots of impressive explosions. For me, the limited technology lends to a heightened sense of fantasy, and I would argue that these effects stand up even today.

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