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And we have some roiling clouds, and some dramatic music, and some lightning.  And then the title Phantom From Space comes right out at us, accompanied by a Theremin sting.  And that goes away, but the clouds are still here.  And we hear an airplane.  We see the plane, and a narrator says “This is Washington DC.  And in the files of the Central Bureau, there is a story so strange in its implications, that it defies ordinary classification.”  We see a bunch of small jets take off into the sky.  “It is the story of a handful of people who in the course of one desperate night, held back a wave of panic and pandemonium.”  Back to our original plane.  “It began after sundown.  Time:  7:15.”  He goes on to note that this refueling ship was returning to base and gives some details of the route it took, hoping to impress us I guess.   Yeah, well, good luck with that. 

He also notes that the Navy was busy being vigilant, and the vast radar network helped in this regard. 

He then tells us that at 7:19, an unidentified flying object was seen.  By one guy, walking along a beach, apparently.  The UFO isn’t terribly impressive, it looks more like a light bulb shaped like a wad of hair being dragged across the clouds. 

The cat was yelling, so I couldn’t hear where the UFO was spotted, but just for you I reversed.  It was spotted two hundred miles southwest of Point Barrow, Alaska.  So I guess the beach guy must have just been walking along that particular beach, because that’s a long way for binoculars.  All this stock footage, it confuses one so!  Even now we get an image of what appears to be a lighthouse somewhere off, er, somewhere.  At 7:27, the UFO was “confirmed” at Fairbanks, Alaska. 

And the narrator gives us more stats which I won’t bother with here.  Suffice to say, it’s heading SSE so it will probably end up in California.  At 7:39, it was at Vancouver, British Columbia.  It’s starting to get a little lower, and it’s slowing down a bit.  At 7:54, some jets were launched to intercept 80 miles off where San Francisco is.  At 7:57, apparently the jets missed it or something because now it’s at Morrow Bay, California, and it’s still dropping and slowing down.  I hope this is exciting for you because it’s actually pretty dull on screen.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Everyone’s in a panic.  I don’t for a moment suppose the narrator is going to say, “8:13.  The object now flies back into space, increasing speed.  Wow, that was a close one, folks.”

At 8:15, the narrator (actually) says, the UFO was at Santa Monica.  At 8:18, though, it disappeared!  Wow! 

And the red alert is lifted!  So, no one thinks this thing could have landed, eh?  At some other time in the eight o’clocks, folks in the LA branch of the Department of Whatever start getting calls that radio and television reception is being totally bugged out.  “The monitors went to work immediately,” the narrator says, and this work seems to consist of passing papers around and twisting some dials.   He says that some mobile units were driving around, trying to pinpoint the source, and we see some cars with big, goofy spinning antennae on their roofs.  It looks pretty silly, though admittedly less silly than driving around in the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.  One of the cars is a bitchin’ Woody. 

This guy pulls up to a stop and reports that they have interference strength 2 and they have a bearing of some number of degrees (I wasn’t paying attention).  Back at the Department, Bald Guy thanks the Woodies for their info, and he gets a call from the other guy in the other car.  His interference strength is 3, and he has some degrees too (he probably got them through the mail).  It sure is a happenin’ time in the old Whatever Department. 

Bald Guy triangulates the two cars’ signals and says that the interference originates from a point “three miles north of surf.”  He repeats that.  The two cars drive off to find stuff.

And find stuff they do, at least the Woodies.  A woman runs down the road, flags down the Woody and asks…I think she asks if they know where a phone is.  She has to call for an ambulance, because her husband “and Pete” were hurt down at the picnic area near the beach.

”This is a communication car,” the passenger says, “we’ll phone it in from here.”  Wasn’t that lucky for her?  It’s almost as if there was a script or something! 

So, the passenger (who wears a hat so that’s his name) calls to the Department, but all he gets is a sine wave.

”Did you make that out?” he asks the Driver, who says, “Not a word.”  Well…it was a sine wave, it wasn’t actually language. 

Anyway, Hat tries to call again.  He gets a different sine wave, but figures the Department guys can hear them (which they can, believe it or not).   Hat calls in for an ambulance.  He gets a third sine wave.  Isn’t he lucky!  He’ll have the whole set while the other guy probably gets zilch.  He “rogers” the last sine wave and hangs up.

He then asks the Lady what happened, and she says, “This man, he just kept coming at us, it was awful!”

”Who?”

”I don’t know!  He was wearing a suit like a diver.  Hurry, please, they’re hurt!”

Hat decides to go have a look-see, so as the narrator tells us what they’re doing (thanks), he goes and sees the two men lying on the ground, all looking pained and such-like.  No sign of (as the narrator calls him) “the mysterious intruder” anywhere. 

Soon, the other car drives up and stops beside the Woody. 

Hat returns and spills the news that the police took the woman and Pete to the hospital, but her husband is going to the morgue if you get the meaning here.  If you don’t, it means he is dead.  Sorry if that bums you out.

The guy in the other car, I’m going to call him Loser because I am in a bad mood, still wants to talk about transmissions and angles and degrees and things.  Well, at least he’s focused on work.  But Hat sends Loser back to the Department, and he tells Driver to look around with the portable thing.  You know, the thing.  The thing they use all the time.  Anyway, he has to drive off and talk to the police a bit, but he tells Driver he’ll be back in an hour and to meet him at this spot.  Driver says that if he isn’t here, “You’ll know where to look for the body.”  Damn, that sounds harshly ominous. 

We cut to a building that says “Police Station Div. 6” on it, and it is a stone building so we can be sure this isn’t a trick by aliens. 

Inside, Pete is saying that dinner had just started when they heard a “crashing” noise.  He looked up but couldn’t see anything, but “Betty started screaming.”

”At what?” asks a cop.  “I thought you couldn’t see anything.” 

I believe Hat is standing in the background. 

”A first we couldn’t.  But then this guy started toward us.”

”What kind of a guy?”

”How should I know, he was wearing some kind of a helmet over his head, he could have been a deep sea diver or anything!”  Well, he couldn’t have been a ballerina.  Could he?   Though perhaps he was a Weinermobile driver.  That would explain lots of things.

Well, the interrogating cop seems to think stubbing out his cigarette with resignation (and lower tar but still great taste) might get better results.  So he asks what happened next, and Pete says that Ed—Betty’s husband if you’re writing this all down for later—jumped up and started yelling at the guy to stay away.  (Kind of makes you wonder what the three of them were getting up to, eh?  Eh?)

Pete continues his tale of terror as he says that the guy “just kept moving in.”  Finally, Ed swung at him with a piece of wood, and that didn’t help anything, because Pete got all unconscious then.  

Cop notes that just because “a man’s taking a walk is no reason to slug him” which occurred to me as well.  From the gist of the conversation, this instruder didn’t do anything hostile except (gasp) approach people.   Pity he seemed to pick the paranoids’ picnic.   Unless they thought he was looking for a handout, but come on, the guy has his own diving suit.   He must be rich.  Or an phantom from space—damn!  I spoiled it.

 

Cop also notes that Pete doesn’t look like the type to get scared easily.

