Earth vs. the Flying Saucers Reviews
Earth is visited by UFO alien encounters, who want a peaceful landing - or else. Entertaining Sci-fi can't escape its B movie origins (its story is familiar) but provides good fun and convincing special effects. For the very best of these types of movies, see 1954's THEM!
The story focuses on one scientist who has a direct encounter with a UFO & predicts their plans to dominate the earth.
The film is undeniably cheesy but quite interesting since that nation at the time was engulfed by this hysteria. It's fun, dated & has some great dodgy visual effects & stock footage of supposedly real UFO Sightings.
So plot...UFO's attack the Earth, USA attacks back, USA wins, the end. What would we do without the USA? I ask ya. Much like 'It Came from Beneath the Sea' this film is made up of a lot of dialog involving what is happening and then how to deal with it, plus a small romance stuffed in the middle.
There are snippets of UFO/alien action dotted throughout but the main event doesn't kick off until the end typically. When we do see the aliens they are gloriously basic looking bordering on childish. For the day I'm sure they looked quite impressive but naturally these days they attract more giggles as they waddle around in their cardboard looking space suits. The small segment where the hero tries on a captured alien helmet is so daft and cheap looking its fantastic, he literately has a plastic bucket on his head.
The actual flying saucers are of course the highlight of the film. Even though they are incredibly basic in design they have influenced so many sci-fi films ever since (famously 'Mars Attacks' which is pretty much a homage) and probably people's minds in how alien craft should look. Animated by Harryhausen they don't look much of a challenge for the skilled craftsman but its the destruction of major buildings when the saucers crash that present the work and show his talents. How iconic is the downfall of the Washington Monument! that little sequence is still perfect to this day, and lets not forget about that classic flying saucer humming noise they make.
What I did find amusing was the fact these aliens were suppose to be attacking the entire planet. Yet once our plucky hero and his glamorous assistant worked out how to defeat them and went about doing so with many faceless expendable military men, that was it! They brought down all the saucers and that was it, no one thinks to check for the alien crews inside in case they are gonna attack. Plus no one mentions anything about the rest of the saucers attacking other countries, did all they manage to defeat the saucers the same as the heroic Americans?? there is no mention of sharing their alien beating discovery with other countries I don't think (unless I missed it).
I would also hope they use the new alien technology for their own gains, no mention of this but surely they would for the sequel.
So yes the whole film is pretty much exactly the same as all the previous films, it just substitutes monsters for aliens. We have the standard sensible hero, his attractive female sidekick, plenty of elderly/brainy scientists and military types all together with an 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' formulaic story. As that saying suggests it does work and it is good fun, the flying saucer sequences being the best of course. Not the best film, still not beating '20,000 Fathoms' but definitely better than 'It Came from Beneath the Sea'.
Special effects expert Ray Harryhausen animated the film's flying saucers using stop-motion animation. Harryhausen also animated the falling masonry when saucers crash into various government buildings and monuments in order to make the action appear realistic. Some figure animation was used to show the aliens emerging from the saucers. A considerable amount of stock footage was also used, notably scenes during the invasion that showed batteries of U. S. 90 mm M3 guns and an early missile launch. Stock footage of the destruction of the warship HMS Barham during World War II was used for the U. S. Navy destroyer that is sunk by a flying saucer. Satellite launch depictions made use of stock film images from a Viking rocket launch and a failure of a German V-2 rocket.
The voice of the aliens was produced from a recording made by Paul Frees (uncredited) reading their lines and then hand-jiggling the speed control of an analog reel-to-reel tape recorder, so that it continually wavered from a slow bass voice to one that is high and fast.
During a question-and-answer period at a tribute to Ray Harryhausen and a screening of Jason and the Argonauts held in Sydney, Australia, Harryhausen said he sought advice from noted 1950s UFO "contactee" George Adamski on the depiction of the flying saucers used in the film. He also noted that Adamski appeared to have grown increasingly paranoid by that time. The film's iconic flying saucer design (a static central cabin with an outer rotating ring with slotted vanes) matches descriptions given to Maj. Donald Keyhoe of flying disc sightings in his best-selling flying saucer book
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers was well received by audiences and critics alike, with Variety noting that the special effects were the real stars of the film. "This exploitation programmer does a satisfactory job of entertaining in the science-fiction class. The technical effects created by Ray Harryhausen come off excellently in the Charles H. Schneer production, adding the required out-of-this-world visual touch to the screenplay, taken from a screen story by Curt Siodmak, suggested by Major Donald E. Keyhoe's Flying Saucers from Outer Space."
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers has reached an iconic status in that many films in the "flying saucer" subgenre that followed, imitated and incorporated many of the elements established by Ray Harryhausen. In an article for The New York Times film reviewer Hal Erickson noted that, "Anyone who's seen the 1996 science-fiction lampoon Mars Attacks may have trouble watching Earth vs. the Flying Saucers with a straight face." The later campy film could be seen as an homage to the era, especially to the contributions made by Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.
man I think that this is such an enjoyable sci-fi movie 2 watch, its got such a great cast throughout this movie......I think that this is such a highly entertaining movie 2 watch, it is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch with a great cast throughout this movie........
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers feels almost like an episode of Doctor Who (older Who) with some Cybermen like things invading the planet. Of course we didn't have The Doctor but rather some very intelligent scientists who developed some crazy post WWII gadgets the army could use to combat the aliens.
This IS CLASSIC SCIFI in all it's gloriousness. Of course, FX from Ray Harryhausen are what truly makes this film fun. If you haven't seen this film yet and love scifi, you owe it to yourself to track it down and watch it.
See DC burn!
RIP Ray Harryhausen