Sci Fi Horrorfest – It Came from Outer Space (1953)

Summer of Sci FiDespite an unplanned break in late summer, the Sci Fi Horrorfest delivered on a selection of classic and forgotten flicks. With the Halloween season days away and fall officially here, it’s time to lay this summer marathon to rest. However, there’s time for one film before we switch gears. So why not end on a bang with the 1953 classic, It Came from Outer Space!

I first discovered this movie in 1982 at the age of 14 when my local high school presented a double feature of cinematic gold in glorious 3D. The evening consisted of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and this wonderful gem.  Both are from director Jack Arnold and are his two earliest efforts into the world of science fiction and monsters. Before the decade of the 50s was over, he offered up shrinking men, giant spiders, monsters at college and children from outer space. Here, he pairs with writer Harry Essex (Octaman), who based this script on a story written by the legendary Ray Bradbury. In fact, Bradbury wrote most of the story that ends up on the screen. And what a story it is.

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Richard Carlson, one year prior to his classic role opposite the Gill Man, stars here as writer and amateur stargazer John Putnam. John lives out in the desert and is close to marrying local school teacher Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush, When Worlds Collide). However, their blissful existence is shattered when an object crashes into the desert. Upon visiting the site the next day, John sees what appear to be a spacecraft and a possible creature from another planet. However, a rock slide soon buries the vehicle and the locals turn Putnam into a joke when his story is printed in the newspaper. However, John’s story soon becomes reality when several townspeople appear to be duplicated ala Invasion of the Body Snatchers in a plot that is soon revealed.

It Came from Outer Space is, quite simply, a lot of fun. Carlson is always entertaining to watch and Rush turns in a good performance as his faithful sidekick and wannabe wife. Other familiar faces include Charles Drake as the sheriff (you’ll recognize him as an overly eager Starfleet commodore from Star Trek) and Russell Johnson (a few years before boarding the Minnow).

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The gelatinous creature is well-done and creepy, being seen only when necessary, which adds to the mystery. It was actually one of two designs submitted for the film. The other was rejected before eventually popping up in This Island Earth some two years later as the Metaluna mutant. The aliens themselves are actually quite interesting. They come to Earth by accident, neither to conquer nor to become friends because they really don’t give us much thought at all due to our current state of development. At least we didn’t have to save the world this time around.

It Came from Outer Space has recently been released on Blu-ray in both 2D and 3D. I watched the 2D version and the film never looked better. You’ll also find the entertaining Universal documentary, The Universe According to Universal, along with commentary from the incredibly knowledgeable film historian Tom Weaver. This one is well worth adding to your collection and should be on the must see sci-fi classics list for all cinephiles!

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