Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)

A somewhat predictable and formulaic sci-fi film which has enough action to hold audience interest for much of the 83 minutes viewing time.

Directed by Arnold Laven
Produced by Arthur Gardner, Jules V. Levy
Screenplay by Pat Fielder
Story by David Duncan
Music by Heinz Eric Roemheld
Cinematography: John D. Faure
Edited by Lester White
Production company: Gramercy Pictures, Inc.
Distributed by United Artists
Running time: 83 minutes
Budget: $200,000


Tim Holt as Lt. Cmdr. John "Twill" Twillinger
Audrey Dalton as Gail MacKenzie
Hans Conried as Dr. Jess Rogers
Harlan Warde as Lt. Robert "Clem" Clemens
Max Showalter as Dr. Tad Johns
Mimi Gibson as Sandy MacKenzie
Gordon Jones as Sheriff Josh Peters
Marjorie Stapp as Connie Blake
Dennis McCarthy as George Blake
Barbara Darrow as Jody Simms
Robert Beneveds as Seaman Morty Beatty
Charles Herbert as Boy with Morty's Cap
Jody McCrea as Seaman Fred Johnson
Wallace Earl as Sally as Eileen Harvey



Classic Sci-Fi Film Stew

Also known as The Monster That Challenged the World and in some quarters as The Jagged Edge and The Kraken. (“Release the Kraken!” Sorry, I had to say it!)

Read on for more.....

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Monolith Monsters (1957)

A low-budget well-paced sci-fi film with an interesting concept but doesn’t quite meet expectations

Directed by John Sherwood
Produced by Howard Christie
Screenplay by Norman Jolley, Robert M. Fresco
Story by Jack Arnold, Robert M. Fresco
Music by Henry Mancini, Irving Getz, Herman Stein
Cinematography: Ellis W. Carter
Edited by Patrick McCormack
Production company: Universal-International
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Running time: 77 minutes


Grant Williams: Dave Miller
Lola Albright: Cathy Barrett
Les Tremayne: Martin Cochrane
Trevor Bardette: Professor Arthur Flanders
Phil Harvey as Ben Gilbert
William Flaherty: Police Chief Dan Corey
Harry Jackson: Dr. Steve Hendricks
Richard H. Cutting: Dr. E. J. Reynolds
Linda Scheley : Ginny Simpson
Claudia Bryar: Mrs. Simpson
Dean Cromer: Lead Highway Patrolman
Steve Darrell: Rancher Joe Higgins
William Schallert: Meteorologist
Troy Donahue! : Hank Jackson the Dynamite Expert
Paul Petersen: Bobby the Newsboy

Opening narration: Paul Frees



             10 cents                                                               November 10, 1957

This feature report is reproduced here with kind permission from Martin Cochrane, reporter and publisher of the San Angelo Sentinel. [Photos used are a combination of later reconstructions of events and pictures taken at the time of the incident in question.]

Martin Cochrane tells the story of how a strange meteorite crashed into the Southern California desert in July of this year and exploded into a multitude of black fragments. 

The strange part of this story is how those fragments when exposed to water, grew to gigantic proportions. Not only that, but the fragments caused some of the inhabitants of a small town to gradually petrify and die.

The story that you are about to read will show just how close humanity came to having its very existence threatened by a seemingly unstoppable malevolent monstrous monolithic force visited upon our planet from the mysterious limitless reaches of outer space……

Read on for more….

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Man Who Turned to Stone (1957)

An interesting and well-paced film hampered by low-budget constraints

Directed by László Kardos
Produced by Sam Katzman
Written by Bernard Gordon
Music by Ross DiMaggio, George Duning
Cinematography: Benjamin H. Kline
Edited by Charles Nelson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Running time: 71 minutes


Victor Jory: Dr. Murdock
William Hudson: Dr. Jess Rogers
Charlotte Austin: Carol Adams
Jean Willes: Tracy
Ann Doran: Mrs. Ford
Paul Cavanagh: Cooper
George Lynn: Dr. Freneau
Victor Varconi: Dr. Myer
Friedrich von Ledebur: Eric
Tina Carver: Big Marge Collins
Barbara Wilson: Anna Sherman


Read on for more....

