Archive for Teenagers from Outer Space

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.


Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2018 by dcairns

Renfield Lane, Glasgow, named after Dwight Frye’s most famous character. And, when the image of Joe Dante appeared on the screen inside The Old Hairdressers, he had a picture of Dwight Frye on the wall behind him. Synchronicity, or just good planning?

To Glasgow, to Scalarama’s presentation of Joe Dante’s THE MOVIE ORGY, in its five-hour form. This is essentially a mash-up/collage of footage from movies, TV shows, commercials, trailers and other ephemera, with appearances by Alfred Hitchcock, Rod Serling, Richard Nixon, Abbot & Costello, Ann-Margret, Elisha Cook Jr, Conway Twitty, and future Dante players Christopher Lee and Peter Graves, among many, many others.

I wouldn’t have attempted photography if I hadn’t sat at the back (near the bar) but sitting at the back meant my photographs were crummy.

This was — maybe — the first time the movie has screened without Dante in attendance — which is the least exciting world’s first I can imagine — except it’s such a rarity it still felt like an EVENT — and the auteurless showing did have a prerecorded intro from the Great Man which set up the circumstances of the film/thing’s original creation and its campus screenings, the sociopolitical circumstances, and the fact that baby boomers got a nostalgic kick out of re-seeing TV commercials and kids’ shows of their youth (in that era, such stuff screened briefly and then vanished into oblivion). The movie plays somewhat differently to a modern audience, who have no history with much of this material, but the extracts are so well-selected that pretty much everything is funny in and of itself AND in the way it’s juxtaposed with the clip before and the clip after…

I was present in my combined role of critic and disease vector, distributing cold germs free of charge to the people of Glasgow. My physical discomfort, developing into a horrible attack of dyspepsia after I had one pint of the beer on tap (nothing wrong with the beer, just my body), did not prevent me enjoying the thing hugely. There are moments in there that resemble my own modest movie trailer mash-ups, but devised by Dante when I was around a year old.

I recognized ATTACK OF THE FIFTY FOOT WOMAN and THE GIANT GILA MONSTER and EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS and THE BEGINNING OF THE END which are dismembered and redistributed throughout the film/experience in serial form, but I’d never seen (or heard of) SPEED CRAZY (William J. Hole Jr), COLLEGE CONFIDENTIAL (Albert Zugsmith) and though I thought I knew what TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE was, I now realize I’d been confusing it with INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN, somehow, and I have to see the whole thing.

SPEED CRAZY is a sort of hot rod crime flick in which the maniac anti-hero snarls “Don’t crowd me, Joe!” in literally every scene. Bigger laughs each time.

That’s probably possible, but getting hold of TV show Andy’s Gang, in which a senescent Andy Devine drones hymns at bored kids, accompanied by a cat and mouse strapped into exoskeletal harness costumes which force them to play musical instruments, may prove trickier.

Oh wait, we have YouTube!

Happy nightmares!

Dante described the film/organism as a kind of Rosetta stone of his future work, and indeed numerous points of connection can be drawn, but the real link is THE MOVIE ORGY’s very postmodernity, its vision of a great ocean of pop culture in which all this stuff floats and intermingles, so that Chuck Jones and Roger Corman are artists, but they’re also sources, pumping out raw material that flows into this great Solaris/Matmos, which surrounds us but also penetrates us, and binds the universe together.

There are also several things in the film which can be enjoyed sort-of unironically, like the above Abbot & Costello routine, from IN SOCIETY. I dimly remember seeing this as a kid and finding it funny but also baffling and disturbing, which is exactly how I responded seeing it again. It’s a variation on the more famous “Slowly I turned” routine, in which someone is crazy but only Lou (the fat one) sees it. Only here, Bud (the thin one), also sees it, but just kind of refuses to acknowledge it. And it’s not one crazy person  the whole population is crazy. It really has the quality of a nightmare and what makes it more upsetting is that it doesn’t have any logic or justification other than using repetition as a structure. It’s really a bad dream, but a funny one.

Also also, more mysteriously, there are some more lewd and scurrilously satirical sketches, in the movie/event, which might be Robert Downey Sr. skits or something, I’m not sure. Like the smoking surgeon in the clip above. And an amazing epic heaven sequence with the camera craning over a limitless cloudscape of harpists — really impressive kitsch visuals, and what the hell is that from, Joe?

“Now it’s time to say good-bye…”

Oh, and one more thing. Don’t crowd me, Joe!