Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

They Came From Beyond Space

Cinema Monolith: 3/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 4.5/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: BOMB

Released on May 1, 1967
Not rated
85 minutes

Directed by Freddie Francis

Written by Milton Subotsky

Cast: Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne, Zia Mohyeddin, Michael Gough, Bernard Kay, Maurice Good, Hedger Wallace, Luanshya Greer, Jack Lambert

It’s time for me to once again join my blogging friend Lindsey from The Motion Pictures as we travel beyond the far reaches of space and review the next film in our cheesy film blogathon series, the goofy UK alien takeover chiller They Came from Beyond Space. And I don’t know about her, but the version I watched was hosted by the eye-popping Elvira, mistress of the Saturday night B-movie show Movie Macabre, and I must admit that, thankfully, her segments added what the lobby card artwork above promised, but sadly didn’t deliver on.

Robert Hutton plays Dr. Curtis Temple, a scientist involved in research of extraterrestrial life, who’s asked to lead a team investigating nine small meteors that crashed—in precise triangular formation—in a field in Cornwall. The metal plate in his head, the result of an auto accident, prevents him from joining the team (and of course will factor into the plot later), so he sends his assistant in his place. When she and the other scientists suddenly and mysteriously cease communication with their superiors, Temple goes to the crash site to investigate, where he discovers alien creatures are controlling the minds of town citizens to perform slave labor for them. But what kind of labor, and why…and where?

This all started out rather serious and scientific, and everyone in the cast played it that way, which was good, but soon the cracks began to show, and the proceedings slowly began to spiral downward from there. The middle section—with Temple repeatedly trying to break into the alien compound—seemed to last for hours, and brought the film’s already-fading pace to a complete dead stop. And based on the awful framing of the shoddy print I watched, I had to assume the aspect ratio of the picture had been cropped to some extent, because I couldn’t imagine Freddie Francis (veteran director of such horror films as Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, The Deadly Bees, and Trog) having such lapses in cinematic judgement, or eyesight.

And though the basic framework of the story seemed to be a fairly decent one, and had me intrigued early on, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a superior sci-fi film released fifteen years earlier, titled It Came from Outer Space. The two narratives were nearly identical, and the presence of Temple’s plate also brought to mind the 1970 made-for-TV movie Night Slaves, which was based on a book written just two years earlier. Even bits of a favorite television series of mine, The Invaders, could be found sprinkled throughout the story, and had me wondering just how much of this movie—based on a novel titled The Gods Hate Kansas—was original, and how much was, let’s say, ‘homage’.

And I know what you’ve been dying to ask, because I’ve been asking myself the same question, and though I did watch the movie, I still don’t have a solid answer: what the hell are those goofy goggles used for? I remembered seeing Temple and his friend assembling them, and of course wearing them, but did either of them ever state their purpose? I had to go back and watch a few scenes over again to find out. Apparently, they’re worn so humans can detect the aliens…but I never knew they couldn’t detect them! And I’m still baffled as to not only how they made the screwy things, but what gave them the idea to make them in the first place!

But does any of this mean the film itself earns the ‘BOMB’ rating that film critic Leonard Maltin seems to believe it does? I’d say no, it deserves a few more points than that, despite its derivative storytelling, low production values, and brainwash-preventing motorcycle helmets. Still, to me it seemed like these aliens went through a whole lot of rigmarole and whoop-de-doo for nothing, and unfortunately dragged us along for the ride. And if you were excited to see the name Jack Lambert in the opening credits, don’t be; it wasn’t the thug from Westerns and noir films of the ’40s and ’50s, nor was it the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker of the ’70s. Regretfully, it was just an old guy sitting behind a desk.  (3/10)


16 comments on “They Came From Beyond Space

  1. Lindsey
    5/7/19

    I liked this one quite a bit more than you did! I thought it was a lot of fun and didn’t find the pace laggy. I do agree that it’s derivative, and that we’ve seen far better. Perhaps my ratings have also become more gentle since I’ve been watching so few films, haha! As always, I enjoyed reading your review even though we don’t entirely agree. 🙂

    • Todd B
      5/7/19

      That’s why our TCM cheese show would be such a hit: you’d be the gentle reviewer, and I’d be the mean, angry one! And it looks like you and I both had lousy prints to deal with; I wonder how I would’ve felt about the film if I’d seen a pristine, widescreen Blu-ray print. I probably would’ve ranked it right up there with Alien and The Thing!

      Agree or disagree, it’s always a treat to take part in our cheese-athons! Can’t wait for our next one…if you’ve picked up that second Universal sci-fi set, maybe we’ll choose a film from there!

      • Lindsey
        5/7/19

        I’ll be the Paula Abdul of the broadcast, haha. The good cop/bad cop dynamic is sure to win us huge ratings!

        I did pick up Volume 2 of the Universal set, plus another six-film set I’m blanking on the name of. Email me with any particular films you have in mind!

