October 4, 2015

Teenagers from Outer Space.

Review #741: Teenagers from Outer Space.

David Love (Derek), Dawn Bender (Betty Morgan), Bryan Grant (Thor), Harvey B. Dunn (Gramps Morgan), Tom Graeff (Joe Rogers), King Moody (Spacecraft Captain), Helen Sage (Nurse Morse), and Frederick Welch (Dr. C.R. Brandt, MD) Directed by Tom Graeff.

Welp, gotta have one b-movie for October-wait a minute, this isn't exactly a b-movie, as this was actually distributed by a major studio (Warner Bros. Pictures)...though the production company is certainly unique. This film was (and I'm not joking) wrote, directed, edited, co-starred, and produced by none other than Tom Graeff. Oh, and he also provided the cinematography, special effects, and wrote the music. In fact, the budget ($14,000) was mostly provided by three of the actors in the movie, while filming was done around the Hollywood area, most notably Bronson Canyon (which has been used in movies such as White Zombie and even Star Trek VI).

I was not surprised to learn early in the film that the teenagers from outer space...are played by actors who look a bit too old to be playing supposed teenagers, though it should be noted the movie was called The Gargon Terror in the UK, which sounds better, though the gargon is only in the movie for maybe five minutes. Anyway, back to the film. The opening scenes are certainly interesting, what with the "Atomic Disintegrator" being used on a dog and all. To tell you the truth, the movie isn't really the usual kind of cheesy sci-fi invasion usually seen in some flicks of the era. There are two main halves to the movie, one being Derek being chased by Thor to return him to the ship, and the other being the effort to stop the Gargon. While the movie doesn't exactly succeed in either very well, the effort comes off as genuine. The acting is standard, but at least it doesn't distract too much. Okay, maybe the seeming generosity that Dunn's character gives to everyone (even the villain) is a bit amusing. The Disintegrator ray effect is about what you'd expect, right down to the jointed skeleton. The movie starts off a bit slow (especially the parts where Derek and Thor ask questions about stuff on Earth...like the parts of a car), but it eventually flows to a normal pace, with a quick ending for a movie that isn't too sluggish. It's not a terribly made movie, and you can see the amount of dedication it took. Sure, there's a bunch of noticeable parts of when they just couldn't make it look anything other than laughable, but I can't find myself giving too much flak for a movie that certainly has a history worth mentioning.

Before (and after) watching this, I'm both surprised and a little impressed at the sheer amount of responsibilities that Graeff did for this film. Not a lot a people can say they did so much to make a film...and maybe there's a good reason for that. Graeff suffered a breakdown shortly after the release, and he died in 1970, with this being the film he is most remembered for. But the film still has a legacy of its own, even being homaged (along with other sci-fi flicks of the time) in Mars Attacks! years later and even being spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In conclusion, while the movie is mostly standard fare for the course, its history and dedication by Graeff make for an interesting look that I'd at least watch once. Sure, it has its flaws, but they are flaws we'd probably make if we had to make a movie on what he did.

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Overall, I give it 6 out of 10 stars.

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