open on an observatory. A guy who's being bothered by moths is
watching something in the heavens, while the clock reads 5:23.
AM or PM? Who knows, man, who knows.
He suddenly calls out to a Dr. Mason, who appears and glares at the guy rather sternly. Dr. Mason has an incredibly ridiculous beard. Guy begins to explain that he saw something, but then dismisses it; Dr. Mason says it was probably a meteor or comet.
Guy, however, says it was drill-shaped. But he puts his sightings down to melancholy over the fact that the Earth is so “desperately alone.” He puts on his glasses and goes on, describing the Earth as “hanging in space like a speck of fruit floating in the ocean, sooner or later to be swallowed up by some creature floating by.”
Dr. Mason disagrees with this scientific analysis, but Guy persists, and says they can only wonder, “wonder how, wonder when.” And we cut to a howling dog, who is howling at something in the sky which is, and you'll find this hard to credit, drill-shaped!
It descends through the atmosphere, accompanied by an eerie whine. Slowly, it descends to Earth and screws itself into the ground (which is pretty impressive, visually). It comes to rest with only the top visible, which is, naturally, a flying saucer shape.
And we get the opening credits, with music later used to better effect in Night of the Living Dead. (There's no question.) The names I think I recognize are Harvey B. Dunn (in some Ed Wood films, I think), Robert King Moody (can't tell, but who could forget a name like that?) and James Conklin (I may be thinking of silent film star Chester Conklin here). Finally, Tom Graeff appears as writer, producer and director.
The little dog from earlier appears, and runs up to the saucer. It seems to want to play with the saucer. In response, the upper dome opens, and some guy in a jet pilot helmet pops out, takes aim with his ray gun, and skeletonizes the poor little dog! Why, you rotter, he only wanted to play.
Having dispatched the pooch, this guy emerges further from the saucer. He takes off his helmet, grabs a small suitcase and buggers off. Then, someone who looks a lot like him also emerges from the saucer and likewise takes a hike. What is this, a space clown car? And why do the two look so much alike?
The second guy smells the dirt, and stalks around the set a while. Then two more people emerge with a big case, and finally another guy with a suitcase comes out. This last guy looks regretfully at the dog skeleton, then he sets his suitcase down, and along with the other folks, everyone starts moving dials and such. Unfortunately, the budget didn't stretch to things like special labels—the last guy's suitcase says “Multichannel Mixer MCM-1” on it, and there's a picture of a musical note. Of course, this movie was made before freeze-frames were invented, no one would have noticed back then.
“Report preliminary findings,” orders some guy. Thor, Derrick, and More all announce their findings (while giving their names—thanks!), which are pretty much technobabble so I'll spare you. The last guy, the one with the mixer, looks around nervously. While the others continue to report, he goes and looks at the dog skeleton again, and picks up the dog's tag.
Satisfied with everyone's nonsense (and adding a bit of his own), the Leader guy orders someone to go below and bring up “the young gargon specimen.” He notes that the gargon's reaction will spell success or failure for their mission.
Mixer Guy, holding the dog tag, says he's found evidence of intelligent beings. Thor says who cares (though not in those words) and Mixer says, well, of course YOU don't. He then points out that it was Thor who killed the dog, just to satisfy his lust for killing. They banter back and forth before Leader tells them both to shut up already.
(Everyone in this film, so far, speaks in an incredibly stilted fashion, as if they learned their lines phonetically.)
Leader tells the previous flunky to “proceed, bring the gargon!”
Mixer pulls a gun. “That will not be necessary, Captain!” Everyone looks aghast at this treachery, and Mixer goes on. “Conditions here will be reported as unsatisfactory, as they were on the other planets we have charted.”
Leader asks, “By what authority--” but Mixer cuts him off.
“You will prepare for takeoff. The ship will leave this planet immediately.”
Leader starts to talk about the “code of operations,” but Mixer says he should forget that code, as only civilized beings could have made a dog tag. (It's true, you know.) He says that thousands of gargons shall not destroy this world.
“You have concern for foreign beings over our mission to locate grazing land for our gargon herds?” asks Leader, despite the fact that Mixer pretty much said just that. “Recall: it is necessary as a reserve food supply for our people!”
“Our people!” spits out Mixer. “We live like parts of a machine! We don't know our fathers or mothers, we're raised in cubicles, the sick and the old are put to death--”
“It is the one and only way to maintain the supreme race!” counters Leader. “Have you forgotten--”
“Our people have forgotten,” says Mixer. “They have been made to forget. For centuries. But I have learned how it once was. Families. Brothers and sisters. There was happiness...there was love.”
Leader, who looks like Al Bundy, is dismissive of this claptrap. “Of what do you speak...where did you learn such things?”
“I have read,” Mixer answers. He produces a book. “I have read from this book. I discovered it and kept it hidden. Somehow it survived the flames of the annihilators.”
The others all look kind of interested in this story.
“...when our people were turned into mechanized slaves,” Mixer continues. “Centuries ago.”
“When we return to our planet,” Leader threatens, “the High Court may sentence you to TORTURE! And death for this treason.”
Mixer notes that, yes, the High Court can sure judge him and all, but till then, they're going to look for an uninhabited planet for the gargon herds.
“Let me see that book,” says Leader in a complete and total I-am-not-to-be-trusted tone of voice, “I am interested to see what sways your mind so heavily.”
Mixer offers the book, and falls for the oldest trick in the book, as Leader and Pals disarm him and continue with their gargon stuff. Leader (who calls Mixer “Derrick”) tells Mixer that he is a fool to believe the book, and he will suffer for being a fool.
Mixer points out that perhaps the inhabitants of this planet might destroy the gargons, what then, eh?
Leader says not to worry, as they are the “supreme race” with the “supreme weapons.” Okay, it doesn't answer the question but what the hell, huh.
Leader entrusts Thor to guard Mixer, and Thor embellishes this whole gargon thing (they'll grow to millions of times their size, in “less time than it takes the sun to rise and fall”). Meanwhile, some other crewmen are looking at a basket.
We get a quick glimpse of a lobster moving vaguely, but we're assured that the gargon “thrives” in this world.
“We shall return to our base and leave the transport ships here,” Leader announces. “Soon, this planet will be covered with full-grown gargons,” he muses, “A safe distance from our planet, yet their meat will be available to us for the harvesting. Repack the instruments,” he orders, “I shall radio back the news of our success.”
One of the guys looks at the lobster, I mean, gargon, and announces that something has gone wrong. Leader asks what, and the guy says he doesn't know, “it suddenly fell limp, and now does not move.”
Well, Leader barks out some technobabble. The others poke an antenna at the lob—er, gargon, and after a moment, Leader has the answer: there's too much nitrogen in the atmosphere. He says it a lot more confusingly than that, but that is what he means.
Mixer asks if that means the planet will be reported as unsuitable?
Leader doesn't answer directly, but basically, the answer is yes. The ship will have to keep looking for a suitable planet. Mixer looks pleased. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the world's first ten minute feature film!
No, I was kidding. It's not over yet. Leader says that Mixer will still stand for his crimes, and he orders Thor and Some Other Guy to bind the prisoner and prepare him for the “isolation chamber.”
Leader then awkwardly descends into the interior of the ship, which we now see for the first time. He goes to a circular opening, picks up a microphone, and announces sweetly, “Expedition ZL6 to base.”
Well, so much for that, as we cut to the surface, where one of Mixer's guards says he'll get “the straps.” The other one tells Mixer to “lie down” and put his hands behind him. Mixer does as he is told.
Fortunately for Mixer, one of the other guys is having trouble re-packing his equipment back into its flight case. Thor goes off to help. Mixer waits a good long time before deciding that, hey, he can add a lot to the running time, by running himself! He chooses this moment to do so.
So, let's take a brief look at events. These folks were going to use the Earth to breed giant lobsters, but due to the nitrogen in the air, the planet is unsuitable and they're going to leave and find some other place. Mixer is largely responsible for saving the Earth, as his delays allowed the nitrogen to take effect. Earth is safe.
But, rather than take punishment (which would probably be waived since he prevented bad gargon harvesting), he chooses to escape and THEN endanger the Earth!
Yep, must be a teenager.
Inside, Leader is told his “orders” are “complete” but up topside, the guy who went to get the straps notices the escaping Mixer. He reaches for his gun! “He's escaping!” he yells, and within the ship, Leader looks alarmed at this.
