I’ve actually seen this one before, though not all the way
through. When I was a tot it was on
television once, and I recall it was pretty scary; before the ending, I had to
go somewhere with the family so I never saw the rest of it.
And it never appeared on television again (where I lived).
A couple of years back, I saw it cheap on DVD and bought it. Alas, the DVD refused to play more than the first third or so. So I still hadn’t seen the ending.
Will third time be the charm? And will it be worth it? Wow, you’re sure full of questions! Let’s find out.
It seems appropriate to watch a movie about aliens tonight. As I begin this review, scientists have decided to strip Pluto of its title of “Planet” and demote it to some other, as yet undecided category. It would serve us right if the Plutonians invaded us over such a slight.
And we start, with very sixty-ish jazz music and our titles emerging from astronomic photos. Robert Hutton is our star; among the other folks who will contribute are…well, rather a lot of folks I haven’t heard of, but Michael Gough is in here, as is Maurice Good who was also in Quatermas and the Pit in the same year (1967). Lots of other British folks are here as well, as this was made in Britain, by Britons, for British.
Now the credits are over some psychedelic swirl. Milton Subotsky wrote the script. I never get him mixed up with Morton Subotnick, though I easily could if I wanted to. And finally Freddie Francis is our director, and the credits are done.
We open on a farm as some woman is getting water from the well. She hears a strange noise from space and looks up into the darkening sky, but thinks it must be nothing and goes back to her water-retrieval duties.
Oops. Sorry, it turns out she’s actually getting into a car. The way the dark parts of the car are set against the barn in the background, it sure looks like a well. But it isn’t! It’s a car.
As she starts the well…um, the car…the noise starts up again and seems to follow her. She drives along, and there seems to be a bright light, and she’s getting worried. Then we cut to some guys starting a tractor. The tractor drives off as the lady’s car and the noise approach, and an older man—who was helping with the tractor—walks off as if he hears the noise as well. The car pulls up, the lady gets out, and the two talk about the noise and how they can’t figure out what it is.
Then they see it. It’s a V-formation of some bright lights, and they all seem to be heading downward. More specifically, as the lady notes, “they’re coming down in our field!” The man says “Look out!” and they dive to the ground just as several large meteors smash into the earth. Unharmed, they look at their field, and see it dotted with little fires.
Cut to a huge radar dish, sweeping the sky. We get rather more of this stock footage than I prefer, myself, before cutting to some guy washing or waxing his vintage roadster. A rather officious chap with bowler and umbrella strides up and asks where (it’s hard to hear) “Doctor Telephone” is and he is directed where he needs to go.
We pan along a floor with an intricate design of the solar system on it, then to a redhead who wonders if some guy, who might be Robert Hutton, is “finished with last nights figures.” He avers how he might be, if some absent-minded scientist type could translate those figures into something useful. This third guy says, not yet, but he does confirm that the first guy is Robert Hutton. That was useful. He also calls the redhead “Lee” so he is just a font of information, and not at all the kind of guy to downgrade planets to non-planets.
Robert Hutton says that the figures provided indicate that last night was “quiet.” Just then, Mr. Bowler hat arrives and says he’s from some space agency. Robert Hutton introduces Lee and Alan (science guy).
Mr. Bowler Hat asks about the meteor fall in Cornwall, where nine meteors fell. Robert Hutton and Co know nothing of this, and Mr. Bowler Hat goes on to say that they had reports of this, but the reports were so strange they decided to send someone for a look round. And they want Robert Hutton to be the leader, because he’s an expert of some kind.
The disagreement comes as to what kind of expert. Mr. Bowler Hat seems to think Robert Hutton is an expert on meteors, while Robert Hutton himself is only interested in life on other planets. Mr. Bowler Hat says that’s exactly why his agency wants him (Robert Hutton) to go.
And we cut to some older man, holding an X-ray, and saying, “No!” He further goes on to tell Robert Hutton—for he is there, as well—that he (Mr. X-Ray) forbids Robert Hutton to go on a trip, as “you nearly died in that car crash—you and your vintage cars!” One has the feeling he would love to go on about “those trashy comic books” and “those lurid horror films” and probably get to smoking and drinking eventually.
He goes on to note that Robert Hutton has a silver plate in his head. Who wants to bet this is significant? (Hint: I’ve seen this much of the film before).
We cut to where Mr. Bowler Hat is assembling the team, and Robert Hutton has to come in and say he can’t go, Mr. X-Ray said no and there’s no use arguing. Lee will go in his stead. Mr. Bowler Hat accepts this, and informs Robert Hutton that he will receive copies of all the reports, photos, autographs, glamphs, etc. Robert Hutton wonders about this, and Mr. Bowler Hat reveals that the meteors landed in formation, “in a perfect V” and he scrapes the swell solar system mosaic on the floor in just such a V shape. “That’s why we’re so anxious, to find out what these objects from space really are.”
Well, you can imagine that this piques Robert Hutton’s Robert Hutton Sense to the point where he goes back to Mr. X-Ray and argues that he should go anyway. Mr. X-Ray remains very stubborn.
Robert Hutton starts talking about his interest in alien life, and how these “meteors” in Cornwall “may have been guided here by creatures! Intelligent creatures!” So he should be allowed to go and stuff. Mr. X-Ray says no way, and Robert Hutton storms out. He goes back to his lab to pace, and Lee is there. They banter a bit, just enough to let us know there’s a bit of feeling betwixt the two of them. Then she goes on the mission while he stays behind. Or should I say, "whilst"?
Cut to the science team examining the strangest meteors ever…they are all pointy silver things, like a collection of pup tents in a big mass. They look, well, pretty darn artificial.
