Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)

Strangely entertaining with little more than one hour to endure its many flaws


Director: Arthur Hilton
Producer: Jack Rabin, Al Zimbalist
Writer: Roy Hamilton
Music: Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography: William P. Whitley
Editor: John A. Bushelman
Distributor: Astor Pictures
Running time 64 minutes




Cast



Sonny Tufts (Laird Grainger)
Victor Jory (Kip Reissner)
Marie Windsor (Helen Salinger)
William Phipps (Doug Smith)
Douglas Fowley (Walt Walters)
Carol Brewster (Alpha)
Suzanne Alexander (Beta)
Susan Morrow (Lambda)
Bette Arlen (Cat-Woman)
Roxann Delman (Cat-Woman)
Ellye Marshall (Cat-Woman)
Judy Walsh (Cat-Woman)




Trailer





(Some spoilers may follow in the rest of this post)

Plot


A race of "Cat-Women" consists of less than a dozen survivors of a 2-million-year-old civilization who live deep within a cave on the moon.

Within the cave the surviving Lunar Cat-Women have managed to maintain the remnants of a breathable atmosphere that once covered the moon. They are the end product of a program of “planned genocide” to reduce oxygen consumption.

The remaining air will soon be exhausted and the last of the Cat-Women species must escape if they are to survive.

The Cat-Women plan to steal a human lunar expedition’s spaceship and return to Earth where, with their superior powers, they will assume control.







In order to fulfil their plan, the Cat-Women have used their telepathic ability to subliminally control Helen Salinger, enabling her to then gain the position of navigator on a scientific expedition that will consist of five astronauts who are to travel aboard Moon rocket 4 to the dark side of the moon. It is intended that Helen lead the expedition right to the Cat-Women’s location.

While in space, the ship is hit by something which Grainger believes to be a meteor that has lodged itself in the rocket tubes. (“Something’s embedded in our rear section!” Spoken with a straight face!) In order to dislodge the meteor, the crew decides to manoeuvre the ship wildly. This succeeds but they discover some damage to the ship’s engines. (“SECTION 5” indicating problems with the atom chamber with one of the tubes damaged and an obstruction in the water line.) After some efforts at making repairs, the emergency situation is finally brought under control.




QUESTIONS ARISE:


  • Who was Helen talking to on the radio when she said, “Alpha, we are on the way?” 
  • Why was she vague in her response when questioned about this? 
  • Was she merely suffering “a touch of space madness?” 
  • Why does she act as if she recalls nothing? 
  • Why has she already chosen a site “the perfect landing place”; a choice that does not fit the mission profile since it is located on the dark side of the moon? 
  • Why is she so insistent about her choice of landing site but can’t explain why?






Once on the moon the Cat-Women take complete control of Helen’s mind but are unable to control the men's minds. With Helen's help, along with their own powers, abilities and feminine talents, they hope to discover the men’s “weak points," and then “take care of the rest."




MORE QUESTIONS ARISE:


  • How could Helen have seen the cave during the landing as she claimed when she suggested that they head towards it? 
  • How convenient it is that according to Helen the walls of the cave look exactly as it did in a dream she supposedly had and that she can now take the lead and navigate her way through the various passages right to the very door-step of “another world in the bowels of the moon?”




Another power that the Cat-Women possess is their ability to transport themselves unseen from place to place within the cave which they put to good use to steal the crew's spacesuits. 

After an earlier attack on the crew by large lunar arachnids, as well as from hidden cat-women attempting to take the men down individually, the Cat-Women deal directly with the human visitors and a party is put together in their subterranean city with tempting offerings of food, drink and entertainment.

A suspicious and constantly glowering Kip confronts the Cat-Women's leader, Alpha after discovering the spacesuits are missing and promises are soon made to return the suits in the morning. 





Meanwhile the Cat-Women continue to exploit the "weak points" of the expedition’s male crew members. For example, Walt is easily charmed by Beta who feeds him stories about caverns filled with gold, so much gold in fact that no one bothers to mine it. She promises to let Walt have the gold if he agrees to take her back to Earth with him.





