70. IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE
It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a 1958 black and white science fiction film directed by Edward L. Cahn.
The film opens with a classic 1950s version of a spaceship (three tail fins, long, pointed body) perched on the cratered surface of an alien world. A voice-over tells us that the year is 1973 (voice at the beginning of the film says that it's six months after the initial crash, which was listed as January, 1973) and this is the planet Mars. It transpires that this vessel has been sent to rescue the crew of a previous exploration mission. They have found only one survivor, Col. Edward Carruthers (Marshall Thompson), and suspect him of having murdered the other nine to save rations for himself since he could not know if he would be rescued. Carruthers pleads his innocence, blaming the deaths of his colleagues on an unknown creature they encountered on the planet in a thick sandstorm where people just vanished.
The commander is unsympathetic and orders the ship to return to Earth, a four month trip. However, before blasting off, a junior crew-member unwisely leaves a door to the spaceship open for a long time...
After liftoff (one man is seen sitting in an ordinary metal chair during liftoff--the ship does have "artificial gravity", which saves on a lot of special effects), the crew settle down for the long trip back to Earth. It is not long before things start to go amiss, first with Kienholz having gone missing: In (now) typical horror-movie fashion, unimportant crew-members wander off to dark and isolated parts of the ship and are dispatched by It. Usually, we see only a character's reaction shot and, perhaps, a looming shadow - the creature, at this point, is not clearly seen.
There are seven men and two women on the ship besides Carruthers. The women are first seen serving the men food and drink at dinner (it is the fifties), but one turns out to be a doctor who can perform autopsies. Since it is the fifties, people smoke on board ship and there is an ample supply of cigarettes in a very large and roomy, many decked ship with little in the decks.
As the trip progresses, the crew are at first skeptical that something is aboard, but soon have to accept the fact as the body-count mounts, with the bodies sucked dry of all moisture, bone marrow, etc. which is what the creatures feed on, on barren Mars. At this point they decide to tool-up - the ship is equipped with an impressive amount of weaponry, including handguns, machine-guns, hand-grenades and even a bazooka. One hole in the ship and they lose all their air. Electricity enough to kill a hundred men just annoys the monster with its razor sharp claws.
The intruder is largely immune to all this hardware however, and at one point the crew manage to trap It in the "reactor room" (the ship is nuclear-powered) and expose it to the reactor by raising a shutter (apparently the nuclear pile is like the furnace in a steam-ship). At one point two men walk "down" the outside of the ship to try and get behind the monster. In one shot, they can be seen from a distance with the two men in a lighter rectangle obviously imposed onto the (model) ship and space background. There is an often repeated bit of film with the ship flying through the same bit of space.
As the crew dwindle, they retreat upwards in the ship. The monster is strong enough to rip apart the hatches which separate the decks. Finally they are in control only of the top-most chamber. In a final standoff, all manner of anti-armor weapons are unleashed in a confined space, to no great effect. Observing that the ship's oxygen is down quite a bit, they realize it is due to the creature, which must have large lungs, and they hit on the excellent idea of opening the hatch while wearing space suits. The decompression of the ship takes all the air out of it as the creature gasps its life out and it is no more. A quick investigation reveals it is dead.
Back on Earth, their base having had the news, a press conference is told of the monsters that inhabit Mars, that the planet is death, and that they may have to leap frog it and leave it out of future space exploration.
The Time Machine (also known as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine) is a 1960 British science fiction film based on H. G. Wells' 1895 novel of the same name about a man from Victorian England who constructs a time travelling machine and uses it to travel to the future. It starred Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Yvette Mimieux.
The film was produced by George Pal, who also filmed a 1953 version of Wells' The War of the Worlds. Pal always wanted to make a sequel to his 1960 film, but it was not remade until 2002 when Wells' great-grandson Simon Wells, working with executive producer Arnold Leibovit, directed a film with the same title.
When H. George Wells (Rod Taylor)stops his Time Machine in the year 802,701, next to a low building with a large sphinx on top, he discovers the seemingly idyllic pastoral paradise and spots young adults by a river. A woman is drowning, but the others are indifferent. George rescues her, but is surprised by her lack of gratitude or other emotion. She calls herself Weena (Yvette Mimieux) and her people the Eloi.
As night falls, George is surprised to find out that the Eloi have no government, no laws, and no civilisation to speak of. Curious, he asks to see their books, but when he finds them all covered in dust and rotted by mold, he becomes outraged. He returns to where he had left his time machine, but it has been dragged into the building, behind locked metal doors. Weena follows George and insists they go back inside, for fear of "Morlocks". A bizarre creature assaults Weena, but George wards it off with fire.
