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Science fiction and horror are not what they once were. They are focused so much on quantity than quality. The amount of special effects and over the top violence to be exact. That is something about which audiences did not have to be concerned during Hollywood's golden era. Classic science fiction and horror - including even the cheesiest flicks such as It Came From Outer Space, The Invisible Boy, and The Man From Planet X among so many others - stand head and shoulders above today's largely forgettable flicks because they focused more on quality than quantity. Thanks to the work of the people at Shout! Factory, the latter of that trio recently received new life through a new Blu-ray re-issue this past July. That re-issue gave the movie its own new life while also helping to show why classic sci-fi and horror is just as good as its modern counterparts, if not better. That is due in part to the movie's familiar yet still entertaining story, which will be discussed shortly. The movie's production values (I.E. sets, special effects, etc.) also play into its enjoyment and will be discussed later. The bonus audio commentary tracks included in the movie's re-issue round out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own way in showing why this movie is so enjoyable. All things considered, they prove clearly that this movie is in fact one more example of why classic sci-fi and horror is just as good as its modern counterparts if not better than them.
Scream! Factory's recent Blu-ray re-issue of MGM and United Artists' 1951 sci-fi/horror flick The Man From Planet X is a fun watch for any classic sci-fi and horror fan that proves clearly why movies of its ilk and era are just as good as their descendants if not better. That is proven in part through the movie's simple story. The story centers on an alien from another planet that lands on a small fog-filled Scottish island in order to start an invasion of Earth. In order to start paving the way for that invasion, the unnamed alien puts the tiny village's residents under its control by taking over their minds. It's not the only time that Hollywood presented a story involving a villain using mind control for a nefarious purpose, but it is one of the earlier films to take this route. Interestingly enough, even when under the alien's mind control, the villagers are still cognizant of their surroundings - enough so that they can give the movie's protagonist, John Lawrence, the information he needs to stop the alien. Obviously in the end, Lawrence is able to stop the alien. How he does that won't be given away here. The truly surprising aspect of the whole story is that the alien is not the only villain. Dr. Mears is also a villain, yet manages through his own greed, is the one who unwittingly uncovers the alien's plot. It is definitely an interesting twist, and one that makes the movie that much more entertaining. Keeping all of this in mind, the movie's story does plenty to make the movie entertaining, and is not the movie's only key element. Its production values play into its entertainment value, too.
The production values at the center of The Man From Planet X are collectively speaking just as important to the movie's presentation as its story. Those values include the movie's sets, special effects and even collective editing and cinematography. There are those out there who have lamented the movie's production values, but the simplicity of the movie's production values are a big part of its interest, but those behind the lens used the resources that they had at the time. They are even discussed in the movie's bonus audio commentaries. Those commentaries will be discussed shortly. The simplicity in the sets is in fact part of what makes the movie's look so endearing. They show that a movie (whether sci-fi, horror or both) doesn't always need over the top effects, etc. in order to have a great look. In fact they show that sometimes, a minimalist can have more impact than the overblown approach taken by so many of today's sci/fi and horror blockbusters. The same applies to the movie's cinematography and editing. The angles and cuts are simple in their own right, using the simple sets to their fullest for just as much impact. The combination of that expert editing, cinematography and set design makes suspension of disbelief even easier for audiences, and in turn, insures even more audiences' maintained entertainment and engagement. When this is considered along with the impact of the movie's story, the whole of those elements strengthens the movie's presentation even more. They are not the movie's only key elements. The movie's bonus audio commentaries round out its most important elements.
As was noted previously, one of the items noted in the bonus commentaries included in The Man From Planet X's home release is that of its budget. Author Tom Weaver, who provides one of the two full-length audio commentaries, notes that the movie's budget was low. He does so in a respectful manner, though. He explains that the movie did not have a major budget, yet still managed to make the most of the budget. His discussion on this topic is just one of the items that makes the bonus commentaries so engaging. Weaver also notes early on in his commentary that this movie is both sci-fi and horror because of elements such as the "mad scientist" (Professor Elliot) in his castle and of course the evil, mind-controlling alien. Another interesting item that he notes is that of when he first saw the movie in the 1980s and became a fan of the movie from then on. That he openly admitted not having seen it until almost 40 years after its debut, but still became a fan, shows its impact, despite being a b-flick.