Pete says, “How would you feel if somebody with a crazy helmet with pipes sticking out of it came at you in the dark!”

Cop has no answer, so Pete goes on.  “Look, I know this sounds crazy, but there wasn’t any head in that helmet.”

”No head,” he says, looking at Hat.  “No head at all.”  Hat has skepticism written all over him in crayon. 

Well, Hat has heard enough of this so he leaves to go get Driver…having contributed pretty much nothing to the interrogation.  Well, actually, completely nothing if you want to know.

So Hat leaves, and Cop starts the questioning from the beginning.  He asks Pete how well he knew the two others.  Pete says he went to school with Betty.   He knew Ed a year. 

Cop asks how long the two of them were married, and Pete says that’s also a year.  You know, I realize that you have to have a certain amount of running time, but is this crap really necessary?

Hang on a second.  Zombie attack.

Okay, I’m back.  Oh, a good tip if you might have an imminent zombie attack.  Get some recent Rolling Stones recordings and play them loud.  The zombies think you’re one of them and will leave you alone.  Most of them.  For the others, staple gun. 

So, Phantom From Space!  (Claps hands together.)  Where were we?  Still interrogating Pete?  Oh crap I thought we were past that.

Well, Cop asks leading questions to try to paint Pete as musclin’ in on Betty, because her husband was twenty years older than her, and Pete lives in an apartment in their house.   Luckily a phone rings (I never thought I’d type a sentence like that).  

The phone call is that there has been another murder, near the beach, and he (Cop) has to leave to investigate.  He tells the background cop to keep an eye on Pete, because he still has hell of suspicions about him (Pete).  They think there is drama in this but there is not, there is not.

And we cut to a roaring squad car, then to another uniformed cop and someone wearing a hat (I bet it is Cop, though, not Hat) asking if there was robbery as well as murder.  No one seems to think so, they think it is just murder.  Whew, then! 

Elsewhere, Hat drives up in the Woody to where he left Driver standing.  So, Driver didn’t get killed in the ditch or anything while they were grilling Pete, I hope you weren’t panicky about that.

They discuss the police case, and Hat finishes by saying, “Kid claims some guy without a head knocked the old man off.”

”You don’t say,” says Driver, like he has heard this tale many, many times after many, many drinks.  They talk a bit more about these lurid things, until finally Driver notes that the radiation “went out with the tide,” so everything is cool, now, man, unless you like radiation, in which case everything stinks. He asks about the radio.

Hat says the radio is fine now, he just got a call from the Department saying they should go where Loser is, Loser is picking up some good stuff.  So Driver jumps in and off they go. 

Back to Cop, his new dead body, and the uniformed cop.  The uniformed cop says there was one witness, a kind of middle-aged guy, who is a neighbor.  When questioned, this witness says that the murder must have happened with the murdered guy was locking up for the night, which he always did at a certain time when he was likely to be murdered.  I guess.

Middle-aged guy says he was watching “the fights” on television when suddenly the picture got all blah and awful.  Cop wonders what that has to do with anything, and middle-aged guy goes on and on about how the reception was bad at first, then it got better, so he was going to watch “the fights” and then, wouldn’t you know it, it got bad again!  What a bad day this man is having.  He goes on at some length about his own personal speculations as to the cause of his television woes.  Luckily, Hat drives up just then because, uh, he was in the neighborhood anyway…no, that’s not it…um, he recognized Cop’s car…no, that wouldn’t be it either…uh, because it was an amazing coincidence.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Which would be okay, if, at the end of the conversation, Hat didn’t have to BACK OUT of the little road he was on.  So he wasn’t just cutting through, he was stopping deliberately to chat!

The conversation?  Well, Hat asked Cop whazzup, and Cop said another murder, and they note that TV reception jumped ship just before the murders, which is why Hat is here as well, since this seems to tie in with the stuff he’s looking for.  So, they say their goodbyes and Hat backs out of the road and drives on. 

Is anyone putting two (bad TV reception) and two (murder) together here, and getting four (Phantom From Space) as an answer?  Just checking.

”And so the communications team resumed its mission,” says the narrator, who, to be honest, we hadn’t really missed enough to want to see him back.   “Meanwhile, Pete was innocent, because a Phantom from Space was at fault!”  No, the narrator didn’t say that but wouldn’t it be nice if he did?

He dos tell us that the “disturbance” was heading NNE, until it was located at the edge of the Huntington Oil Fields.   We see a number of the same shots reused, here.  Duh.

”Units one and seven [Hat and Loser] were instructed to close in,” the narrator tells us.  Really?  I thought they’d be told to go home and have some hot soup.   Kick me for a fool!

Hat stops the Woody right where an oil refinery seems to be in flames.  Their biggest concern seems to be if they’ve wasted their time.  Your tax dollars at work, folks. 

Back at the police station, some Dope Reporter asks whether two murders and an explosion can all be blamed on Pete.  He then sticks his pipe in his mouth and googles his eyes in that way that bad comedy relief does.

Man, there are corpse flies all over my monitor.  What the hell?

Anyway, Hat walks in the station and asks to speak with Cop.  He’s waved on in.

And we get a really mind-boggling scene next.  Hat and Cop are talking about the TV disturbances, how they keep moving from place to place and it’s a total mystery.  But that’s not what’s mind-boggling.  What is totally odd is that both Hat and Cop are wearing the same suit, the same tie, have the same color hair (with the same part) and are holding the same kind of coffee cup.  It’s like backstage before two actors do that “is it a mirror or is it a doorway” routine. 

Anyway, they compare notes and are saddened to note that neither has made much progress.  But Cop wants to see something new in the Pete-Is-A-Murderer case.  So they both leave…looking uncannily like twins…and go to where some old guy is sketching something.  Luckily, when Hat and Cop arrive, Hat has his hat back on.  Whew!

The old guy finishes his sketch, and Cop shows it to Betty, Pete and us. 

It’s a rubber diving suit with a smallish helmet.  The helmet has a curved viewport, and a mouthport that has three cylinders below it feeding in (through tubes).  The helmet is topped with three short antennae.  The joints have concentric circles around them (like an old bendy figure) but the limbs are otherwise smooth.

Pete and Betty agree that’s pretty accurate, though Betty thinks something (couldn’t quite hear) ought to be larger.  What?  No, no, I’m sure she didn’t say that.  Pete still insists there was no head beneath the helmet, while Betty says it was too dark for her to be certain.

So, Cop dismisses them, and when they leave, confides to Hat that he thinks there may be no shenanigans the two (Betty and Pete) have cooked up.  This is a relief to everyone, believe you me.

And some other old guy comes in (looks a lot like James Gleason) and he talks about his experience as a night watchman at the refinery, where he saw the strangest thing, just tonight!   He says he saw some guy in a weird suit, and he yelled at him to stop, but he didn’t listen, and he happened to be too close to shoot at. 

Now that I see this old guy some more, I’m thinking he’s the professor from
The Wasp Woman.   If you’ll indulge me….

Oh my God, it’s him!  Michael Marks.  Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Marks, who a few short years from now will be working on wasps and bees! 