Will the Cat-Women learn how to operate the spaceship and succeed in their mission to reach Earth?

Will LOVE play a part in the success or failure of the Cat-Women’s plot?

Or will the expedition manage to escape the clutches of the Cat-Women and return safely to Earth?






Points Of Interest


Cat-Women of the Moon is simply a movie anyone could spend time picking to pieces, but despite its many faults you can’t help but enjoy watching it. It can also be appreciated as being the first film of its kind, followed by such films as Invasion of the Star Creatures, Fire Maidens from Outer Space, Queen of Outer Space and its clone / remake, Missile to the Moon.

Was it just me, or did the opening to Cat-Women of the Moon really remind us of the Twilight Zone series narrator? “Why must we wait (for the barrier to be pierced)? Why not now?” I half-expected the theme tune to Twilight Zone to start up.

A large part of its entertainment value lies with its nonsensical elements such as the notion that astronauts would bring cigarettes with them to the moon. This is followed by a demonstration of the temperature difference between shaded and sunny parts of moon's surface by having a cigarette thrown into a sunny part where it instantly bursts into flame! Try not to shake your head and smile! Still, the temperature differentiations are quite extreme on the moon’s surface.




Cat Women of the Moon               Project Moon Base

Apart from the suspect science, we have equally suspect set designs with mundane office chairs complete with seat belts in a spaceship. The spaceship interior itself is remarkably like the one in the film Project Moon Base made in the same year as Cat women of the Moon. It gets better with the “special effects” where far from being horrified by the giant puppet spiders, we would run the risk of expiring from spasms of laughter. Still, we feel the need to keep on watching despite (for the want of a better word), the “acting” of Sonny Tufts! And then there’s the wonderfully politically incorrect dialogue with great lines like Walt’s, "You're too smart for me, baby, I like ‘em stupid."

Sure, we might cringe at watching movies like this, but we should be sophisticated enough to view them as being a part of sci-fi film history and a window through which to see the attitudes of a largely by-gone era. It’s both fascinating and funny at the same time.

Perhaps part of the appeal of this and similar movies lie with the notion of being a male traveller who encounters a lost civilization consisting solely of beautiful young women clad in tight body hugging black outfits or leotards. Unfortunately the fantasy is somewhat spoiled when the male discovers it would be more than just the TV remote control and credit card that would appropriated by his newfound female companions-his very mind would be under their control! The ultimate male fear! The horror!







Can anyone explain to me why three of the astronauts were wearing goldfish bowls for helmets while two others were wearing the steel helmet variety? As these helmets have featured in other sci-fi films of the time, I can only imagine that they ran out of the goldfish helmets and had to scrounge around for other helmets and had to make do with two odd ones.

Can anyone also tell me why when they were in the cave, the space-suited astronauts felt the need to yell and shout at one another to be heard. I can only assume that they could communicate via their radios and would be able to converse normally over some distance. It took them a while to realise that there was a breathable atmosphere in the cave. Up until then they would think they were in a vacuum and therefore yelling to be heard would have been of no use.

The “weak points” that the Cat-Women are intent on exploiting, could be considered a kind of test that we as human individuals “pass” or “fail” at various times throughout our lives. For example, Walt is tempted with the promise of having more gold than he can imagine in return for providing information. Will he succumb to greed? Kip is cautious and sensible, but can suspicion and “spoiling for a fight” damage the prospects for forming meaningful personal relationships? For Laird Grainger his sense of duty is tested and his intentions are good but does everything in life have to be “done by the book?” The biggest test being faced is the one involving Doug and Lambda. Can their genuine affection for each other overcome the vices of temptation, fear, avarice, suspicion and manipulation? As the Cat Women have no power of control over the male crew members’ minds, it the decisions they each will make that will ultimately determine their individual and collective fate. It is certainly a dilemma for men in the modern world as we try to redefine our roles and find our purpose in a constantly changing world. With advances in science & technology, including reproductive research, it has even proposed that in the future the time may come when there will be no need for male human beings.

