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Friday, October 30, 2009


The last year of the 50s saw a decline in the number of sci-fi offerings -- down from the peak in 1958. The golden era was winding down, but far from finished. This year's sci-fi films were mostly B films by small independents following fairly safe formula plots.

Hideous Sun Demon -- Another nuclear test gone awry. Dr. MacKenna "reverts" to a reptile-man when exposed to sunlight.

Monster On Campus -- A recasting of the Jekyll & Hyde tale. Fluids from a coelacanth cause creatures to revert to "prehistoric" form. A university scientist becomes an ape-man and rampages.

The Robot vs. the Mummy -- A Mexican import, an evil scientist wants the mummy's aztec treasure to fund an army of conquering robots.

The Cosmic Man -- Yet another remake of the TDESS story. A mysterious alien comes to deliver a warning that mankind must clean up our act before venturing into space.

First Man Into Space -- A cocky test pilot flies too high and becomes covered in an impenetrable crust which makes him a murderous monster.

Invisible Invaders -- Invisible aliens inhabit dead bodies in an effort to take over the earth. Developing a sonic weapon is earth's only hope.

The Mysterians -- Dubbed 1957 Japanese movie about aliens who pretend to be peaceful, but really want to control earth and take our women. Red-blooded earth men fight back.

The H-Man -- Dubbed 1958 Japanese sci-fi and film noir hybrid. Nuclear testing has created watery liquid men. They convert whoever they touch to liquid. Can Tokyo be saved?

Plan 9 From Outer Space -- Ed Wood Jr.'s infamous eclectic story about alien invaders who plan to animate dead humans to help conquer the earth.

Destination Space -- CBS pilot for a TV series that didn't happen. Drama among the men and women in the nascent space program.

Teenagers From Outer Space -- Aliens want to use earth as a farm to raise their food: giant lobsters. One of the aliens comes to love an earth girl and helps earthlings defeat the scheme.

Giant Gila Monster -- The title creature rampages around a remote southwest county. Only the plucky hero and his hotrod full of nitro can save the town.

The Killer Shrews -- Yet another science-gone-wrong tale where genetically altered shrews become as big a dogs and eat everything on the remote island. Can the scientists escape?

The Womaneater -- A british scientist feeds young women to a carnivorous amazonian tree so he can extract sap which the natives say will be a fountain of youth.

The Return of the Fly -- Phillipe Delambre tries to clear his father's reputation by rebuilding his machine. An industrial spy causes the same fly-man transformaiton but with a happier ending.

The Alligator People -- A newlywed loses her husband and finds that misguided scientist thinks extract of alligator can help injured people heal faster, but it turns them into alligator people.

The 4D Man -- A scientist exposed to radiation discovers that he can alter the 'time' of his body to pass through walls. He becomes mad with power.

Attack of the Giant Leeches -- Radiation causes leeches to mutate to man size in the swamps of Florida. They take townsfolk to dine on later, until the hero deals with them.

Wasp Woman -- An aging cosmetics magnate, desperate to restore her youth, tries a serum of queen wasp jelly. The predictable side effect causes mayhem at corporate headquarters.

The Atomic Submarine -- Ships are being mysteriously sunk around the arctic circle. The Tigershark is dispatched to investigate and finds an aquatic flying saucer is behind it all.

The Monster of Piedras Blancas -- A lonely lighthouse keeper has unwittingly given a deepsea reptile-man beast a taste for red meat. It satisfies it's appetite on local townsfolk.

Have Rocket, Will Travel -- The Three Stooges star in their first full length film. The bumbling janitors end up in a rocket to Venus where many of their usual gags can play out.

The Giant Behemoth -- The basic Godzilla story, but set in England with London getting trashed. Radiation spawned the beast, but yet more radiation may kill it.

Journey to the Center of the Earth -- Big-budget rendition of Jules Verne classic.

And so ended an amazing golden decade of science fiction films. The number of films would be far fewer in the 60s. Audiences would come to expect more elaborate sets and special effects, such that the 50s style of army-surplus electronics and rubber monster suits would just not cut it any longer.


charlie013 said...

I have very much enjoyed reading your blog about sci-fi movies. I remember seeing a lot of these in the theater. My mom gave me thirty cents (my weekly allowance), and I went to the Saturday matinee. Twenty five cents to get in and five cents for candy. Anyway here’s one you may have missed. It’s called The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959). It’s certainly not a B-movie. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews, Charlie013

Nightowl said...

Glad you like the site. Yes, I'm familiar with The World, The Flesh and The Devil. I'm saving that one, and a bunch like it, for a separate study of Nuclear Angst films. There have been quite a few of them which didn't seem to qualify as sci-fi, but did feature the theme of nuclear armageddon, (before, during or after). I'll be getting to those later.

stevecovilla said...

Please help me to recall the movie title where the guy in a boardroom scene walks over to the window and then causes a plane in flight to explode through mental telepathy. This one has baffled me for years. I'll be indebted to you for this answer. Thanks,

Nightowl said...

Sounds like you're describing a small scene in The Brain From Planet Arous, 1957. John Agar stars as scientist Steve who gets possessed by the evil criminal brain (from planet Arous) named Gor. SteveGor does, at one point, demonstrate his power to a room full of generals and suits, by going to a window and willing an airliner (a Lockheed Constellation (model), if I recall correctly) to explode. I didn't include that detail in my quick synopsis as it was a small point to the plot. Check it out.

As for being indebted, click on some of my page's ads, look around their websites a bit. I get a buck for it. :-)

billodot said...

I saw a movie in 1962 or 3 that opened with the view of a clock... everyone on earth was gone, and the camera looks out on to the street below to see robots with rays coming out of their visors destroying everything I was 8, it was a B/W matinee anyone have a clue? I think 'day' was in the title?

Anonymous said...


Have a look at this illustration of many film robots. Is your visor-beam robot in there?



charlie013 said...

Did you overlook Manster (1959)? It was just on TCM!


Nightowl said...

Hey Charlie,
Not overlooked so much as out-of-sequence. Manster is queued up for a "Digression Week" in the future.

Got a few of those to go back and clean up. :-)

Anonymous said...

Your blog is pure gold!

Robin said...

Here's one more from 1959: Beast from Haunted Cave

It's a crime flick with an unexplained monster thrown into the mix.

Unknown said...

Just curious as to why Journey to the Center of the Earth is not listed.

Nightowl said...

You're right! What a curious oversight. I had a review all made up, but it never got posted. Thanks for catching that.

Zontarr said...

The head (1959) needs to be added.