Sure enough, Mixer is escaping across open, flat ground, an easy target. Thor aims, but as he fires, Leader knocks the gun aside and Mixer trips, so the tree in front of him catches on fire. Mixer runs on, then drops into a convenient trench.
At the ship, Thor and Leader commiserate about how “Derrick” (Mixer) needs to be brought back alive. These guys are really terrible actors, I'm sorry, but they'd be right at home in an Ed Wood film. They cross their arms and nod and make these huge broad gestures. Imagine a whole space ship full of guys like Eros, from Plan Nine.
Anyway, Leader goes on to say that Mixer is the “son of our Leader” (just to keep these guys straight, I'm going to call this new guy UberLeader). This is news to everyone, and according to Leader, even Mixer doesn't know it! Leader says they'll search for him when the “sky is light.”
Just then, an underling calls out about the gargon--”It is not dead,” he says, seeing the thing move sluggishly in its cage. His voice drops an octave or so: “It has revived!”
Leader notes that it is actually thriving; according to him, the excessive nitrogen shocked the creature, but now it likes nitrogen. So it turns out Earth is going to be a gargon ranch, after all. Had Mixer not run off, everything would be packed up for the next planet, and Earth would be spared.
Way to go there, Mixer.
Leader says to put the gargon over in a cave and secure it with straps, because apparently it's going to start growing anyway. More exposition reveals that as long as it only eats atmosphere, it won't get too big to handle. Who smells a victim coming along here?
Thor marvels at thousands of these creatures, a million times the size of this one, and it creeps him out. His pal points out that they'll be harvested “from the air” so no one has to worry about them killing members of the Master Race.
Thor doesn't like the look of them anyway, and says, let's make haste and git. He doesn't put it like that, of course—none of these people use contractions at all.
Back at the ship, someone (maybe Thor) eavesdrops on Leader talking to Uberleader. UL says they should all return so they can guide the transport ships back; Leader should leave his best man to find Mixer, tell Mixer that he is the son of UL, and detain him. Leader asks, what if Mixer causes trouble? UL says he (Mixer) should be destroyed, along with any beings he comes in contact with.
Leader pops up through the hatch, and Thor tells how he was listening, and he wants the job. Leader says OK, and don't fail (taking many more words than I've used). They all look at some giant birds flying overhead, and we cut to Mixer running along, coming to a highway, and then running along that.
And we cut to a typical small town, accompanied by typical small town music (it's what you would hear in a documentary about hot-dogs, for example). Mixer is there on the scene, smiling broadly at a knot of little kids. He walks to a gas station, and the attendant asks if he needs help.
Mixer asks if the attendant can translate the dog tag, and the attendant duly reads out, “Sparky, 1243 Willowcrest Drive.” He then gives Mixer directions to attain that destination, and Mixer moves off.
Attendant notes to grouchy customer that Mixer had weird clothes, like some kind of military outfit. He wonders where he (Mixer) is from.
“He could be from Mars for all I care,” Grouchy customer says, and asks attendant to hurry it up. Wow, the irony! See, Mixer probably is from Mars. That makes it funny.
We cut to Mixer, now walking along some wide open highway. Attendant told him the address was only three blocks away...sheesh, some people can't follow directions.
Oh wait, it’s not Mixer, it’s Thor. Sorry about that. All these aliens (except Leader) look exactly the same. It’s only Thor’s poor attitude that tells him apart. A car pulls up and offers Thor a lift into town, confusing the alien with all this Earth lingo like “lift.” But he gets in the car.
Driver also asks about the uniform, but gets no answer. He asks what Thor is doing around here.
“I am searching for someone,” Thor says.
“Maybe I can help you...[I] know a lot of folks around these parts.”
“I am searching for someone you could not know,” Thor says a bit snottily, putting the kibosh on that conversation.
Then, we cut again, to Mixer walking along a suburban street. He spots 1243 on a house, and seems to think this is it.
Mixer goes to the house, passing a “Room for Rent” sign. In the back of the house, a teenage girl notes that she put Sparky's food out twenty minutes ago, and he hasn't come back to eat it. Grandpa (who she was addressing) says that the dog is probably chasing gophers. Mixer is standing there awkwardly listening to this conversation.
Teen notes Mixer, and assumes that he has come about the room for rent. She asks him to come in, but asks Gramps if he can show the room, as she's late for a swimming party with her teen friends.
Mixer comes in, and Teen introducers herself as Betty Morgan, and Grandfather as Gramps. Gramps is Harvey B. Dunn! From that Ed Wood movie with the octopus. Hey, and now he's in a movie with a lobster! Wow! And in that movie, he had a pet bird, and here we saw birds overhead previously...it all starts to make sense! Ha ha, I knew it!
Anyway, Gramps offers his hand, and Mixer doesn't know what to do. It's awkward, but Gramps doesn't persist. He tells Mixer he has not seen him around before, has he just arrived?
“I just arrived,” Mixer picks up the cue.
Betty asks him his name, and isn't it lucky his name is “Derrick” just like an Earthling! But he'll always be “Mixer” to me. Betty notes that the room for rent is her brother's, he's recently married and lives elsewhere now.
“Your...brother?” Mixer asks. “You...knew your brother?”
Betty seems to think this is an odd thing to say. She notes, however, that she and her brother were both raised by Gramps when her parents died.
Mixer, thinking fast, says he never knew any brothers or sisters.
“Your mother and father decided to play it smart, and avoid a lot of squabbles around the house!” Gramps chuckles, and Betty gently chides him.
“I never knew my mother, or my father,” Mixer says, and this makes Betty all sympathetic and everything.
Gramps offers to show Mixer the room, and he can stay if he likes this room. (Money isn't mentioned.) Betty sweeps Mixer to show the room, while Gramps asks about that swimming party she was so on about; but you know teenagers, first it's one thing, then that thing is “old hat” and they're on to the next fad. Gramps chuckles knowingly about it all.
And we cut back to that driving guy with Thor. Thor is asking about the various parts of the car, no doubt looking to drive one of his own and go drag racing at midnight. Driver answers pleasantly enough at first, but takes umbrage at Thor's increasingly belligerent tone. But he explains the workings of the pedals and the starter and such. He notes that he needs gas, and pulls into the same station where Mixer received his directions.
Speaking of Mixer, back at the Morgan house, Betty approaches Gramps. She says she asked Mixer where he was from, but all he said was that he was “from very far away.”
“He did, eh?” says Gramps, not taking his eyes off his newspaper. “Well, maybe he doesn't like to talk about where he's from.” Please join me in astonishment at this brilliant deduction! I sure hope we get to see Gramps solve some crimes later.
“From the looks of his outfit,” he goes on, “I'd say he was raised in a private school of some sort.”
A word on the outfits, I suppose. They look like space clothes. One piece flight-suit type of things, with gloves and boots and insignia. So, sure, it might be a private school…for astronauts.
Betty asks if it's okay if Mixer can't pay the rent for a while. Gramps doesn't answer, but only because Mixer shows up. He seems astonished that these folks will let him live here, but Gramps notes that that's why they put up the “Room for Rent” sign, and isn't that why Mixer is here?
Mixer looks at the dog tag in his hand and says, “Not exactly.”
There's some more talk between Betty and Gramps about money, but Gramps is amiable that Mixer can stay free until he can pay rent. He then asks if Mixer likes the room.
Mixer says he does, and he would like to stay. And everyone's happy at this turn of events.
Gramps says he'll take down the sign and Mixer can call to have his “bags” delivered. Naturally, Mixer has no bags which pings the old sympathy-meter a good one. But the departed brother left some clothes, and Mixer is free to use those if he likes.
Then, there is a honk from a car outside, but don't worry—it's not Thor driving a hopped up speedster, challenging Mixer to a drag race to decide the Earth's fate. No, it's Betty's boyfriend, Joe, who was to take her to that swell swimming party. I say “was to” because he's popped by to cancel, as (in his job as newspaper reporter) he's been assigned to interview a bunch of folks who saw—get this, this is rich—a flying saucer! Ha ha, can you imagine?
He's apologetic, and Betty is sympathetic, and Gramps is philosophic—why, they can almost form one of those “rock and roll” bands with the talents they have here! But Betty has an idea—maybe Mixer would like to go to this hep, happenin' swimming party! And she asks if she can borrow the car, and Gramps says sure, although he seems to feel that “Alice” might not like this, but Betty assures him that she knows Alice, and “you won't be able to keep 'em apart.” Does she mean Alice might cling to Mixer, or is she saying dirty innuendo?