The evil nature of the Cat-Women’s civilisation is clearly laid bare for the audience with the reference to “Eugenics.” Lambda is told in no uncertain terms that any choice of “husband” for her, along with any children she may have will be determined by the process of eugenics. There will be “no room for love.” With only eight years since the ending of the Second World War, the association in people’s minds with the medical practices of the Nazis in Germany would’ve been powerful.

Finally, if anyone further doubts the credentials of Cat Women of the Moon, the music is by none other than Elmer Bernstein from `The Ten Commandments' fame-so there! A touch of class!

If you haven’t watched Cat-Women of the Moon, do it now…Come on…. 



“EVERY MAN A TIGER….LET’S GO!”














\
©Chris Christopoulos 2013

Monday, 19 August 2013

Project Moon Base (1953)

A film with potentially good ideas but fails to take us forward into the future


Director: Richard Talmadge
Producer: Jack Seaman
Screenplay: Robert A. Heinlein; Jack Seaman
Story: Robert A. Heinlein; Jack Seaman
Music: Herschel Burke Gilbert
Cinematography: William C. Thompson
Editing: Roland Gross
Studio: Galaxy Pictures Inc.
Distributor: Lippert Pictures
Running time: 63 minutes


Cast


Donna Martell: (Colonel Briteis)
Hayden Rorke: (Gen. 'Pappy' Greene)
Ross Ford: (Maj. Bill Moore)
Larry Johns: (Doctor Wernher)
Herb Jacobs: (Mr. Roundtree)
Barbara Morrison: (Polly Prattles)
Ernestine Barrier: (Madame President)
James Craven: (Commodore Carlson)
John Hedloe: (Adjutant)
Peter Adams: (Captain Carmody)



Trailer







“In 1948 the Secretary of Defence proposed that the United States build a space station as a military guardian of the sky.

By 1954 atom bombs and intercontinental rockets made it a necessity.

In 1966 the first orbital flight was made by Colonel Briteis.

By 1970 the space station has been built and free men were reaching for the moon to consolidate the safety of the Free World.

But while this was going on, the enemies of Freedom were not idle—they were working to destroy the space station.”




Synopsis


The film, Project Moon Base is set in an imagined future 1970 at a time when the United States is considering building bases on the Moon in order to “consolidate the safety of the free world.” Colonel Briteis, Major Bill Moore and Doctor Wernher are sent on a mission to orbit the Moon, photograph the back side of the moon and survey landing sites for future lunar missions. Unknown to anyone, Dr. Wernher has been replaced with a look-a-like impostor whose mission is to destroy the US's Earth-orbiting space station, (“this perpetually menacing eye in the sky”) by using the rocket to ram the station on the way back from the Moon.







On the way to the moon, Wernher manages to give his identity away by inadvertently revealing that he knows very little about the camera systems that he is supposedly an expert about, and that he hails from Brooklyn but is unaware of the Brooklyn Dodgers. While he and Major Moore struggle for the control of the rocket, Col. Briteis is forced to make an emergency landing on the Moon.





The three astronauts now find themselves marooned on the moon. Dr. Wernher is given a chance to help Moore establish communications with Earth. While assisting Major Moore, Dr. Wernher suffers an accident which results in his death.





The US authorities use this unexpected outcome to make the stranded spaceship the first component of a new moon base. In order to avoid the then morally unacceptable scenario of an unmarried male and female alone within the close confines of the space craft for an extended period of time, General Greene convinces Major Moore to propose to Colonel Briteis. As a newly promoted Brigadier General and ranking officer after their marriage, Moore will effectively be her boss.


