It Conquered the World (1956)

IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956)
Article #1709 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-18-2005
Posting Date: 4-16-2006
Directed by Roger Corman
Featuring Peter Graves, Beverly Garland, Lee Van Cleef

A scientist halps an alien from Venus come to the Earth under the belief that the alien will help save mankind from itself. He fails to see that the alien is bent on conquest for his own reasons.

Beulah (as the vegetable-shaped creature of this movie was named by creator Paul Blaisdell) is one of the silliest monsters from the science fiction movies of the fifties. As such, the monster does garner quite a bit of affection, and I have to admit that I love it myself. Nevertheless, I wonder how much better the reputation of this movie would have been with a more convincing creation (or if, as originally planned, it had not been trotted out in the open for all to see). The movie is actually quite strong, largely because of a script with far more depth than is usually found in low budget movies of this period; the philosophical discussions about the power of human emotion and the folly of trying to get outside forces to solve our problems for us have a real bite and relevance to them. Given this sophistication, it’s no surprise that the script was actually written by Charles B. Griffith instead of the credited Lou Rusoff; it shows the same sophistication of many of his other scripts for Corman (THE UNDEAD, BUCKET OF BLOOD, NOT OF THIS EARTH, etc.) . The movie also has some sharp and fascinating editing at times; I love moments like the one where a shot of a soldier cleaning his gun cuts to a shot of one of the scientists cleaning his own gun as well. The performances are also quite good, though Beverly Garland takes the prize as the traitorous scientist’s wife, a rather difficult role which she pulls off extremely well. The movie is also shot through with real tragedy; of the four major characters in the story, take note of how many are alive in the final reel. Outside of the monster, the other main thing that I would change in the movie would be to remove  character of the Mexican private; Jonathan Haze is extremely unfunny in the role, even with the help of a great straight man like Dick Miller. Haze would do a better job in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS a few years later. Still, despite the flaws, this is a quite powerful low-budget science fiction feature.

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