No matter, as we cut to the gas station, where Driver's car is being filled with hi-test. A nice thing about this movie is that we haven't seen any gas price signs. Those are really startling in old movies, when you see “15 cents” a gallon gas and so forth. And, they're a bit depressing, too, but buck up, my pets, and back to the film.
The license plate on Driver's car reads “KUB 647” which is probably a homage to Stanley KUBrick. I bet it is. As the attendant (the same guy we saw before) polishes windows and such, he notes Driver's passenger, and asks if there's “a convention” or something going on, as he saw someone else dressed just like him earlier.
Well, this animates Thor a lot; he surges from the car, grabs the attendant by the shirt and wants to know all about this visit from Mixer.
Attendant is all, hey, calm down, you creep, I don't have to tell you nothin', push off, etc, until Thor pulls his ray gun out. (Even Driver notices this.)
Well, fearing for his life, and his very sanity, attendant spills the details of the earlier visit, including the address, and how to get there.
Driver has heard enough of this, he tries to drive out, but Thor skeletonizes him; when attendant also tries to escape, he ends up skeletonized as well.
A pause, for a moment. I've always thought skeletonization was a pretty gruesome, horrible death. And this movie doesn't alter my opinion one bit. There's something about the primordial fear of skeleton figures, combined with the fact that each and every one of us has a skeleton inside, that makes these scenes really work, at least on someone like me, who's, well, [personal stuff deleted] and I haven’t been back since. These two deaths are moments of genuine horror in a film that, otherwise, is too stilted and awkward to inspire anything other than dismissal.
Back to the action. Remember how Thor was asking how a car worked and stuff? Well, he learned his lesson well, as he tosses out Driver's skeleton (which stays in one piece, like it was, oh, I dunno, wired together or something). He slips into the driver's seat and drives out, and we cut--
--to Betty and Mixer, also in a car, as Mixer proves an awkward driver. Betty makes some remark about his driving abilities, and Mixer says “I have never piloted a vehicle like this before. I will try again.”
Betty points out his target for this new attempt at piloting, which is Alice's house. Mixer makes a smooth landing at the curb. It's a very nice looking house, probably owned by some rich folks, but, yes, of course; they have a swimming pool, big enough to host parties, so one imagines it is not an inflatable one.
Betty gets out, and Mixer follows, and tells her to wait. She listens eagerly as he tries to tell her...well, something, probably. Mostly, he goes on about how everything was strange to him, and he had just arrived here, and he's still clutching poor Sparky's tag. Betty flutters her eyebrows and looks very pleased. She says that she's glad Mixer popped into her and Gramps’ lives, and notes that Mixer would hate it in a “hotel, or some place like that.” She then breezily hopes that Alice has some trunks that will fit Mixer.
Mixer is left looking at the (almost fetishistic) dog tag as Betty flounces toward the mansion.
You can read the adolescent confusion raging in Mixer's impassive face. Which is, come to think of it, quite a trick.
Well, we see Alice swimming about in her pool...all alone, as it happens. Swingin’ party, Alice! Betty apologizes for Joe, and introduces Mixer.
Alice pulls off her bathing cap, and restrains herself from pulling off Mixer's trousers. “Derrick,” she vamps, “I like that.” When Betty notes that Mixer has no swimwear, Alice assures them both that her father's trunks will do just fine. She goes on to note that her parents and all the servants are gone for the day.
I'm sure you and I are aware that by exhibiting this incredible physical need (not to mention being alone in the house), Alice has pretty much doomed herself. In the 1980's, everyone would know this, as Jason Vorhees et al have made abundantly clear; in the 1950's this might have been pioneering.
Well, Betty procures a pair of trunks for Mixer, which just happen to be hanging behind on the wall, and she tells him to change in the bathhouse. (She's already wearing her hot one-piece.)
Just then, some small splashes appear in the water next to Alice, and there is a “this is menacing” musical sting, and Betty asks “What was that?”
Alice says, “Don't worry, I'll get it.”
Yes. Yes, you will.
Mixer turns to Betty and says, this is what he wanted to tell her about, when he had no place else to go.
Alice pops up again with whatever it was, thinking it was a “fifty cent” piece but philosophical that it was not that. It's Sparky's dog tag.
Okay, because I love you all, I went back and re-wound. When Betty handed Mixer the trunks, he dropped the dog tag, it bounced and fell in the water next to Alice. Alice went below and retrieved it, and gave it to Betty. I cannot imagine what someone without DVD technology would make of this scene; they would probably simply perish through malnutrition of the brain. We're lucky we live in modern times, aren’t we?
Anyway, Betty asks Mixer where “on Earth” he found Sparky's dog tag.
Mixer says when he first arrived, he was with some others, and one of them “destroyed a small creature,” and later, “I found that, among the remains.”
Betty wonders why anyone would want to kill Sparky, and Mixer says “they are gone now, only I remained.”
Betty, very upset, asks if Mixer can take her to “where it happened.”
“I'll get dressed and come with you,” Alice says.
Betty asks that Alice remain, and says “we'll see you later.” Yeah, in the morgue! Betty and Mixer turn to leave.
A quick, final shot of Alice shows she has put her bathing cap on.
And cut to Gramps, watering the lawn. See, this is so cool, because the others were just at a swimming pool, which contains water, and he is watering the lawn, which now contains water! It's like multi-layered, in terms of water and stuff.
Naturally, Thor chooses that moment to pull up to the Morgan place, and Gramps observes, “Well, well, so Derrick didn't come to town alone!” and continues watering, unaware of the DOOM that just appeared!
As Thor hoves into view, Gramps goes on how Mixer and Betty went over “to the Woodwards.” He then suggests that Thor might enjoy the swimming party as well.
Thor plays along, asking for directions. And Gramps gives them out, asking at the end where all these folks are from? Not receiving an answer (Thor is busy arching his eyebrows) he pronounces it a “military matter” and says it doesn't matter, personally, to him. “Don't let me keep you,” he says, as Thor's hand inches for his gun, “you're probably anxious to see him!”
And we get a blaring, jarring note on the soundtrack and a shot of dead ol' Sparky. Then, a shot of a car coming up toward where Sparky met his maker. Betty and Mixer get out, walk toward the camera; Betty looks around and doesn't see anything until Mixer nods toward her feet, where she spots the little skeleton.
Betty still thinks this can't be Sparky, as, after all, they're bones and only things that have been dead a while are just bones. Mixer looks really puzzled (a stretch for the actor) and realizes, “You are not familiar with the focusing disintegrator ray?”
Betty's like, Uh, no, not really.
Mixer explains the workings of this ray, saying that it destroys living tissue; bone, being kind of non-living, is all that remains. (He neglects to explain how uniforms and clothes and stuff is also disintegrated; everything, it seems, except for bones and dog tags.)
(“Bones and dog tags”—now there's a heavy metal song title for someone.)
Back to the film, Betty accepts that Sparky will no longer chase sticks, but still needs some smartening up on this disintegrator thing. Mixer points out the tree that got burnt when the beam missed him. Well, Betty's convinced now...of something. She asks Mixer for some guidance.
He...well, pauses a lot, and looks awkward, and stuff. Finally, he asks her what “is the most advanced form of transport you know.”
She's not sure what he means, but at his insistence, she thinks of airplanes, “jet airplanes” she qualifies.
“And where do they go?” he asks. “From where, to where?”
“To anywhere in the world,” she answers.
“And...that's all?” he says.
“Where else is there to go?” she wonders.
“I should not have brought you here,” Mixer says.
“Is it about a new secret weapon?” Betty asks. “Something you and the others invented...and then they turned against you?”
“It...is something like that,” Mixer says. He looks off. “I guess I should try to find someone I can explain it to.”
“Maybe Professor Simpson at the college,” Betty suggests. “He's head of the science department! He will--” She notes his downcast look. “What is it, Derrick?”
He says, that when she learns where he is from, he hopes it will not make any “difference between us.”
She says that, although she doesn't understand any of this, she won't care where he's from, as, somehow she feels that “I've always known you. But we've never been apart.”
Ewwwww, love has reared its frothing, serpentine head. And from way out in left field, too! Quick, get it off me!
Mixer chokes awkwardly on his own sentiments. “I...” he starts, then thinks better of it. “Let us go to the professor you speak of.”
Betty's fine with that, and notes that they have to pass the house on the way, which will give her a chance to change clothes. They turn to leave.
Then, there's a shot of the cave where the gargon is, and there's a sound like air escaping briefly from a balloon. “What was that?” asks Mixer in alarm.