Points Of interest





As was quite common for sci-fi and films of other genres, dealing with the role of women and how they ought to be portrayed seems to have presented movie-makers with something of a dilemma. One the one hand, in Project Moon Base we see women holding positions of power, authority and responsibility equal to men such as a colonel and the president of the United States itself. On the other hand, we witness the main female protagonist, Colonel Briteis, the first person to orbit the Earth, and also about to make the first circumlunar flight, being easily flustered and spooked and eager to turn to Major Moore when the going gets tough! Despite Briteis’ experience, Moore asks her, “May I help you? Can I strap you in?” “Are you alright Colonel? No space sickness?” At one point in the film, Briteis even apologises, “Sorry, I’ve gone all female on you,” when she panics after the moon landing. As a result, we are presented with a rather contradictory approach to gender whereby a rather progressive and radical idea of having a woman as the president of the United States is undermined by the portrayal of Colonel Briteis as a whining, petulant and spoiled female intruding on a male preserve. She is a woman in a position of authority, but is almost deemed to be unworthy of that authority (“you’re not a superwoman, you’re a spoilt brat!”) by males who are shown as being mostly strong and competent and who may deign to give her “a crack at the first moon landing…if all goes well.”





Fast forward now 60 years and we’re in Australia in the year 2013. We have just witnessed the ousting of this country’s first female Prime Minister by her own political party. In both the media and political spheres there was quite a nasty campaign launched against this female PM in large part on the basis of her gender. Such terms as “witch” were hurled against her and references were made concerning her marital status and lack of children. Such personal attacks and references would not be made if the PM had been a male. A few months later, the male opposition leader during the election campaign referred to one of his party’s young female candidates as having “sex appeal.” Journey around the world in 2013 and you’ll see many forms of gender inequality including such things as unequal rates of pay, misogynist attitudes, corporate glass ceilings, outmoded medieval religious attitudes and practices that subjugate and discriminate against women, and on it goes. In 60 years we may have come a long way in matters of gender, but how much further do we still need to go before we do not even have to think about it as needing to be an issue?






And so rewind to 1953 and we see in Project Moon Base a full colonel being demeaningly referred to by her general as “bright eyes,” and told that the only reason she flew the first orbital mission was because she weighed only ninety pounds and could fit into the spacecraft and is scolded as if she is a little girl with comments like, “Any more guff out of you and I’ll turn you over my knee and spank you.” Sixty years later and is it any wonder we have inquiries around the world into various countries’ armed forces and their sexist and abusive treatment of female recruits when attitudes like that are so ingrained  in a culture?





Let’s still hold onto our gap of 60 years and consider society’s perception and treatment of overweight and obese people. These members of our society have lately become objects of entertainment and targets of actual and potential discrimination. How many of us from time to time have sat slack-jawed and gawped at obese people as they are being systematically ‘tortured’ by semi-fascist “trainers” in TV reality shows like “The Biggest (Whatever).” Suggestions have even been made to deprive obese people of certain fundamental services or at least charge them more for their use. Rewind to 1953 and what do we see in Project Moon Base? Polly Prattle, being rather of full figure and of course obsessed with her weight, is fascinated by the prospect of weightlessness. When she asks General Greene if she could travel to the space station he informs her that since it costs over $300 a pound to launch objects to the space station, all passengers would need to weigh less than 160 pounds. In other words, ‘lady you’re too fat to meet the weight limit.’ And so we chuckle and are suitably entertained. My, we’ve come a long way!






Not only in matters of gender is the film a product of its times, but it is also reflects the fears and concerns of the early Cold War era. Missile and nuclear development would usher in the era of the hydrogen bomb and the ICBM missile. In the film we are presented with a foreign spymaster (we all know from where without needing to be told!) who has recruited hundreds of people who physically resemble scientists who may be asked to travel to the American space station. This spy happens to have an agent who closely resembles Dr. Wernher and will take his place and be used to destroy the space station. Espionage, sabotage and subversion were themes the American public were encouraged to become familiar with.







It was an interesting idea to use basic split screen techniques to show people walking on different planes or appearing to be sitting on the floor while others are sitting on the wall. At least it graphically shows how relative or even non-existent such concepts as “up” & “down” can be in space. Living and working in space for extended periods do and will require major physical and mental readjustments for terrestrially evolved humans. A similar effect was achieved by using angled shots for the space station interior which makes the viewer feel that they’re in space aboard a space station. One day we may have to make concerted efforts to remember not to walk on the walls!