The next day, Weena shows George what appear to be air shafts in the ground. She then takes him to a museum, where the "talking rings" (metal rings that can play a recorded message) tell of a centuries-long nuclear war. One group of survivors remained underground in the shelters and evolved into the Morlocks, while the other, which became the Eloi, returned to the surface. George starts climbing down a shaft, but turns back when a siren sounds. Weena and the Eloi walk towards the open building in a trance, conditioned to seek refuge from a non-existent attack at the siren's blaring. When the siren stops, the doors close, trapping Weena and others inside.
To rescue Weena, George climbs down a shaft and enters the subterranean caverns. In one chamber, he finds human bones and learns that the Morlocks eat the Eloi. Discovering that the Morlocks are sensitive to light, George uses matches to keep them at bay, eventually fashioning a makeshift torch. A Morlock knocks it away, but one of the Eloi summons up the courage to beat the Morlock to death, thus showing that the Eloi are not yet entirely docile. George sets the Eloi to setting fire to material in the cave, driving off the Morlocks, then leads the Eloi up the shafts to safety. Under his direction, they drop tree branches into the shafts to feed the fire. There is an explosion, and the area caves in. The next morning, George finds the doors to the building now open. He goes to retrieve his machine, but the doors close behind him and he is attacked by Morlocks. George manages to activate the machine and escape, first to the far future, then back to January 5, 1900.
68. INVADERS FROM MARS
Invaders from Mars (1953) is a science fiction film, directed by William Cameron Menzies from a scenario by Richard Blake, based on a story treatment by John Tucker Battle, who was inspired by a dream recounted by his wife. It was produced independently by Edward L. Alperson Jr. and starred Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter and Arthur Franz.
One night, a small boy, David MacLean (Jimmy Hunt), sees a flying saucer land near his home. His scientist father (Leif Erickson) goes to investigate. When he returns, there is an unusual mark on the back of his neck and he behaves in a different, cold and hostile manner. Gradually, David realizes that there is a conspiracy in which the people of the town are one by one becoming cold and inhuman.
With the help of a local astronomer Dr. Stuart Kelston (Arthur Franz) and health-department physician Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter), he learns that the flying saucer, that has buried itself in a sandpit just behind his home, is the vanguard of an invasion from Mars. The Army is contacted and convinced to investigate, leading to a military penetration of the underground hideout established by the Martians. The troops enter the saucer. Inside they find a Martian, mostly a large head with strange tentacles, encased in a glassy sphere. The Martian mastermind is served by tall, green, silent humanoid "mutants", who use cerebral implants to control the townsfolk in order to sabotage nuclear rocket experiments at a facility just outside of town.
In the film's climax, the Army, scientists, and David flee from the sandpit as explosives hidden aboard the flying saucer count down their last remaining seconds. An excessively long sequence montage's David running downhill, with flashbacks of the events of the film, supposedly running through David's mind. This includes some sequences played backwards, and scenes and events at which David was not present, and of which he can thus have had no knowledge. This is inter-ciut with shots of the explosive timer counting down. After the explosion, David is back in his bed, awakened by thunder, as he was ta the beginning of the film. His parents reassure him by telling him the whole thing was just a nightmare and send him back to bed. As thunder awakens him again, he sees the same UFO slowly land at the sandpit near his house. Is this another dream, or was the first a premonition of a now-real event?
The film was shot from the point of view of a child. Camera angles are lower than usual. The set design of the police station consists of stark, elongated structures stretching high above the boy's head, much as it would appear to a boy, shorter than an adult.
Although the action ends with the flying saucer being blown up as it tries to flee back to Mars, the plot is left unresolved, and very morally ambiguous. Dr. Kelston early on explains to David that due to Mars' hot dry surface, the Martians live underground, or in spaceships hovering above the surface, and have created mutants to labour for them as slaves. He notes that Earth has been under systematic observation by the Martians for 200 years, and reasons that the top-secret military atomic rocket facility at which he (and David's father) work has caused anxiety to the Martians, as humanity's (or more specifically the US's) recent developments in rocketry and atomic physics are now a threat to the Martians living in ships above Mars. Thus the Martian 'invader' is simply trying to disable or destroy the rocket facility. This is confirmed by the facts that the 'invaders' are actually one Martian on one ship, not a fleet, and that the humans over whom the Martian gains control act simply to eliminate the main scientists or the rocket facility. There is no general slaughter, terrorism, or attack on the government or major cities. Nevertheless, the massive force of US military might is brought to bear (in a ridiculously rapid response using stock footage of a military train loading and carrying tanks and other military vehicles). Rather than negotiate with the Martian, the army tries to kill him (and succeeds). Dr Kelston does not question the motives of the human overreaction, but becomes part of it. The moral ambiguity is raised further when the Martian-controlled sergeant tells the captured David and Dr Blake that the Martian is a highly-evolved human, and thus not an alien species. The reaction of the Earth-humans against the Martian-human is thus the flight of primitives with a more civilised version of themselves, who are only trying to protect themselves from the primitives who threaten them with destruction. While the viewer is left feeling the Earth-humans win when the Martian ship is destroyed, the question of the morality in the Earth-humans' reaction to the Martian's self-defensive pin-point attack on Earth, and the potential for a much larger and deadlier response by the Martians, is left unresolved. Humanity may have won this battle, but is likely to lose the war against an obviously far-advanced Martian civilisation with interplanetary-voyaging capabilities.
