Thursday, May 15, 2014

"It Conquered The World" (1956) d/ Roger Corman

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Here's some mortifying early sci-fi fare from prolific schlockmeister Roger Corman, who'd already directed six movies by then, this one, the third of four movies he'd already directed that year. To sell this far out piece of drive-in fodder, he needed some straight faced actors, and they didn't come much more straight faced than Peter Graves or Lee Van Cleef, who are both dynamically deadpan as ever. Paul Blaisdell, who provided special effects on some of my greatest Saturday afternoon memories as a kid, like It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) and Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), designed the... memorable alien monster suit in tonight's review, even going so far as to wear it dramatically on camera, as well. What balls, young man.

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"Plissken...Plissken....where are you, Plissken?"
Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef) has been warning them all along about launching satellites into unfriendly space, when the government's latest nine million dollar project leaves our atmosphere. Dr. Paul Nelson (Peter Graves) is Tom's level-headed pal, far too level-headed to ever keep a c.b. radio set up behind a curtain for the sole intent of chatting extensively with angry-looking vintage orange juicers from the planet Venus while at home, as Tom might. Wouldn't you know it...the cucumbery Venusian King gets chatty with Tom, hijacks the satellite, and hitches a ride to Earth in it, wiping out all forms of power on the planet, save for his new pal Tom's car, electricity, etc. Immediately, the interstellar vegetable sends out eight rubbery flying pitas from Hell, each equipped with mind control stingers for the backs of the necks of some influential people.

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"Nooooooo! Anything but tittie twisters!!!!"
Tom has had enough of skeptics and naysayers and is all on board with a total Venusian takeover, despite the empty protests of his frustrated wife, Claire (Beverly Garland), who sleeps alone while her husband and his space carrot buddy plot and scheme for world domination on his c.b. radio all night long. Paul remains adamantly pro-Earth, as evidenced by the hot slug he puts in his alien possessed wife's belly before she can slap a latex mind control pizza on the back of his neck. While Paul tries to reason with his brainwashed buddy, Claire sneaks out with his rifle, and drives to the cave where her husband's boss currently resides, pumping some shells into him before she ultimately gets pincer-choked the fuck out, for keeps. A nearby troop of  slapstick soldiers (led by Dick Miller, no less) fares no better with bazookas, until Tom shows up with a hand-held blowtorch with the Venusian's eye socket written all over it.Alas,  a momentary pincer-grab proves too much for him, and he slumps dead next to his c.b. pal, just in time for a summary pro-humanity speech from Paul that wraps it all up.

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"The damned thing won't stop holding still, Sarge!"
I must've seen this one twenty times as a kid, between Dr. Shock's Mad Theater/ Horror Theater and Uncle Ted's Ghoul School, its unsophisticated visuals forever ingrained in my earliest genre movie memories. Stuff like this may not hold much appeal for today's sci-fi fan, bombarded with cgi-born spacescapes and state-of-the-art effects and make ups, but for an old schooler like me, it's a brief (just over an hour), nostalgic walk down memory lane. Still, as much as I love Roger Corman's stuff, I couldn't give this one more than one Wop, strictly for the many laughs it provided upon re-inspection. Approach with caution.

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"Get away from me with that blow torch, Angel Eyes!", says the Monster (Paul Blaisdell).
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