Project Moon Base originally started out as a pilot episode called Ring Around the Moon for a proposed television series called The World Beyond. Still, the film is very short, in fact too short. With this mind, it is a shame that so much time is filled with explanations of various kinds such as General Greene’s explanations to Ms Prattle and a presumably perceived technically illiterate audience concerning the effects of weightlessness, rendezvous procedures, and the Luna mission. It’s not just Ms Prattle doing the prattling!





“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too…..
….To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.”(Excerpt from JFK Moon Speech, September 12, 1962)

In the film, Project Moon Base, it was explained that America had to reach the moon first, before any other power. A decade and more later throughout the 1960’s, it was this race to be the first that provided the main impetus and rationale for the effort to fulfil JFK’s undertaking for the US to be the first to put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth. The science involved in such a mission would tend to take a back seat and would not provide a sufficient rationale for such a risky and expensive enterprise as landing on the Moon. Perhaps General Greene’s words come closest to what always motivates the US in all matters terrestrial and extra-terrestrial: “Ma’am, the most important thing in the world to me is the military security of the United States, and I’m not the least apologetic about my attitude.”






As Moore, Briteis, and Dr. Wernher are ferried to the space station I couldn’t help wondering what self-respecting astronaut would succumb to being forced to wear a tee-shirt, a felt skull cap, and a pair of short shorts. Yes, the tune “Who wears short shorts?” went through my head. Sure, the outfit highlighted Briteis, wonderful physical attributes which I suspect was one of the reasons for the use of such space-wear. Notice how Briteis is forced down onto her acceleration couch during the struggle between Moore and Wernher, while the camera serves up views of her tee-shirt hugged chest area valiantly resisting the G-forces of acceleration. As the space program has developed over the decades we have seen astronauts perform their duties aboard spacecraft while being attired in casual clothes, instead of being required to permanently don their spacesuits.






With “Public opinion being what it is,” no-one’s sensibilities are going to offended or any social mores transgressed with Major Moore and Colonel Briteis’ long-distance wedding ceremony, with Major Moore being promoted to Brigadier General and outranking his wife and with Moore and Briteis finally ending their constant bickering and finally kissing at the end of the movie. Project Moon Base: A journey into the future or a trip back to the future? A giant leap forward, or one step forward and two steps back? You decide……











©Chris Christopoulos 2013

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

It Came from Outer Space (1953)

Great mixture of suspense and intrigue
An intelligent, moody, atmospheric and thoughtfully crafted film
A worthy sci-fi classic



Directed: Jack Arnold
Producer: William Alland
Screenplay: Harry Essex
Story: Ray Bradbury
Music: Herman Stein
Cinematography: Clifford Stine
Editing: Paul Weatherwax
Distributor: Universal Studios
Running time: 81 minutes
Box office: $ US 1.6 million


Cast:



Richard Carlson: John Putnam
Barbara Rush: Ellen Fields
Charles Drake: Sheriff Matt Warren
Joe Sawyer: Frank Daylon
Russell Johnson: George
Dave Willock: Pete Davis
Robert Carson: Dugan (reporter)
George Eldredge: Dr. Snell
Bradford Jackson: Bob (Snell’s assistant)
Virginia Mullen: Mrs. Daylon
Kathleen Hughes: Jane (George's girl)
Paul Fix: Councilman
Robert "Buzz": Henry Posseman 



Trailer




The following contains spoilers, so don’t say you weren’t warned!




Sand Rock Star
STARGAZER SEES MARTIANS!

Just outside of Sand Rock, Arizona there was a report yesterday of a fireball streaking across the desert sky, followed by what is believed to have been an impact of a meteor.

Eye-witnesses to the impact, amateur astronomer John Putnam and his girlfriend, Ellen Fields chartered a helicopter from pilot, Mr. Pete Davis to take them to the impact crater situated by the old Excelsior Mine.

According to Mr. Putnam, after descending into the crater, he noticed a strange object and stated that it wasn't a meteorite that crashed, but was, he claimed, an alien spaceship!

