director Jack Arnold
It Came from Outer Space was the final film of our unplanned Jack Arnold triple feature, care of Turner Classic Movies. The last time I had seen it, seven years ago now (Jesus!), I caught it at The Red Vic Movie House (RIP) in its original 3-D. Old 3-D still has some novelty, but seeing it on television is how I came into contact with it in the first place. As I’ve often mentioned, I grew up on these kinds of movies, this one in particular was a personal favorite.
Seeing it this time with a couple other of Jack Arnold’s movies alongside, Tarantula (1955) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), it offers a bit more of an opportunity for any auteurist perspectives on his work. All of the films are classic B-movies, featuring not any top name stars, but capable, quite good leads and a plethora of fantastic character actor performances. Like Tarantula, It Came from Outer Space was filmed in the desert outside of Los Angeles, and it seems that Arnold had a particular penchant for the space, the heat, and the bizarre joshua trees.
Though the aliens only show up in a handful of very brief flashes, I always thought they were pretty cool looking. Big blobs with one eye, potential progenitors of Sigmund the Sea Monster. And of course, the gelatinous “alien vision” perspective when we see the world through their eyes.
A triple feature on a Friday night was definitely an endurance run for Felix and Clara. Felix zonked out through most of the film, but Clara was engaged throughout. I’d told them that it was one of my favorite films when I was their ages and so maybe they had greater expectations of it. While it features some eerie, semi-zombie-like acting by characters that the aliens disguise themselves to look like, the weird creatures are not villainous at all. You see, they crashed on Earth by accident and realized that humans were not yet sophisticated enough to deal with them peacefully, so they are just doing what they can to fix their ship and get the heck out of Dodge. Richard Carlson is the amateur astronomer who is the lone sympathizer with the aliens, fascinated by them, though also disgusted by their natural appearance.
It is adapted from a Ray Bradbury story and bears the clever sensibility of his work.
My only other note is the odd fact that the last time that I wrote about the film, I noted that Siouxsie and the Banshees used a snippet of dialogue from the film on one of their songs (“92 Degrees”), which was an observation I made. Someone then cited my blog on the Wikipedia page for It Came from Outer Space. I only note this here because it’s the lone time that my blog has been cited for anything like that. Which isn’t surprising, but still. I thought it was cool, since it is one of my favorite 1950’s sci-fi/horror films.