Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This Island Earth is a 1955 science fiction film by Universal Studios. It was directed by Joseph M. Newman, and wirtten by Raymond F. Jones, Franklin Coen, and Edward G. O'Callaghan. It starred Jeff Morrow as Exeter, Faith Domergue as Dr. Ruth Adams, Russell Johnson as Dr. Steve Carlson, and Rex Reason as Dr. Cal Meacham. The film is widely derided today for its over-simplistic plot, cheesy acting, terrible special effects and make-up, and the cheesy monster which appears at the end. But in 1955, it was highly praised by critics and audiences alike.

The slow-moving plot focuses on Dr. Meacham. Working on a new type of radio, he instead receives components for a device he doesn't recognize. He manages to assemble the device (called an "interocitor" -- it's space television) and is contacted by the mega-mind alien named Exeter. Exeter says that in assembling the interocitor, Meacham has proven himself worth of joining Exeter's science project. Meacham is taken to a luxurious mansion in Georgia, where he discovers a large group of scientists is already hard at work -- among them his old flame, Dr. Adams. After some time working on the project, Dr. Meacham becomes suspicious. He convinces Dr. Adams and Dr. Carlson to flee with him in a small plane. As they take off, the mansion is incinerated from the sky. Their plane is taken aboard a flying saucer, where they meet Exeter. It turns out that Exeter is from the planet Metaluna, which is at war with the evil people of the planet Zagon. The Zagons wiped out the human science project, which was intended to help Metaluna. The spaceship dodges some meteors tossed at it by the Zagon patrol ships, and arrived on Metaluna. But the planet's defenses are failing... The protective shielding around the planet is also leaking, allowing radiation to transform Metalunans into the horrific Mutants. The Metalunan leader, The Monitor, wants to turn Adams and Meacham into slaves so they can help the Metalunans conquer and colonize Earth. Exeter thinks this is wrong, and helps Adams and Meacham escape. They are attacked by the Mutant, but escape. Arriving on Earth, Exeter sets Adams and Meacham free, but -- his planet dead and his ship out of power -- Exeter crashes his ship into the sea and dies.

The plot is incredibly dumb. But the lurid Technicolor prints and unique, eye-popping matte paintings used in the film wowed people in the 1950s.

Me?? I think the film is a hoot!

Here's the Metalunan spacecraft, piloted by Exeter. Who knew glass block made such comfortable seating? Or that a unisphere was capable of piloting a craft through interstellar space?? God, I love this movie.

Quick call Exeter on your interociter!!! There's a Metaluna Mutant trying to break into my saucer's suspended animation pod!

The Mutant is a classic sci fi monster!!!!!!!!!!!

I saw this movie on AMC (back when they actually were a movie channel) in the very early 1990s. They were having a sci fi marathon, I think. I remember thinking how slow it felt... and yet, I kept watching. I remember thinking, when they got to Metaluna, "That's a matte painting, and the only thing moving is that object in the green ray as they descend. How cheap." And yet, I kept watching.

I watched that whole thing, and it was awesome!

Exeter from This Island Earth!!

The interocitor!! I know it looks and works just like a television. BUT IT IS NOT.

Like the old high school cheer goes: Lean to the left! Lean to the right! Stand up! Sit down! On Metaluna -- alight!

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