When pressed for details, Mr Putnam stated that the object he saw was “some kind of a ship” and that it was “like a huge ball rammed there in the side of the crater.”

Apparently, the mysterious craft was buried in a landslide and consequently, Mr. Putnam’s story cannot be verified as there were no other witnesses.

A respected scientist, Dr. Snell was called in to investigate the impact site. He and his assistant took extensive radioactivity measurements, but could find no evidence of any radioactivity. Dr. Snell was convinced it was just a meteor. According to him, “everything points to it being a meteor.” He also went on to state that he deals in facts and science and not ‘witchcraft.”

Miss Ellen Fields was reluctant to talk to the press but it has been suggested that both she and Pete Davis believed that Mr.Putnam had just imagined everything, despite being at the impact site themselves.

Mr. John Putnam is regarded as being somewhat of an eccentric in the field of astronomy who tends to hold some very unorthodox views.

It would seem that the army is in no hurry to dig out the crater. Will an alien space ship be unearthed if they do?  Some sources have suggested that all that will be uncovered will be a fanciful tale for a forthcoming book by an amateur astronomer seeking recognition.

By Itell Fibs, Sand Rock Star Reporter








In the dramatic opening of the film, It Came From Outer Space, we see an object hurtling towards us and crashing to earth with the title of the film exploding on to the screen. This is followed by a relatively sedate aerial view of Sand Rock in the late evening in early spring. It is a place “knowing its past; sure of its future.” Inside an isolated ranch house outside of town we meet John Putnam, an amateur astronomer and his girlfriend Ellen Fields, the local school teacher. It is a scene which confirms the observation that it is a time where they can feel “so very sure of the future.”





The mood is one of optimism as John and Ellen engage in hopeful talk about marriage. In a marvellous piece of irony it is suggested that they “see what the stars have to say,” followed by Ellen wishing upon a star as the "meteor" from the opening shot cuts a swathe across the night sky. They are indeed both about to see what the stars have to say as their world is about to be turned upside down from this point.





Extract from What The Stars Had To Say, by John Putnam

From inside the crater at the old Excelsior Mine I stood transfixed amidst the eerie mist and beheld a sphere that was partially exposed. A hexagonal- shaped door slowly opened to reveal a black interior punctuated by flashing lights from some kind of machinery. Suddenly a flicker of movement caught my eye and I had the feeling that I was the one being observed. Before my eyes could resolve the black shadowy figure into a recognisable shape, my fear took over and I felt my feet impelling me backwards. Something similar may have been working on the mysterious occupant of the sphere as it too seemed to be retreating as if in an attempt to avoid contact. The closing of the sphere’s door seemed to have triggered an avalanche in the crater, burying all evidence of my mysterious encounter.





The film, It Came From Outer Space is punctuated with instances that grab at the viewer by means of shock and suspense. Take for instance, the scene in the crater’s interior. We have a very clever combination of eerie mist with spooky and haunting theremin music; a mysterious, slowly opening and unconventional hexagonal door; the inky blackness of the sphere’s interior revealing only the mere hint of otherworldly technology; a point of view shot from the alien creature’s perspective whereby we see the world through some kind of gelatinous eyeball; the “snail trail” glitter left on the ground by the creature.

When John and Ellen go in search for whatever it was they appeared to have hit with the car, we have another one of those nerve-jarring moments. John tells Ellen to stay in the car but as he moves forward, a hand suddenly appears from off-screen and touches his shoulder. Of course, the hand belongs to Ellen. During the course of the scene there is the ever-present feeling of being observed by something.

Added to this suspense effect, is the equally ever-present Joshua tree which seems to loom over the onlooker like some kind of unearthly creature. In the biblical story, Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to explore and report on the land of Canaan, and only he and Caleb gave an encouraging report, a reward for which would be that only these two of their entire generation would enter the Promised Land. Could this perhaps explain the presence of these (and future?) alien visitors to Earth?