Lee and Mr. Bowler Hat, now wearing a different kind of hat just to thwart me, drive up and talk about extracting the meteors. Lee wants to study the impact craters first, and find all the possible evidence about anything, and then sent it on to Robert Hutton.
Speaking of whom, he and Alan are back in the lab, and Alan notes something odd on the readout. Robert Hutton notes that this is “impossible.” Alan counters that all this info came from Mr. Bowler Hat’s agency. He, Alan, has determined that these meteors came from the Moon. We see a drawing with a sphere and “MOON” written on that sphere, and then Robert Hutton gets on the phone. He calls Lee to…uh, warn her about being in a science fiction film, I guess.
We cut to the meteor field, where Lee and some disposable agency dudes are examining one of the meteors in the ground. Lee reaches out and touches it…and says, “The surface isn’t normal, though.” One agency dude offers to chip a bit of the “coating” off to find out if it is a coating. Mr. Bowler Hat walks up as the hammer is placed into position. Lee nods, and the hammer strikes…
And the meteor emits a blinding, flashing light. Lee covers her face, Mr. Hammer seems to be knocked unconscious, and the others look with alarm at the unfolding scenario.
Lee calms down, and then speaks with Echo Chamber Voice. “There is a brief moment of struggle, before the connection is made. But it passes almost immediately. Control of musculature and vocal cords awkward, but adequate.” She pauses. “You may all choose your subjects, and connect.”
And the meteor flashes again, and Mr. Bowler Hat and three disposable dudes fall under the sway of those who came…from Beyond Space!
Mr. Bowler Hat is the first to recover fully. “The brain of these primitives seem quite suitable for our purposes. We have made a most excellent choice.”
Everyone gets up, and Lee pronounces the whole bit “quite satisfactory. We can now proceed with the next part of our plan.”
And we cut to a quaint little town, with a car driving up to the village square and stopping. Possessed Lee gets out. Mr. Bowler Hat tells her, “One million pounds.” Ooh, I’d like some of that! (“Pounds” is how British people say “Dollars” but it’s nothing they can help, and apart from that they’re really all right.) So, Lee goes into the bank and gets a loan for one million pounds. The bank guy tries to be all affable and give the audience information, but she’s all possessed now and only wants the loan.
He wants to know what sort of “security” she can offer, and she offers a purse full of meteor. The loan guy is soon pretty willing to loan any kind of amount, if you catch what I mean.
We next cut to Mr. Bowler Hat (still refusing to wear a bowler hat—that proves the aliens are evil) as he gets out of his car and orders the driver to “turn the car around.”
Back to Robert Hutton, he is being told that all the lines to where Lee is have been disconnected. We get to see the “MOON” drawing again. Awesome! Robert Hutton and Alan note how stuff is frustrating and then Mr. Bowler Hat shows up. Robert Hutton repeats the frustrating part, but Mr. Bowler Hat says that Robert Hutton and Alan should go down to the meteor site immediately, and he has all the permission slips and stuff. As they prepare to leave, we get an ominous close-up of either a slide rule or a model train. Either one could be used for murder, you know!
They all stride out to the car and get inside, and Driver reveals a chunk of meteor right there in the car. The rock flashes and takes over Alan, but since Robert Hutton has a silver plate in his head, he is immune! Driver and Mr. Bowler Hat know this at once, and Possessed Alan, though only just now possessed, knows what he has to do to be a good member of the visiting team--he throws a punch at Robert Hutton. Robert Hutton falls out of the car and it drives away.
So, the aliens know there is a person resistant to them, and they let him live? I guess they’re not all that superior. Robert Hutton briefly considers chasing them in a vintage car, but thinks better of that and runs back to his office where he’s just in time to answer a ringing telephone.
On the other end is some military guy stirring his teacup, and he asks Robert Hutton to come over. Robert Hutton says he’ll be right there. Not before he notes that the slide rule is gone! Those damn aliens, will they stop at nothing! Before they have their meeting, we get a quick shot of Mr. Bowler Hat crumpling up the MOON drawing and smiling with evil satisfaction.
Tea-Stir Man talks to Robert Hutton about all the supplies going to the meteor site, lumber, cement, steel, heavy-duty cable, blah blab blay. We get a bit of cheesecake as some secretary stretches her knit blouse a bit. Robert Hutton notes how these are too many supplies! Tear-Stir Man says there are some financial hi-jinks as well. One guy closed out his joint account and took all the money out, leaving his wife with nothing. And all the scientists at the project have totally drained their bank accounts. Lee has also done this!
Cheesecake Secretary hands Tea-Stir Man some papers, which turn out to be some more requisitions, this time signed by Lee, and all for weapons! Shotguns, pistols, explosives and stuff like that. Who wants to say NOW that evil isn’t afoot? A ha, I thought so!
Robert Hutton gets determined and says “I’m going down there.” When Tea-Stir Man asks about the doctor (who wanted Robert Hutton to stay out of the action), Robert Hutton says that he “got better” (you may chuckle now) and he dashes off to see what’s up with these hijinks. And soon enough he’s driving along in his wonderful vintage speedster, which may be a Stutz Bearcat or maybe not. (Cars are my weak point, sorry.) He stops at a gas station for directions, and the platinum-haired lady there directs him accordingly. She then makes rather elliptical remarks about how, if he gets bored, he can come back and she’ll make him tea “with sugar.”
Robert Hutton avers how he’ll think about that, and he speeds on. He passes some workers putting up an electrical fence, and asks them if this territory comprises the Roberts Farm. They go on working and ignore him (good sign of zombification). He drives on.