67. THE GORN
In Star Trek, the Gorn are humanoid reptiles from the Gorn Hegemony.
The Gorn had contact with the Orion Syndicate as early as 2154. The name of their government was established as the Gorn Hegemony in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Bound" although, in the games "Star Trek: Starfleet Command" and "Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War" The Gorn's government was referred to as the "Gorn Confederation".
The Gorn made first contact with the Federation at Cestus III in 2267 when a misunderstanding nearly led to war (original series episode "Arena", the Gorn played by Bobby Clark). Although the Gorn made territorial claims, the Federation had a settlement there in 2371, indicating tension later softened.
The Gorn have become one of the most popular hypothetical bioforms to appear on Star Trek, due to the striking design by artist Wah Chang, and the Gorn's memorable personality. A hissing, slow-moving, but lethal beast, the Gorn captain is also shown to be quite cunning and devious; chuckling wickedly to himself as he sets a trap for Kirk, and later promising that if the captain gives himself up, the Gorn will make his death "merciful and quick". "Arena" is also considered one of the series' classic episodes and was the template for a similar, critically acclaimed episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled "Darmok".
For years, "Arena" marked the only live action appearance of the Gorn, although the race was "name dropped" from time to time. In 2005, an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise featured a Gorn (albeit in the Mirror Universe) in the episode "In a Mirror, Darkly Part II". In that episode, the Gorn (whose name was Slar) was an overseer of a group of slaves belonging to the Mirror Universe's Tholians in an attempt to steal technology from the Defiant which had been lured into the Mirror Universe from ours. Slar hid in the ship's corridors and killed several crewmembers until it was killed by Jonathan Archer. For this appearance, Slar was designed using computer animation (and much to the chagrin of some fans, appeared radically different from the original Gorn). Since "In a Mirror, Darkly" takes place entirely within the Mirror Universe, the contact seen between the Earth Empire and the creature does not contradict the first contact seen in "Arena".
66. TUSKEN RAIDERS
Tusken Raiders (or Sand People) are fictional creatures in the Star Wars universe. They live on the planet of Tatooine.
The Tusken Raiders' preferred means of transportation is the Bantha, which plays an important role in Tusken culture and religion. When a Tusken receives a bantha, they form a life-long bond; when one of the two dies, the other is exiled to the desert to die.
According to Expanded Universe sources, Tusken Raiders are named after Fort Tusken, an early Old Republic mining settlement in which all of the settlers were overwhelmed and captured or killed by Tusken Raiders, then referred to as Sand People. The attack probably occurred due to the fort's placement over one of the Raiders' holy wells.
Exiled Jedi Sharad Hett and his son A'Sharad Hett, whom he trained in the ways of the Jedi, lived among the Tusken Raiders for many years. Hett was one of the few non-Tuskens to be accepted into their ranks and was even given the title of Warlord. Although A'Sharad Hett believed he was half-Tusken for the better part of his young life, during his training on Coruscant he learned that humans and Tusken Raiders were genetically unable to reproduce, leading him to believe that his mother must have been a human, captured by the Tusken Raiders at a young age and raised as a Tusken.
Land of the Lost (1974–1976) is a children's television series co-created and produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. During its original run, it was broadcast on the NBC television network. However, it also aired in daily syndication in the early 1980s as part of the "Krofft Superstars" package. In 1985, it returned to late Saturday mornings on CBS as a replacement for the cancelled Pryor's Place - also a Krofft production.
The Marshalls are brought to the mysterious world by means of a dimensional portal, a device used frequently throughout the series and a major part of its internal mythology. This portal opens when they are swept down a gigantic 1,000 foot waterfall. We later learn in what should have been the series finale (titled "Circle", which explains the time paradox) that this portal is actually opened by Rick Marshall himself, while in Enik's cave, as a way for the current Marshalls to return to earth, resolving the paradox and allowing Enik to also return to his time.
