Sci-Fi Nerd: Commentary, reflection and accolades from a fan’s point of view on all things sci-fi and fantasy on a daily schedule of themes:
Modern Classics Monday
Throwback Thursday, and
When I first saw this movie about a visit from hostile aliens when I was a kid, it gave me nightmares.
A long time ago, my brother and i had a weekly ritual of weekend visits to a number of cinemas in downtown Seattle for Saturday matinees to see the latest offerings in movie entertainment. A lot of the latest science fiction “B” movies were on our must see list, and Earth vs The Flying Saucers was one of them. We saw a lot of classic films in those days, but the only one that left me traumatized to the point of having nightmares was this old gem. I think it was the faceless robotic look of the invading aliens that did it. Those guys were downright spooky, and unlike anything I had ever seen on the silver screen.
It wasn’t until many years later, that I realized I had the great Ray Harryhausen and his stop-motion animation to blame for my fear inducing dreams. Remarkable and great work from the king of the technique, that is still recognized today as some of the best practical special effects ever created for the big screen. With the advent of CGI many young film fans may not realize the amount of work and skill needed to produce these classic “B” movies.
The way the flying saucers moved as a result of the stop-motion technique added to to the otherworldly nature of the alien ships. Along with the ships and aliens, shots of falling masonry resulting from collisions of the falling alien ships hitting buildings were also included using the same technique.
Earth vs. The Flying Saucers was well received by audiences and critics alike, with Variety noting that the special effects were the real stars of the film. Recently revisiting the film I would have to agree. The simple-minded story of alien invasion thwarted by a scientist’s sonic solution, and the film overall are pretty weak, and depends a lot for entertainment value on the master’s work.
Harryhausen’s work went on to play a major role in subsequent fantasy and genre films, many of which are still considered to be great classics and remain memorable examples of his work. They include – The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad (1958), Jason And The Argonauts (1963), First Men In The Moon (1964), The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (1973), and Clash Of the Titans (1981), just to name a few
I would like to extend belated thanks to Mr. Harryhausen for his inspired work, and the images that gave a young boy some unpleasantly memorable dreams.