Weaver's is not the only commentary included as a bonus for the movie. Glenn Erikson, who sometimes writes for Turner Classic Movies, sits down for an interview with Arianne Ulmer, daughter of the movie's famed director Edgar Ulmer as an additional commentary. Audiences learn through the younger Ulmer's interview that he was concerned about his legacy being forgotten and about her father's favorite films. The Man From Planet X apparently was one that her dad liked, but apparently was not one of his "favorites." Early on, there is also discussion on her own efforts to preserve her father's works. That dedication to keeping her father's legacy and memory alive is a touching sentiment. If not for her efforts, audiences in fact might not have this re-issue today. Keeping that (and all of the other discussions) in mind, such commentary proves fully important to this presentation. the same can be said of the movie's other bonus commentary. When this is considered along with the importance of the movie's simple yet engaging and entertaining story and its equally laudable production values, the whole of those elements makes this presentation in whole full proof of why there is still a place and need for classic sci-fi and horror in today's market.
Scream! Factory's recent Blu-ray re-issue of MGM and United Artists' classic sci-fi horror flick The Man From Planet X is a work that shows clearly and fully that there is both a place and need for classic science fiction in today's movie industry. It shows that the classics are just as good as their counterparts, if not better, in many cases. In the matter of this rarity, that is shown through the movie's story, which insures entertainment and engagement through its simplicity. Its production values, which are simple in their own right, join with that simple story to strengthen the movie's presentation even more. Both of the in-depth feature-length audio commentaries included as bonus material to the movie, adds even more to its presentation. When all of these noted elements are joined together, they make the whole of The Man From Planet X a movie that easily rivals its modern counterparts and will entertain sci-fi and horror fans of all ages. It is available now in stores and online to prove that argument to everyone. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:
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A movie in dire need of script re-writes, more production money and a better look man from planet X. Nonetheless, if you're familiar with who director Edgar G. Ulmer is this is a can't miss film from his repertoire
A slight change for this all American, 50's B-movie sci-fi. That slight change being the movies story is not set in some sleepy, small, all American town in the desert. No this film is actually set in the dark, dreary, foggy, misty, bleak wilds of Scotland...or so the film makes out. OK so the black and white picture doesn't give the movie much in the way of bright sunshine and rolling green hills, and obviously the movie is supposed to be scary and moody, but geez...stereotyping of a country much? (nah they're spot on).
The plot isn't much to go by really, a simple silly tale. A distant planet (planet X!!) is looming close to the Earth and will pass closely by on its current trajectory. Naturally this will cause immense chaos and devastation, if not complete annihilation of the human race! But no time for any of that, there are bloody aliens landing in Scotland for flips sake. So this one spaceship lands in the Scottish moors (island of Bury??) somewhere and is found by some locals and of course an all American reporter (Robert Clarke) whose over visiting Scotland because planet X will pass closest to the Earth in this vicinity. Eventually after much back n forth from the various characters the main alien is encountered but thought to be friendly. Trying to communicate turns out to be tough going, but nevertheless the obvious baddie character of Dr Mears (William Schallert) is left to try. Naturally he attempts to gain information about the aliens spacecraft and the material its constructed from for his own dastardly deeds, in the process he almost kills the alien. The alien then buggers off (presumably slightly offended), but at the same time local folk start to vanish. Its left to the handsome American and some quirky fat Scot to work out what's happening (which I'll spoil for you down below).
So yeah, the basic plot for this is horrendously simple and weak, and as with many of these glorious old movies, its doesn't really make any sense. K...firstly, the alien in question is actually a scout party that is laying the ground work for an invasion it seems. The big big question is (from me at least), was this the plan all along or did the alien just become really pissed off with Mears trying to suffocate him? You see at first the alien is friendly and keen to try and communicate, of course this could be a ploy. But then we have this scene where Mears tries to kill the alien because he wants to know about the material the spaceship is built out of. After that scene the alien does a runner and all of sudden he's kidnapping locals, zombifying them and using them to build a base at his spaceships landing site. So had Mears not done this, would the alien not have tried to set up the invasion?
