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Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers Poster

Your August 2007 UMC Results Are In!

Tagline: Before You Scoff at Flying Saucers - See the Greatest SHOCK Film of All Time!

Preshow Entertainment: Film on Film: Alfred Hitchcock


We started out watching a doc on Hitchcock. It was from the early '70s and featured Alfie doing a lot of the talking. This stuff is priceless. Who needs Film School??? Hitch explained his "bomb under the table" suspense theory and also why he was (still) petrified of cops, all augmented with clips from his movies. We didn't get to see a lot before the pizza arrived, but what we did see was the beginning of a "good evening."

And Now Our Feature Presentation:

Back in the 1930s, two 13 year olds and one 16 year old, all boys, all geeks, formed a friendship. They'd meet at Clifton's in Downtown L.A. each Thursday night. They were the beginnings of The Los Angeles Science Fiction League. Those three kids formed a bond like I've never seen in my life. The club they began still meets on Thursday nights, but the boys don't attend. For it is 75 years later, and they're in their 80s. They are Forrest J. Ackerman (who besides coining the term SCI-FI has also (ready?) attended one of my parties), Ray Bradbury, and Ray Harryhausen. It's such a beautiful story. Sadly, EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS? Not as good a story.

For my entire short life, every time I'd see a Ray Harryhausen clip I'd say to myself, "I need to see some of his movies," especially after learning my favorite movie, KING KONG (1933), changed his life forever. I have little idea why his work has evaded me, or vice versa. But when they ran a few movies in HD, I loaded some into the DVR (or, DiVo, as I call it).

UFO crashes into Washington Monument
EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS may not be the best sci-fi movie ever made, but it does feature that iconic shot of the saucer dissecting the Washington Monument. The spaceships also destroy other D.C. buildings, and this was 12 years before Will Smith was born.

Directed by the prolific Fred F. Sears who dropped dead a little over a year later (maybe it had to do with directing 15 movies that year) EVTFS is a silly movie with bland'n'broad characters all making foolhardy and illogical choices.

Dr. Russell Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) and Carol Marvin (Joan "Look! I'm a hottie!" Taylor), a newlywed couple (married either two hours ago or last night, depending on who's speaking) spot a flying saucer on the way to a missile launch. He's running the launch and she is, naturally, a secretary. When they reach the base, they don't tell anyone about the UFO. That's just weird. Though I think they mentioned that if they did, people would think they were crazy. But by god man, if you saw this thing hovering next to your car, would you go into work and not mention it? And act all casual, making small talk? Plus Dr. Marvin is a bore. I mean, he doesn't even get excited or show fear or anything. Where's the, "Holy Shit! A flying saucer the size of a stadium is next to us!!!"?

Dr. Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) and Carol (Joan Taylor)
Anyway, things get sillier, especially towards the end when Marvin and some other (unseen) scientists from around the world build Tonka-type Ultra-Sonic blasters to defeat the aliens. These things looked like the Professor from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND cobbled them together with coconuts. And with the aliens' pending attack (the aliens were kind enough to give us time), Marvin and crew somehow, all while still making little quips and small talk, managed to build these things. But after all, it is a sci-fi movie. It's just heavy on the FI and less on the SCI. Anyway, even though the guns work (spoiler? Maybe, but c'mon, you knew they would), the real hero of the film is effects god Ray Harryhausen.

Back in the '50s there was a spate of sci-fi films that served as metaphors for the red scare (most notably INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS). And it's no small wonder there's Cold War paranoia smell. EVTFS was co-written by Bernard Gordon, who was (almost) one of the Hollywood Ten, but certainly blacklisted.

Saucer & Dome
Though it may not be overt, or even intentional, I couldn't help seeing a message that resonates more today than back then - attacking an alien culture that did not do anything to us, only to see our efforts thwarted by our own misguided information. And finally, when we do shoot them out of the sky, they fall and end up destroying the Capitol and Washington Monument. All because of what we did.

Dr. Marvin & Scientists
Being a 10 year old and seeing EVTFS in a theater when the Russians announced Sputnik (as Stephen King did) sure must have been frightening. But it's not now. In fact, the movie is slow and soft. Even Harryhausen regards it as his least favorite. But it's not a terrible movie. It's just okay. Still hordes of people seem to really love this movie. You know what I think of those people?? I think they're commies.

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