Extract from What The Stars Had To Say, by John Putnam

The incident that is the subject of my book served to highlight the kind of dilemma I have faced throughout most of my professional life and is one of the reasons it has taken me so long to write about and publish my experiences. I knew in my heart that the Excelsior Mine event would be the biggest thing that’s ever happened and that we were dealing with some form of life from outer space. But how could I prove it, even to myself? Not only that, but even those closest to me were urging me not to tell anyone what I saw for fear of personal ridicule. Being on the periphery of the scientific establishment and daring to think for myself has come at a high personal cost-a life of loneliness and self-doubt.

The Joshua tree thrives in the desert and it is this desert setting that adds to the eerie atmosphere of the film. The desert scenes are very atmospheric and creepy whereby the desert takes on the quality of a living, almost malevolent, being that is “alive…and waiting for you.” As John remarks, there are “a thousand ways the desert can kill.” It is this same desert where John and Ellen come across the county telephone linemen, George and his boss, Frank. Frank tells them that working out there in the desert they “hear a lot things, see a lot things.” At this time, Frank tells them he's hearing something very strange on the wires.





Extract from What The Stars Had To Say, by John Putnam

After Ellen and I left Frank and George, it wasn’t long before we began to feel that something was wrong. We then decided to turn around and head back. We soon came upon the empty telephone truck on the side of the road, so with my gun in hand we started to search for the truck’s occupants. I soon noticed blood on the truck door along with a glittering trail. All of a sudden George appeared…… 




While John and Ellen are searching for George and Frank, we notice a tendril of mist sneaking up behind Ellen. Once again we gasp with shock as the mist suddenly transforms into a human hand. Added to this unsettling moment we soon realise that the hand belongs to something impersonating George. His demeanour is odd and stilted and his voice has a tinny or metallic quality. This imposter “George” is also able to stare directly into the sun, “yes, the sun-beautiful.”


Police Report Notes of Sheriff Matt Warren

At ___pm, received report from Mr John Putnam and Miss Ellen Fields concerning possible homicide involving county telephone linemen George____ and his boss, Frank Daylon.

Accompanied John and Ellen back out to where they reported encountering George and Frank.

Upon arriving at the scene and after a brief search no evidence of a truck or foul play could be found.

Conclusion: Traces of blood were detected, but its source was most likely a dead coyote found at the scene. The animal appears to have been struck by a passing vehicle.




Extract from What The Stars Had To Say, by John Putnam

After our encounter with “George” and our fruitless search of the area with the sheriff, I could not help thinking about what he said, “We could not, would not take your souls or your bodies.” What exactly did these beings want? If their intention was not hostile, then why were they here?

After noticing “George” and “Frank” walking through the town I decided to follow and confront them. Did my blood turn to ice when I saw the sinister-looking silhouettes of the two “men!” What struck me about them most were the glowing orbs located where their eyes would normally be. A warning? A threat? A plea? They told me point-blank to “Keep away!” They explained that they didn’t want to hurt me, in fact, me least of all. They appealed to me that they needed more time or “terrible things will happen.” Time for what? What kinds of terrible things would happen if we didn’t give them that time?


Police Report Notes of Sheriff Matt Warren

Nature of probable homicide investigation widened to include investigation of John Putnam’s claim that Frank and George are in fact the creatures from a space craft that is buried in the crater at the old Excelsior Mine.

Evidence so far includes;
  1. Frank's wife, Mrs._____ and George's girlfriend, Jane Dean reported them acting strangely and are now missing. Their clothes are also missing.
  2. Theft of electrical equipment from the town’s hardware store.
  3. Dr. Snell and his assistant, Bob, have been reported missing.
  4. Drove out to the crater with Mr. Putnam and located Dr. Snell's car, but could find no trace of Snell or his assistant.