Betty didn't hear anything though, so Mixer dismisses it as imagination, and he hurries them both out of there.
And we cut to Alice, swimming all alone in her pool. Still a swell party, eh Alice? Everyone who’s anyone is there! Thor is standing right by the side of the pool, looking grim.
“Well, hello,” Alice vamps at this stranger. “What can I do for you?”
“You are alone?” he asks.
“I could be,” she purrs. He wants to know where the others are, “the ones who were with you.”
She tries more kittenish stuff, but he's having none of it, and his stiff rudeness begins to dampen her ardor. She has no idea where the others have hied themselves off to. She's ready to call the police, but he says, “You will call no one!” She swims to the other side of the pool, where the ladder is, and he blasts her. “I said you will call no one!” And Alice has suddenly lost a lot of weight.
I’ve mentioned it before, but this disintegrator beam destroys everything but the skeleton. Clothes, shoes, belt buckles—both Thor's gas station victims were denuded of all but bone. The only thing so far not disintegrated was Sparky’s dog tag. You could make a fortune selling these guns to the silicates of “Island of Terror,” except they don't have hands to hold it—so it's pure profit!
Back at the Betty house, she's changed clothes and is preening in front of the mirror. Uh, no time to lose and all that, eh Betty? She sneaks past the sleeping Gramps and writes a note telling where she's going, while Mixer waits out in the car. She then goes out to the car and tells him, and us if we weren't paying attention, exactly what she just did in the previous shot. She does add, though, that they'll probably be back before Gramps wakes up. And they drive off.
Back at stately Betty Manor, the phone rings and wakes up Gramps. It's Joe (remember him? Me neither) who wonders where Betty is. Gramps says that she and Mixer have gone off to the pool for that swank party everyone would like to rave about. From the various cans and stuff in front of Joe, he's either calling from the Gas Station of Death or he has a serious sterno problem.
In response to Joe's query re: Mixer, Gramps yawns through his introduction and allegro and his renting the room. Joe offers that he's stumbled on a double murder “that may keep me longer.”
Well, this double murder stuff sure wakes Gramps up fast, he wants to know all about it, but Joe doesn't know much, but says when he's wrapped up the story he'll be over at that party much spoken of in legend. Joe works those stories fast, I guess.
Just as Joe hangs up, Gramps discovers and instantly reads the note. He tries to alert Joe but Joe's already rung off. Just then Thor drives up, and Gramps apologizes for leading him to the party, but hands him the note about going to see Professor Simpson. I'm sure Thor's not getting a very good impression of us Earthlings from you, Gramps.
Cut to Betty and Mixer walking up the impressive steps of the university. And through the impressive door. And along the impressive hallway. To the impressive receptionist, who, in response to Betty's polite inquiry, says that the Professor hasn't arrived yet; she offers them the opportunity to wait here, but they prefer to wait in the parking lot. Ooookay. And it's back to the impressive hallway. Say, I bet this place is called Impressive University!
And apparently, even though we saw them going down the same way they came in, the director broke the 180 rule, because we Professor Simpson enter and walk down the same hallway, but of course the two parties do not meet. The receptionist says that the exams haven't come in, she'll go down to “mimeograph” and get them. (Do a Google search. Strange indeed were the ways of our distant ancestors.) And of course, just then, a friendly janitor is letting Thor in, pointing out Professor Simpson's office, and adding that he's the head of the science department. Well, I dunno about you, but I didn't think Betty was taking Mixer to meet an English teacher (though he needs one) or the guy who teaches film, or home ec, or pneumatics.
Out in the parking lot, Betty notes the Simpson car, and says they should go back to the office. In the office, the Professor is on the phone when Thor barges in and orders him to put the phone down. He then badgers the Prof for information on Mixer, who of course the Prof hasn't met yet. The Prof's ignorance makes Thor pretty steamed, and when the Prof reaches for the phone again, Thor whips out the gun...well, I’m sure glad we spent all that time at the University, aren't you? The plot advanced sooooo much.
Apparently skeletonizing someone raises a stink (this is the first one Thor has done indoors) so Thor goes to the window to open it. He then escapes through the window, and saunters off jauntily as the music (also later heard in Night of the Living Dead) indicates that this is exciting and desperate and stuff.
Betty, Mixer and the receptionist all go back into the office, and well, you know what they find, right? The receptionist screams her head off, then decides it's a joke, and (I think) quits her job over this. Betty and Mixer are pretty shocked as well, but as they're not gainfully employed, they have no jobs to quit in solidarity.
There's a quick scene of cats fighting—in my house, not in the movie—but this is resolved and adds nothing to the plot. Any objections?
Mixer and Betty find their worst fears confirmed here—Betty, because whoever killed Sparky is still around, and Mixer because they're obviously after him. Let's see if they can figure out how the killer knew to come to Professor Simpson (who never even got to say “D'oh!”) and go back and slap Gramps a good one.
Well, they do figure this out, and decide to call Gramps. We get a lot of detail of them leaving the office, finding a phone, etc, and the phone ringing at Betty Manor. But...is there anyone there to answer? Sure, Gramps is right there. Betty asks a few leading questions, Gramps spills the bit about Mixer's “pal,” and Betty drops two bombshells: first, that this guy is a killer, and second, he's probably on the way back even as they speak! Betty says they're going to the police, and they'll meet Gramps there. Of course, at that moment, Thor pulls up outside. Ooo, the suspense! The suspense...was right here, just a moment ago. Anybody see it? Did it leak out again? Damn.
Betty decides that rather than just going to the police, they'll call ahead of time to make sure the police know they're on their way. And that'll give the Police time to make a big “Surprise!” banner for the party!
Mixer asks what kind of weaponry the police have. The conversation goes like this:
“Guns that emit what?”
“Bullets...centuries old invention against--” but this line is squashed as Betty gets the operator.
Back at the Betty house, Thor bursts through the door, gun drawn, and he looks cautiously around the place. Gramps runs through the back door and toward the car, but I guess Thor was expecting this, as he calls out for Gramps to halt. Gramps, who can't keep a secret, says that he know all about Thor and how mean he is, etc. Gramps, I suspect the only reason you haven’t been blasted is that Thor wants the NORAD codes, several credit card numbers, and the formula for Diet Coke, which you will instantly provide.
Thor wants to know where Betty and Mixer are, and says he has no reason to harm Gramps’ granddaughter, he only wants Mixer. Gramps wants to know why Thor has to kill Mixer and this, amazingly, seems to bring Thor up short.
“I--” he starts. “It is important only that he leave here. That I return him to where he belongs.”
“And where is that?” Gramps asks, really pushing his luck with a guy who, as we've seen, doesn't need much excuse to skeletonize people.
“From where he escaped!” Thor says, and then he starts to lose his patience. “I need not harm anyone if you tell me where he is. If you do not, there will be many deaths—beginning with you, now!” He thus manages to get Gramps to squeal on Betty and Mixer, and then he gets him to drive to where they are! Gramps, you are...oh, well, you're Harvey B. Dunn, and, as amazing as it may seem, you have acted the pants off of everyone else in this entire film. So, we'll allow you the endless stream of deaths you've caused. It's only a movie after all.
Cut to Alice's house, where Joe is discovering Alice's sensational new diet and its revolutionary new results. “Holy mackerel!” he exclaims.
Cut to what I assume is Police central, where a bunch of guys with guns are standing right out in the open. One of them asks if the tip might have been a phony. Another answers about Joe finding another skeleton.
We cut to Betty and Mixer, driving toward city hall, Betty hoping Gramps is already there and AOK. Behind them, coincidentally, is Gramps and Thor! Thor leans out the window to fire his gun, and Gramps asks him what he's doing. Gramps is told to be quiet, but Gramps, the wily fellow, honks his horn, and Mixer realizes who is in hot pursuit of them. So, he springs into action, and...pulls into a parking space. Fortunately, it's right in front of city hall. He tells Betty to stay in the car, as Thor wants him not her, and he dashes up the city hall steps as the cops take cover.
Thor, still leaning out of the window, doesn't have the opportunity for a good shot, so Gramps decides to park as I guess he sees an open space. He probably gets a Senior Discount, too—good planning on Thor's part to take advantage of that.
Thor runs out of the car and across the road, just as Betty decides that she needs to stay with Mixer. No one takes a shot at Thor until he finds a nice place that has good cover (I guess that's good sportsmanship on the part of the police).