Monday, 7 November 2016

The Land Unknown (1957)

A rather simplistic sci-fi adventure film

Directed by Virgil W. Vogel
Produced by William Alland
Written by Charles Palmer, William N. Robson, László Görög
Music by Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein
Cineatography: Ellis W. Carter
Edited by Fred MacDowell
Distributed by Universal-International
Running time: 78 minutes


Jock Mahoney: Cmndr. Harold 'Hal' Roberts
Shirley Patterson: Margaret 'Maggie' Hathaway
William Reynolds: Lt. Jack Carmen
Henry Brandon: Dr. Carl Hunter
Douglas Kennedy: Capt. Burnham 
Phil Harvey: Machinist's Mate, Steve Mill


Read on for more......

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

A thoughtful, philosophical, intelligent and sensitive Sci-Fi film

Directed by Jack Arnold
Produced by Albert Zugsmith
Written by Richard Matheson
Screenplay by Richard Matheson, Richard Alan Simmons
Based on The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson
Music by Irving Getz, Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein
Cinematography: Ellis W. Carter
Edited by Albrecht Joseph
Distributed by Universal-International
Running time: 81 minutes
Budget: $750,000
Box office: $(US)1.43 million


Grant Williams as Scott Carey
Randy Stuart as Louise Carey
April Kent as Clarice
Paul Langton as Charlie Carey
Raymond Bailey as Doctor Thomas Silver
William Schallert as Doctor Arthur Bramson
Frank J. Scannell as Barker
Helene Marshall as Nurse
Diana Darrin as Nurse
Billy Curtis as Midget 
Orangey as Butch the cat

The Incredible Shrinking Man is a 1957 American black-and-white science fiction film from Universal-International and was adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson from his novel, The Shrinking Man.

This film together with 20 Million Miles to EarthKronos and The Monolith Monsters, all from the same year, left an indelible impression on me for almost six decades. 


Read on for more….

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Tribute To John Agar

(January 31, 1921 – April 7, 2002)

“…. if I give anybody any enjoyment, I'm doing my job, and that's what counts."

Early Life

John Agar was born in Chicago, Illinois into a wealthy Chicago meat packing family as the oldest of 4 children on Jan 31, 1921. He was educated at the Harvard School for Boys in Chicago and Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois. He graduated from Trinity-Pawling Preparatory School in Pawling, New York, but did not attend college.

After the death of his father, John and his family moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1942. 

Read on for more.....

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Deadly Mantis (1957)

An entertaining low budget sci-film with lots of action

Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Produced by William Alland
Written by William Alland, Martin Berkeley
Music by Irving Gerts, William Lava
Cinematography: Ellis W. Carter
Edited by Chester Schaeffer
Distributed by Universal-International
Running time: 79 min


Craig Stevens: Col. Joe Parkman
William Hopper: Dr. Nedrick Jackson
Alix Talton: Marge Blaine
Donald Randolph: Maj. Gen. Mark Ford
Pat Conway: Sgt. Pete Allen
Florenz Ames: Prof. Anton Gunther
Paul Smith: Corporal
Phil Harvey: Lou
Floyd Simmons: Army Sergeant
Paul Campbell: Lt. Fred Pizar
Helen Jay: Mrs. Farley

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 

The Deadly Mantis opens with a camera zoom-in on a map showing the North Atlantic Ocean followed by a small island in the Weddell Sea close to the Antarctic Circle. A huge volcanic eruption then occurs after which the camera tracks across the map to Greenland and then on to a point close to the North Pole.

For those of us today who are accustomed to experiencing the increasing effects of global warning, we witness with somewhat less surprise than what might be expected huge areas of ice breaking up.

What is surprising is that the breakup and melting of the ice reveals the body of a giant praying mantis!



Read on for more.....

Friday, 16 September 2016

A Tribute to Willis O'Brien

Pioneering motion picture special effects artist who pioneered the technique of stop motion animation and created "the most startling and intriguing monsters who have ever invaded screenland."

King Kong vs T-Rex

Early Life

Willis O'brien was born on 2 March 1886 in Oakland, California. His father, William O'Brien was self-educated and was a noted etymologist. He also spent 15 years as assistant district attorney for Oakland. Poor investments coupled with some bad luck forced the O’Brien family into poverty when Willis was just 11 years old.