The era in which It Came From Outer Space was released was a time of hopeful optimism, but it was also tinged with its own set of fears and insecurities. A kid in a space suite knocks on the door and we jump as Ellen lets out a piercing scream. John declares “wouldn’t it be fine if I weren’t John Putnam at all.” Who can you trust if you can’t be sure who might wind up on your doorstep or who has been taken over or influenced by some kind of  “alien” concepts, ideas, way of life, etc., 



Extract from What The Stars Had To Say, by John Putnam

Nothing could prepare me for the call I received at the Sheriff's office informing me that these…..xenomorphs had Ellen. After Matt drove me out into the desert I waited and waited  until I spotted what appeared to be Ellen standing on a ridgeline wearing a black cocktail dress. When she moved I followed her until she led me to the opening to the old Excelsior mine shaft. It was on that spot that I was soon to be face-to-face with a horrific sight more terrible than anything conjured up by the evil recesses of any human being’s subconscious.

At first an almost disembodied-sounding voice informed me that these creatures were repairing their ship in order to leave our world and that they needed my help. Apparently their mission was to another world and an error caused them to go off course. Can they be believed? Is it feasible? They also told me that they were “not ready to meet in friendship” and that we’d be horrified at the sight of them. Perhaps they’re right; perhaps destruction would result from any meeting between our respective worlds. For our part, what we don’t understand, we try to destroy.

I just had to see for myself!
I wish I hadn’t insisted!
I saw them as they really are…

Horrible!




Yet again a period of tension and suspense is inserted into the film at just the right moment when Matt is spoiling for a confrontation with the xenomorph impersonating the lineman. The sheriff, on-edge and with his voice rising, declares that “at 92 people get irritable!” With the ticking of the wall clock getting steadily louder (“That clock-ticking!”) and with Matt’s nerves stretched taut, the tension becomes too much and a fight erupts between Matt and John. 


Police Report Notes of Sheriff Matt Warren

After my confrontation with John Putnam the creature posing as Frank drove off in his telephone truck. I then decided to form a posse with the intention of stopping and confronting the creature on the highway by blocking its vehicle with a barricade.

As Frank’s truck approached, we had to open fire causing the truck to careen off the highway, hit a boulder and burst into flames, thereby killing the vehicle’s occupant.





Extract from What The Stars Had To Say, by John Putnam

I had to get to the mine before the others, so I borrowed Matt’s patrol car and drove there. After entering the mine, I once again came across the alien version of Ellen. My God, if I wasn’t more careful, she would’ve let me fall to my death into the chasm at my feet. This alien Ellen (so beautiful like the real Ellen and yet so different, detached and cold!) informed me that they only needed a few more hours. She said that they didn’t want to use violence but that there was “no other way.” This version of my Ellen then attacked me with a wand that emitted a beam that could cut through rock. Fortunately, she missed. I had to use my gun to shoot this Ellen and watch the look on her face as she realised what had happened just before she toppled over into the chasm and dissolved in the lake below. Even though I know it was not the Ellen I know and love, the image of the other Ellen’s expression has been etched onto my soul for the rest of my days…..




Segment of an interview conducted at KLTV studios after the publication of John Putnam’s book, What The Stars Had To Say.

Interviewer: After you shot the Ellen alien imposter, what did you do then?

John Putnam: I heard the sound of machinery and after tracing its source I discovered the aliens in their human form making repairs to their ship. What I found to be the most disconcerting thing was me standing face-to-face with the head xenomorph who had assumed my identity. After he explained their mission and the equipment's power I was left in no doubt as to their power to tear the world apart. According to my alien double, all they needed was time and that their dream was simply to know other worlds.

Interviewer: Did you believe them?

John Putnam:  They could have destroyed our planet there and then. Anyway, I demanded Ellen's release as a sign of good faith and my alien double then ordered all the human hostages released. As you already know I managed to seal the mine entrance with dynamite to keep Sheriff’s posse away from the aliens. After the explosion, the ground shook beneath our feet and the aliens’ ship departed, streaking across the sky as if in haste to flee a place deemed to be off limits.

Interviewer: Why do you say that?

John Putnam: It just wasn’t the right time for us to meet. However, there is one thing we can all be sure of.

Interviewer: And what is that?

John Putnam: ......THEY’LL BE BACK!!!






©Chris Christopoulos 2013