Then, we get a gun battle, as police fire at Thor's well protected spot, and he fires back at them. Thor gets a couple of cops, and he gets shot in the shoulder. He takes this as an opportunity to escape. The cops go off looking for him.
Joe shows up and thanks the Lord that Betty is safe. Joe and Betty exchange information, but we've seen it all, so no need for me to recap. Joe goes over to Gramps, who hasn't been able to cross the street. Mixer is nervously looking for Thor, and Betty goes up to him. He suggests that she go inside, as it is safer there. She notices drops of blood on the ground, next to a car, near where Thor was shot.
“Betty—go into the building!” Mixer says, as she notes more blood on the door handle.
And sure enough, Thor hoves into view, sitting in the back seat of the car. He demands Mixer's gun (he got it from a cop, I think), and Betty thinks they should do as he says. Mixer gives Thor the gun, and Thor demands that they both get in the car, and take Thor to a doctor. Actually, he says, “a man of surgery, who will remove the metal pellets from my flesh!” and he sounds really unhappy about these pellets.
“That is not possible,” Mixer says, but Betty's obviously got Gramps' genes, as she says that she knows where a doctor's office is.
“She is very wise,” Thor observes, using the wrong Earth word for “stupid.” “Now go!”
What we've just seen is one of many, many countless scenes in movies where the bad guy has a gun aimed at the hero, and the hero has a gun aimed at the bad guy. All it would take is one squeeze for the hero to eliminate the bad guy. But that opportunity is never, ever taken. Instead, the hero hands his gun meekly to the guy who will, most likely, want to kill him and any pals he has left. Oh, but that's always the way you have to do it in the movies, some people say. Quentin Tarrantino proved that movie cliches are the best things ever. To which I say: frickin' hacks.
Anyway. We cut to Gramps giving his side of everything to Joe, who's writing it all down. Again, we've already seen it. Gramps then notices that Betty's car is gone. You wouldn't believe how much talk Joe and Gramps get out of this observation. Or, for that matter, how much running time it eats up. Well, no, I suppose you would believe it. If you've read any of these things you're probably as cynical as I am. In which case, Whoa, ease on up there, pardners!
Anyway, back to this. Gramps complains that he won't get a ride back, and Joe offers that he'll get an escort, probably, and not to worry etc. He's going to drive out to the old mine Betty mentioned. Whilst all this fascinating talk is unfolding, various armed types are prowling about, no doubt looking for Gramps' elusive vehicle...which, we're not going to point out, was on the opposite side of the street. Nope, we are not going to say anything about that. What? ...oh. Sorry!
Anyway, Joe further blathers on about how Betty said that Sparky (remember him?) was killed around the old mine, and Gramps complains that Betty never told him about that. Before we can get into the deep philosophical issues of what Betty told who, and why she made the choices she did, one of the skulking cops points out the bloodstains on the curb. The cops decide that this is how the killer made his escape. (It takes three of them to work out this conclusion.) Gramps opines that, since this was his car, Betty and Mixer must have been kidnapped! It's the only explanation, after all.
Consternation, uproar; Gramps moves that the police have “got to do something” and details his nebulous fever dreams for them, opining that they've “got to find them.”
And we cut in the middle of this suspenseless scene—uh, I mean, suspenseful scene—to the shingle of one C.R. Brandt, MD, who is an old guy just leaving from his suburban office for the day. Now, I know what you're thinking. No, no, I know just what you're thinking. You're thinking, gosh, this guy never shuts up. Most of you. The others are noting that there is a character named “Betty” and a doctor named “Brandt” and are thinking this movie influenced Spider-Man comics, which, after all, were about teenagers! Betty Brandt was Spidey's first crush. It could happen!
Anyway, Doc is leaving his office as noted, and as previously seen, when things don’t go just Thor’s way, this usually peeves him to no end, so it wouldn't surprise me if Doc ended up a pile of bones without contributing anything to the plot. Yes, that is depressing.
Anyway, Thor orders Mixer to block the doc's car, and all the teens tumble out. Doc offers that he has a house call to make and etc. He looks like Colonel Sanders, and no, I don't think this movie was the inspiration for fast food. Remember, the Space Teens eat lobster, cough, I mean, gargon. And Colonel Sanders sells chicken. Please keep these things straight.
Well, despite the Doc's bluntness, Betty tells him that Thor needs “bullets removed” and Doc says he can't do it, and he recommends a hospital, until Thor shuts him up quick with a snarled “Be silent and get inside! You will remove the pellets here!” And though Thor is evil and all, still, I have to give him points for shearing out chunks of exposition and repetitive talk and getting the movie back on track. Go, Thor.
There's a bit more exposition to be hauked out, but everyone goes in so Doc can do what he needs to do. They go in the house and Doc points out the table where Thor will lie; he says he will prepare an anaesthetic, as “the pain will be great,” but Thor says, “I will not be drugged! You will simply remove the pellets!” Patience is a virtue, Thor, come on now.
Thor orders Betty and Mixer to sit in convenient chairs, and, since no anaesthetic is needed, Doc tosses aside the gown he was going to wear. Didn't know that was part of the anaesthetic myself; who says learning isn't an ongoing process?
So, Thor is going to lie on a table where Betty and Mixer are out of his line of vision, in fact he can't see anyone, and this...oh, never mind—it's really too stupid to make fun of this. Thor could be killed or incapacitated by any of them and he wouldn't even know it.
Doc does the operation. Mixer asks him why Thor has been searching for him. Thor tells about how the gargon looked like it hated Earth, then looked like it loved it after Mixer escaped. Thor, undergoing some pain because of this pellet-removal business, says he sure wishes he had killed Mixer when he had the chance.
Mixer asks why he didn't then, and notes he saw Leader stop Thor from shooting. Thor spills the beans about who Mixer's dad is.
Mixer gets a zooming close-up, but to be honest, the actor looks more like he is desperately trying to remember his lines more than anything else.
Doc's pulling out bullets and Thor's getting a bit woozy from the—oh, wait, he didn't use anaesthetic. Uh, he's getting woozy from...the script.
Betty and Mixer note this wooziness, and also Thor's hold on the ray-gun drooping, and they start to sit a bit stiffer in their chairs. Gun goes back up, they sit down. Thor says “A traitor does not deserve to be our next leader!”
You might remember several
million years ago, when this thing began, Mixer was complaining about
how they never knew their fathers or mothers. Seems, though,
that they know when it's important. I suppose being told you're
the ruler of the planet is like being unexpectedly given a Corvette
on your sixteenth birthday. An evil Corvette that
oppresses people, though.
Doc finishes up, and goes off-stage to get antiseptic and bandages. Thor's vision goes all blurry again, and Betty and Mixer take this opportunity to escape, along with the Doc. They all pile into the car and decide to make for the police, Doc noting that Thor will be completely helpless by the time they get back. Betty upbraids Mixer about earlier claiming not to know his father; Mixer responds by getting all depressed and saying he “wanted to forget them, forever—but now I know...they plan to return!”
And they all drive off. And we cut to Joe JUST NOW going to his car to go to the old mine, and he's being hailed by one of the cops, who says he's going along as Gramps has told him “everything he can think of.” Boy, the sluggish pace of small-town life, eh? Mixer, Betty and Doc have aided, operated on, and escaped from Thor while Joe was still walking leisurely to his car! Joe agrees to take the cop along, hoping that “maybe something will turn up, after all.” Like another juicy double murder, maybe? That should take Joe a week to write up.
And we cut back to Thor, staggering out of the operating room, looking for people to skeletonize. But Mixer, Doc and Betty are already at the Police Station! Boy...the way people move, or don't move, in this movie will make your head spin! Unless that's the beer. Steady now, steady.
As Mixer, Betty and Doc rush up the steps, Doc notes that his nurse will be “arriving soon for office hours” and he dashes off to meet her. Boy, the richness of detail of this movie never lets up! It's like a crash course in writing huge Russian novels, only without the Russian-ness or the good parts, and with a huge scoop of stupidity blapped on top. That makes it sound even greater, doesn't it? Good plan of mine. Wish I'd patented it. Oh well.
Thor staggers through the waiting room, knocking over a flower vase and pressing his face against one of the Doc's outdated magazines. “I can hear you breathing!” he says, then adds, “You cannot escape me!” All the while, he's looking like he's pretty much done for. Maybe you can sue Doc for malpractice! Ooo, that'd be evil of you, Thor!