Outfitted only for a short camping trip, the resourceful family takes shelter in a natural cave and improvises the provisions and tools that they need to survive. Their most common and dangerous encounters are with dinosaurs, particularly a Tyrannosaurus Rex they nickname "Grumpy" who frequents the location of their cave.
A Tyrannosaurus, Grumpy was first of the Dinosaurs the Marshall family encountered, occasionally chasing them to High Bluff, being tall enough to look inside as the Marshalls ram a sharpened log they called the "flyswatter" into Grumpy's open mouth and drive him away. Holly speculates that Grumpy continued to return due to the large quantities of a ground-hugging fern-like plant she dubs "dinosaur nip" that grows in the area.
Gorgo is a 1961 British Giant monster movie. Directed by Eugène Lourié, it tells the story of an underwater monster's capture off the coast of Ireland. The monster is taken to London to be featured as a circus attraction. The film borrows elements from other monster movies, such as Godzilla and King Kong.
Captain Joe Ryan is salvaging for treasure off the coast of Ireland, when a volcano erupts, nearly sinking his ship. Ryan and his first officer, Sam Slade, take the ship to Nara Island for repairs. As they enter harbour, they discover the floating carcasses of marine animals, the first hint that something dangerous was awakened by the volcano eruption.
Ryan and Slade consult the harbour master, who also has archeological pretensions: he has been salvaging a Viking longship in the harbour. Some of his men have disappeared mysteriously; it turns out that one has died of fear. After dark, a monstrous creature surfaces, attacks a group of fishermen, then comes ashore to wreak havoc on the island. This dinosaur-like creature is supposedly 65 feet tall. The people of the island finally drive it off.
Ryan and his crew manage to capture the monster and haul it aboard their ship, tying it to the deck. Soon, university scientists arrive on Nara, hoping to collect the monster for study, but Ryan has been offered a better deal by the owner of a circus in London. When the ship arrives in London, the circus owner names it "Gorgo", after the Gorgons of Classical mythology. (A dinosaur called Gorgosaurus that has a strong similarity to the Gorgo creature in this film had been previously described as well; whether or not this dinosaur is related to the naming of the film or the monster in it is uncertain). It is exhibited to the public in Battersea Park.
The scientists examine Gorgo, and conclude that he is not yet an adult, and that his mother must be nearly 200 feet tall. On that note of foreboding, we cut to Nara Island as Gorgo's mother ("Ogra") attacks. Ogra trashes the island, sinks a Royal Navy destroyer, and resists attack from other warships. Later, Ogra comes ashore in London, still looking for her son, and destroys Tower Bridge and Big Ben, despite being bombarded by tanks and infantry. Royal Air Force jets attack Ogra, but with no effect. Having demolished much of London, Ogra rescues Gorgo, and both mother and son return to the sea.
63. MIGHTY JOE YOUNG
Mighty Joe Young is a 1949 RKO Radio Pictures film made by the same creative team responsible for King Kong (1933).
Written by Merian C. Cooper (who provided the story) and Ruth Rose (screenplay), and directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, it tells the story of a young woman, 'Jill Young', played by Terry Moore, living on her father's farm in Africa, who ends up bringing the title character — a giant ape — to Hollywood. The movie co-stars Ben Johnson, as 'Gregg', in his first major role.
Willis O'Brien, who created the animation for King Kong, was the supervisor of special effects on this film, although by some accounts the majority of the animation was performed by Ray Harryhausen. The models (constructed by Kong's builder Marcel Delgado) and animation are more sophisticated than Kong's, containing more subtle gestures and even some comedic elements, such as one chase scene where Joe is riding in the back of a speeding truck and he spits at his pursuers. Despite this increased technical sophistication, this film, like Kong, features some serious scale issues, with Joe noticeably changing size between many shots. (The title character is not supposed to be as large as Kong - perhaps 10-12 feet tall.) Harryhausen has attributed these lapses to producer Cooper, who insisted Joe appear larger in some scenes for dramatic effect.
After being taken from his home in Africa, Joe is an instant hit in the Hollywood nightclub "The Golden Safari" (on opening night he wins a tug-of-war with ten real-life strong men, including ex-boxer Primo Carnera, whom he throws into the audience), but the novelty wears off and he is tired and homesick after seventeen weeks of performing. An ill-conceived skit with Jill as an organ-grinder leaves Joe (and Jill) storming off-stage, and, to make matters worse, three drunks sneak backstage and ply Joe with liquor. Intoxicated, he breaks out of his cage and into the club, his rampage turning lions loose and inflicting massive damage. A court orders him shot.