What?  This movie?  Oh, sure, yeah, whatever.  Fine.  (Damn it.)

Michael Marks…I mean, the night watchman, says this intruder was a bad dude, and he had a suit with tubes, and he had no face!

Cop asks, “If you saw this man again, would you recognize him?   I mean, by his outfit,” he quickly adds, since no one could recognize a face that wasn’t there.

They toss the sketch in front of the old man, and he says that’s the guy all right.  So they dismiss him, and Cop asks Hat what he thinks now.

”Beats me,” says Hat, helpfully (this is sarcasm on my part).  Man, we are over seventeen minutes in and we’re just grabbing tree branches and plucking leaves.   (Gotta use euphemisms, kids might read this someday.)

Hat and Cop talk some more in a dull fashion about the picture and the suit and how the guy supposedly had no head (“We can discount that,” says Hat) and how the folks who saw him were frightened as the guy apparently walked toward them (I get chills thinking of that).  They chatter and chatter on and on revealing nothing but a perfect set of numb skulls.  Finally they think it might be an enemy agent who’s carrying something around (“Whether he knows it or not”) which is making all television go whacko.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s very dull talk.

Well, it’s not just dull talk.  This whole film is dull.  It is so unexciting that it’s killing fleas in my house.  The only odd thing we’ve seen (other than weird antennas on car roofs) is some drawing of a space alien.   Yeah, some guy died but even he was so bored he did it off-screen.  Man, the only people getting a woody in this movie are Hat and Driver.

…you knew that was coming?  Yeah, well, what did you expect me to do?  Wouldn’t it be thrilling if the car ran out of gas?  They’d have to find a gas station, and maybe the attendant would say, “Fill ‘er up?”  Wow, I sure hope that happens.  Maybe they’ll go to a car wash too!

Well, Hat takes his leave of Cop to go teletype this in to Washington or something.   The Dope Reporter seen earlier is calling in his suspicions, asking that page one be made over, but he can’t get an exclusive on the picture (the suit drawing).  We get a shot of a clock, symbolizing how time is just crawling here, and back with Cop and Hat, a sergeant brings in a teletype message.  Why, it’s from Washington, and the double domes there tell Cop to contact the Griffith Institute!  Holy Toledo!  Wow!  Hat decides to leave, again, to drive around some more.  Let’s hope we get that thrilling “out of gas” scene.  Let’s liven this baby up!

Cop decides to go to the Griffith Institute.  We get an establishing shot of same.  Inside, he passes the drawing around to various generals and a scientist, who speaks like German who has lived in France a long time, or perhaps the opposite of that.  He was just called “Doctor” so we don’t know if his last name is Braunschweiger or Escargot.  Accent grave over the E. 

A general asks if there was any sign of “this saboteur, this X-Man” at the scene where the refinery exploded, and Cop says they went over every inch and found nothing.  I’m surprised they didn’t show us this in real time.  General Nobody asks if this might mean the guy is dead.  I suppose it’s not impossible, but wouldn’t they be more likely to find a body? 

Anyway, more dull talk ensues and it turns out Hat is at the meeting too!  I guess he went driving and didn’t take us along, the rotter!  Oo, he is off my Christmas list now. 

Hat says they got a disturbance three miles away from the oil refinery, after the explosion.  So the intruder isn’t dead.  General asks if they can track this stuff, why don’t they just track the intruder and get him?  

Hat says “It isn’t that easy” and reveals that they lost the signal 45 minutes ago.  Cop asks if maybe the guy got rid of whatever was causing the disturbances, and Hat basically says if that’s the case, he (hat) is useless.  Well, thank you, Hat.  I hope your hat falls off into a dirty puddle and then gets stepped on.

General pops up to “think out loud” about some stuff that he and the Doctor were just jabbering about before everyone else arrived.  Oh, good, I was hoping we’d have more chatter.  He mentions the UFO tracked earlier, and lost near Santa Monica.  Hat notes that’s where the interference first became manifest.  Cop says that’s where the murder was too.  Everyone except me starts getting all excited, noting the synchronicity of it all. 

You would not believe how much they stretch this crap out.  Finally, General calms the assembled mooks and says that this must be a flying saucer with an alien in it, and the problems are all coming from this set up. 

Hat, who I am rapidly hating a lot, says it might have been a meteor and this entails a lot of explanation why it couldn’t have been.  Hat then asks how the “phantom” ties in with the UFO.  General says, “We’re not sure if he does.”  Sigh.  My GOD COULD SOMEONE JUST SHOOT ME.

Cop points out that a saboteur would want to stay hidden, he wouldn’t run around in a “monkey suit” (with a funny hat) and wouldn’t kill people, as that would just cause attention.  Just then some gal interrupts this boredom and says there’s a reporter to see Cop.  “What does he want?” Cop asks.

”Only one way to find out,” says General.  Oh, I hope you’ll launch into a detailed explanation of exactly what that one way is (this is more sarcasm). 

Doctor introducers the gal as Barbara Randall, his assistant, and as if suddenly realizing this is a cue, she and Cop start to make eyes at each other.  “Well, hello,” Cop says, all smooth.

Doctor then has to point out that it’s “Mrs. Randall” and Cop excuses himself.  What, no WHA WHA WHA trumpet music?  Anyway, Doctor introduces Barbara to everyone, Hat introduces himself as “from the Communication Department” so maybe that’s his name.  He’ll always be “Hat” to me, the spineless cretin.

Outside, Cop is talking to the Dope Reporter.  Dope Reporter wants the scoop on the murder.  How about if I just murder the whole cast, and Dope Reporter can write about thatt?  I don’t hate him yet, but I’m sure that’s coming. 

Well, Cop and Dope Reporter basically don’t do anything but waste footage.  Cop says he can’t say anything, Dope Reporter says he’s gonna start guessing then and he’ll make up his own story.  (Things haven’t changed much have they?)

Inside the Doctor’s office, people are chatting, and Barbara is just amazed how these folks have cobbled together a scenario.  Kind of sounds like how this picture was written.   Cop, returning from his press conference, says “Don’t kid yourself, Miss—MRS Randall.  The Press knows as much as we do.”

Which is FRIGGING NOTHING.   This movie is an eyelash on an eyeball that has been TATOOED on. 

Well, you’ll never guess, but it seems that Hat is the go-to man in this.  He and his Driver and the Loser in the other car covered an area (according to the narrator, who just showed up again) thirty-five miles square.   Of course, it’s the exact same footage they used before, so it hardly counts.   The narrator tries to make it seem like Hat has his finger on the pulse of the action, but I’m betting that’s just to shut off the blood flow to the brain. 

Suddenly, a voice over a loudspeaker says that a “brickyard” is moving toward some oil fields.  This sounds interesting!  I hope they show the brickyard moving.  Awesome special effects, here I come!  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s more like “tremendous let-down, here we are.”  But that’s the great thing about me, I never lose hope.  Much.

Bald Guy at the Whatever Department orders Hat and Loser to “close in” where the oil field is.  Oh good, I was hoping…hoping I’d get strangled by midgets.

We get a shot of Loser, putting his coat on, running out of the woods and running toward his car.  What was he doing?  Hell, there’s a more interesting movie right there.