Before he began working in film, Willis O’Brien worked short stints as a cowboy, professional boxer. farmhand, factory worker, fur trapper, bartender, draftsman in an architect's office, railroad brakeman and surveyor. He then went on to become a cartoonist for the San Francisco Daily News, and worked as a professional marble sculptor.

Read on for more......

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Brain from Planet Arous (1957)

A rather ludicrous but strangely ridiculously entertaining sci-fi film

Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Produced by Jacques R. Marquette
Written by Ray Buffum
Music by Walter Greene
Cinematography Jacques R. Marquette
Distributed by Howco International
Running time: 70 min.
Budget: $58,000 approx.


John Agar: Steve March
Joyce Meadows: Sally Fallon
Robert Fuller: Dan Murphy
Thomas Browne Henry: John Fallon
Ken Terrell: Colonel in Conference Room
Henry Travis: Colonel Frogley
E. Leslie Thomas: General Brown
Tim Graham: Sheriff Wiley Pane
Bill Giorgio: Russian

A powerful alien disembodied brain from the planet Arous, by the name of Gor invades and takes control of the body of scientist, Steve March. Gor uses March as part of his nefarious plan to control the world by threatening to destroy any nation that challenges his total domination.



How can this new threat to Humanity be thwarted? 

Read on to find out….

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Black Scorpion (1957)

An undemanding but entertaining sci-fi / horror film

Directed by Edward Ludwig
Produced by Jack Dietz, Frank Melford

Written by Robert Blees, David Duncan
Music by Paul Sawtell
Cinematography: Lionel Lindon
Stop motion animation special effects: Willis O'Brien.
Edited by Richard L. Van Enger
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Running time: 88 minutes


Richard Denning as Dr. Hank Scott
Mara Corday as Teresa Alvarez
Carlos Rivas as Dr. Arturo Ramos
Mario Navarro as Juanito
Carlos Múzquiz as Dr. Velasco
Pascual García Peña as Dr. Delacruz
Pedro Galván as Father Delgado
Arturo Martínez as Major Cosio
Fanny Schiller as Florentina

The Black Scorpion is the kind of film that tends to grow on you the more you watch it. This low budget film delivers with whatever resources it has as its disposal. The end result is an enjoyable and entertaining 88 minutes of escapism.



Read on for more….

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

An entertaining sci-fi movie despite the low budget and ordinary special effects

The Amazing Colossal Man, an adaptation of the 1928 Homer Eon Flint short novel, The Nth Man, is a 1957 science fiction film, directed by Bert I. Gordon and starring Glenn Langan. The film involves a man who grows to over 60 feet tall due to an atomic explosion.

Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Written by Mark Hanna (screenplay); Bert I. Gordon (screenplay) & George Worthing Yates
Produced by Bert I. Gordon (producer); Samuel Z. Arkoff (executive producer); James H. Nicholson (executive producer)
Music by Albert Glasser
Cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc
Film Editing by Ronald Sinclair
Released by American International Pictures


Glenn Langan: Lt. Col. Glenn Manning
Cathy Downs: Carol Forrest
William Hudson: Dr. Paul Linstrom
Larry Thor: Maj. Eric Coulter, MD
James Seay: Col. Hallock
Frank Jenks: Truck Driver
Russ Bender: Richard Kingman
Hank Patterson: Henry
Jimmy Cross: Sergeant at reception desk
June Jocelyn: Nurse Wilson
Stanley Lachman: Lt. Cline
Harry Raybould: MP at Main Gate
Jean Moorhead: Woman in Bathtub
Scott Peters: Sgt. Lee Carter
Myron Cook: Capt. Thomas
Michael Harris: Police Lt. Keller
Bill Cassady: Lt. Peterson
Dick Nelson: Sgt. Hansen
Edmund Cobb: Dr. McDermott
Paul Hahn: Attendant
Diana Darrin : Hospital Receptionist
Lyn Osborn Sgt. Taylor
Jack Kosslyn: Lieutenant in briefing room
William Hughes: Bombsite Control Officer
Keith Hetherington: Newscaster
John Daheim: Soldier
Judd Holdren: Robert Allen
Harold Miller: Official




Time: 2.45 am
Place: Desert Rock Nevada
Event: Test of a new plutonium bomb
Purpose: Soldiers to experience an explosion “under simulated combat conditions.”