After screaming “I'll find you!” a bunch of times at a painting of a sailing ship, Thor collapses in the open doorway. Just then, of course, this long-promised nurse shows up. She notes Thor, rushes to him, and calls out for Doc. She then says, “Are you Thor?” and he says “I thure am, thweetie! Very, very thore!” Okay, I'll stop that. She actually doesn't ask anything.
She goes to get some alcohol to treat his wounds, and to treat herself. Quick cut to Doc, saying into a phone booth, “She's already left?” then hanging up and dialing again. Just in case, you know, we might have thought this woman was some other random nurse who just happened to pop by for something.
Nurse injects Thor with something, pausing to listen to the ringing phone only long enough to look like she's never heard the like. It's Doc calling his own office, by the way, just so they don't have to tell us this.
Finally done with her bandaging, she gets up to answer the phone. It's Doc, and he tells her that Thor is a murderer, and she has to leave immediately, but if she's treated him, he might revive at any time and cause trouble.
“A moiderer?” asks the Nurse, but too late! Her incredible healing skills have revived Thor and he's aiming his gun right at her, telling her she's not going to leave. He gets her to drive him away in her car.
Doc looks mournfully at the phone as Mixer and Betty show up. He recaps the whole scene for them. They all lament the fact that Nurse revived Thor.
Well, why didn't you kill him, Doc? Sheesh.
Betty says they ought to tell the police, and Doc takes on this heavy responsibility. Betty tries to allay Mixer's fears, but he's afraid of the coming gargon hordes. He describes them, briefly, saying they can grow to the size of “this building” in a day.
“Can't you stop them?” Betty asks.
“The only chance is to duplicate the operation of the disintegrator,” he notes cryptically.
“How can that be done?” Betty asks.
Mixer says that the men of science on this planet might be able to do it, if they could get Thor's gun as a model.
Cut to Joe and the Chief of All Cops arriving at the old mine, where they find Sparky's sad skeleton again. Joe notes that Thor doesn't seem to care who he skeletonizes, animal or human, “he just seems to like killing.” Or vegetable, too! Don't forget, he shot that tree way back when. He probably hates minerals, too. And gases.
“There's more to it than that, Joe,” says the Cop King. “There's something behind this, something we don't understand. That weapon he uses—it's unheard of. Blasting flesh right off the bones.”
“Look at that tree over there,” Joe says, noting (finally) the lone vegetable victim of Thor's raging passion, “used it for target practice, by the looks of it.”
“I dunno,” offers Cop King, “let's take a look in the old cave!” And a quick shot of the gateway to gargon town is cut in.
Also cut in is a shot of Nurse driving Thor to his destiny. She wants to know where they're going, he says it's not far now. Good thing we found this out!
Back to the old mine, Cop King pokes his head out of the opening and asks Joe to bring his “flash bulbs” as the cave is really dark. Sure, says Joe, as Cop King pops back in again. Apparently, he popped back in a bit too much, as we hear him screaming, some crunching noises, and the anaemic wail of the gargon. (It sounds like some guy trying and failing to imitate an elephant.)
Joe rushes to Cop King's aid, but Thor and Nurse pull up just then, and Joe thinks hiding is a better idea. Too late, Thor spots him, but Nurse does some fancy driving (she turns a bit) and Thor's aim is spoiled. He demands that she follows him, she refuses, he notes that she doesn't seem to value her own life, he points the disintegrator at her, and--
--and he knocks her out. Why Thor, you old softie, you. Been here on Earth only a few hours and you've learned...compassion! Either that, or the charge on your gun is getting low. All in one quick move, he pulls her into the passenger seat and slides into the driver's seat, somehow.
Anyway, Joe runs off toward his own car and drives off, and Thor gives chase. Yes, it's a car chase! Thor aims his gun out the window. But his vision suddenly goes blurry and there's a slight electronic whine on the soundtrack to let us know this isn't the cameraman being careless.
The Nurse wakes up and screams, as Thor's erratic driving sends them toward a cliff-edge. She gets tossed out of the car as he heads over, and the car tumbles and such (to the tune of more music familiar from Night of the Living Dead). At the end, there's a pretty real-looking dummy of Thor wagging his head out the car's doorway as the car finally comes to a stop. Joe thoughtfully pulls back and picks up the Nurse. He asks if she's okay, she says she is, and how glad she is that it's over.
“I wish it was over,” says Joe. In response to her query, he tells about the “man-eating monster” that got Cop King. And he says the nightmare has only begun.
And we get a spinning headline, which stops to tell us that...Thor was captured alive.
A newscaster tells us he's in confinement at General Hospital. He notes that Thor's gun is nowhere to be found, and goes on to say that the “man-eating beast” Joe spoke of has also vamoosed.
Cut to Mixer and Betty, driving along in the evening and stopping where Thor crashed. Mixer is determined to find Thor's gun. Betty notes that the monster everyone's so excited about must have been in the mine when the two of them were there, at the mine, earlier in the day. She wants to know why it didn't escape sooner.
“I love the way you pad the running time,” Mixer says limpidly. Actually, he says when it ate Cop King, this “increased its growth rate.” He admits he doesn't know how big it would be now. He then goes off to look for the gun, telling Betty to stay behind. And we get more Night music. After a while, Betty leaves the car, of course, to see where Mixer is. He warns her of danger, but she sensibly says that two searchers halves the searching time. She trips, and falls into his arms.
“You make me...angry,” he lazily intones, “but I...like you very much.”
“In a moment, the moon'll come from behind a cloud,” she says, “it'll be easier to see what we're looking for.”
“Yes, the light from your moon, it will help.”
“My moon?” Betty asks. “Where are you from, Derrick?”
When he doesn't answer (he just looks uncomfortable), she goes on. “I think I know...I think I've known for some time. You're not from this world, are you?”
“I did not know how to tell you,” he says.
She notes that it seems incredible, as he is so much like Earth males she has known (including “Grampa, when he was young.” Okay, Betty how do you know that?).
“We were made the same,” he says. “The only difference is that we are put on places far, far apart.” He has become a regular Phil O'Sopher, that Mixer.
She asks what his world is like, and he turns away. “Babies are bred and raised like livestock,” he says. He notes that the sick and elderly are put to death. This seems to be a recurrent theme in alien societies, as witness the Space Babes from Attack of the Monsters.
“You won't be going back, ever, will you?” Betty asks. Ewww, it's love again, get it off! Get it off!
“I shall make the Earth my home,” he says, “and I shall never, never leave it.”
And they kiss.
You can open your eyes now, it's over. More Night music, and some shots of the nocturnal landscape, as well as our old friend the Moon. Hi, moon!
Mixer notes the moon, and says they oughta start searching now. Betty, for her part, notes the lack of cricket noises. She turns, and is menaced by the shadow of a lobster! It's the fearsome gargon, going “Gaaaahhh!” at them!
Mixer picks up a rock to throw at the creature, and Betty notes that the rock was covering Thor's gun! Good thing you didn't send her away, Mixer.
Mixer goes for the gun, but it doesn't work for some reason. “Gaaaahhh!” says the gargon, as Mixer tells Betty to start the car, and he throws the rock he thought so little of before. The gargon hates this rock, and retreats before this fearsome onslaught.
Betty runs to the car and starts it, but she dutifully pops to the passenger seat when Mixer shows up. As they drive off, she asks whazzup with the gun, and Mixer says it must have been damaged somehow. No, really? He goes on to say he can possible repair the gun.
Cut to some posse out looking for trouble, I mean, a man-eating creature. Soon enough, it finds them, proves invulnerable to bullets (use rocks, you fools) and kills most if not all of them. “Search Party Attacked by Monster” reads the newspaper headline, and from the shadow falling across it, it appears that the gargon is reading it!
The newspapers sure work fast in this town. How long has it been since Mixer landed and escaped? Yet we’ve had time for two special editions.
Back at stately Gramps manor, Mixer is trying to fix the disintegrator. “I have found the damaged part,” he says.
Betty holds it up. “Such a little thing,” she muses, “yet it has the power to destroy as it does.”
Mixer tells her the gun is worthless, unless he can figure out an “energy substitute.”
Betty thinks hopefully that maybe the gargon won't come to the city. He tells her it will, “for more food if nothing else.” Don't forget, it probably wants to buy newspapers, too.
On Betty's forlorn look, we fade to a mountaintop observatory, where this guy is drinking gin right from the bottle while reading a paperback called “The Flying Saucers are Real.” It looks like a real book, too, not a prop.