The Woody also roars off.  And a police car.  And a piecost.  What’s a piecost?  About $3, heh heh heh heh. 

And, at the 25:43 mark, we get our first glimpse of the Phantom from Space!  Even thought it’s a long shot, we can tell it’s him because he gets a Theremin sting.  He dashes across the roof, looks at the assembled vehicles and seems to think, Oh Crap.  He then runs off.  Wait, come back!  Stupid alien.

Down at the assembled vehicles, it seems like everyone has shown up for this party.  Even Dope Reporter is there.  They split into teams, and he is not chosen for a team, so he looks all Aw nuts.  I bet he feels bad, but probably not as bad as me. 

Oh, man, we get an ultra-stupid shot.  After the teams have been formed and dashed off, the Phantom from Space walks right up to where the cars are!  He looks around, like, They’ll never look for me here.  Seeing how “bright” these people are, he’s probably right. 

We get some shots of people walking about with their measuring devices and shouting things like “Hey, Hazen!  Six Oh Three!” 

The Phantom decides it’s pretty boring hanging around the cars, so he runs off to find some place more interesting.  Hey, good luck, pal, there ain’t no such place.  Loser.  No, no, I didn’t mean you, Loser, I meant…oh, forget it.

And more people walking around measuring stuff.   And at 27:12, the Phantom appears in a quick medium shot.  Hi, Phantom! 

More people wander around.  Apparently, they’re actually getting closer to catching the Phantom.  I am sure it’s just random, though.  I’m sure if you walk around enough, you’ll eventually find a phantom or two.  As for our assembled folks here, I don’t think they have brains that work, so randomness is their only option. 

We get a lot of this wandering around back and forth, with people and Phantoms going this way and that over and over, it’s almost as if there should be a pop song playing and there should be a Great Dane dog, if you know what I mean.  

Phantom jumps down from a staircase and shoves Dope Reporter away, just as Dope Reporter was preparing to take a picture.  More running, more buzzing of Geiger counters, finally someone sees the Phantom up on the roof.  So, they give chase again.  They come to a dead end made of palettes.  But the Phantom shoves some aside, so they can continue at him.  Way to go, Phantom.  What am I saying?  He’s helping them to capture him, making the movie shorter.  Go, Phantom!

They chase him and he locks himself in some kind of shed.  Good thing for the humans that the Phantom is, apparently, radioactive like crazy, because they easily find his shed by tracking his radiation and threaten to bust it all in if he (the Phantom) doesn’t give it up.  So, the Phantom takes off his helmet…and he has no head!  He takes off the rest of his suit too, and he has no body!  Why, he’s invisible.  How about that.  As the outside crew count down before busting the door, the Phantom neatly folds his suit and puts it on a table.  I guess it’s good he breathes our kind of air.  Well, good for him, if he choked and died (and I should never wish this on him, so help me God) we’d be done here, but I try to look on the bright side.  I only wish there was a bright side to look to!  Oy vey.

The humans bust in the door, and they rush in to see no one, except a neatly piled suit (obviously this alien is from an advanced civilization).  Dope Reporter wants to take a picture of the suit, but someone says, “That’s a Geiger counter, and it says hands off!”  And we have heard the clicking of Geiger counters a lot so it’s a good point.  And if there’s that much radiation, these people have probably been sterilized and that’s a very good thing.  I would hate it if these people had offspring.

They try to talk over the really loud Geiger counter and say that the Phantom’s clothes—but specifically not his helmet—have been the cause of all manner of trouble, and they try to get a lead box to put them in.  We get a shot of a door and a musical sting, so I guess the invisible Phantom is standing there.  Uh, while, um, menacing all mankind and every creature on Earth.  Um, yeah.  I’m shaking. 

Naturally, we get to watch the whole Putting the Phantom’s Suit in the Lead Box routine.  Even though the guy’s wearing no protective clothing at all, he just scoops up the suit with a pair of tongs.  We get a number of cutaways to the door with, I guess, an invisible Phantom right there, getting all indignant about his clothes being pinched, but all we get is the door.  The Door to Hell!

The rest of the various mooks note that they can’t find the Phantom, and that’s cause no one knows what he looks like, but General announces that Dope Reporter got a pic when he got shoved earlier, and they’re having the film flown to Washington to be developed.  Or maybe it’s just the local drug store.  Sorry, I was trying to make this film exciting.  Yeah, yeah, it’s hopeless, Charlie Brown, just hopeless. 

You know, this is the kind of movie that Charlie Brown would make.  It wanders without result, there’s talk that never makes a difference, nothing exciting ever happens…no, wait a moment, Charlie Brown would shoot himself if he saw this.   Keep him away from this film.

Speaking of this film, Doctor asks Cop if he’d like to come along and find out some cool science crap.

”I’d like to, Doctor,” and he lights his cigarette and takes a huge drag—eat up that running time, boy, “but you know the situation.  I gotta get that guy.  Let me know how you make out, will ya?”

And he dashes off to smoke some more as the assembled clods murmur that of course they’ll let Cop in on whatever dull crap they find.   Hey, why should they suffer alone, after all.  It’s a viewpoint. 

We get another shot of the door, and this time it opens.  Two flunkies carry the heavy box with the Phantom suit in it to a van, and they pop it in the trunk.  And they go away then.  And as if there were some kind of invisible alien from outer space right there, the doors open again and the trunk opens, and the alien suit starts bouncing around like someone invisible were fingering it.  Which, really, is all the Phantom seems to do.  It’s hard to tell if he took the suit or just folded it more neatly.  (These aliens with their weird neatness obsessions.)  Anyway, he closes up the box, and some cops come and close up the trunk. 

And the car drives off, and it drives to the Griffith place and it backs into a garage that has some equipment in it.  All together now:  OOOOO!   Oh, I’m not at all happy with the flashcard section. 

And Barbara and some other folks show up to watch the exciting removal of the box scene.  A scene which cost over five million dollars to shoot and cost the lives of three stuntmen and a lion tamer.  A scene which gained immortality when an infant Roger Ebert removed his thumb from his mouth and stuck it straight up.  A scene which--

--Oh, someone brought a dog!  A cool dog!  It is like a golden retriever, it’s kind of hard to tell, but it big and friendly and it wags its tail.  The dog’s name is “Venus” and they refer to him as “he” and “his” so it is probably like that A Boy Named Sue syndrome you have more than likely heard about.  Cool dog! 

Turns out the guy who brought the dog was Barbara’s husband (who looks like Richard Deacon, only far geekier), and Doctor asks him if they can “borrow” Barbara for about an hour, and Husband agrees to this!  He goes off to do “the shopping” (Barbara gives him “the list”) but he leaves Venus with her.  Aw, dogs!

As Doctor and some other guy attempt to yank the box from the trunk, the passenger side door opens by itself!   The Phantom is here.  And Venus reacts by barking like mad and running away from the Phantom.  He, in the meantime opens various doors.   This might be exciting…in some awful dimension far worse than ours. 

