Saturday, June 14, 2014

THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951)

I was feeling down tonight, so I made some popcorn and watched a popcorn movie.  MAN FROM PLANET X is notable, I guess, because it was directed by Edgar Ulmer, who also did stuff like THE BLACK CAT and DETOUR.  Ulmer obviously had talent, but even a master chef can't do much with ingredients from the clearance bin at Family Dollar.  That's an analogy for this film being shot in SIX days with a budget that is exceeded by many children's Christmas-stocking incomes.  The best parts of the film, in terms of looks, are actually the sweeping shots of miniature landscapes.


But then the cheapness gets blared at you in the form of terrible backdrops on bare sets.  Maybe the plot will make up for it?  


John Lawrence is a journalist from America.  He goes to England to visit scientists Professor Elliot and Dr. Mears.  They're excited because an unknown planet called Planet X is nearing Earth.  John is excited because Professor Elliot has a daughter named Enid, who is hot in a just-awakened coma patient way.  They find a spaceship parked on the moors and also learn that it houses this guy:


This is an early sci-fi entry, but I have to take issue with the design.  It looks like a cross between a mummer and a puppet and certainly is not very imposing.  The Man from Planet X does most of his dirty deeds through the use of a hypnotic ray affixed to his ship.  


This could be effective and creepy in a BODY SNATCHERS/INVADERS FROM MARS way, but it mostly isn't.  We spend too much time in conversation with disbelieving locals and their colorful rural-English accents.  The controlled/possessed people are mostly shown in shadows.  To make matters worse, they can't even effectively plan how to trap someone on a bicycle.  SMH.


It feels like I've been blah on most of my viewing lately and this fits right in.  It's not frightening like THE THING or fun like INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN.  It's adequately executed, but if that's the highest praise I can dish, you should probably find something better to watch. 


**1/2

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