Read on for more......

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The 27th Day (1957)

A thoughtful contemplative small budget film that deals with big ideas and concepts

Directed by William Asher
Produced by Helen Ainsworth
Written by Robert M. Fresco
Based on The 27th Day 1956 novel by John Mantley
Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography Henry Freulich
Edited by Jerome Thoms
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Running time: 75 minutes


Gene Barry as Jonathan Clark
Valerie French as Evelyn "Eve" Wingate
George Voskovec as Professor Klaus Bechner
Azemat Janti as Ivan Godofsky
Arnold Moss as The Alien
Stefan Schnabel as The Soviet General
Paul Frees as Ward Mason, Newscaster
Marie Tsien as Su Tan

Five individuals from five nations suddenly find themselves aboard an alien spacecraft!

Each person is given a container holding capsules!

Only a mental command from the person to whom the container is given can open it!

Each individual has now been provided with the power of life and death!

The fate of the entire planet is in their hands!

What will they do with the power they have been given?



Read on for more……

Monday, 27 June 2016

A Tribute to Val Guest

(11 December 1911 – 10 May 2006)

Guest "brought a lot of intelligence to a genre that is often sorely in need of it." (director Joe Dante)

English film director and screenwriter, Val Guest is best known for his work for Hammer. Several of his science fiction and horror films have been featured in this blog. What we notice about his films is how they seem to work without the need for expensive and flashy special effects. Instead, like many British science fiction films, they seem to rely on fine story lines, good acting, effective use of cinematography and tight direction. 

Read on for more....

Sunday, 26 June 2016

A Tribute to Paul Blaisdell

(July 21, 1927 – July 10, 1983)

Painter, sculptor, visual effects creator and a most memorable monster-maker

Blaisdell was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1927, and grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts.

In his childhood he sketched alien monsters and constructed model airplane kits.

After graduation from high school, Paul briefly worked as a typewriter repairman and served a stint in the military.

He then attended the New England School of Art and Design in Boston where he met his future wife, Jacqueline "Jackie" Boyle. Paul and Jackie got married in 1952 after finishing college and moved to Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, California, where he worked for Douglas Aircraft.

At Douglas Aircraft Blaisdell worked as a technical illustrator.

Read on for more....

Monday, 6 June 2016

Quatermass 2 (1957)

An eerily impressive, thoughtful and disturbing sci-fi film that creates a sense of unease and is quite chilling in its social and political implications

Directed by Val Guest
Produced by Anthony Hinds
Written by Nigel Kneale, Val Guest
Music by James Bernard
Cinematography: Gerald Gibbs
Edited by James Needs
Production company: Hammer Film Productions
Distributed by Exclusive Films (UK), United Artists (USA)
Running time: 85 minutes
Budget: £92,000


Brian Donlevy: Quatermass
John Longden: Lomax
Sidney James: Jimmy Hall
Bryan Forbes: Marsh
William Franklyn: Brand
Vera Day: Sheila
Charles Lloyd Pack: Dawson
Tom Chatto: Broadhead
John Van Eyssen: The P.R.O.
Percy Herbert: Gorman
Michael Ripper: Ernie
John Rae: McLeod
Marianne Stone: Secretary
Ronald Wilson: Young Man
Jane Aird: Mrs. McLeod

Quatermass 2 / Original Theatrical Trailer (1957)

What if?..........

(Spoilers Follow……)

Good evening. I’m your host, Bill Bannerman and welcome to tonight’s program, Probing The Past where we will be examining a 1957 incident involving for a second time, the infamous maverick Professor Bernard Quatermass.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A Tribute to Peggie Castle

Peggie Castle

(December 22, 1927 – August 11, 1973)

“Let's face it. Nobody likes nice women on the screen. Nice women are dull.”

Peggie Castle, an American actress was born Peggy Blair in Appalachia in Wise County, southwestern Virginia.

Early years

Peggy Castle took lessons in drama when she was 8 years old and she attended Mills College for two years.


Castle's first work as an actress came in the soap opera Today's Children. A spot on Radio Theatre in 1947 led to a screen test offer from 20th Century Fox.

Read on for more......