Finally he comes to a gate with an armed guard. Robert Hutton asks to see Lee, but the guard refuses to let him in and advises him to leave. The guard is pretty brusque about it, but Robert Hutton revs up his roadster and threatens to smash it into the fence which, even though electrified, would suffer some damage and maybe even hurt folks. So the guard says he’ll call Lee. And people say cars are bad for the planet!
Robert Hutton observes a guy in scuba gear being helped out of the nearby pond or lake or whatever it is. Brusque Guard comes back and says Lee is coming, which she does almost immediately.
Robert Hutton can’t get a word in edgewise, as Lee tells him he is being disturbing and Dr. X-Ray told him not to come anyway. Robert Hutton says he wanted to find out “what was happening. I also happen to be in love with you.”
Well, this probably seemed to Robert Hutton to be something that chicks totally dig hearing, but the statement seems to startle Lee more than she’s used to being startled. “Sentiment. I will not have sentiment interfering with our vital work.”
”What’s the matter with you?” Robert Hutton asks. He looks round. “What is this work? Can’t you tell me what you’re doing?”
We see her sour face as he continues. “I might be able to understand, to help you,” he mentions.
”You can help us, Curt,” she says. “You can help us more than you know. By quietly going away!” There’s a brief warning about electricity from Mr. Brusque as the two near the electric fence. “Don’t come here again or try to contact any of us,” Lee says. “You can only keep us from our work. When the right time comes, you’ll understand. Goodbye, Curt. “ And she leaves.
Robert Hutton calls out to her, but she orders the guards to shoot him if he comes back. So she’s not up for a bit of snogging, I am guessing. And we fade to the swell roadster coming back to the parking lot of defeat. Or maybe just a regular one.
It seems to be in the possessed village, because Robert Hutton sees Lee and Mr. Bowler Hat exiting some establishment. She gets into her jeep and he nods at her, and she nods back. He also puts on his gloves with menace. He then strides with determination down the sidewalk, and even when Robert Hutton appears behind him and starts asking questions he doesn’t break his cool.
The conversation is so clipped and British that it’s hard to follow, but Robert Hutton says he’s just as involved in what’s going on as anyone, and Mr. Bowler Hat says, “I don’t think so. You see, you’re no longer one of us.” He then Britishes off into the distance while Robert Hutton looks a bit puzzled. I feel a bit puzzled as well, as Robert Hutton was never one of them. It's Mr. Bowler Hat who is no longer "one of us."
Well, some other guy we haven’t seen before watches all of this, and elects to follow Robert Hutton. Robert Hutton himself goes to a greenhouse or some place very like that. Actually, it’s some convenient foliage near a farm, and he can observe what’s going down without getting in danger. He watches Lee go through the gate, leaving the protected farm in fact, and then he gets in his awesome roadster and makes pursuit.
He cuts her off, says he has to talk to her, and she whips out this ray gun and beams him with it. He reacts in pain and the screen goes all swirly. And we fade out to the platinum blonde we saw earlier, bringing Robert Hutton to his senses. She tells him she found him and his car, abandoned, and towed the both of them in about an hour ago. He asks her where she found him (on the road to the town) and which way the town is (“that way”). “Thanks,” he says, “thanks for everything.”
”It was a pleasure,” she says in puzzlement as he departs. Then she waits a bit, and calls someone on the phone. Some other person, who may have been someone on the phone, picks up a pair of binoculars and looks through them. This could have been that guy from earlier, the guy we hadn’t seen before who was following Robert Hutton. He watches the cool roadster road along the British countryside because…well, I don’t know.
Anyway, Robert Hutton and his sportster are stopped by someone who looks a lot like Mr. Bowler Hat. He asks for a ride into town. He’s not Mr. Bowler Hat, though, he’s Stillwell, “internal security” and he has a card which says this. He leaps into the car and offers to trade some info about the strange goings on hereabouts. He might have been Mr. Binoculars in town and just recently. It’s hard to tell when they’ve got their hats on. Those silly Brits, they should have things like “good guy” and “villain” stamped on their foreheads and forego the silly hats which all look alike. Silly Brits!
And the two of them drive along, Non-Silly Brit shares his knowledge that he was assigned to monitor all this stuff, and then he was assigned some not so silly stuff as his fears became rather more alarming, and it turned out, bad stuff might be true. He says he’ll have to talk to his superior before he can bring Robert Hutton up to speed on alien takeovers and stuff.
And they speed into town, and stop. Mr. Bionoculars goes into a phone booth. Soon, he develops horrible red scars on his face which render him inoperative. Robert Hutton goes to see, but can do nothing to stop the horror of the red acne!
One supposes not, as various concerned types show up to show up their concern. The town doctor thinks he might report something, but then he breaks out in the same rashes as the fallen Stillwell! Oh no! Everyone runs away as similar blotches break out on others nearby. Platinum appears briefly and then gets into a car, to escape. Robert Hutton grabs a bit of something which will prove valuable. I'm guessing.
Soon enough, a BBC reporter appears among the deserted streets, pontificating about everything. He says the malady has been called “The Crimson Plague” and everyone is trying to find a cure. The BBC guy says this is hopeless, but he has another hope, which is that scientists will stop this sort of nonsense, which they can do if they prove stuff.
Robert Hutton disgustedly turns the TV off. He hefts a pair of glasses while sighing heavily, then he goes off to sigh some more where it is less expensive.
But then, some new guy shows up and wants to know what Stillwell told Robert Hutton before he, Stillwell, died. New Guy says that Robert Hutton ought to “go back to your telescope” and stuff, and Robert Hutton says that the plague is part of all this stuff and it is bad alien mojo and all that kind of thing.
