The Terrornauts (1967)

Article 2179 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-4-2007
Posting Date: 7-31-2007
Directed by Montgomery Tully
Featuring Simon Oates, Zena Marshall, Charles Hawtrey

When scientists receive what they believe to be a distress call from outer space, they use a radio telescope to reply. They then find themselves kidnapped by a spaceship that takes them to an alien fortress inhabited by a robot, where they must undergo a series of tests, but to what end?

This silly, unconvincing science fiction epic is nonetheless entertaining and offbeat. The screenplay was written by noted science fiction author John Brunner (his only produced writing foray into cinema) and based on a novel by another famed science fiction writer, Murray Leinster. Had this story been made a couple of decades later, there would no doubt have been a video game based on it, as its puzzle-solving plot and Space Invaders-style action sequence at the end both lend themselves to it. Curious touches abound; I like the one scientist’s memory of having been given an alien artifact as a kid that led to his interest in listening for messages from the stars. It also has some very cliched touches; notice how the movie bends over backwards to make sure that the strictly-for-laughs prissy accountant and crusty old coffee lady just happen to be in the building at the time that it is spirited away, just to make sure that we can enjoy (if that is the correct word) their comic antics during the movie; as far as the plot goes, they are nonessential. The scene in the advertising where a beautiful lady is about to be sacrificed by green-skinned aliens takes up about two minutes of the plot, most of which is spent on the spaceship with a robot, and the monster that shows up at one point (with an eye on his lower left side) is pretty goofy. Still, I can’t help but like a movie where the ultimate reward for out planetary heroes is to be arrested by a French gendarme; really, there’s just no justice in the world.



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