Saturday, 14 May 2016

A Tribute to Paul Birch

Paul Birch

(January 13, 1912 – May 24, 1969)

Paul Birch, American stage, film, and television actor, was a veteran of 39 films, 50 stage dramas, and numerous television series.

Early years

Born Paul Lowery Smith in Atmore, Alabama, Paul Birch attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute.

He entered motion pictures via small roles in several westerns in the late 1940s and early 50s.

Read on to find out more...

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Tribute to Beverly Garland

Beverly Garland
(October 17, 1926 – December 5, 2008)

Beverly Garland was an American film and television actress, businesswoman, and hotel owner. Born Beverly Lucy Fessenden in Santa Cruz, California, the daughter of Amelia Rose, a businesswoman, and James Atkins Fessenden, a singer and salesman, Beverly Garland grew up in Glendale, California.

Beverly Garland in Not of This Earth 1957

Read on to find out more.......

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Not of This Earth (1957)

A fast-paced, entertaining low-budget sci-fi movie with a somewhat dark atmosphere

Directed by Roger Corman
Produced by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith, Mark Hanna
Music by Ronald Stein
Cinematography: John J. Mescall
Edited by Charles Gross
Distributed by Allied Artists
Running time: 67 minutes (or 71 minutes)
Budget: $100,000
Box office: $1 million


Paul Birch as Paul Johnson
Beverly Garland as Nadine Storey
Morgan Jones as Harry Sherbourne
William Roerick as Dr. F.W. Rochelle
Jonathan Haze as Jeremy Perrin
Dick Miller as Joe Piper
Anna Lee Carroll as Davanna Woman
Pat Flynn as Simmons



Spoilers follow below….

A human form ensconced in a chair radiates inhuman intent through cruel and cold milky white soulless orbs devoid of emotion. A device next to him triggers the opening of a cabinet in the wall that reveals the figure of one of his own kind who reports that,

“Time narrows, there is death upon Davana…. It is assumed that we shall perish.”

Read on to find out more.......

The seemingly human seated figure is not a human at all but is instead a shell occupied by an alien agent who goes by the name of Mr. Johnson. This being who is not of this earth has been sent to infiltrate our planet via a high-tech matter transporter from the distant planet, Davana. The inhabitants of his home planet have developed an incurable blood disease as a result of a nuclear war. Johnson's mission to Earth is to test the blood of humans for its usefulness in saving his species from extinction. His every thought and action is dictated by the implacable imperatives of survival.

Shut your eyes fast before they are suddenly assailed by abstract visions of inverted skulls and abrupt fleeting glimpses of dripping blood and bleached bones. For now, you are now being prepared to, 

“…adventure into the 

dimension of the impossible.”

“To enter this realm, 
you must set your mind free 
from earthly fetters that bind it. “ 
If you find the events that follow to be unbelievable, 
“it is only because your imagination is chained.” 
All you need do is to believe 
“so that you may cross 
the brink of time and space…. 
into the land you sometimes visit 
in your dreams!”

Not even the hopeful and carefree concerns of youth is spared from the life-force sapping alien influence. One evening a young couple in a sports car are necking. The teenage girl soon leaves and the boy drives off. As the girl is walking home, she is suddenly accosted by a dark figure carrying a briefcase. He removes his sunglasses revealing something that causes the girl to scream and collapse. The mysterious figure takes out a rubber tube and needle and attaches it to her neck. He then proceeds to drain her blood into the glass vials in his case. See now more closely the face of Johnson, our new modern-day Dracula with the white pitiless washed out emptiness of his inhuman eyes.

Later on, a Cadillac pulls up outside a hospital, but the driver has pulled up on the wrong side of the road, next to a fire hydrant and in front of a no-parking sign. The driver clearly is in command of the tangible and physical manifestations of our civilization but he does not understand the rules, conventions and principles that underlie and help to govern it.

Paul Johnson enters the hospital and is greeted by Nurse Nadine Storey. He has come for a transfusion of blood. When he is informed that his blood will need to be tested, he responds by saying, “No test…I came for a transfusion of blood.” Dr. F.W. Rochelle soon comes out of his office and invites Mr. Johnson in where he explains to Johnson that no doctor on earth would do a transfusion without first knowing the blood type of a patient. Johnson informs him, “I must have blood. I am dying. I have Type “O.” Johnson uses a scalpel to cut his wrist but to Rochelle’s amazement there is no sign of bleeding. Johnson explains to the doctor that it will bleed later.