Mr. New Guy tells Robert Hutton that he cannot, and will not tell him what is happening. Oh good. He says it would be bad security to tell anything, and he says Robert Hutton should just leave. Like that! Robert Hutton says that the plague is from the farm where Lee and company are doing Nefarious things, and he thinks Mr. New Guy (Williams) should put a stop to it. Williams sure resents being told what to do.
But he does mention that everything Robert Hutton knows is (probably) wrong, and that the stuff happening on the farm isn’t going to destroy humanity, it might just save it. Woah! He tells Robert Hutton that the best thing he, Robert Hutton, can do is stay away, because he was lucky he survived before when the farm-people (who might have just come from beyond space) shot him with a plastical ray gun. He then says that he, Williams, can’t offer any protection other than this one warning, and then he (Williams) leaves. We get an exciting knee-level shot of this.
Robert Hutton, non-plussed, watches as Williams walks across the parking lot back to his car. The driver of the car is none other than Platinum Blonde! Damn, this movie is like the X-Files, with all those divided loyalties and things.
Next, we see Robert Hutton driving his antique roadster back to the gas station and asking the attendant—a smiling male person, this time—to fill up the tank. Robert Hutton asks about “the girl” and is rebuffed, politely, then not so politely when he looks down the road toward the farm. He says there was so a girl right here, and a brief fight ensues. The two attendants (another one joins in) are more than a match for Robert Hutton. He’s told that the girl, and Stillwell “don’t exist.” “Get out before you don’t exist!” says the other guy, and we cut to a shot of Robert Hutton driving along again. So I guess they let bygones be bygones and filled up the tank anyway.
He drives down a road which, I think, leads to the Farm. As an aside, let me note that the number of zoom shots in this is distracting. Anyway, he drives down a side road and pulls up in front of the same gate to the farm, and the guards tell him they’ll shoot. Then they shoot just to show they weren’t kidding. (They fire at the ground in front of him.) He gets back in his car and drives away, and the guards call this in.
We then cut to some time later, and Robert Hutton is now on foot, sneaking around. He eyes the guard post with his binoculars, then scans over a fog-covered bit of farm land. There’s a huge pool of water there, and in moments, it starts agitating, and a sort of metallic structure rises up from the depths. It moves to the side, revealing that it was holding what looks like a missile with a smiley face on it. No, honestly, it’s a smiley face. It looks like a mascot for a bullet company.
This mascot fires a missile into the sky, and Robert Hutton starts timing it while the jazzy music plays and the structure (and smiley face thing) descend back into the water. Robert Hutton looks at the Moon. Perhaps he's remembering that swell drawing he once had that said "MOON" on it.
And we cut to a television screen, where a British Guy tells us that “the plague continues to spread” but the good news is, they’ve found a way to dispose of the bodies. He can’t tell us what this way is, but assures us, “There is now hope.” Robert Hutton looks cynically upon this pronouncement. He’s poking at some documents.
Then we cut to him approaching the electric fence in his roadster. He hefts what looks like the head of a tripod for cameras, and runs along the fence. He sees some patrolling guards, and continues on, and now seems to be in some building or another. Has he got past the electric fence? I don’t think so but I can’t guess where he is now.
Well, he flings the tripod head at the fence, and it sparks. And the guards start up a shoot-fest, and barely miss Robert Hutton. And more of them show up and shoot at Robert Hutton, who jumps into his roadster and drives…through an open gate. What? How did that happen? Did they open it so they could shoot at him? If so, why did they miss?
Anyway, he drives on, and is soon crawling through the undergrowth with a rifle (in a pretty cool shot, I must admit). The guards, having given up, are just milling around, so he aims at one of a pair of antennae on top of a large box, and fires. He doesn’t do much damage, but he does rouse the attention of the guards, who start muttering things like “What was that?" and other salient observations. Robert Hutton fires a second shot, which seems to damage the one antenna (the one on the right), so the guards start shooting in some generally agreed-upon direction. Only one shot gets near him, though, so he moves on.
He fires another shot at the other antenna, and this has the desired effect: the whole antenna-housing structure bursts into flames and falls apart. And now we see that Robert Hutton is still on the “outside” side of the electric fence. He confirms that the power is off (by throwing his gun against the fence) and he climbs over. “Emergency power” warnings are broadcast over some loudspeakers, and he hurls himself into a pasture to escape some guards with searchlights.
Pretty soon the whole farm is up in arms about the fence and intrusion and stuff, but Robert Hutton cleverly hides in a barn and eludes capture. Then he runs to the main house and enters in the basement. As the jazzy music starts up, he gapes in wonder at a yellow-and-black striped cylinder, as big as an elevator car. Sure enough, it makes noise as if ascending, and he leaps to hide behind a sofa just as some more guards emerge from the door in the cylinder. When they’re all gone, he emerges and looks around some more. Wow, this guy is a total action hero.
He gets up a bit, and some guy (“Mullay”? Kind of looks like Bowler Hat) catches him with a raygun, declares him an intruder, and futher announces that all intruders have to be taken prisoner. But Robert Hutton starts a fight with the blighter and there’s a bit of the old rough and tumble with the old rotter (who, truth to tell, seemed to suspect the presence of an intruder but only invited himself to the rounding up party). Eventually, Robert Hutton wins and gets into the elevator and begins his descent.
He emerges into an area of spider-webbish tubes and stuff, and noisy machinery. He makes his way along the corridor, and finds that all the doors are locked. Suddenly, some guards come down the same elevator, but he cleverly ducks out of the way and is safe. Then he sees Stillwell walking along, with a miners helmet and all. He looks pretty good for being dead from plague. Unless this is someone else. Stillwell himself pauses and looks uncomfortable as an automated machine glides past him, but then he walks on. Robert Hutton waits until the coast is clear, then he goes to the door that Stillwell came out of and forces it open.
