Brandon’s B-Movie Breakdown: Killers From Space

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Brandon’s B-Movie Breakdown: “Killers From Space”

This week we’re going to try out a new feature – in which I review and break down the “B” sci-fi classic Killers from Space.  See, the editors here at Space.porn and I had a chat and we figure a lot of you space aficionados out there are probably also space movie fans, and some of those fans might be fans of classic “B-Movie” space fare.

So the idea is, I find a “B” sci-fi movie dealing with space (preferably from the 1950s-1970s) and give you a rundown of what’s good about the movie, what’s terrible about it, what’s hilarious about it, and why you should or shouldn’t watch it.  This week it’s the 1954 classic, Killers From Space, starring Peter Graves and James Seay. Be warned though: even though I have a mustache for the ages, I’m no Gene Shalit.  I’m just a nerd who likes to laugh at old “B” movies.

The Opening

Right off the bat, we know this is going to be a ’50s classic because it opens with a nuclear test.  We get a view of the pilot of a B-47 (I could be wrong on the model, but B-52s weren’t out yet) getting ready to go in for a test on the radiological effects to the atmosphere after the nuclear detonation.  I could go on a whole tirade about nuclear fever in the Eisenhower era, but we’ll leave that for a different post.  Suffice it to say that it’s no surprise that a sci-fi movie made in the mid ’50s has a major nuclear component to the story.

Ahh, the ’50s (shakes head)

The most shocking part about the first ten minutes of the movie was not the low-budget plane shots or even the Airman First Class at the radio desk who looked like he was about 45 (I served in the Air National Guard, and if you’re still an A1C at 45, you have to be the most incompetent person in the Air Force.)  I can put off those things.  What I can’t abide, though, at least without laughing about it to try to cover up the embarrassment and awkwardness, is the code name of the squadron: “Tarbaby.”  Now, I realize that I have a sick sense of humor, so I was horrified and laughing at the same time, when I heard this ridiculous 45-year-old A1C say over the radio “We’ve lost contact with Tarbaby 2” and then an extensive barrage of radio traffic calling for a search for the missing “Tarbaby 2.”  

Of course, the fact that the use of such offensive terms in the ’50s was that commonplace is not funny at all, but because it was so unexpected I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Enough social commentary, back to the movie!

Anyway, for synopsis purposes, the reason everyone is searching for the missing offensively-named plane is that while it was carrying out its mission there was a bright flash from below (not the nuclear blast) and the plane went into a 90 degree dive (I mean it was almost like the cameraman just filmed the plane going horizontally and then turned the film 90 degrees counter-clockwise – but Hollywood would never play such dirty tricks on us.)  The search turns up no survivors, and the widows are notified.  One such widow is the wife of Dr. Martin (whom I’ll be referring to as Doc Martin from now on because I can’t help myself).  Cue the entrance of the Doc.

The scene shifts and the opening sequence ends with a shot of Doc Martin walking disheveled and confused looking back through the gates of the military base.

The Plot (No real spoilers – I promise)

Doc Martin has a scar on his chest that looks like two straight incisions.  Neither he nor the base docs can explain the scars, nor how he walked away from the crash with only those scars and a slight case fo amnesia.

The Doc isn’t behaving normally, and people start to notice.  The Air Force decides to involve the FBI (after all, you never know when the Commies are gonna send spies).  Under investigation, he is broken by truth serum and reveals the details of his… wait for it… ALIEN ABDUCTION!!!  Yes!  Now it’s a space movie.

I’m not saying it was aliens… but, it was totally aliens!

Doc Martin reveals that these aliens (who, by the way, have the best/worst bug eyes I’ve seen since Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabit.) have been plotting to take over Earth by using the natural byproducts of our own nuclear tests against us.  I’ll give you three guesses as to what these byproducts are, and I’ll even tell you that the first word is “Giant.”  Yep.  You guessed right.  How do I know?  Because the answer is pretty much giant everything!  

In a later sequence, we see some amazing 1950s special effects where Doc Martin is confronted by a giant tarantula, a giant Gila monster, a giant cockroach, and even a giant grasshopper.  This part of the movie is actually pretty awesome, except for the soundtrack, which mixes exaggerated monster noises for each creature with a constant track of crickets chirping in the background.  Mixed messages, folks.  

The Aliens’ plan

So, they’ve discovered these mutant animals, and now all they have to do is encourage more nuclear testing and wait for the giant animals to destroy humanity.  Good thing ol’ Doc Martin has identified a hole in their evil plan.  He asks the aliens how they plan to survive against the fearsome creatures, and then my favorite part of the movie happens.  The gamma-death ray is unveiled.

The ending?

Oh no.  You’re not getting off that easily.  You don’t get to find out whether Doc Martin and the FBI can work together to defeat the evil aliens with some kind of Deus Ex Machina plot device unless you watch this ’50s sci-fi gem for yourself.

Killers From Space is available to stream on Amazon Prime for free.

Find more information Killers From Space on iMDB.

 

Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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1 Response

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  2. Avatar Julie says:

    Holy cow!!! Well written! Makes me almost want to watch it….almost.

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