Johnson uses the power of telepathy to communicate with and control the mind and will of Rochelle. Johnson agrees to the blood test, while Rochelle will not be permitted to divulge any information about Johnson. Johnson then asks Nadine to work for him and she agrees only if the doctor approves, which he does. As part of fulfilling Johnson’s command to “see to it that I don’t expire,” Rochelle is to give him a daily infusion of 500 cc of type "O" blood every night.

The criminal mind, the social outcast, the powerless individual stuck in a morass of limited prospects, lack of direction and under achievement often provides a willing fertile ground for those possessing “loftier” ambitions of ill-intent toward the world. Enter Jeremy, Johnson's chauffeur and butler and former small time criminal. Jeremy Perrin greets Johnson at the latter’s residence and is instructed to prepare a room for the nurse. 

Johnson enters the kitchen and removes several vials of blood and places them in the refrigerator. After doing so, he goes down into the basement. Jeremy, contrary to his instructions, enters the kitchen and tries to open one of the containers. Suddenly, he is caught in the act of snooping and is telepathically frozen by Johnson who tells Jeremy, “if you do so again, I shall eliminate you.”

Jeremy later greets Nurse Nadine upon her arrival at Johnson’s residence. She quickly rebuffs his rather clumsy and inept pass at her and makes her way to the living room and apologizes to Johnson for her late arrival. 

Johnson escorts Nadine to her room upstairs and when he leaves the room he locks her door from the outside. Nadine tells Johnson if her door is to be locked, she'd rather be the one to do so. Johnson informs her that in the place he comes from, “no person would dare sleep in insecure quarters.”

“Death Is Upon Davana”

Back in the living room, Johnson uses his communication device to contact his home planet of Davana. The closet door that conceals the matter transporter slides open. The alien courier telepathically informs Johnson about the dire conditions on his home world. Due to the war and the radioactivity that has resulted, the aliens require huge quantities of blood. Johnson’s mission on Earth will consist of six phases:

Phase 1: Study humans 
Phase 2: Increase the quantity of blood 

Phase 3: Obtain a live human specimen to be teleported to Davana for research 

Phase 4: Blood transfusions & Johnson’s own life or death 
Phase 5: If Johnson lives: conquest, subjugation and pasturing of the Earth's population 
Phase 6: If Johnson dies…….

Obliteration of planet Earth!!!!!

“Death Is Not a Remarkable Thing”

The next day we discover more about Johnson that highlights the fact that he is indeed not of this Earth. For one thing, he does not eat solid food. Instead, he adds a pill to water, which turns the liquid a dark colour which he then drinks.

Later that day in a rather comedic scene, a vacuum cleaner salesman by the name of Joe Piper calls at the residence and is met by Johnson. By now we are familiar with Johnson’s stilted, sterile and overly precise use of grammar and vocabulary. Contrast this with Joe’s free-flowing vernacular-ridden and rather unusual “crazy man” counter-intuitive sales pitch:

“I ain’t gonna force ya’ to purchase.”

“Hey, Lemmie finish will ya’!”
“Gimme a chance will ya’?”
“Look buddy, just gimme five minutes of ya’ time in ya’ cellar.

Instead of turning Joe down with a well-chosen expletive and a door slammed perilously close to his face, Johnson invites him in and escorts him down to the cellar. It won’t be dirt that will be sucked up down in the bowels of the house. Rather, it will be Joe’s own blood that will be extracted by Johnson after he removes his sunglasses and exposes Joe to the murderous menace emanating from the wicked white of his eyes. An incoherent scream takes the place of Joe’s well-practised spiel. All trace of Joe then disappears into the furnace. Sale completed: Paid for in full…. Paid for in blood! Take that, you pesky door-to-door sales people!

As Jeremy drives Johnson to the library, they encounter three drunks. It is time for Phase 2: Increase the quantity of blood. Johnson tells Jeremy to invite the three men to dinner that night. I wonder what’s on the menu?