Anyway, he sees something we don't, grabs the phone and calls in a report of a monster. “No, I have not been drinking!” he lies. He says he can't see it now, it must be behind the hills, “but I'm getting out of here.” Yes. Yes, you are. But not the way you think.
Back to our newscaster, who says the survivors of the posse report that the monster “was many times the size they expected.” (Um, what size did they expect, exactly?) The newscaster says this means the creature has some Strange Power of Rapid Growth. And he's handed a bulletin! The beast has been sighted, he excitedly tells us, as the (television) camera tracks in on him. He says it's headed right for town, but the military is on the way, and citizens should seek shelter.
Betty bursts in on Mixer's thoughts with this news, but he's staring at the power lines. Of course! It's so simple! He can power the gun with the power lines, and Betty's going to help. Just then, Gramps shows up, yawning like crazy (I'm with ya) and wondering what's going down here. Betty tells him she and Mixer are going out, and he should wait for them to return. Harvey B. Dunn collects his paycheck watching the other two talk back and forth.
And we get a lot of shots of the empty town. Uh, good.
Betty and Mixer are driving with determination through the empty streets. Not us, though, we cut back to stately Gramps manor. Joe pulls up and wonders why Gramps isn't in the shelter, and where's Betty at. Joe says the monster is approaching the town.
“Huh? Then that's where they must've gone—those crazy kids!” Gramps opines. “Joe!” he yells, using the other guy's name in case we'd forgotten it, “we've got to try and find them!”
“You mean they--” Joe begins, but he fails to pick up any exposition checks. “Come on, let's go!” So, they run off in Joe's car. And we cut to Betty and Mixer, driving along.
They spot a very poorly matted gargon, moaning over the top of a hill. It seems to be floating over stock footage, but, that can't be right, that's just crazy talk!
Betty and Mixer pull over. Mixer climbs a utility pole to cut the gun into the city power. Betty spots a phone and calls the city power, where she convinces some flunky to send all the power to where they are. Luckily, this is done with one switch.
Joe and Gramps show up then. Mixer fixes the weapon to the city power, as the gargon floats over the hills.
“It is not enough,” Mixer cries, before becoming more specific: “It is not enough power!”
But the flunky guy says he'll boost the generators. Gramps says Mixer “seems to have some kind of weapon! But it's not doing anything!” So, I guess it's not a weapon, maybe, Gramps, you old leaper to conclusions? (Sorry for giving Gramps a hard time here, he's right you know.)
Well, it's still not enough power, but the flunky will add more circuits. And this works! Since the gargon has only an exoskeleton, it just lies down and dies, but we get the picture. (It's still the darkest thing in the frame, so it still looks, well, superimposed. But perhaps that is because of its alien physiology! Yes, that must be it.)
The gargon defeated, Betty hugs Mixer while Gramps orders up some sauce you eat lobsters with (sorry, need to work on that joke). Lemon butter? I honestly can't think of what it is. At any rate, I guess the military can go home now. Good thing they never showed up at all.
Betty's pretty pleased, but not so when they hear an electronic whine. Mixer confirms that this is his race, coming to the planet, in spaceships. He tells he she should go with Gramps and Joe, and he must go on alone, to face the fate his race will deal to him (they might be completely cruel and make him watch this movie). And, while Betty's heartbreak rages, he goes off to meet the invaders.
More music from Night plays, as Mixer drives toward his destiny, hearing voice-overs from Betty and the Leader, all with various plot-points, instead of eating tasty turn-overs with luscious cherry filling.
In the Joe car, Joe the reporter is asking the tough questions that he wants answers to, but Betty only quietly notes that Mixer came from somewhere else, “some place none of us has ever heard of before, Joe.”
Fun fact: did you know in most movies, when they frame people in the front seat of a car, the rear-view mirror is removed? That's because it does what it's doing here: it blocks Betty's face whenever she turns to say something to Gramps.
She goes on to say this means another planet, and Gramps accuses her of joking. She denies this. She notes all the evidence (monster, ray gun, killer from space) and caps this with the story of the flying saucer.
Joe says he thought all those folks were just seeing things. Yeah, like skeletons and giant lobsters. Um hm, Joe, you've got quite the reporter's crack insight, eh?
Anyway, Betty notes that Mixer looked into the sky before he left, and somehow, she intuits, this means he knows that more of his people are on the way.
But instead of cutting to this exciting scene, we return to Stately Gramps Manor, because, hell, we've got film-stock to use up and we paid for it! They note that Gramps' car is back, so, Mixer must be back at the house. The Hell? Where was he driving to, then? What th--?
Anyway, yes, Mixer IS back at the house, and dressed in his space teen suit. Betty calls out to him. Mixer sloooowly walks up to them and greets them. He says goodbye to Betty, and she gets a wee bit stressed. He identifies Joe, and asks for a lift in the Joemobile.
Joe decides he hasn't had a big actor moment yet, so he says, what if I say no? Mixer pulls a gun—in fact, THE gun—on him and says cooperation is the better part of valor, etc. Betty's a bit nonplussed by this sudden turn, but Mixer orders Joe into the car.
He asks where Thor is, and Joe says the hospital, so Mixer wants to go there. Oh, good, I was hoping we could stretch this out for another frickin' half hour or so. This movie is just way too short, and there aren't enough details in each scene.
Betty runs up to the car before it pulls out (she has suddenly remembered that the disintegrator had to be hooked up to power lines to, you know, work) but Mixer asks her, real quiet like, to trust her. And the car pulls out.
Gramps opines how Mixer seemed like such a nice guy, and Betty notes that Mixer promised her that he would never leave this planet. She thinks he's going to keep that promise in the worst way, and she doesn't want this, but Gramps asks her what she can do about it.
She thinks he'll end up at the old mine, and she wants to go there. Gramps says that Mixer has hurt her enough, but Betty's got a bee in her bonnet and wants to go. Gramps is no match for her Earth teen powers, so off they go in the other car.
At the hospital, Joe and Mixer chat a bit, then Mixer orders Joe out of the car, and to walk in front of him. They're about to go through the door and encounter the world of Earth paperwork, when the director has a sudden change of heart. It turns out that Thor was just then being escorted out of the building. Mixer takes over, orders Joe to disarm the cop escorts, and takes Thor. The two space teens and Joe get into the car again.
Mixer orders the cops to face the wall, then he turns to Thor and says, “I was stupid, Thor, very stupid, but that is over. We are returning to meet the ships, together.”
“Why do you let them live. Kill them!” Thor barks.
“There is no need. They will be dead soon enough, along with everything else on this planet.” He turns to Joe. “Go!” And the Joemobile moves off to seal the fate of two worlds.
This has got to be getting over with soon. Please? We are at 78 minutes. Isn't that enough? Is there no God?
We see a quick shot of the cops, cowering against the wall and looking up at the sky. “Look! That's what he meant!” one of them says, but of course we don't get to see this “that” at all, we have to use our imaginations. We cut to Betty and Gramps driving along. Gramps looks like he took the time to change into an old t-shirt.
Cut to a conning tower with a blaring klaxon, then a guy on TV says “Ships of an alien source are approaching from the sky. Radio contact has been attempted but cannot be established. Instructions are to prepare for an attack by an unknown enemy!”
And we cut to some little kid, looking up into the sky with alarm. Mom and Dad grab her, and rush her off to safety. Also among those preparing for an invasion are three old ladies in a window, someone really surprised doing her gardening, a young couple—are all these lives to be cut short in an orgy of destruction and terror?
Well, probably not, but you never know, we may have three or four more hours to go through here. Cutting to the old mine, Betty and Gramps have gotten there first. Gramps has his sweater vest back on. Gramps, seeing nothing around but an old mine, wonders why they are there, and Betty says “they're coming” but she goes on to note that Mixer didn't want to go with them, he wanted to stay here on this pleasant, green world where love thrives and people use contractions and stuff. He never even got to stay at that swell swim party, remember.
Just then, the Joemobile arrives and its crew spills out. Thor is all for destroying everything, but Mixer says there's no point, as they “cannot change what is going to happen.”
Betty asks what this “what” that's going to happen is, and Mixer says that death comes to all, “sooner to some, later to others.”
And we see the screw-ship descending. Thor's itching to go meet the “guide ship” while Betty starts on about Mixer's promise not to leave the Earth.
“I have not forgotten it,” he says quietly. He and Thor leave.
We see the screw-ship landing. “He called that the guide-ship,” Joe notes, and using his crack reporter skills, says “It looks like there are a hundred more, still in the sky.”
