18 July 2015

"THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #13)


German Title:
Sie kamen von jenseits des Weltraums

UK, 1967
Director: Freddie Francis


In case you don't know: Freddie Francis was a highly regarded cinematographer who won two Oscars (for "Sons and Lovers" in 1961 and for "Glory" in 1990) and regularly worked for uber-directors like David Lynch, Martin Scorsese or Jack Clayton. He was also a prolific director who created many still-popular classics for British film studios Amicus and Hammer, like "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" or "Tales from the Crypt".

Unfortunately, he also made a couple of cinematic misfires, like this one:
"They Came from Beyond Space", a silly and unintentionally amusing sci-fi potboiler, adapted from Joseph Millard's novel "The Gods Hate Kansas" (cool title), dealing with meteor showers in V-formation, alien lifeforms crashlanding on Moon, a mysterious "crimson plague", people getting possessed by aliens and a scientist with a metal plate in his head who tries to handle all these
outer-space shenanigans.

I'm not saying it's bad movie, but it's so weirdly executed and so oddly paced (first half neat, second half dull), the plot points / story elements range from pretty cool to damn ridiculous, and the low budget is way too obvious, resulting in many tacky plastic effects and cheap settings. Contrary to most other Amicus productions, this one looks really cheap. The movie was released as a double feature with "The Terrornauts", and according to Francis, Amicus has spent the majority of the budget on "The Terrornauts", leaving nothing left for "They Came from Outer Space".

Still, it's a watchable little b-flick that somehow reminded me a bit of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour out of Space" (mysterious meteors landing on a rural farm) and Stephen King's "The Tommyknockers" (crash-landed spaceship, people getting possessed by aliens, main character with metal plate in his head). At times, you could even call it 'Body Snatchers light'.

There's neat and creepy shots of foggy forests, and people infected with the 'crimson plague' (I'd rather call it 'acne of death'...), as well as silly-looking but well-filmed spaceships travelling to moon and back, lots of gleaming disco-light rocks, and people wearing cullender-like anti-alien helmets. The acting is thoroughly good, most notably Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne and a hilarious-looking Michael Gough as "Master of the Moon". The cinematography is very decent (Norman Warwick, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes") and the jazzy soundtrack by James Stevens... well, ok, it doesn't really fit, but its liveliness managed to make the movie a lot more entertaining.

Recommended to fans of cheesy 50s/60s science fiction. NOT recommended to Amicus and Hammer fans.


  1. All those salads they couldn't eat because the colanders were all on their heads. That's the real tragedy.


    I saw this a thousand years ago - I remember enough about it that I agree with you - it starts off pretty good but slows way down the longer it goes on. I like Freddie Francis a lot - covered him as an "F" post in an A-Z Blog Challenge a couple of years ago - but this is definitely not his best work.

    1. Ha! xD

      Yeah, Francis did many, many movies that are much, much better, but... well, it's still pretty neat.


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