Next up is the obvious one. The alien lifeform is unable to breathe on Earth without its equipment, so why would they choose Earth to invade (if that was the original plan...all Dr. Mears fault speculation). I mean sure their choice might not be much planet wise, and the fact their home planet is inexplicably travelling towards Earth is remarkably convenient, but breathing problems?? Surely not being able to breathe without constant backup from your gear would be a long term problem. We also do not find out why the aliens planet is dying either, it just is.
Most of the movie is made up of lots of character building that really feels useless in the grand scheme of things. The American reporter of John Lawrence (Clarke) is your standard good looking bloke with a pencil thin tash. The main female protagonist of Enid Elliot (Margaret Field) is your standard damsel in distress, and the old scientist character of Professor Elliot is your stereotypical pipe smoking, Basil Rathbone-esque fellow. Completely expected of course but at least this time there is also the jolly Scot sidekick character to help Lawrence later on, along with some cornball extras playing local fishermen. All with dreadful American/Scottish accents I might add. But the main problem with this little movie is the fact there is a whole heap of exposition, boring pointless exposition. There are endless slow scenes of characters nattering to each other and simply moving from one scene to another to further the basic plot. Sounds important but it really isn't, it just feels like padding because there simply isn't enough with the alien which would make it more exciting.
For instance the villain character of Mears isn't really given any backstory at all! This despite loads of dialog about the characters and their situation which felt odd. We are constantly reminded that Mears is a brilliant but flawed man who never got any proper comeuppance for whatever it was he did, we don't find out. Then you have the very predictable and totally cliched fact that both Lawrence and Enid have a past that goes back years to the war. Lawrence was a pilot (of course) and Enid provided weather conditions for their bombing raids sooo...naturally when they meet up again they'll fall in love! The start of the movie involves a load of chit-chat between Lawrence and some other old scientist about the pending planet X coming into range of the Earth. All this does is set up Lawrence coming to Scotland. There is also a good tonne of frantic dialog between Lawrence and the jolly Scot when everything goes tits up towards the end, frantic but boring, made humorous down to bad accents.
The general look of the movie is actually quite good and atmospheric I'll give it that. Much of the Scottish scenery is conveyed through models and using lots of smoke to mask the fact, something that is obvious but looks great in a charming way. Everything else is contained within sets as I don't believe there are any location shots at all except for the obligatory bit of stock footage. Overall it does look effective which is helped (as always) by the black and white film which always hides faults well whilst adding to the creepy vibe. Its also amusing to note that virtually the entire story seems to occur at night from what I can recall. As for the alien costume, well its quite good to be truthful, nothing outrageously daft but quite simple and effective with a haunting face for the alien. Sure the face is devoid of any actual movement and doesn't make any actual sound but its Halloween-esque, mask-like face works well. This seems to sum up the movie altogether really, it looks good and it is atmospheric, considering the lack of budget, but beneath that its a bit of a muddle really. Heck even the movie can't really decide what happened in the end going by Enid's last bit of dialog, oh well.
Love this old classic sci-fi flic. Nothing groundbreaking, just good acting, atmospheric setting, and enjoyable actors. I also like the little car Margaret Field drives, the standard 8.
The forgotten classic that inspired many movies of its day.
Slow moving and low budget, but creepy nonetheless.
Ultra low budget science fiction tale form idiosyncratic director Edgar G. Ulmer. An martian visits Scotland and comes in peace, but when scheming William Schallert plans to exploit the marian visitor, the alien then turns against humankind. The budget severely hampers what could have been a solid story, but director Ulmer's stylish and atmospheric direction make this one a pretty respectable bit of science fiction.
Aburrido film de serie B
Many people have misjudged this movie for being cheesy and probably unoriginal. And i have to admit that the special effects in particular weren't very good. Also, this movie, compared to the other alien invasion films, has sort of been forgotten. But to be fair, this movie is entertaining and has a unique atmosphere and alien visitor. Although all of it's bad sides, i still consider it a classic alien movie.
Atmospheric sci-fi on a shoestring has enormous heart--It Ain't No Highland Bluff.. Classic among Big-Headed Monsters!!