The Phantom opens various doors to make his way…somewhere, and he very nicely closes the doors after him (he has a fetish about neatness, remember).  And Venus barks and makes her way to where the alien is, but Barbara says Venus must be wrong.   Never mind the fact that Venus ran FROM the Phantom, so it would be unlikely she would then run TO him.  Oh God, kill me now. 

And so, Venus leaves, and the alien leaves too.  And more doors open on their own.  Barbara goes outside and ties Venus to a rail.  She demands to hear not another sound from the cute dog.    I demand to hear not another sound from the damned cast, but does anyone listen to me?

In the lab, Doctor and General are studying the Phantom’s suit.  So, I guess he DID just fold it up neatly.  We’re being invaded by an invisible race of Moms!

Both of them admit they’ve found no fingerprints.  Barbara shows up and admonishes the two of them for not having caught the elusive prey by now, but they have excuses and they bought them cheap at the flea market.

My GOD this is frightfully dull.  I must have more alcohol.  Right…now.

Okay, so where were we?  Hic! 

General, Doctor and Barbara are examining the Phantom’s suit…hey, there’s an echo in here.  They try to cut it with scissors and with a knife, but it won’t cut!   My God, they’re centuries ahead of us in garment technology!  We’re already doomed!

General tries to rip the suit his bare hands.  No go.  They try to burn it, and then to use the…microscope on it!  Oh no!

But it turns out when they move the suit, it attracts the scissors, meaning it’s magnetic.   But I guess it is selectively so, as no one seemed to note the scissors and knife (or anything else) being drawn to the suit before.  They’re just making it up as they go along!

They look through the microscope and see what appears to be a lady’s, er, nether regions made out of paper.  I’m sorry, but that’s what it looks like!  Don’t you yell at me, I’ll tell mom!  YOUR mom!

They’re all baffled by this, and say that the suit isn’t woven together, it’s one solid mass of something.  More dull speculation ensues, and they decide to try acid.  Ha ha!  That will make the suit talk!  Acid!  So, “Mr. Suit, what are your plans?”

”You expect me to talk?”

”No, Mr. Suit, I expect you to stain!”

Uh, hope you didn’t think that was from the movie.  It wasn’t.

The acid test also proves futile.  As mournful cellos start in (I hear ya) it looks like they’re going to try every damn test in the book.  Fortunately, we fade to a wrist watch, with hairy wrist, which means they’re sparing us some of these tests.  “Is it impenetrable to Algebra?”  “Yes, it doesn’t react at all!”  “Damn, we were so close!  Let’s try geraniums next.”  “Okay, you first.”  (Not actual dialogue.) 

The time goes from one time to one later time, which I’m not going to tell you (I am as evil as the suit) and finally Doctor announces that “The helmet is not radioactive, but the suit is.”  Oh good.  Can we go home now?

Doctor says the suit was designed to “function above 63,000 feet.  Where human blood would boil.”  So?  What does that prove?

General says he knows this, and he notes that the suit can withstand “pressure and counter-pressure.”  So it’s neither a Democrat or a Republican, big deal.  He says, further, that it can “function in a thin atmosphere.”  Let’s all take time to celebrate.  Okay, that’s enough.

They turn to Barbara, who was examining the air in the suit tanks.  She says it was eleven percent methane--

”Ordinary marsh gas,” Doctor interrupts, before quickly adding “go on” and asking her what the other bits are.  She says she can’t figure out what they are.

Now, the obvious question is, how is the Phantom not dead?  He has only our air to breathe, which is now shown to be very little like ours (and it stinks).  So?

Well, actually, there’s an answer.  The Phantom’s air tanks were little tiny things, about the size of a flashlight.  So, clearly, he doesn’t need much air.  Thus, if he took a breath before losing his suit, he ought to be able to survive for some time on just that alone.

None of that was from the movie.   There, I did your job for you, movie.  Give me money!   Hello?  What? 

Damn, the movie is asleep.  Where most of us are!

So, General (at any rate) asks if the Phantom doesn’t breathe oxygen?  Doctor turns into a huge ham and goes over various Phantom characteristics before concluding, “I…am…puzzled!”

And we cut to a tunnel on a road, with a car emerging, and parking by the side of the road.  It doesn’t have a goofy antenna, so (shudder) it looks as if we’re going to meet more characters.  Please, please stop crying! 

Oh THANK GOD it’s Dope Reporter, looking sneaky.  He looks at an ornate building which (we guess) is the Institute.  And…we cut back inside the lab.  General is saying the key must be the helmet, because the Phantom needed it to survive, otherwise he “wouldn’t have risked wearing it where he was sure to be recognized.”  No no, the fashion police would have cut him DEAD.  “As it is, he only took it off when he was cornered.”

”If what you say is true,” Barbara asks, “how can he exist without it now?”

Doctor says that sometimes a patient in an iron lung can be removed for “hours at a time” and this is really a lot like this.  Uh…yeah.  Yeah it is.  I sure didn’t notice that!  Man, am I a total doof or what?  Don’t answer that. 

Actually, I thought people were in iron lungs for their health, not their pleasure, but hey, you know, whatever gets the movie over sooner. 

In the meantime, General says that maybe if they bring the suit back to where it was left, the Phantom might come back for it, since he’ll, like, totally die without it.   Everyone sees the logic in this as General gets a phone call. 

It’s Cop.  He and the General discuss how they didn’t find anything at all.  Dope Reporter took a picture, but the radioactivity ruined the film.  This conversation shouldn’t really exist, since it adds nothing.  But then, nothing in this film has added anything.  So…I guess we’re…um, all even.  Or something. 

All the time, in the background, Barbara is mixing beakers together and getting them to smoke.  If you say, “That’s not interesting at all!” I can only answer, “You haven’t been paying attention, have you?”

Dope Reporter shows up to interview the General.  Doctor is invited to tag along.  Dope Reporter wants a picture of the suit, and General says no.  Dope Reporter complains that he got a “wonderful” picture of the Phantom but then Cop ruined everything.  Whatever. 

Back in the lab, bassoon music plays as Barbara does more science stuff.    And the door opens (by no one) as Theremin music takes over, and the stupid clumsy Phantom knocks over a tube of powder.  Barbara briefly tut-tuts at this, and when she looks again, there’s a footprint in it!  Just a regular human one, no extra toes or dew claws or anything.  Cheap idiots.

Barbara notes this, and decides to leave, but the crafty Phantom locks the door and takes away the key.  She looks kind of peeved at this. 

Back downstairs, the Moronic Trio of Dope Reporter, Doctor and General are picking over respective nits. 

Okay, I don’t want to panic you.  Please sit down.  Are you sitting down?  Good.  We’re only forty-two and a half minutes in. 

I told you to sit down!

Barbara, up in the lab, backs away as a hamper opens on its own. 

Downstairs, Barbara’s hubby shows up, and they say she’s still in the lab, so he goes on up.  Finding the door locked (by the Phantom) he struggles a bit, and inside, Barbara calls out to him, saying that she’s not alone, there’s a Phantom in here.  Bill (hubby) says he’ll break the door down, and Barbara says he should get help instead.  So he runs off to do this.  I hope.

