They Came from Beyond Space (1967) Review

Amicus Productions made a whole lot of amazingly mad movies. From horror anthologies like Asylum and The House the Dripped Blood to wacky Sci-Fi thrillers like Warlords Of Atlantis, The Land that Time Forgot and At the Earth’s Core. They Came From Beyond Space slams together ideas from all over their oeuvre to create a Sci-Horror featuring possessed people, global pandemics and moon men and yes it is as fun as it sounds.

Starting with the mysterious arrival of 9 meteorites which crash land in a field in Cornwall, a high level official from the government heads to the Ministry of Extraterrestrial Life on Other Planets, also known as MELOP, to see Dr. Curtis Temple (Robert Hutton) an expert on all things intergalactic.

Confused at first at his involvement Curtis is told the space rocks landed in a perfect V shape indicating some form of intelligence may have guided them. Recovering from a car accident which left him with a metal plate in his head, Curtis is forced to send his assistant and sweetheart Lee Mason (Jennifer Jayne) to lead the investigation however as soon as she touches one of the rocks a sinister energy is emitted overtaking her mind and all those around her.

As the aliens posses more and more of his men Curtis has a strange encounter with one of them where the extraterrestrials discover he is immune to their powers. Concerned that he has not heard anything from Lee in a while he decides to head to Cornwall and find out what is going on especially after he finds out his team have sent in requisitions for masses of equipment and building materials.

Arriving at the area of impact he sees a whole facility has been erected, surrounded by an electric fence and a military blockade and run by Lee who is now cold and dismissive of his worries and affections. Has his beloved and his friends been taken from him forever? What are the aliens planning? And why is he the only one they can not influence? Curtis must find out answers to these questions and many more before it is too late for everyone on Earth.

Directed by Freddie Francis the director of The Evil Of Frankenstein and Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors and cinematographer for Cape Fear and The Elephant Man, the movie is actually an adaptation of The Gods Hate Kansas a book by Joseph Millard although with a altered setting and title obviously. I guess The Gods Hate Cornwall just doesn’t have the same ring to it!

Wonderfully restored by STUDIOCANAL They Came From Beyond Space is a kitsch classic taking a story line straight out of a 50’s Sci-Fi and injecting 60’s stylings and sensibilities into it. Heavily influenced by Invasion of the Bodysnatchers the film throws a very English attitude over everything with the characters running the gamut of Great British stereotypes from the stiff upper lipped government agents to the working class lackeys the American hero must tackle. The majority of acting is hilariously over the top but this somehow works seeing as the story itself is so stupendously stupid.

Made on a shoe string the script was in fact handled by Milton Subotsky, the acclaimed screenwriter of Dr Who and the Daleks and Tales from the Crypt, and to cut costs further many of the sets and props that were used in They Came From Beyond Space were actually left over from Amicus’s 1966 Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Location wise there is a lot of back and forth between the fortified farm the space men have occupied and the small village nearby where a terrible virus breaks out dubbed the Crimson Plague however we do get some Sci-Fi spectacle when Curtis finally breaks in to their stronghold and finds a rocket silo installed inside.

The budget restrictions are very evident when it comes to the props which are hilariously bad and the fact that the majority of the special effects are strange lighting and red make up although this doesn’t harm the film ultimately making it more enjoyable.

The so so story is saved by a fantastic third act as Curtis kidnaps the enchanted Lee and takes her to see his friend Farge’s (Lawrence of Arabia’s Zia Mohyeddin) for help. Here the film goes wonderfully off the rails as the duo discover how Curtis has resisted the aliens mind control and start to fashion protection helmets, special googles and weapons to defeat the intergalactic invaders all of which look ridiculous.

From here things somehow get sillier as the heroes end up in a rocket to the moon to meet The Master of the Moon (played by Michael Gough who is best known as Alfred in the original Batman movies) and finally learn the what, where and how of the whole sensational situation. Credit is due however to the last minute twist and unusual resolution imbuing They Came from Beyond Space with a far more original ending than anyone would have expected.

Not to be taken too seriously They Came from Beyond Space is a wild ride that gets better as it goes on. Crazy, kitsch and entertaining this is a movie perfect for British Sci-Fi fans and anyone with a love for cult classics they can laugh at.

THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE  is available to buy on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital formats now and you can win a Blu-ray copy HERE.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ★ ☆ ☆ 

Trailer:

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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