“What are they going to do?” Gramps asks. Well, at the risk of making a really bad joke, I'd say they're going to screw the Earth! Earth will be so screwed!
Betty says that the other ships are filled with gargons. In an interview with newsman Joe, she says that the gargons are to be raised here, a safe distance from the aliens' home world, and that no, the aliens don't care about what happens to the Earth or its denizens.
“Derrick cared,” Betty says, “he wanted to make the Earth his home. He promised he would never leave!” She collapses into Joe's arms. Have we had enough foreshadowing yet about Mixer's ultimate fate?
Well, we're sure not done with exposition yet. Mixer explains to Thor how the gun was damaged and doesn't work anyway. “It is just as well,” Thor, who moments ago was howling for blood, says. “They will be the first victims of the gargon herds!”
The screw-ship opens up, and Leader pops out. He assumes Thor brought Mixer back, and Thor has to admit that the reverse is the case. Mixer apologizes for “acting...the way I did.” It's the first time an actor has apologized for a performance on screen! He hands the gun to Leader, and says he is ready to take his punishment.
UberLeader appears at the ship's hatchway. “There will be no punishment, my son,” he says. He has the fakest damn beard ever, it looks like a beard of bees, only dead ones covered in chocolate. He says that he has watched Mixer's progress and that he, Mixer, has “excelled in all things.” He notes that he was kind of cheesed a bit when he heard Mixer ran away, which is why he personally came to Earth. He says that Mixer's mistakes came about because of “that book” which I guess means the script. Oh wait, there was a book earlier in the film, about a thousand years ago.
Mixer asks pointedly if the government won't collapse because UberLeader is here, and not there? UberLeader says they'll depart straight away, as soon as the gargons are unloaded, and no one'll be the wiser.
“Yes, if your absense were discovered, it would no doubt spark the beginning of a revolution,” Mixer notes. He says he wasn't the only one who had the “book.” (This would seem to indicate, by the way, that Mixer was far from a lone voice decrying the mechanization of his society, but you know, he's a teenager so his rebellion counts the most.)
UberLeader says yep, but he, Mixer, will help track down the others who have read this dreaded book.
Mixer says, “I see the fleet is approaching—they are flying from radio signals from the guide-ship, are they not?” He asks to be the one to guide them in.
Leader's kind of not sure about this, but UberLeader tells Mixer to go below, and guide the ships in. Anyone else see where this is headed?
So Mixer goes below...and closes the hatch behind him! Why, it's so simple! Joe, Gramps and Betty note his clever scheme, while UberLeader and the others are like, Hey, let us in, please?
Mixer picks up the microphone. “Master control to fleet,” he says. He then orders them to increase speed and lock onto his signal. Up top, the three aliens note that this is pretty bad for them, while the three humans think this is pretty great, except for one thing: Mixer is still inside the ship! Joe, suddenly practical, hustles the other two to the cave.
From outside, UberLeader calls, “My son! Turn the ships around before it is too late!”
“Hold course steady,” Mixer says. And he gets one soulful close up, before we cut to stock footage of volcanoes erupting.
Fortunately, the combination of a hundred or so screw-ships all crashing into the Old Mine isn't enough to bring the cave down on Betty, Gramps and Joe. And as the smoke clears, the music turns solemn and yet wistful, as Betty, fighting to hold back her tears, emerges from the cave mouth.
The others follow, and they look up into the sky, and the dawn of a new day. Mixer's face appears superimposed on the clouds. “I shall make the Earth my home,” he says, “and I shall never, never leave it.” Then he fades away.
Boy, you know they cleaned up on Kleenex sales during this scene. Sadder but wiser, our trio of humans walks off screen, and the words The End appear in the sky, right where Mixer's face was.
You know, I'd love to be able to say Tom Graeff, who wrote, produced, directed, edited and filmed this thing, was an undiscovered talent. So, I will say it: Tom Graeff was an undiscovered talent.
A talent for what, I'll leave to your own imagination. He wore many hats, but none of them really seemed to fit very well. Oh, and he also played the role of Joe. He certainly had ambition and drive; the fact that he was able to do all these things for this film, and the film didn’t collapse into a heap of indulgence, shows that he was working hard to make something good. He just fell somewhat short of that goal.
There are some interesting things here and there, but there is so much padding and awkward dialogue and exposition till your ears bleed…especially exposition of stuff we just saw happen. Thor’s ability to bounce back from the most dreadful mishaps adds tons of unneeded footage. The plotting is incredibly lazy, what with using old Gramps as a conduit of information at every turn.
Like so many of the movies I’ve seen lately, this one also escaped its ideal running time. It might, might have made an engaging episode of an hour-long television show. The Outer Limits, or The Twilight Zone. Stretching the thin story over the length of a feature film just makes it break and snap back, sputtering like a dead rubber band.
No doubt the idea of having the aliens unable to use contractions was supposed to make them seem more alien, but it just made them seem stiff and mannered. The idea of a whole civilization deduced from a single dog-tag is certainly clever, until you wonder why the aliens didn’t detect any Earth radio transmissions, or see cities or highways while landing. Of course, perhaps they weren’t looking; they wanted a gargon farm, and not interstellar pals. And that spaceship is definitely unique—it’s quite striking to see it spinning though the air, then bury itself in the earth. I’m not sure how practical the design is (it means you couldn’t leave very quickly, I would think), but it would take a lot of force to dislodge it.
The skeletonizing effect was pretty well done, effective and to the point. The gargon, on the other hand, was pretty bad. The creature was so dark against the film’s backdrop that even the most naïve film-goer would realize it was put into the film through rear projection. Admittedly, Graeff probably didn’t have the budget to do stop-motion or a traveling matte or even a man in a suit…but there’s a reason some things should be done, and some things shouldn’t. If your reach is greater than your grasp, it’s best to realize it and try something else. The only effective scene with the gargon was when it killed the Cop King—yes, when it was off-screen.
As previously noted, you’re kind of in trouble if the best acting in your film was done by Harvey B. Dunn. Mixer was kind of stiff, but then, he was supposed to be an awkward fish out of water, so it’s hard to say that actor David Love was either good or bad. He’s never so bad that you blame him for the stiffness of the dialogue, but he’s never really good enough to rise above it. Betty did pretty well as a nice wholesome girl, though again nothing to shout about. Thor has a kind of intensity to his meanness, which works well, and in her brief scenes Alice certainly came across as a spoiled slut—if that’s the impression director Graeff wanted, the actress obliged pretty well. Everyone else simply didn’t make any impression at all.
The music will be familiar to anyone who has seen Night of the Living Dead. Isn't it interesting how music determines so much of a film? Folks like Bernard Herrmann knew this, as well as the smart directors who employed him, but it's still startling to realize that, while you could have a double feature of Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet and Voyage to the Planet of the Prehistoric Women, you could not do so with Teenagers and Night. Even though the first pair repeated footage and dubbing endlessly, still, one could find room to discuss theme and variation and detail; with the second two, the similarity of soundtrack makes them MORE competitive for the audience's involvement. And let's face it, Night would kick Teenager's butt in this competition.
So far as I know, this film is Tom Graeff’s entire legacy, with one exception. That exception, according to the IMDB, is that he edited The Wizard of Mars. Watching the endless padding of this film, I would not have thought editing was Mr. Graeff’s strong suit, but then again, technically it was pretty well edited. And from what I’ve read, Wizard of Mars is no great shakes either in storytelling, or in brevity.
Mr. Graeff shares some traits with another do-it-all film-maker, Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Not just Harvey B. Dunn, too.) Like Ed Wood, Mr. Graeff doesn’t seem to know what to do with dialogue; Mr. Wood used it for florid explanations of things no one really cared about, while Mr. Graeff seems to think its function is to tell the audience what just happened. Mr. Graeff’s efforts, though, fall far short of Mr. Wood’s sheer brain-twisting way with words.
Mr. Graeff’s work is more professional looking than Mr. Wood's and, aside from the gargon effects, he seems to know where his limitations lie. The spaceship here is quite imaginative and novel, while Ed Wood famously used paper plates.
Which brings us to the finish line, then. Can I recommend this film? Probably not. Unlike, say, Plan Nine from Outer Space, this film doesn’t have a lot of unintentional laughs; what we mostly see on screen is over-earnest storytelling from a man who wants to say something, but isn’t quite sure what, or how to go about it. Ultimately, this film seems like the ultimate vanity press. I hope Tom Graeff liked what he ended up with; it's all anyone will ever know of him.
So long, Mr. Graeff.
--March 9, 2005