Archive for Godzilla Raids Again

Teenagers (are) From Outer Space

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on October 8, 2019 by dcairns

TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE is kinda great. A no-budget indie drive-in sci-fi potboiler, it veers from Ed Wood ineptitude to occasional grace notes of actual cinematic skill, makes its naivety endearing, is kind of exciting in places — Fiona attributed this to the innocent appeal of the leads and the nastiness of the baddies — all in all, it’s a lot more watchable than it ought to be.

It begins with good old Griffith Observatory and a couple of astronomers trying to pad the thing out to feature length. One of them is being worn by a false beard. Or it might be a real beard that just happens to be giving a stilted performance.

Then a flying saucer lands, with a cute spiraling jet-ray-exhaust-chemtrail thingy, and some terrible actors in jumpsuits emerge, skeletonizing a cute puppy to show they’re bad characters as well as bad actors. These are invading space aliens Thor, Saul, Moreal and Derek. Derek is actually very nice, it turns out. He disapproves of the dog-disintegration and disapproves even more strongly of the plan to use earth as a lobster farm.

OK, the aliens aren’t really obsessed with lobsters, it’s “gargons” they want to farm here, creatures that will expand to *millions* of times their present tichy size once they start eating. Gargons. They’re just PLAYED by lobsters.

Derek runs off, trying to find the dog’s owner so he can apologise, while the others tether a gargon in a cave using “expandable leg-bands.” For the rest of the movie I have the phrase, “expandable leg-bands” stuck in my head, who knows why?

Derek the nice teenager from outer space is played by David Love, who is also ~

a) Charles Robert Kaltenthaler

b) C.R. Kaltenthaler, production associate

c) boyfriend of writer-producer-director Tom Graeff, who is also

a) Tom Locklear as

b) Joe Rogers, boy reporter/leading man.

It’s a gay teen sci-fi movie, though this is 1959 so David Love dare not speak his name. There’s a female lead inserted between Love and Graeff, Dawn Bender who is also

a) Dawn Anderson, as

b) Betty Morgan, owner of a cute mini-fringe and a disintegrated dog.

Confused? But we haven’t got time for that, since Derek/David/Charles has got to fall in love with Betty/Dawn/Dawn and save the world from an invasion of hundreds of unseen but carefully-described flying saucers packed full of unseen gargons played by unseen lobsters.

Aaaargh, I guess.

This film is really rather adorable. Its heart is in the right place, even if the aliens’ socks are outside their shoes, their single ray-gun was bought from a toy store and the destruction of a UFO fleet is represented by a single stock shot of what looks like a volcanic eruption. Derek and Betty are an attractive couple, and it’s unusual to get an interspecies love story in the fifties, unless the girl is a mermaid. They can’t exactly act but they can sort of act, whereas everyone else is amazing in their bad actorness, really transcendent examples of the type.

The alien leader is played by one King Moody, and he lives up to that name, and that beard.

Most bad movies of the Medved kind are just dull, but Ed Wood and Tom Graeff had VISION, and expressive abilities of a sort, and distinctive takes on the world and their chosen genre. Of course, they’re not GOOD in the accepted sense, but they entertain — this is one of the few turkeys that’s far better watched “straight” than in its Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version/ I found every time a new speaking part showed up, my anticipation concerning which precise form of preposterous acting we were going to see was ELECTRIFYING.

This got a release — from Warner Bros! — on a double bill with GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN. Which would have made for quite a show.

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