Saturday, June 13, 2020


The 1966 British science fiction film THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE has been released on Region A Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. It is an Amicus production, directed by Freddie Francis with a script by Milton Subotsky. 

Somewhere in England, a group of meteorites, flying in a perfect "V" formation, land in a farmer's field. A scientist who has been researching the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, Curtis Temple (Robert Hutton), is asked to investigate, but due to a recent car crash, he is not allowed to go. A team of his colleagues is sent instead, and they are possessed by alien beings. Due to the strange occurrences happening at the landing site, Temple decides to personally find out what is going on. He discovers a conspiracy involving plague, frozen bodies, and secret rocket trips to the moon. 

THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE is based on a novel called, believe it or not, THE GODS HATE KANSAS. For whatever reason the book struck Milton Subotsky's fancy, and his script for the film contains many ideas that resemble themes from other sci-fi movies such as IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and QUATERMASS 2. The story, though, is more derivative than engaging. Freddie Francis and cinematographer Norman Warwick try to bring some visual spice to the tale, but they are hampered by a low budget and some mediocre effects work. 

The big problem with THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE is that it feels like it was made in 1956 instead of 1966 (at least it's in color). The 1950s feel is enhanced by having a past-his-prime American actor like Robert Hutton is the leading man. Hutton is okay, but the movie needed someone with a more distinct personality. 

One issue with the story is that the viewer is shown that the scientific team has been possessed early on. This means that while Hutton spends a lot of time trying to find out what is going on, the audience already knows. Hutton is immune to being taking over by the aliens due to his character having a silver plate in his head because of the car accident, and at one point he makes what looks like a coffee strainer for one of his colleagues to wear to avoid possession. Much of the other "futuristic" technology, such as the aliens' ray guns, resembles kid's toys. 

The climax reveals that the supposed plague is just a front for the aliens to use the "victims" as slave labor, and Hutton stowaways on a rocket to come face to face with the being behind it all--Michael Gough in a guest-starring role as the "Master of the Moon". Unfortunately Gough gets very little to do, and the movie wraps up in a very anti-climatic manner (it's as if everyone involved got together and decided "Let's just end this thing and get out of here"). 

The movie does have several connections to Freddie Francis' other features. Robert Hutton would go on to work with Francis a number of times. Leading lady Jennifer Jayne not only worked for Francis often, she even wrote scripts for him. Francis regular Hedger Wallace is here, credited as Geoffrey Wallace. There's also cameos by Katy Wild and Kiwi Kingston, who appeared in the Francis-directed THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN. 

THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE is presented on this Kino Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and the transfer is very good. The only extra, beside some trailers, is a new audio commentary with David Del Valle and David DeCoteau. The duo mention just about every other Amicus film, and every other British science fiction film....but they don't seem all that interested in discussing THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE. 

This certainly isn't a great film, but it's not as horrible as some would make it out to be. It will be of interest to Amicus and Freddie Francis fans. For some reason this title has wound up on a number of public domain releases. This Blu-ray is now the best version to get, for those that really want it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment