Killers from Space Reviews
Graves plays Douglas Martin, a nuclear scientist working with the army on perfecting the atomic bomb. After Martin is lost and presumed dead when his plane crashes after a test, he returns, albeit not like himself. Soon, Martin's colleagues, superiors and wife discover the good doctor was abducted and brainwashed by aliens hellbent on conquering the world with giant insects and reptiles grown large thanks to nuclear fallout. Martin is torn between following his captors/saviors' telepathic orders and saving the human race.
I realize tales of facing/preventing apocalypse in the context of alien invasions were popular in the '50s. After all, what better way to depict the vision of Cold War-era world obliteration than a science fiction allegory (especially when the Red Scare made tackling such issues head-on perilous at best)? However, "Killers of Space" makes the end of days seem more of a bore than a threat.
Rarely in the annals of cinema has there been anything as pathetic as Killers from Space. Not immoral, not queaze inducing, just pathetic. There is not a single bit of acting that is not wooden, not a single display of real emotion, not a single line of dialogue that shows anything approaching wit or intelligence, and not a single scene that develops any tension.
There is not a single special effects shot that is done convincingly, whether it's the toy airplane against stock footage of a nuclear test, or the endless series of forced-perspective shots of lizards and beetles made to look like giants. And don't even get me started on the aliens, with their ping pong eyes. I've seen better effects in silent movies from the twenties.
The only actor whose name I recognize is Peter Graves. Throughout the entire movie, he comes off as either passť or comatose, except for one stretch when he appears angry for no real reason except that maybe he was told to act that way. Based on his later roles in 'Airplane!' and Mission Impossible, I can only come to the conclusion that he had absolutely nothing to work with here.
The editing and cinematography are also dismal. I'm fairly used to movies having unmotivated close-ups, but this is the only one where every close-up is unmotivated. Every cut is mishandled. The sets are unconvincing, and the lighting in many scenes is so poor that you can't see the actors' faces.
And the badness continues. All of the scenes between the opening plane crash and the hospital room questioning- nearly half an hour- are not only extraneous, but create problems for the screenplay. The only reason to include this material is because without the movie wouldn't be long enough to count as a feature film, although even then it would be too long for most viewers!
There's a part where an FBI agent confronts another character in the middle of no-where, and not only is it never explained how he knew the other man would be there, it's also unclear how the agent got there in the first place! And tell me, if you can, why cutting off power to the Aliens' equipment would overload it, causing a massive explosion.
I could go on and on. But I won't. I will simply say that I pity any member of my parents' generation who wasted their weekly allowance, and ninety plus minutes of their Saturday afternoon watching this clunker.
As to why I gave Killers from Space even ten percent, I believe in Roger Ebert's policy of giving no star reviews only to those films that are morally reprehensible and/or aggressively offensive. Although undeniably bad, this film does not meet either of these criteria. As far as I am aware, no-one was ever scarred for life or moved to commit criminal acts by this movie, although I admit that I would like to do very nasty things to the original script.