Downstairs, Dope Reporter is confirming that he did, indeed, “come all this way” for “nothing.”   So he leaves.  Damn it.  Thanks for nothing, you stupid Dope Reporter!   Hubby comes down the stairs and runs through a corridor, and grabs the Doctor and the General, noting that someone’s in the lab with Barbara!  Well, they all run off to see.  And find the lab door open!  The Phantom’s suit is still there, but Barbara isn’t so they all go off to look for her.  Lots of shots of guys running around yelling “Barbara!” in the basement and near the telescope and such. 

And we see a shot of the unconscious Barbara being carried by an invisible person.  And more shouting “Barbara!” and more, way more crap.  Finally, Barbara wakes up in a lab a lot like the one the Phantom found her in.  Oh good.  She rubs her temples and sees various blurred things.  So she rubs her head some more.  She sees a door close by itself (apparently) and sees the door lock itself (looks like the same footage from earlier).

Downstairs, everyone agrees that no Barbara was found. 

So they think calling the police would be a nice idea. 

Hubby worries about time.  ”But she said she was locked in, and she couldn’t see who did it!  Can you explain that?” he asks.

”No, not yet,” General says soberly, clapping Hubby on the back and leading him away from where he was.

Up in the lab, Phantom puts on his helmet and gasps for air.  Barbara warns him not to come near her, and he rips her clothes a bit!    (He probably hasn’t had any for weeks.)

She grabs a scalpel and threatens him, but he disarms her.  He then picks up the scissors and threatens her (he learns fast), but then starts tapping out a message to her (in Morse code I guess).  He says he’s about out of air.  She says she’ll write this down.  Yeah, let’s spell it out letter by letter. 

She gets a pad, a pencil, and some kind of infrared or ultraviolet light.  She holds the light like it’s part of the writing-down process.  And she writes down the Phantom’s message, which is “one, one two, one, one two three” then she turns on the lamp and sees an extremely human-looking hand.  Well, she screams her head off.

Down in the lobby, Hubby, Doctor and General hear the scream and combine their wits to find the answer.  “Barbara!”  “In the lab!”  And they dash off.

They run down a corridor, and we see the Barbara lamp fading, and thus the Phantom becoming invisible again.  The Phantom lays down the scissors, and Barbara says, “Oh please don’t!”

Outside, the moron trio is banging on the lab door.  Inside, Barbara is saying something we can’t decipher.  (I’ve played it twice.  It sounds like “I can see hands and the upper body now.  I’m positive of [something].  I’m sure of something.”  So they all break down the door so they can be positive and sure too.   No one likes being left out.

Inside, Barbara is waving her lamp around, saying that the Phantom was just in here so he probably still is, but we see a Venetian blind rattle and the window goes up, and outside Venus starts barking.  Some foliage moves.  

Doctor notes that it’s “thirty feet to the ground” so “he will be killed.”  And General runs off.  Sadly, I have to tell you…and this really, really pains me (though probably less than I am pained)…we have twenty minutes left to go.

So, General runs off and everyone comforts Barbara, and then they notice that the Phantom’s suit is disintegrating!  Just like that!  Why, it’s so simple!  Sven, I could kiss you!  Sure sucks to be a Phantom about now, I guess.

Speaking of sucks, General runs across the balustrade or whatever, and he comes to Venus who is so sweet she jumps up on him and wants to be petted.    He tells her to quiet down, though, being concerned with phantom business.  So he runs off some more, and the bushes shake, and Venus barks some more.  Man, this is better than watching paint dry!  (I hope they use that quote on the ads.)

Outside, Hat and driver pull up in the woody and put in a call to talk to either General or Doctor.  We waste about twenty seconds of our lives which we will never get back watching them wait for a response.  Finally Doctor will talk to them.  They exchange pleasantries (really).

”Yes, we’re still at it,” Doctor says.  I’ll say.  “Lots and lots of excitement,” he goes on, obviously talking about some other film, “but nothing definite yet.”  Actually, the nothing is pretty much definite. 

There’s more chat about signals and stuff.  Hat notes they still get a reading from the observatory, but figure that’s because of the Phantom suit.  Doctor doesn’t bother to mention that it disintegrated, but he does say Cop is on the way. 

And cut to a bit where Hat and Cop, followed by Barbara, bring in a heavy trunk.  Barbara still has the (now identified as ultraviolet) lamp, and Doctor notes how this is the only way to see the suit scraps still extant.  Man, I hate this movie.  Besides, if the suit is gone how could the trunk be heavy?  Don’t tell me it’s lead-lined, because the suit when NOT DISINTEGRATED was never kept in lead.  It was just kept out where everyone could handle it and test it and douse it with acid.   Oh yeah sure it becomes MORE dangerous when disintegrated.   Oh that’s a good one.  So, we’re all going to watch a whole lot of nothing.  A good thing for an invisible man movie, right?  Bunches of nothing, whole handfuls of it? 

Doctor opens the chest, and shows the light into it, and it’s damned dull, damned, damned dull for God’s sake shoot me now.  Doctor notes that the helmet is still intact.  Various folks say that the radiation from the suit would kill a person, and how a person couldn’t breathe the gases they found, blah blah blah.  Good God, I never honestly knew banter could be so deadly!

Cop, while executing some smooth shoulder moves, says, “Excuse me, but as a matter of curiosity, why do we refer to this thing as a ‘him’?  I thought it was invisible.”

Oh GOOD another question we didn’t care about, given an in-depth answer!  This movie was filmed on location in Hell. 

Doctor says that under “normal conditions” the phantom is invisible, except under ultraviolet light.

”How do you explain that?” asks Cop and I WANT TO STRANGLE THE ENTIRE CAST OF THIS FILM AND THE CREW AS WELL.  Who the hell cares?   Who honestly cares?  “Look, this shows how the Phantom let his magazine subscriptions lapse, because his checks weren’t endorsed properly!  Because he was invisible, so was his signature!”  “And look here, he wore shoes that were completely uncool—no wonder he was invisible!  To hide the shoes!”  “And look at what he rented at Blockbuster!”  “Yes, let’s watch all of the films he rented, in real time!”  “I understand he always ordered his Whoppers without the tomato!”  “My GOD he must be an alien from space!”

In the actual film, Doctor says he doesn’t know anything (yes I know), but speculates that since all life on Earth is based on carbon, what if the “X-Man” was based on silicon?  Yeah, well, what if he was based on soybean extracts?  That could make him invisible too, as far as you idiots know!

Someone (the film doesn’t dare show lips moving) whispers “Silicon—that’s glass!”  And there you have it.  A Phantom based on glass would NATURALLY be invisible.  I can feel the life draining out of me.  

”Are you trying to say, Doctor, that we’re not dealing with a human being?” asks Cop.

”I didn’t say that,” Doctor says.  “On the contrary.  All the evidence points in the opposite direction.”  Oh please dear Lord above strike me dead now.  Doctor goes on, smugly.  “Toward a super-human,” ie, someone who could watch this movie without going into convulsions. 

Doctor notes that this Phantom is superior in intelligence, too, and when asked about that, he says that Barbara saw that the Phantom had a thumb.   Uh, but don’t monkeys have two such thumbs?   Man, Satan made this movie.

