Jeff Morrow stars in this 1950s science fiction classic about the exploits of a team of scientists who are abducted from Earth to help defend a far off planet from a malevolent alien race. Now, light years from home, they will face strange creatures, meteor storms and other hazards in their attempt to get back to Earth.
THIS ISLAND EARTH is a 1950s science-fiction pulp magazine cover brought to life: clunky spacecraft, battling planets, evil aliens, and screaming heroines in distress. The special effects are 1955 state-of-the-art, and they still hold up very well today, for unlike ultra-realistic computer generated graphics they have a fantasy feel that is very, very entertaining--a sort of "Wizard of Oz goes sci-fi" look that is very appealing to the eye.
As already noted, the story concerns several of earth's best minds who are kidnapped by aliens and ordered to create an endless source of energy for a dying planet. The script is laced with 1950s sexism--one line, for example, is "Don't tell me that as woman you're not curious?"--but this is actually less offensive than it is rather amusing, in keeping with the magazine cover sensibility that pervades the piece. The cast plays with great sincerity: Rex Reason is appropriately heroic, Faith Domergue screams the house down, and the aliens all have high foreheads--excepting, of course, that really evil looking one with claws for hands!
Some humorless-type science-fiction fans won't enjoy it, and if you're not the type to get a kick from period visuals you might want to give this one miss. But for pure 1950s matinee fun, you can't do better than THIS ISLAND EARTH.
Here's an interesting bit of trivia (okay, maybe not so much interesting, but worth noting, at least)...seems the film This Island Earth (1955) was one of the first major science fiction features filmed in Technicolor, a process that actually had been around, in various states, since the early twentieth century. Directed by Joseph M. Newman (The Gunfight at Dodge City, Tarzan, the Ape Man), the film stars Rex Reason (The Creature Walks Among Us), Faith Domergue (It Came from Beneath the Sea, Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet), and Jeff Morrow (Kronos, The Giant Claw). Also appearing is Lance Fuller (The She-Creature), Robert Nichols (Giant), and Russell Johnson (Attack of the Crab Monsters), probably best known as `The Professor', from the mid 1960s series "Gilligan's Island".
As the film begins we meet a scientist named Dr. Cal Meacham (Reason), preparing to leave Washington D.C. after attending a conference on atomic energy. Anyway, Cal borrows a jet to fly home (must be nice), and upon arriving, his plane conks out due to some showboating (nice play, Shakespeare), but Cal is saved as a mysterious force takes control and lands the vehicle safely, much to the amazement of Cal and his dopey assistant named Joe (Nichols), who I think is supposed to provide a comedic element for the film, failing miserably I might add. But wait, there's more...shortly after Cal's return he receives a catalog featuring advanced electronic components related to assembling something called an `interocitor', which turns out of be a fancy, schmancy triangular television with some pretty amazing and far out capabilities (actually, it looks a bit like the drive-thru order box at a fast food restaurant, but that's neither here nor there).Read more ›
Of all the Sci-Fi landmarks to have come from the 1950's, Joseph Newman's 'This Island Earth' is probably the most original. In terms of plot, this film is more complex than any of its contemporaries and demands more from its viewers than the stereotypical B-movie of the era. It also utilises suspense mechanisms at a higher level than its brethren apparent. Luckily, every part of the movie's fabric is strong enough to act as a support beam to hold the immense weight of its storyline. For 1955, the special effects are state of the art and heavily invested in. These hold up impeccably today because the team had crafted something miles beyond sticking sparklers in the tail pipes of die-cast models or messing about with thirty-nine cent wire devices. Makeup is first rate also, even that of the much-assailed crustaceoid guard. Interestingly (but hardly surprisingly), Jack Arnold (the Godfather of monster makeup) was the one who directed the climactic scenes involving this hostile being. Comprised of the fruits of some very hard work (SFX were two years in the making), 'This Island Earth' looks almost too good to be true. Consequently, it shouldn't take much to appreciate that there is no fair way to make fun of this film or any aspect of its appearance without seriously scrutinising the work in very fine detail. PLOT - Essentially friendly aliens make contact with top notch Earth scientists to aid in the defence of their home planet Metaluna. However, by the time Exeter (the alien Earth expedition leader) manages to transport two of these nuclear boffins back to Metaluna, it's too late: Metaluna is being destroyed by an enemy civilisation. Exeter and his superiors formulate a last ditch plan - to colonise Earth and make Mankind docile to their orders.Read more ›
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Save your sci-fi DVD sheckles for the August 22nd, 2006 re-mastered, re-release of one of the finest,'funnest' outer space adventures ever made--"This Island Earth" ("TIE"). You wouldn't try to judge spectacles like Spielberg's phenomenon of "Jaws" up against 2006 CGI-effects standards, nor should you attempt to compare the movie-making standards of 1956 to today's filmaking of sci-fi spectacles. Just trust that "TIE" was the premier effort (along with Forbidden Planet) made by a Hollywood studio at making a state-of-the-art outer space movie in the mid 1950's. "TIE" and "Forbidden Planet"(new DVD Special editions coming on Nov.14th) stood out as the very best films of their small outer space genre, at least until "2001 A Space Odyssey" in 1969 anyway.
"TIE" actually did spend nearly two and one-half years in production(as trumpeted on its outstanding one-sheet poster) and it shows! Phenomenal, never-since-surpasssed matte work on and around the distant planet Metaluna still thrills today. The sense of wonder overall approaches that of "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" as you are whoooshed off into a mysterious journey from dull 'ol earth to help save a dying civilization. Sure the 'science' from those far-off movie-making days doesn't hold up. But there was a majesty (and a sadness) to the performance of Jeff Morrow as Exeter that sure does. Let's also point out the fine performace and incredible beauty of the late Faith Domergue as the lady nuclear scientist. Another actor unjustly never given her due.
The biggest joke of Mystery Science Theater's series was when they chose the classic "TIE" as a film to parody. The joke was on those fools because this film delivers thrills and imagination that have seldom been equaled by other outer space films during any decade.Read more ›