He goes through, and the door closes behind him, and no amount of British/American reserve will make it open again. So he looks around, and comes face to face with a frozen person. Said frozen person looks dead, but Robert Hutton checks the ID tag around its neck. The ID tag reads, “BW 096/27” and I hope that’s not your lucky lottery number, because this guy had that number and he ended up pretty dead looking, which must pale next to “fabulous prize winner.”
Anyway, Robert Hutton looks around and sees a number of dead-looking folks, apparently wrapped up in saran wrap and covered with fake snow—I guess Christmas must be on its way after all—and he decides to leave this grim grotto and seek cheerier climes. But not before he notices that one of these cadaver hot pockets is Platinum Blonde!
He lingers a bit too long, though, and Bowler Hat shows up and turns on the lights and says, “I warned you not to come here, now you’ll have to take the consequences!” He beams a weapon at Robert Hutton and says, “You won’t do this again.” And when Robert Hutton collapses, Mr. Bowler Hat tells some off-screen person to collect Robert Hutton’s collapsed personage, like he is garbage or something!
And we get a swirl-pattern on screen, then a rack focus as Robert Hutton comes to consciousness. He actually does this, despite the reverbed-din on the soundtrack. He sits up in a dark room, empty except for his cot, while more industrial noises sound around him. But he can learn little from his surroundings. He sees what looks like a bunch of pressure suited folk working on what might be a rocket. Having failed to glean much from this, he tries his circular cell door, but it seems to be locked. So he paces a while.
He discovers his automatic sink, and then, maybe, the monitoring system. Sure enough, a remarkably chipper Mr. Bowler Hat opens a hatch and tells him, “I’ve come to tell you why you’re here.” Seems friendly enough. Downright enthused, in fact. “You’ve attempted several times to interrupt work of vital importance, you’ve caused great damages, some of it not yet repaired. However, when our work is completed, you’ll be free to leave, in the meantime, if you’re quiet and orderly, you’ll be brought your meals on time, and perhaps even a few books to read.”
Robert Hutton asks why they simply don’t kill him.
”That is not our way, unless you force us to.” And he shows the ray gun to emphasize this last bit. He moves to leave, but Robert Hutton has more questions.
He notes that he saw the plague victims all piled up, and asks if that isn’t a risk to everyone here, “and to Lee?”
Mr. Bowler Hat notes how Lee is “quite well” and how everyone is just full of enthusiasm for the work being done here. Speaking of which, he has to pop off to do his part, eh?
Robert Hutton asks about the rockets being launched. He saw one last night, and another one is ready to go. How about them missiles, eh? Eh? He wonders how they could build a second one so quickly, and Mr. Bowler Hat says that it was the same missile, that it went and “returned” during Robert Hutton’s unconscious period, which was 48 hours!
Robert Hutton takes this in stride, and notes that the missile he saw was going to the Moon.
Mr. Bowler Hat is really pleased that Robert Hutton has calculated all this, and confirms that the missile went to the Moon and came back. Robert Hutton notes how this is impossible, no propulsion system on Earth could do that.
”The system we employ was not created…on Earth.”
Robert Hutton lets that pass and asks why the Moon. Mr. Bowler Hat says that the Moon is the only safe place where victims of the Deadly Space Acne could be buried, so no one else would catch it. He notes further that this is the work that the farm is involved in.
Robert Hutton wants to know how Mr. Bowler Hat and his ilk are protected from the disease. Mr. Bowler Hat says that the disease came from the meteors (no one really asked about that), and they have found an “immunizing agent” but it would take too long to make enough for everybody, so they used it on the staff. He repeats the bit about how this is the work everyone here (at the farm) is doing, and it’s very important because, you know, otherwise Armageddon or something.
Robert Hutton says he believes none of this, and Mr. Bowler Hat, now rather unfriendly, says he can believe what he likes, but if he interferes again “you will be destroyed.” And he slams the hatch shut, so Robert Hutton is now in the metal room again, where, one would imagine, opportunities to interfere in much of anything are rather few and far between.
Now, left to his own devices, Robert Hutton listens to some jazz. Oh wait, that’s the soundtrack. It’s not bad jazz, reminds me a bit of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, but Robert Hutton isn’t listening to it so never mind. He takes off his jacket, notes the surveillance system, looks around furtively, picks up his jacket again…we all know where this is going, right? Ha ha, wrong! You thought he was going to throw his jacket over the lens and overpower whoever came to investigate! Ha ha, I thought, um, well, something totally other than that. Anyway, he doesn’t. He does find a sort of surveillance device in his collar, though. When he moves it around, the light follows it.
Actually, on a rewind, I’d like to note that he sees that the surveillance light stays on his jacket when he moves elsewhere. So that’s quite a bit of clever figuring on his part. Not sure how he knew to look in his collar, though. Still, this is science fiction and stuff.
Elsewhere, Mr. Bowler Hat appears before Lee and she asks how he is. She’s told he’s conscious. She insists that he’s too dangerous to be allowed, um, trapped in a steel box, so she tells Mr. Bowler Hat to take his ray weapon, set it at maximum, and aim directly at Robert Hutton’s heart. Wow, that “I love you” stuff didn’t work at all! Confess, ladies, it never does, does it?
Losing his aplomb only for a moment, Mr. Bowler Hat goes off to carry out his grim orders. He opens the hatch and finds…no Robert Hutton! In a bit of a panic, he opens the whole door, and goes in. Whereupon Robert Hutton jumps down and gives him the smackdown. He (Robert Hutton) then leaves, but doesn’t take the weapon. Uh, hey, you might want to grab that, seeing as you’re in a hostile lair and all.
