They Came from Beyond Space

November 14, 2011 at 2:58 am (5 Heads, They Came from Beyond Space) (, , , , , )

They Came from Beyond Space – 1967 – England

They Came from Beyond Space is a British alien invasion flick historically notable for director Freddie Francis. Freddie Francis directed for Amicus and Hammer in the 60s and 70s and was later the high-profile cinematographer for The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984), and Cape Fear (1991). They Came from Beyond Space’s writer, Milton Subotsky, co-founded Amicus. Unfortunately, topnotch talent still can’t help the fact that British sci-fi flicks of the era are all somewhat boring.

Scientists investigating moon meteors become possessed by alien “bodiless intelligences”. Speaking in monotone, the aliens engineer a space plague and rocket an army of brainwashed slaves to the moon. A scientist’s silver skull-plate protects him from the aliens’ mind-altering ultraviolet radiation. He reverse engineers their own zap-guns and battles the invaders. His crusade climaxes in a confrontation with the Master of the Moon who wears sorcerous robes like a Flash Gordon villain. The Master pitifully insists that dominating Earth is the only way to save his ancient race. The scientist naively claims, “You need only have asked for help.” Ridiculously and unexpectedly, the flick ends as the two species heartily shake hands in peace.

They Came from Beyond Space requires considerable suspension of disbelief. Despite their infinite knowledge, the aliens’ domination scheme is so half-baked that only the sort of knuckle-headed yokels common to alien invasion flicks could ever be fooled. The muddled motivation of the aliens is glossed over during the Master’s logic-defying explanation, but the too-trusting scientist doesn’t seem to care. And what about the space plague that’s completely irrelevant to the plot? Furthermore, the effects are just silly, with flashlight zap-guns and chunky alien architecture. Not to mention the incongruous bopping jazz score.

Conceptually, I appreciate They Came from Beyond Space, but Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) wrung greater paranoia from a similar premise a decade earlier. They Came from Beyond Space’s transhumanistic themes, such as the evolution to bodiless intelligences, are ahead of their time. Unfortunately, the flick is foremost a thriller and doesn’t bother with a meaningful discourse on the subject. Basically, They Came from Beyond Space is dumbly average.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. Some golden age British sci-fi flicks overcome their innate insipidness—for instance, Fiend Without a Face (1958) and The Earth Dies Screaming (1965). They Came from Beyond Space is no such example.

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