Jill, Gregg, and O'Hara cook up a plan to get Joe out of the country--but on the way to a ship, they stop to rescue children from a burning orphanage, and Joe redeems himself.
The Day of the Triffids is a 1962 British film adaptation of the science fiction novel of the same name by John Wyndham. It was directed by Steve Sekely, and Howard Keel played the central character, Bill Masen. The movie was filmed in colour with monaural sound and ran for 93 minutes.
Triffids are strange fictional plants, capable of rudimentary animal-like behaviour: they are able to uproot themselves and walk, possess a deadly whip-like poisonous sting, and may even have the ability to communicate with each other. On screen they vaguely resemble gigantic asparagus shoots.
Bill Masen (Howard Keel), a merchant navy officer, begins the story in hospital, with his eyes bandaged. He discovers that while he has been blindfolded due to an accident, an unusual meteor shower has blinded most people on Earth. Masen finds people in London struggling to stay alive in the face of their new, instantly-acquired affliction, some cooperating, some fighting: after just a few days society is collapsing.
He rescues a school girl, Susan (Janina Faye), from a crashed train. They leave London and head for France. They find refuge at a chateau, but when its attacked by sighted prisoners they are again forced to escape. Even though the Triffid population continues to grow. Meanwhile on a coastal island, Tom Goodwin (Kieron Moore) a flawed but gifted scientist, battles the plants as he searches for a way to beat them.
61. MECHA GODZILLA
Mechagodzilla (メカゴジラ, Mekagojira?) is a fictional character from various films in the Godzilla series, introduced in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). It is Godzilla's mechanical doppelgänger and one of the most popular Toho kaiju. Mechagodzilla is also recognized as one of Godzilla's most powerful enemies (all iterations have at one point or another come very close to killing the King of the Monsters). He is also the secondary antagonist of the Godzilla series.
The original Mechagodzilla was created as a weapon of destruction by the Simians.
It first appeared in a pseudo-flesh outer covering, masquerading as the real Godzilla during attacks against Japan in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Curiously, while the Simians gave Mechagodzilla a laser beam in its mouth to mimic Godzilla's atomic breath, they didn't bother replicating Godzilla's unique roar. Godzilla's ally Anguirus wasn't fooled by the impostor, but in the resulting fight Mechagodzilla broke Anguirus' jaw and sent him fleeing underground. Although the battle went badly for Anguirus, it tipped humanity off to the charade due to the fact that while Godzilla and Anguirus had initially been enemies in 1955 in the second Godzilla film, they had been firm allies ever since, and the two were known to come to one another's aid in combat against other monsters. Anguirus attacking 'Godzilla' was seen as a complete shock. Anguirus had also exposed a piece of MechaGodzilla's true mechanical nature by ripping off a piece of the disguise the machine was covered in, though most humans didn't seem to notice it.
Soon the true Godzilla appeared and exposed his foe's metallic form completely. Interestingly, after losing its disguise, Mechagodzilla's fingers lost all mobility and it lost the beam in its mouth (No explanation for this was ever given). The battle resulted in a tie, however, and in the end it took the combined might of Godzilla and King Caesar to remove Mechagodzilla's head from his shoulders, ending the threat.
The Simians rebuilt their dreadnought for another try in Terror of Mechagodzilla one year later. Having learned the value of teamwork firsthand, the Simians called in an old debt to pair Mechagodzilla with the aquatic dinosaur Titanosaurus that had been discovered by a Dr. Mafune.
This time there were some modifications made, mainly turning the mecha into a true cyborg by giving it living human brain cells. This was accomplished by integrating its control circuitry into the body of Dr. Mafune's daughter Katsura, as well as a variety of other cybernetic enhancements. Also Mechagodzilla's main control system was moved down into its neck so it could function unimpaired if Godzilla again attempted to decapitate it. Godzilla's perseverance combined with the timely self-sacrifice of Mechagodzilla's operator (Katsura killed herself) brought the machine down for good. The King of the Monsters buried Mechagodzilla's shattered form deep underground to prevent another repair job.
The original Mechagodzilla is the only one to be referred to by numerics within the movies themselves. When it is rebuilt in its second appearance, the "MG" emblazoned on its arm has a "2" added to it. It is still usually referred to as simply "Mechagodzilla" by the characters.
(All monster info from Wikipedia)
See Also: The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #71 - #80 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #81 - #90 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #91 - #100
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