Sure enough, as soon as he exits the cell, an elevator disgorges a trio of guards! Man, Robert Hutton cannot catch a break here. The jazz starts up again as he runs away and they give chase. He runs through another hatch and—a lucky break at last! He ends up where Lee is coldly calculating over her machinery, like an evil wife making dinner over a hot stove of horror.
She turns on him with her gun, and says, “I warned you not to come here.”
He, in turn, says “Lee,” then jumps at her legs and overpowers her. She bites him on the wrist and he slugs her unconscious. He drags her away just as some white-haired guy—who might have figured earlier in the film, I can’t remember—reenters the room. Luckily, he sees nothing plot-worthy and goes to some console and starts consoling.
He (white-hair) steps in front of a big crystal, and Robert Hutton sees that there is a blue, glowing dot near the bottom of his (white-hair’s) neck. But White-Hair’s Robert Hutton Senses start tingling, and he turns around, gun at the ready, announces that he knows Robert Hutton is there, and further informs him that he has “seen too much.”
”You cannot be allowed to tell,” he says, but Robert Hutton blasts him with the ray gun. White Hair grimaces and falls down. Okay then, good.
Out in the corridors, guys in hard hats are searching for Robert Hutton, but he walks on through some other corridors, carrying Lee, the sentimental fool. Not Lee, I mean Robert Hutton. I mean, she’s already bitten him on the wrist. And he still carries a torch for her! As well as her, herself. As he gets to the elevator, some hard-hat guy says “There he is!” and the chase is on again. But too late! The doors close.
Up on the surface, it’s rather foggy and some more guys in hard-hats get into the elevator and go down. But Robert Hutton was cleverly hiding behind the elevator, and after they’ve gone he emerges (still carrying Lee). He goes outside and…you know, this jazz music is pretty good but it’s kind of distracting as well.
Anyway, he finds a jeep, puts her in, and drives off as the hard-hat guys come back up.
Some more hard-hat guys are standing around the gate, when the phone in the gatehouse rings. Robert Hutton is still driving along, and he sees the (now warned, one guesses) guards amass in front of the gate, but he speeds up and smashes through. They fire at him but miss, and he keeps going.
How far? Hard to tell. We cut to “the next morning” I guess, and there’s an abandoned jeep in the muddy road. Then we pan over to Robert Hutton at another jeep. Um. Okay. Anyway, Lee wakes up and says, “You fool! What have you done! Untie me and take me back to the farm!”
”Not until I find out exactly who you are and how you can be destroyed,” Robert Hutton says, without a pause in his activities (seems to be tying a lot of things together…not plot lines, though). There’s some kind of splice, as Robert Hutton says something then goes on to say “I’m talking to you, the thing that’s taken over her mind. I know you’re there.”
”You’re insane, nobody’ll believe you,” she says.
”I love Lee Mason, but I will destroy the shell of her body rather than leave it in slavery to you. Think that over before you force her to call for help, or do anything else that might draw attention to us.”
”Where are you taking me?”
”To the home of a friend. The only man I know who might possibly believe me.” He looks at her. “Now get down.” She hesitates, or perhaps doesn’t know what he means (there is no dance music to get down to). “Get down!” he says more harshly. Ha ha, get it? Harsh Lee? Hello?
Well, she slumps down, and he covers her, and he then roars off…in his vintage speedster, seen here before. So, he hated driving that crappy old jeep and could not wait to ditch it! Good thing no one found his vintage speedster and suspected he might return to it.
Anyway, we cut to a charming British bungalow with ivy growing up the walls. A pan shows us the vintage speedster is already parked there, but there is rustling beneath the seat-covers.
Inside, well, we see some ribbons on the wall and some awards for fox-hunting. Some trophy cups as well. And then some dark-haired guy wanders by, hanging up some shirts and asks if the (off screen) Robert Hutton did in fact see some plague victims “still alive?”
Robert Hutton says yup. He and Dark Hair go on a bit with known stuff (rockets to the moon) and speculation, figuring maybe the plague victims “aren’t really dead.” Though “the creature in Lee’s head” could probably answer all this, it is noted.
Dark Hair notes that a women who claimed to see her plague-victim husband working on the farm was sent to an asylum, since everyone figured she was crazy and stuff.
Robert Hutton says yeah sure but I’m not crazy, and if Dark Hair could duplicate the equipment that Robert Hutton glimpsed in the lab, then the world might awaken to this terrible danger.
Dark Hair asks what is to prevent he, or Robert Hutton, from being taken over. Robert Hutton thinks he knows why he is immune, but will need some silver to protect Dark Hair. And he points to the trophies, and Dark Hair is all upset…
”Where do I melt them down?” asks Robert Hutton, and it is funny and stuff because, man, trophies! Ha ha ha.
Soon, we see a mantle with no trophies and Robert Hutton, in foreground, tending an oven. He pulls out a can of (I guess) melted silver and soon makes the distraught Dark Hair a net-like hat.
Dark Hair wonders why silver, and Robert Hutton says probably because silver is “opaque to ultraviolet radiations.” He then notes that the glow he saw on that guy’s neck was violet.
Dark Hair adds that Robert Hutton’s silver plate is in his head, and Robert Hutton acknowledges this, and regrets that Dark Hair is to be a guinea pig like this, but Dark Hair is ready to try. He puts on the silver hat.
They both go to the car, and take the cover off Lee. Lee tries (as Robert Hutton notes) to move her space-person-essence to Dark Hair, but the silver prevents this. That’s what Dark Hair notes, anyway, and Robert Hutton is a trusting sort where he is concerned. (Dark Hair could be taken over and cleverly lying about it.)