Meanwhile, as Nadine is enjoying some down time by the pool, she notices smoke rising from the chimney which is unusual considering the nice weather. Impelled by the kind of curiosity that can be lethal to domesticated felines, she enters the cellar to investigate. In the cellar she notices a large number of flasks. She puts her cap down, picks up an empty flask, removes the stopper and sniffs. Her reaction indicates how bad the odour is. As Nadine approaches the furnace, she hears the sound of a car horn. She then places the empty flask on a small table and exits the cellar. But what has she left behind?

“Time is indeed the only element, doctor”

Nadine’s boyfriend, motorcycle patrol officer, Harry Sherbourne and Dr. Rochelle arrive. Dr. Rochelle enters the living room with Johnson where he informs him, "Your blood is different from any I ever studied in my entire career." He has a low count of red corpuscles and his blood will likely turn to dust and he will die. Dr. Rochelle surmises that it might be a plague and that time is critical.

"A creep and a two-bit crook.

I don't like the feel of this place."

Later on, Johnson is in the cellar stoking up the flames of the furnace when he notices Nadine’s bathing cap. Soon after the three drunks wind up in the cellar with Johnson drinking when Johnson suddenly removes his sunglasses and gives new meaning to the term “dead drunk!” 

Johnson then places a number vials of blood into a trunk and tells Jeremy to move it to the living room where Johnson proceeds to communicate with Davana. The trunk containing its precious contents is then teleported. Next – Phase 3: Obtain a live human specimen to be teleported to Davana for research.

More clues emerge about Johnson as Nadine relates to Harry that her time spent as a nurse at his residence has revealed him to be “cold, odd and brilliant” and that he seems to be “unaware of the simplest things.”

“I can just see the vampire headlines” 

Excerpts from…..

The Daily Observer

Conundrum Continues

………. Each have involved the presence of neck punctures………. 

…….so far 13 people have been killed in precisely the same manner……….. 

Police sources have reported that something had been used to burn the brains of the victims…………and take their blood. 

…………claimed that some kind of device that burns out the eyes and brains of his victims, and then he drains them of their blood………. 

…. all we can think of is,

Who’ll be next?

Meanwhile at police headquarters, Sgt George Walton and Harry have been discussing the above incidents. As one of them comments, “All I can think of is who’ll be next?” we fade to an image of Nadine giving Johnson his evening transfusion during which he asks her if she has any relatives. She replies with, “Just an aunt in Detroit who raised me." No guesses needed as to the answer to the question,
“Who’ll be next?” 

Time now for phase 3! Johnson selects at random an Asian man and telepathically instructs him to follow him home. Once at home, the alien courier has some bad news to report. Back on Davana there is “destruction within the Council of the Northern Orbit” and that “rule is dissolving.” If that isn't bad enough, it turns out that “independent action increases on a 73% degree tangent!!!!” Oh my God! It’s anarchy!! Johnson reports that it will take three days before he’ll know if the treatments are working. He then handballs the Asian man over to be teleported to Davana. 

Meanwhile, more clues are mounting concerning Johnson. Nadine has noticed the dark water amongst the contents Johnson’s untouched breakfast. She decides to take the liquid to a lab and have it analysed. Jeremy also reports that the three alcoholics were seen to arrive but were never seen leaving. Similarly, that Johnson “takes the china man into his room and neither of them come out.”

Nadine later brings the sample to Dr. Rochelle. His new nurse brings in a bottle of canine blood that has been infected with canine rabies. She labels it and puts it in the refrigerator. Of course this not done for nothing. It is significant for the purpose of setting the audience up and for the foreshadowing of events.

Johnson has a meeting on the street later on with a woman who is also from Davana. She explains telepathically that she came to Earth via the “dimension warp” due to the chaos back home: “I had to escape them all.” It turns out that the alien courier has been killed and that the human specimen was crushed as it is “impossible to transmit a human or sub-human anatomy through the beam.”

The alien female informs Johnson that she needs blood as she will expire without it. Johnson then takes the woman to Dr. Rochelle's lab at the hospital. During the transfusion, Johnson accidently gives her blood from the container marked with, “Caution: Canine Rabies.” She complains about feeling strange and comments that “there is activity within me.” She then walks to her hotel room, but soon returns to the hospital and collapses outside. As he returns to the hospital, Dr. Rochelle spots the woman and together with a nurse gets her to his office. When he removes her sunglasses, she opens her eyes to reveal the same kind of deadly white orbs as Johnson’s. 

