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Friday, April 30, 2010

EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956)


The title tells the tale in this low-budget vehicle for master-monster animator Ray Harryhausen. It’s sort of a reactionary warmongering bargain-basement response to the peace-loving elite-liberal morality of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL/’51: Laser vaporizers, impotent military bluster, discus-shaped space vehicles, aliens in floppy aluminum suits, the works. But the well-established iconography of the genre confines Harryhausen’s stop-motion magic to exploding government buildings and articulated U.F.O.s, there’s not a monster in sight. And most of the film plays out like a Sci-Fi episode of Jack Webb’s DRAGNET: Bad acting, unintentionally hilarious dialogue & dopey plot turns, the works. (But credit to Curt Siodmak’s story construction which has served for rip-offs & parodies for decades.) Still, you’ll want to stick around for the goofball destructive fun of watching all those Harryhausen Flying Saucers destroy various Washington, D.C. monuments. (Best subversive joke: the George Washington obelisk getting the cherry tree treatment.) Don’t expect the acting, emotion, elegant design, clever plotting, thoughtful ideas or magnificent score of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and you’ll have a reasonable good time.

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