So Dark Hair and Robert Hutton decide on the next bit on the agenda. First, make a lens-thing that will detect the alien flashes, and find out how the ray guns work. Oh, and they’ll tie up Lee in the workshop, because she’s still dangerous and whatever.
So, we cut to the lab and the boys are shining various lights on Lee as well as looking at her through lenses and glass spheres (like that M.C. Escher print). She remains cool, almost bored. The boys seem to be getting nowhere. This goes on for a couple minutes, before Robert Hutton says that Lee should be “locked up.”
”I think you’re on the right track.”
Uh…what? Anyway, we cut to Lee all trussed up elsewhere in the house. She’s struggling mightily, and then the boys show up with exotic goggles. Apparently the alien entities are terrified of goggles, because she actually looks panicked.
They both fire the ray guns at her, she screams, and the screen turns into a yellow swirl. We fade, and then come back as the boys are watching her wake up. She awakes fully and tearfully reaches for Robert Hutton. He tells her it’s all right, as either she’s free of the alien or she’s learned to mimic human emotions really well.
Over the breakfast table, Dark Hair explains that “cosmic rays, concentrated” are what power the ray guns. It turns out the ray guns can only stun humans, but are fatal to the aliens. Lee asks what the aliens are, and Dark Hair opines that the hope was she could tell them.
But she remembers nothing of her time of possession, only that she was possessed. In spite of this admission, the boys question her about things that she doesn’t know anything about. Robert Hutton notes that they have to find out. So they’re going back to the farm.
But they’re going to be ready. They’ve put the silver net hats into motorcycle helmets for Lee and Dark Hair, and they’ll set the ray guns to “three” which apparently means “stun humans for a few hours.”
Lee wonders how they’ll get inside, and Robert Hutton says “that’s where you come in.” And we cut to Lee ordering the guards to open the gate, which they do. And the jeep drives on in. But one guard makes a quick phone call…you know, you’d think Robert Hutton and Company might realize that creatures which seem to be pure mental energy might know when one of their own is killed. But I guess they were too busy making silver hats. Priorities and all that.
The jeep drives up to where two grim types close an inner gate and pull guns. Lee says of one of them, “It’s Alan!” but I don’t remember who Alan was. Sorry. I don’t think it’s Mr. Bowler Hat. But he is alien-powered anyway. So Lee backs up the jeep and goes to talk to Alan and his pal with a hat. He is unmoved by her desire to enter, and he and a couple of hard-hats go to examine the jeep.
Actually, the hard-hats were just in the background I guess, since only Alan walks around the jeep. Robert Hutton and Dark Hair cleverly avoid detection by walking around the jeep as well, keeping one side ahead of Alan. Then, they jump him and thump him unconscious, and Dark Hair ray-guns the hat-wearing pal into unconsciousness. Everyone in the Robert Hutton and Company Assault Troupe decides to run inside, but not before Lee and Dark Hair retrieve their silver lined motorcycle helmets. Whoops, almost forgot those! You two would look awfully silly taken over by aliens with such a simple slip-up!
The three get in the elevator and descend. We see the rubber ball pop down, and sure enough, the three end up on the lower level. Isn’t it awesome how that works! They disembark, the vulnerable two wearing their helmets. They just happen to witness Mr. Bowler Hat and some other types going off on schedule somewhere, and Lee notes that the destination implied is the “rocket launching site.” Well, that sounds important! So they pop off to follow.
Lots of important-looking but possessed folks go through what, to my untrained eyes looks like a rocket entry hatch. And as the launching area is cleared, Robert Hutton and His Troupe Enter the closing rocket hatch, so they’ll all go to wherever everyone else is going. “This must be the last phase of their plan,” Robert Hutton says, apropos of nothing near as I can tell.
”We’ve got to keep them from taking off,” he adds, before climbing a circular stairway that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Um, hooray for our side, then! Or maybe not, as the rocket launches (disregarding the first stage). The three suffer the typical stresses of these types of film before the “hyperdrive” kicks in. So I guess they're on the rocket, then. Then they all revive and continue up the ladder.
Which suddenly opens, and Mr. Bowler Hat greets them all by name. He tells them that resistance is futile blah blah blah and that there was never a plan to kill any of them. He also says the ship is automated and they will soon land before the “master,” specifically, “the master of the Moon” who planned all this stuff with his “great intelligence.”
Mr. Bowler Hat then tells Robert Hutton that his “annoying” metal plate will be removed so that the Master can have Robert Hutton’s knowledge. But, he points out, free trip to the Moon. Eh? Eh? Cool, right? Soon, we see this very promised Moon in the portal. And we approach this model Moon.
And in long shot, Mr. Bowler Hat presents the three Earthers to a group of folks who are, well, garbed a lot like the Mysterians in that film. From Japan.
Robert Hutton is mentioned specifically as “the mind” no Moon could control. A robed guy says “We will control it, we have need of it.”
Robert Hutton says “I’ll destroy myself first” and he is told that slaves should not be so impertinent “in the presence of The Master of the Moon.” So Lee and the others struggle and break ranks, and Robert Hutton gets a ray gun and the time to announce his defiance, and that of all right thinking Earth folk, you know, how we’re not slaves and stuff. And if these Mooninites want to conquer Earth they’ll have their hands full.
At which point Michael Gough pops up and says they have no intention of conquering Earth. His basic argument is that Earth people are primitive and savage and Moon people aren’t that way at all, so it’s apples and oranges.
Michael Gough says that he and his kind are from a world called “Zahn” and they are the ultimate form of everything and stuff, and it’s so cool how cool they are and us poor humans can never cope and all that. And he gets that wistful look when he talks about how bad we are and how great he is, that, if this was made in the 1990’s this would be the end right here.
