They Came from Beyond Space (1967)

It probably shouldn't be that surprising that 1960s British science fiction, especially from a studio like Amicus (which in many cases was a low-rent version of Hammer), would be quite reminiscent of Doctor Who.  By 1967 that television show had already been on four years and had, along with Quatermass, had largely set the tone for British sci-fi in the same way atom bombs, semi-communist invaders and giant bugs did in the United States in the 1950s.

A series of meteorites fall to Earth in a "v" pattern in a farm outside a small village in Cornwall.  A group of scientists led by Lee Mason (Jennifer Jayne) are sent to investigate and quickly become possessed by the aliens encased within.  Still disguising it as a scientific inquiry, Dr. Mason begins ordering everything from advanced scientific equipment to guns.

Concerned about Lee (being his girlfriend and all) and perplexed after another colleague, Arden (Bernard Kay) attempts to kidnap him but quickly flees, Dr. Curtis Temple (Robert Hutton) goes to the farm to find out what is happening.  The foremost expert on exobiology, he has calculated that the meteors came from the moon.  The only reason he isn't with the rest of the scientists is because he recently had a silver plate put in his skull due to an auto accident and his doctor denied him permission to travel.

He goes to the farm, only to find armed guards and Mason unwilling to speak with him.  Continued inquiries only result in the aliens releasing a plague on the town that kills in seconds, and anyone he speaks with disappearing.  Finally he is able to cut power to the electric fence surrounding the property and witnesses a rocket taking off from a hidden base below a pond and heading for the moon.

Captured by the aliens, they promise to keep him safe and not harm him if he keeps out of their way.  Instead, he escapes, taking Mason with him to the home of his friend Farge (Zia Mohyeddin), an expert in optics who finds a way to disable the alien.  With Mason returned to normal, the three decide to storm the base, stop the aliens' plans and prevent the rocket from launching.  They fail, and find themselves on a one-way trip to meet the Master of the Moon (Michael Gough), with humanity's fate resting in their hands.

Largely this is straight-laced and well-done science fiction.  That only makes the psychedelia-tinged jazz score and the light shows whenever anyone comes out of the influence of the cosmic ray pistols more jarring.  Hilarious and campy, yes, but strangely so for a movie that largely takes itself quite seriously.

That said, the acting is quite good and much of the set design and miniature work is much better than what one would expect on an Amicus budget.  They wisely made the aliens non-corporeal beings, eliminating the need for laughable rubber suits.  Still, the aforementioned pistols look like modified flashlights.

Alas, if you are wanting sexy female aliens trying to take over the world, you're going to be disappointed.  If you don't mind some good old science fiction, albeit with a healthy helping of ridiculousness, you won't be disappointed.

They Came from Beyond Space (1967)
Time: 85 minutes
Starring: Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne, Zia Moyheddin, Bernard Kay, Michael Gough
Director: Freddie Francis


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