It is later determined by Dr Rochelle that the alien female “is something other than human” and that she has “lived in an area that is constantly charged with radioactive material” – an area of all-out nuclear warfare!

"I must have a second live specimen."

We next see Johnson as he goes to pick up his car. When the attendant leads him to where it is, Johnson telepathically directs him to enter the car. Suddenly a car horn sounds for the attendant and the telepathic link is broken. The attendant wisely decides he doesn’t need to be there and quickly tries to scarper but Johnson is hot on his heels and manages to kill him.

In the meantime, Nadine decides to ignore Harry’s advice to leave Johnson’s residence. Instead, with Jeremy in tow, she sets about conducting a bit of investigative work herself by searching the house. They eventually discover the communication device and the transporter in the wall closet. Jeremy then does a Hamlet when he discovers a skull in the furnace.

Unbeknown to our two sleuths, Johnson arrives home. The phone rings and Nadine answers. It is Dr. Rochelle on the other end with information about the Davana woman. Of course, Johnson has been listening in on the conversation. He tells her to remain in her room, then hangs up the other phone and proceeds to dispose of the hapless Jeremy.

As Johnson looms over Nadine with murderous intent, she lets loose with a Fay Wray scream. As Johnson is sensitive to loud noises, she is able to escape him and exit the house. Johnson pursues her in his car and telepathically informs her that he is going to destroy Dr. Rochelle.

And what of Dr. Rochelle? There he is busily examining a blood sample when a head crushing creature brought to life by Johnson suddenly enters through an open window. It abruptly plops down and envelopes Rochelle’s entire head. There he lies collapsed on the bench, his head concealed within a monstrous membrane about to be immersed in a spreading sea of his own blood.

Meanwhile, Johnson heads for Nadine by honing in on her mind signal. After Nadine calls Harry and tells him that Johnson is after her, he and Simmons try to locate Johnson and Nadine on their motorcycles.

Johnson finally gains control of Nadine and instructs her to return to the house where she is to transport herself to Davana. Johnson is also able to dispose of Simmons. When Harry pursues Johnson’s car, he uses his motorcycle siren, the noise of which causes Johnson to lose control of his car and roll it. It also resulted in breaking Johnson’s control of Nadine’s mind.

“A foreign thing who came here to destroy us” 

"I can't feel sorry for him; he had no emotions as we know them."

We now end with both Harry and Nadine standing before a headstone, on which an inscription reads;

"Here lies a man 
who was not 
of this earth."

But wait!! Notice a solitary figure of a man approaching, dressed much like Johnson and wearing sunglasses. He also seems to be carrying the same distinctive case as Johnson had containing transfusion equipment. How do you feel as you watch that man in the background walking up behind Harry and Nadine and then heading right towards the camera? The implication of this imagery being of course……

Points of interest

It is unfortunate that the copies of the film that I have seen have been of a very ordinary quality. Most appear to be far too dark and are hard to watch. I hope a remastered or superior quality copy exists or will be produced for fans of the genre to enjoy more fully.

Not of This Earth was released in the U.S. on the bottom half of a double bill with Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters. 

The film was targeted largely at the drive-in market and teen audiences. 

I’ve seen it mentioned that Paul Birch apparently left the picture before principle photography was completed. Lyle Latell is supposed to have completed his scenes.

The “umbrella” head-crushing creature brought to us by none other than special effects wizard, Paul Blaisdell may be unintentionally funny, but it does pre-date the face-hugging creature from the later sci-fi film, Alien.

There have been three remakes of Not of This Earth: The first was made in 1988 by Jim Wynorski and starred Traci Lords. The second was made in 1995 starring Michael York and the third in 1998 with female actor, Athena Massey in the alien role.

The film does seem to raise some interesting ideas, particularly at the end. For instance, does a creature not deserve our sympathy just because it is unable show sympathy itself? If it doesn't, what does that say about us? Should we only have sympathy or empathy for beings that can reciprocate?

Be sure to keep an eye out for tributes later on to Paul Birch and Beverly Garland who have both appeared in other classic sci-fi films featured on this blog.

Full Movie

See also;

©Chris Christopoulos 2016