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Based on the novel The Gods Hate Kansas, They Came From Beyond Space stars Robert Hutton (an older, greyer and less charismatic Jimmy Stewart) as Dr. Curtis Temple, a scientist trying desperately to maintain an English accent. Due to an accident eight years ago necessitating the implant of a plate onto his skull, Dr. Temple finds himself unfit for the latest job sent his way – the investigation of a mysterious set of meteors that fell onto Cornwall in a V-formation.
Ironically, it may just be his skull-plate that saves mankind, as the secretary that he sends in his place – Lee Mason, played by the miraculously bouffant Jennifer Jayne – is brainwashed by a mysterious power emanating from the meteors almost immediately and sets about stopping Dr. Temple from getting to, and investigating, the mysterious rocks.
These meteors come from space, which immediately renders the title completely baffling. At no point do any visible aliens invade Earth, only a mysterious force that manifests itself as a glowing blue rock, or as visible sores on the skin. While there is an interesting twist at the end, the film is more about the atmosphere and the campy acting rather than any kind of cogent plot. Like the legendary Revenge of Doctor X (which at no point features anybody taking revenge, nor even a character named Doctor X), the film’s title merely acts as a fantastic way to get people talking about the movie, as it is indeed tremendous.
Another great thing about this film is the flimsy science that it talks about – in one early scene, the scientists who are converting some figures into so-called ‘everyday language’, consult a diagram demonstrating where the rocks came from – it being a picture of a large rock, labelled ‘MOON’ in giant letters, and some waves emanating from it. A lot of the enjoyment from this film will come from an appreciation for this era in movie-making and what the team managed to do with such a low budget. For all of its faults, this film manages to demonstrate more charm and ingenuity than ten Transformers movies, and for that it should be congratulated.
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