Um, yes, well, anyway. Michael Gough tells the assembled folks that his race achieved mental perfection, and physical bodies, like, revulsed them, so they became nothing but minds. But it turned out they couldn’t survive this way, they needed this physical crap, so they were screwed and now will soon die. They wouldn't want to live on Earth, because everyone would hate pure mental life forces, they would totally mess up the SAT stuff. Also, when you want to change the channel, how do you do that as a pure mental force? Plus no pizza rolls ever again.
Well, whatever, they, uh, somehow made “the lower creatures” of their planet build a spaceship for them which then crashed on the Moon. They sent meteors to Earth with them on board so they could get some more slaves to fix things. And the plague victims? Not really dead, they were brought to the Moon to work, and will be returned to normality when the work is done. The work is to fix the main spaceship. And then? Well, Michael Gough says all they want to do is die on their home planet. They are too old to do anything else. “We do not wish to harm anyone.”
Well, this sways Robert Hutton who lowers his gun and agrees to get some Moon surgery. And the Mooninites ray gun him! And Dark Hair grabs the gun and karate chops some beefcake Moon guy, and runs away. Michael Gough calmly asks that Robert Hutton be taken to “the operating room.”
Now, I don’t understand many things, but one thing here that throws me is that no one, including Michael Gough, told Robert Hutton WHY his plate had to be taken out. Anyway, Dark Hair runs down some corridors until stopped by a door, and we see Robert Hutton strapped to a Star-of-David shaped operating table. My God, they’re Moon Jews! Just kidding. Michael Gough mentions that his body is that of a skilled surgeon so there’ll be no trouble removing that nasty plate. “Soon, you will be one of us,” he purrs. Robert Hutton struggles as the gas mask is put over his face.
Dark Hair has found an area where Moon slaves are loading one of the rockets. He’s going to cause mischief, I guess, and I’m right! Okay, who said “For a change?” Anyway, he spills some stuff on a guard, ray guns another, and then the workers revolt and attack the other guards. Soon, the rebellion is in full swing (intercut with the difficulty in putting the gas mask on Robert Hutton). And the guards are defeated and the workers are led by Dark Hair back to that door.
Inside, Michael Gough and some other Moon leader who you just KNOW is evil (he was the one who mentioned how impertinent it was for slaves to ask questions) pause in their efforts to slice up Robert Hutton’s head. Dark Hair pulls out some device and looks at it, and the next thing you know, the door of recalcitrance is blown up. Dark Hair demands that Robert Hutton is released, and some beefcake guys do this.
Michael Gough says there are too many of them on Earth to be defeated, and Dark Hair notes that they can detect and destroy the Mooninites. So Michael Gough tries the old “I’m so depressed about our sad end” bit which worked once, it might work again.
Robert Hutton says that the Mooninites didn’t have to go to all this trouble, the Earth people would have helped them if they’d just asked nicely. He tells Michael Gough that if he, Michael Gough, releases his body as a sign of peace, then all the Earth people everywhere will make everything okay again for the Mooninites. Or the Zahns. Michael Gough seems pretty unsure about this.
Well, Michael Gough squinches up a bit, and a small blue light leaves him, and then he asks who Robert Hutton is. On getting the answer, he says his own name is “Arnold Gray” and they shake hands.
And…it’s the end. No really, that’s what it says. “The End” over the shaking hands footage.
What does that mean? It's supposed to be symbolic of cooperation, and the spirit of shared spirit across species. There's just one problem with that though. This isn't an earthman and an alien shaking hands. It's two earthmen. The alien left and, who knows, he might be up to some evil while the credits are rolling!
Speaking of credits, we now get the end ones, which demonstrate that this film ought to have some widescreen to it. Ichael Gough as Master of the M? Yeah, I thought so too. Christopher Banks, who played “Doctor – Street” played a lot of doctors. I guess he had that look.
Well, this was a pretty good movie, all considered. Other than that overly abrupt ending, it had a nice mixture of suspense, atmosphere, good acting, fresh fruit, intelligent scripting and focused directing. The fact that it was, well, rather a lot like Quatermas II aka Enemy from Space can be overlooked by the fact that the aliens, at the end, prove to be benevolent. In that respect, it's a lot like It Came From Outer Space. The aliens in that film just wanted to go home, too.
So, was it worth waiting all those years to see the ending at long last? Yeah, I think so. This was a pretty enjoyable little film. It's no classic, but if you give it a bit of slack you can have an enjoyable time with it. No one was robbed of any Oscars here, and the special effects are, at best, on a Doctor Who level, but like I said, a bit of disbelief suspended goes a long way.
If there was a singular flaw, it would be that lots of folks here looked an awful lot alike, and it was pretty hard to keep them all straight. The relationship between Lee and Robert Hutton also seemed like something tossed in there for no real reason other than, well, it's expected. There also seemed a bit of confusion (at least on my part) about where people were in relation to each other and the farm.
Speaking of the farm, I have to ask, are the aliens benevolent or hostile? Perhaps they're more self-concerned or indifferent than "benevolent," but what were they doing at the end, wanting to saw off Robert Hutton's head? He wasn't that bad! The alien attitudes, as well as frequent shooting by their guards, doesn't lend much credence to the "benevolent" bit, though it could be thought that they just figure we're so primitive we'll foul things up and maybe get an itching to start some fool interplanetary war or something. Aliens tend to think things like that. It's what makes them alien!
Still, those complaints are fairly minor and the movie, if you're in the right mood, is pretty good and if it happens to pop on television some Saturday afternoon, remember, you can always do the laundry later. You might not see this one for many, many years, and that would be kind of a shame.