Everyone finally gets behind the idea that, let’s face it, the TITLE already told us, that this is a Phantom from Space.   I hope the Phantom has come to destroy us all because it cannot come too soon for me. 

Doctor goes into a long, complicated and totally speculative explanation of what he thinks happened, and honestly the only entertaining bit is when Cop, Hat and Barbara all look at each other simultaneously as if to say What the F?  Because that was what I was thinking too.  These people spent thirty minutes denying the Phantom was from outer space, and now they can determine the kind of drive his ship had based on no evidence?   This has got to be the world’s first parody movie.  Or instant headache.  At this point I don’t care, make it stop, make it stop!

--Deep breath--

Okay, I am a tiny bit better now.  Let’s resume.

Outside, Hubby and Driver are making small talk about the Whatever Department’s woody powers.  Driver boasts about how they could track that damn Phantom anywhere, anytime, and a weird Theremin trill tells us this boasting is all for naught.  In fact, the Phantom gets in the woody and starts fooling with dials.  Is there no limit to his evil!

Inside, Cop talks about how all this is interesting but he has to make (deep breath) AN OFFICIAL REPORT so he can’t bother with nonsense and assorted craps.  He hates evidence I guess.

Doctor says many worlds in this universe must be able to support life.  That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

Cop is all how he’s lacking any other evidence for this killer.  General asks if it “has occurred” to cop “that our X-Man has no apparent motivation for his acts,”--like this movie--“and therefore might not be an intentional criminal at all?”

”You have a point there,” says Hat flatly.

”Hey, wait a minute,” says Cop.  “Come to think of it, the young boy we suspected, he did say that the girl’s husband threw the first punch—so?”

”So, that could have been enough to provoke the strange creature,” says General.  “And the same could have happened at the second murder.”

Cop asks about the fire at the refinery.

Doctor answers this one.  “Evidently our man sensed the presence of some gases.”  Boy could I say a lot right now.  Doctor theorizes that the Phantom might have needed those gases to breathe, and accidentally started the fire.   A clumsy Phantom, well, we’ve seen worse.

Outside, Driver tells Hubby that they’d have caught that darn Phantom, and his meddling dog too, if the Phantom hadn’t taken off his uniform.   Behind them, the woody’s antenna begins spinning. 

Inside, Barbara mentions the scissors’ code, when the Phantom was tapping out numbers.  Hat looks at it, and says it doesn’t make sense, and General says it might be based on some mathematical system that humans don’t know about yet. 

”If he was trying to tell us something,” says Cop, “why did he run away?”

Outside, the woody antenna is turning this way and that.  This movie just hates me, and I never did anything bad to it except review it.

Inside the woody, we see dials and stuff move all by themselves (yawn) and back at the Whatever Department, the guys there are all weirded out by the knocking sounds coming over the loudspeaker.  They think Driver and Hat must be crazy for sending these signals, which sound a lot like Phantom’s scissor-talk.   Maybe Phantom is like, an advanced jazz drummer looking for Ornette Coleman or Cecil Taylor. 

The Whatevers decide to contact the woody and blare out their contact on the loudspeaker.  Driver, talking to Hubby about corn flakes or dynamic tension or who cares, says, when he hears the voice saying “Mobile one from mobile center, come in please,” instantly comes to the conclusion (based on scant evidence), “Hey, that’s central calling!”  And he dashes off to take this call.  Because it might be important, also it’s the boss.  But when he (and Hubby) turn to go to the car, they see the door open and close all by itself, and a loud Theremin sting, so Driver says Hubby should watch the car while he (Driver) runs off to tattle on stuff. 

Inside, everyone’s smoking or on the phone.   Driver comes in and tells everyone in great detail what we just all saw on screen.  I guess he thinks we are stupid.  Maybe we are.  We’re watching this movie, right?

Cop, Hat, Barbara and General…grrr I want to write “collapse and die and the Phantom destroys the world” but I’ll be honest here.  They talk about how the Phantom has to come back here for his helmet (and its gasses), and so they should take him alive so that “science can profit.”    So they decide that capturing him is good for both science and the law. 

”We are as frightening to him as he is to us,” says Doctor.   I suppose.  What would be terrifying is, if the Phantom got his helmet and sat down and joined in the talk and prolonged these damned discussions.  That would prove he’s hostile.   Doctor says they have to make sure they don’t alarm the Phantom, so he can be calm.

”Immediately,” says the narrator, “a simple plan to trap the Phantom went into operation.  All obstacles to his entry were removed.  To erase any possible suspicion, the doors were left unguarded.   And inconspicuous electric eye equipment was set up.  All this was connected to a makeshift control board, which would immediately signal the exact location of the trespasser.  Now, there was nothing to do but wait.”   What a damned optimist. 

The narrator mentions that the road to the facility was also blocked off, so “no outsider would upset the plans, or interfere in any way.”   Because that would add running time and would also totally stink.  A lot.  Dope Reporter shows up and is nonplussed at being denied entry.  He sees and chats with Driver and Hubby to no end.  So he drives away.   You stupid movie.  I hate you more than you hate me. 

Inside the place, Doc, Barbara, General, Hat and Cop look nearly as miserable as I do as they fart noisily into tin foil and laugh at the sounds they make.  Okay, that’s a lie.  Instead, they note that it is “quarter to four” and there’s no one in the place, except you and me, so set ‘em up Joe, I’ve got a little story…no, sorry, they just mention that the Phantom is taking his damn sweet time.  Of course, he might be dead, but that never enters their pin heads.  Pin heads.

They moan about what if their machine doesn’t work, and I reach for my gun, and Barbara notes that Venus will find the Phantom as she’s sure that Venus sensed that ol’ Phantom’s presence before, and she’s a cute dog (Venus not Barbara) and cute dogs are way cool and help people watch movies and not shoot EVERYTHING THAT MOVES.  ARGH ETC.

Outside, some bushes move.   But the heroes’ crude sign has flashing lights.  (It’s a cardboard sign with some light bulbs in it, labeled MAIN, REAR, WEST and GARAGE.)  So if REAR starts flashing, they’ll know just where this movie ought to be crammed.   This plan is so airtight the Phantom should surrender now.  Please.  Please!

Cop notes how he has to say something to the press, and we see some footprints form on a part of the lawn.   Inside, General goes into a dull reminiscence of his early days. 

Luckily for us all (thank the maker!) the light labeled WEST starts blinking so they all run that way, including Venus (barking wildly).   Then they split up for some reason.  (I imagine the director saying “Split up!  Split up and go other ways!   Is more suspenseful like that!”)

Eventually, some of them make it to the observatory. 

And DAMN IT ALL the source of the disturbance is Dope Reporter.  Oh I…don’t have the energy anymore.  You press people.  Alla time, you press people!   Kill and kill again.  Hmmm…what?  Yes, I am awake!  

