"Killers from Space is a 1954 American black and white science fiction feature film, produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder (brother of Billy Wilder) from an original, commissioned screenplay by his son Myles Wilder and their regular collaborator William Raynor, and starring Peter Graves and Barbara Bestar. Lee Wilder's independent production company, Planet Filmplays Inc., usually producing on a financing-for-distribution basis for United Artists, made this film for RKO Radio Pictures distribution.
This is likely W. Lee Wilder's most famous film, a crazy b-movie part sci-fi, part film noir, part soap opera, part psychological thriller, with lots of very odd visuals and bizarre effects. The 'Killers from Space' in this low-budget sci-fier are a group of aliens bent on conquering the earth. To this end, they overtake the mind and body of atomic scientist Peter Graves, using the poor man as a combination spy and saboteur. When Graves realizes this, he tries to warn mankind, but no one believes him.
Marching defiantly back to the aliens' Bronson Canyon headquarters, where the slimy villains are busily siphoning off electrical power from a nearby generator, Graves vows to stop the extraterrestrials at any cost...including his own life (or what there's left of it). The makeup used for the aliens is laughable, but the film works so long as it concentrates on Graves' plight. The film was produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder, the brother of the more celebrated Billy Wilder.
This film is featured in the beginning of the 2006 video game Prey. At the bar the player may turn on the TV which has two channels, one of which is a clip from Killers from Space. The other is a clip from the classic civil defense educational film Duck and Cover.
Killers from Space is a film which, in other hands, might have turned out exceedingly well. Myles Wilder’s screenplay makes a good-faith effort to transform a fairly standard 1950’s alien paranoia plot into a deadly serious espionage thriller, taking the subtext of movies like The Thing or Invaders from Mars and bringing it right out into the open. The film wants very badly to be The Manchurian Candidate with little green men, and with somebody like Jack Arnold— or even Ray Kellogg— in the director’s chair, there’s a good chance that that’s exactly what it would have been. But instead, Killers from Space got stuck with W. Lee Wilder, one of the era’s true virtuosos of tedium and half-assedness.
Scarcely a moment goes by after the reasonably competent first act that does not reveal some extraordinary creative misjudgment. Take the aliens, for example. Most contemporary filmmakers with no money to spend on their spacemen were content to dress them up in peculiar costumes and leave it to the audience to assume that a planet with essentially the same environment as Earth’s would produce organisms that were also essentially similar.
Wilder, however, apparently wanted his aliens to look alien; unfortunately, all the budget was good for was about half a gross of ping pong balls, which the makeup people sawed in half and painted to create the bulging eyes of the Astronites. Surely any fool could see that a bunch of guys in goofy futuristic jumpsuits make more convincing aliens than a bunch of guys in goofy futuristic jumpsuits, who have ping pong balls for eyes?!
Killers From Space, from 1954, would likely be considered a 'cult' movie by most. I'm not entirely sure there's enough in the movie to lend it such a buzzword distinction, but if you're in the mood to watch something terrible, look no further. Watching bad movies is a sport in of itself -- the trick is determining if the 'bad' is the fun kind of bad or not. The flick we're looking at today is vaguely about space aliens with huge plastic eyes and black tights siphoning our electricity and planning to invade our planet. Read that last sentence again - the 'huge plastic eyes' part is how the film succeeds in being watchable.
Indeed, within the movie's many experiments with twenty-minute stretches of no action and a large interest in boring the fuck out of you, these big-eyed space aliens are your one and only payoff. Horror flicks from the 50s were beasts of a different kind, and they've gotta be judged in a certain way. For us, the fans of stupidity, all we're really looking for in a 50s horror entry is an excuse to pretend we're Tom Servo. I didn't find Killers From Space anywhere near as engaging or hilarious as some of the other films we've looked at here on the site, but if the scene where an alien uses a movie projector screen to show other aliens doing weird dances on top of rocks is any indication, it certainly passed the test of being the fun kind of bad.
I won't deny that the fun factor picks up in the middle. It other films, that wouldn't be enough, but since Killers From Space only runs a little more than an hour, it's not that annoying. Still, it took me three tries to take this one in without falling asleep. To give you an idea of what that means, I should tell you that documentaries on the birth and life cycles of ducks are very capable of holding my interest. It's a great film for hardcore fans, since virtually all of these 50s horror flicks set up a template for the next few decades of bad movies."
Steve's Snacks Of The Week:
Teddy's Root Beer
Chocolate Ice Cream
Old Easter Candy
... AND NOW, Steve and this blog are both PROUD to once again present today's Church-less Movie of the Week in its entirety FOR FREE! AND you can choose from either the original standard version OR the super funny FILM CREW riffed version!
But lets go over a few rules first. There's no talking in Steve's Theater during our feature presentation and talkers WILL be raped ... although RAPE IS NOT A JOKE!
Also, no cell phones or African-American berries in the theater. No open flames. Dispose of all trash in its proper receptacle. And NO TEXTING! I am so serious about that one.
And be sure to dim your headlights (where applicable).
ENJOY THE SHOW, Y'ALL!
I wasn't planning on making this a double feature. I have such a hard time trying to focus on the second film, you know? But there's this really bad movie I own. I got it in that pack of 50 bad movies I bought at that truck stop. And I have been DYING to see it.
So I might just make it so
So stay tuned ...