      • Todd B
        5/7/19

        Wait, does that mean I have to be Simon? Forget it! And yes, I’ll come up with a short list of possible cheese films…when you remember the name of that other set, let me know!

      • Lindsey
        5/7/19

        Looked it up in my Amazon history — it’s just called “Vintage Sci-Fi 6 Movie Collection,” haha! Included are The 27th Day, The Night the World Exploded, The H Man, 12th to the Moon, Battle in Outer Space, and Valley of the Dragons — none of which I’ve seen, and all of which sound very intriguing!

      • Todd B
        5/7/19

        Ha, I know that set…I almost bought it a year or two ago! I can’t remember why I didn’t…and Valley of the Dinosaurs rang a bell, and then I realized it was recently on an episode of Svengoolie, which I missed! Hmmm, I have some heavy thinking to do…

  2. Sun City Doug
    5/7/19

    Sounds like a movie that I would want to see, just because of the ‘Beyond Space’ in the title. After reading your first two paragraphs, I immediately thought of It Came From Outer Space. Also, why do I have a craving for Babybel cheese now?

    • Todd B
      5/7/19

      I figured you might want to check this one out…I own it, so whenever you want to watch – with or without the Elvira bits – just let me know. And you ALWAYS have a craving for Babybel cheese! Ever since you saw Joan Staley bathing in it, you can’t get enough of the stuff!

      And I know this is off-topic, but did you notice that Lost in Space doesn’t follow Svengoolie anymore? I think it comes on past midnight now. Looks like you’re stuck with Star Trek and…The Invaders!

      • Sun City Doug
        5/8/19

        I cannot stand what METV is doing to me on their new schedule. Lost In Space… forever!!!! And yes, that does compute.

        Call you when I get back from Texas on my Mother’s Day jaunt.

      • Todd Benefiel
        5/9/19

        I thought it was cool they brought The Invaders to the Saturday night line-up…but I have both seasons on DVD, so I might as well watch that, commercial-free. And I liked that Star Trek is back…but I have the seasons on Blu-ray, so that bit of scheduling doesn’t really matter to me, either.

        Have fun and be safe in Texas…call when you return!

  3. geelw
    5/7/19

    Maybe you needed a set of those special sunglasses to enjoy this more? Or at least watch it with your eyes looking in two different directions as seen in that photo. Twice the eye strain, zero times the fun!

    • Todd B
      5/7/19

      Ha… ‘Twice the eye strain, zero times the fun!’ would’ve made for a great tag line for the poster. I can’t help but chuckle every time I see those things…especially because they’re looking in two different directions! And they might work for the Cookie Monster, but for me I think I’d need some beer goggles to make that movie more satisfying.

  4. I second Sun City Doug that I like the title with the words “beyond space”. It certainly adds intrigue and mystery. What is beyond space? Well it sounds like not a lot hehe.

    I gotta say it was the glasses that made me put the movie on my too watch list a few years back, still not seen it yet. And on saying that I’m not put off by the bad review and am kind of strangely even more intrigued. I wonder if the alien showing glasses influenced John Carpenter’s They Live shades. I assume Dr. Curtis Temple didn’t have to have an almighty 15 minute fight smash down to get someone to wear them?

    Oh yes Todd It Came from Outer Space is a really ace sci-fi. BTW Lindsey I’d vouch for The 27th Day, it’s really very good imho.

    Brilliant fun joint little blogathon.

    • Todd Benefiel
      5/9/19

      I guess it would all depend on what words are paired with ‘beyond space’ in a title: I’m all for Death, Bloodshed, and Ray Guns Beyond Space, but I think I’d have to skip Spice Girls Beyond Space.

      Now I’m anxious to hear what you think of Cross-Eyed Goggles Beyond Space…you might like the rocket and moon aspects of it, I think. And though Dr. Temple doesn’t have a prolonged fight sequence, he is involved in a prolonged (…zzzzzzz…) middle section of the film, where he does get to toss a few punches here and there. And throw a rifle at a fence.

      And yeah, It Came from Outer Space has some good stuff going for it, and quite a few parallels to The Invaders. And if I ever have the chance, I’ll check out The 27th Day.

  5. Saw this one when it was released to DVD, don’t recall much about it but I DO WANT A PAIR OF THOSE COOL GLASSES. Night Slaves a really good TV movie of that era.

    • Todd Benefiel
      5/11/19

      You gotta wonder, after filming was done, what happened to the five or so pairs of those glasses; into the hands of crew members, or straight into the trash? They’d be fun to wear at a 3-D movie, telling everyone they’re ‘stereophonic hi-def’ versions available at the snack stand. And I haven’t seen Night Slaves since the ’70s, but I remember liking it, and I recently found it on YouTube, so I’ll be giving it a look soon.

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 224

From the Monolith: 124

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
1930s – 6
1940s – 19
1950s – 36
1960s – 34
1970s – 36
1980s – 33
1990s – 6
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Movies by Genre

Action/Adventure – 41
Comedy – 35
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0 star – 3

Movies by MPAA Rating

Pre-1968 – 90
G – 1
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