We cut to the crude sign, and while WEST still blinks, REAR starts blinking too.  (You see?  I told you!)  I smell a Phantom taking advantage and stuff.    Venus is not fooled, she runs off to see this Phantom, and while Barbara is mixing some chemical stuff, the helmet rises on its own and starts popping about.  Barbara tells him, “Don’t be afraid, we want you to live.  Don’t you understand?  Can’t you speak?  Can’t you say something?  Anything, in any language?”  Geez, let him get a word in you silly twit.

No need, as the Phantom shakes his head no, to (I guess) pretty much anything.  So Barbara clicks on the intercom and mentions that the Phantom is right here with her, and he’s having trouble breathing, so everyone comes a-running.  Including Venus, but Barbara says that Venus shouldn’t get in as she would bother the Phantom, and everyone should walk quietly too so the Phantom doesn’t get upset.  I guess that scissors thump talk conveyed a whole lot of information. 

Actually, I have a question.   If the phantom needs his helmet to breathe, and his helmet is not repeat not radioactive (thus not trackable by the Whatever Department), then why didn’t the stupid phantom hide his helmet back where he took his suit off?   When everyone else left, he could have taken the helmet and begun breathing again. 

Answer:  he is as stupid as everyone else in this movie.  

Speaking of movie, unfortunately we have to continue.  So, everyone piles in and gapes at the helmet floating like a floating helmet.  And no one knows what to do.  One of the guys tries some scissors talk, but the Phantom shakes his head no.  Loser. 

Of course, the biggest Loser is Dope Reporter, who takes a picture of the Phantom, which upsets him (the Phantom) no end, and he tosses his helmet (which shatters into a million bits).   And everyone shoots reporter with big guns, and….no, they don’t.  They just sort of look askance at him like he farted and he is a bad poopydrawers, which he is, and uh…..

--I’M AWAKE. 

Everyone looks as some notepads fall, and some invisible person beats up Dope Reporter (no one cares), and Venus barks a lot, and something kind of sort of happened because we saw a brief shot of something kind of sort of happening, it looked like a small notepad was frying in a hot place, but NO matter, Venus is off and running and everyone runs off to follow her, as she is a cute dog. 

She stops in front of the men’s bathroom and everyone stops as if to say “Wait, this is private,” but they decide to run in anyway.  So, they run in, and run in some more, and pass through some doors (the men’s rooms are rather extensive, like this FRICKIN movie).

It looks like the Phantom has decided to climb a ladder, but that is just the Phantom being wily, as he is already at another door going to the planetarium!  Why, that rotten Phantom, even now he threatens our planetariums, will he stop at nothing, the fiend, yawn. 

So, everyone runs up the staircase, still carrying the dishes that will show the true alien because they’ve been treated with the leading brand of dish soap guaranteed to show people in reflections.   Even if alien and/or invisible.  Also I think there’s ultraviolet light and stuff, too. 

So, they run into the planetarium and mention how this is the last chance to communicate with this interplanetary loser.  Well, he is!   They find the outlets for the lamps, and turn them on, and they point the lamps up, and they see a guy who looks like a nicer version of James Arness in The Thing From Another World.   Plus naked.

The alien tries to communicate with his scissors code from a while back, but everyone gawks a lot and says “He’s trying to communicate!” and “Amazing!” while the Phantom bangs on his drum a lot. 

The assembled humans note how the Phantom seems to be speaking, but only Venus can hear him; then they note how he seems to be suffocating.  Wow, what great help you humans are! 

Finally, the Phantom runs out of air and dies, falling off the ladder, and Doctor notes that the ultraviolet lights are not needed any more, since the alien is now visible, being dead and stuff.   He looks like a naked man with only holes for ears and a large-ish bald head.   I doubt there were extra brains in this head, of course, he probably used it to store Christmas ornaments or something.

Of course, being dead (with “a normal body” according to Doctor), doesn’t mean being normal in everything, as the Phantom starts smoking and disintegrating.   He turns into bones (kind of) and then evaporates.   And everyone stands around like people trying to see who farted.

”So he came here, wherever from, and right before our eyes, his body went through the final phases of life.”  Well, life for a Phantom from Space, anyway.   And everyone is kind of sad that this Phantom died, but not too sad, as either Hat or Cop tosses his match where the body was, and Doctor opens the observatory.   And Venus runs around a lot.

”Well, “ Doctor says, as the sky dome opens up, “it’s boring.”   And I ran it three times and that’s honestly what it sounded like.  (On further reflection, he probably said “morning” which is too bad, as I thought for once one of these characters said something accurate and provable.)

And we see the observatory opening up, and the words THE END.  And our flaming non-entertainment Hell was produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder, and written by Bill Raynor and Miles Wilder, though Miles wrote the “story.”  Music by William Lava.  And we get the cast, but since I don’t care I’ll only note that the Phantom was played by Dick Sands.  Because everyone else just sucked ancient bones.  He, at least, was invisible most of the time and kept his yap shut the whole time, so it was hard to see his bad acting.   But it is all over!  Ha ha ha ha ha!

Man, I apologize for this one.  Since I knew it was made by Billy Wilder’s brother, and said brother made
Killers From Space, which wasn’t as totally awful as it could have been, I figured this one might have something to commend it.  Instead, it just has a lot to condemn it.  One would have to go back to The Atomic Brain to find something so utterly devoid of any kind of…well, anything.  Except dullness and awfulness, and dull awfulness and awful dullness.   Wait—cool dog.  Okay.  I’ll grant the film that.   Even with a cool dog, however, this film is so far into the negative numbers that it defies the brain to comprehend.

With the help of charity, one can say about some films (like the infamous
Manos: The Hands of Fate) that they might have made an engaging 20 minute short film, but padding them out to over an hour is some kind of cruelty.

Here, I think we’ve reached an exception.  This wouldn’t have made a decent film at ANY length.  The sheer, screaming nothingness here, stretched upon Eternity’s bow, would have been dull beyond description at thirty seconds. 

In the
review for Killers From Space, I asked just how bad seventy minutes of filler could be.   Well, here’s the answer.   The reason I could overlook it in Killers was that in that film, stuff actually happened, and a lot of it was shot in an interesting, involving way.  (If I’m starting to make that film sound like a masterpiece, it’s really only in comparison to this one.  But seventy minutes of blank film would be a masterpiece next to this.)   In Killers, we had spying and heart surgery and giant lizards and the threat of annihilation hanging over all humanity, plus lots of smoking and a guy put a pipe in his coat pocket.  

Here, nothing happens.   There are miles and miles of the dullest, most cement-headed talk imaginable (scratch that, it’s beyond imagination).    Even though there are three deaths, the film can’t be bothered to show us any of that.   Hell, why show us something when it’s way easier to just have dullards gab about it?   And gab they do.

After that, a lot of chasing, some driving, dopey-looking antennas, scads of stock footage and in the end, an idiot from the stars who probably just wanted to play Rock, Scissors, Paper and, one imagines, finally died of depression when he realized the whole planet was filled with creatures as dim as he. 

Avoid this one.  If it shows up, pretend you’re invisible.  And maybe put a lampshade on your head and pretend to be a lamp.  Or snore loudly…like I did.   If symptoms persist, get the scissors and use them.   One.  One two.  One.   One two three.

I’ve found a new measure of pain.   What did you do this weekend?