Target Earth Reviews
Rose and scenarists William Raynor, James Nicholson, and Wyott Ordung concentrate on the survivors for a half-hour and then they shift the focus to the top military brass coordinating the attack against the aliens while the scientists probe the remains of a robot to determine the best way to destroy it. They based their screenplay on the 1953 short story "Deadly City" by Paul W. Fairman that Cohen came across. Basically, for the remainder of the action, Rose cuts back and forth between our survivors and the military. Eventually, the survivors confront another survivor, a killer named Davis (Robert Roark of "Killers from Space"), and he muscles his way into their habitat. Eventually, Tom, Chief research scientist (Whit Bissell of "Side Street") and his researchers discover that they can use an oscillator to destroy the robots with sound waves. Up until this epic discovery, the military has hurled their most powerful weapons against the aliens with no success. Although it was a success when it came out in 1954, "Target Earth" seems bland today compared to mega-budgeted movies such as "Independence Day." There is a spooky quality to the bare city streets during the opening half-hour, but once the robot makes its appearance about 28 minutes later and zaps Otis, the film settles into the formulaic rut of a war movie with the military scrambling to figure out how to obliterate the robots. No, the aliens who control the robots are never seen and Earth never receives an ultimatum from the alien invaders. Rose winds things up on a cliffhanger type ending. "Target Earth" is mandatory viewing for sci-fi fans who want to study the films of the 1950s.
i love the way the robots walk - it's as if a middle schooler did the costumes.
Nora (Kathleen Crowley) wakes up from a failed suicide attempt to find that not only is she alone in her rooming house but that the city, as seen through her window, seems to be inexplicably deserted. As she walks through the empty streets in search of someone the viewer cannot help but feel her sense of isolation and growing panic. The use of overhead photography in these scenes of her search reminds me of Welles and is as effectively used by director Sherman rose as it ever was by Welles or Hitchcock. Though the setting is supposed to be Chicago, these scenes were shot in downtown Los Angeles on a Sunday morning ? a time when I can assure you the area truly does seem abandoned by mankind.
Nora's alarm is naturally intensified when she stumbles upon a dead body. The horrified expression on the corpse's face isn't exactly soothing to her nerves either. Soon after, in a classic "bus" shot, she meets Frank (Richard Deming), an out-of-town businessman who awoke to find the city deserted after he had been mugged and knocked out the previous evening.
Frank and Nora then meet Vicki (Virginia Grey), and Jim (Richard Reeves), a drunken, bickering couple who are drinking their way thru the city's abandoned nightclubs. They now learn why the city is deserted ? it has been evacuated in the face of an invasion from outer space. Frank and Nora convince Vicki and Jim to give up their bar hopping and together they go outside, determined to find a way out of town. This is when they have their first encounter with the alien invaders -- robots armed with a deadly heat ray. The robot is a pretty cheesy special effect and although the storyline tells us that there is an army of robots the film never shows more than one. Somehow, however, that robot burned itself into my memory when I first saw this movie and seems to have had the same effect on many others. While I personally have never had a nightmare of any sort, I've heard of a number of people who report having nightmares in which they were pursued by that robot thru empty streets for years after seeing this movie.
The foursome takes shelter in a hotel where they are soon joined by a menacing hoodlum (Robert Roark) who plans to use them as decoys in his escape from the robotic menace. He meets a predictable end and soon after one of the robots smashes its way into their sanctuary. Not everyone survives the battle with the robot but at the last minute the Army arrives armed with a new weapon capable of disabling the robots. The search for a weapon has been presented in a series of brief scenes of soldiers and scientist at work scattered thru the earlier scenes of the film.