Monster of the Day #24

Per request.

Because nothing says ‘scary alien’ like mittens and a ping pong ball cut in half. (Much like Larry Buchanan proved that nothing says ‘dinosaur’ like a wet suit with rubber scales glued on and…a ping pong ball cut in half.)

In a way, Killers from Space is the tale of two (at least at this point in time) unsuccessful brothers.  One of these was star Peter Graves, who starred in sci-fi crap like this while his brother, James Arness, appeared in movies like The Thing from Another World and Them!

Not only that, but in 1953, Graves had had a very showy supporting role in Stalag 17, one of the decade’s biggest hits.  (That’s the film that was spoofed by Hogan’s Heroes.)  So the fact that the very next year he was still starring in crap like this–a film that made his other giant bug movie, Bert I. Gordon’s Beginning of the End, look like Citizen Kane–couldn’t have worn well.  Luckily, Graves (again like his brother) really found his niche on TV, and because one of Hollywood’ s most familiar actors.

That didn’t prove the case for the film’s helmer, W. Lee Wilder, who was the massively less successful brother of one of the town’s greatest writer- directors, Billy Wilder, who won two Oscars and was nominated for 13 of them.  Apparently the brothers were estranged, and Billy once called Lee “a dull son of a bitch.”  Certainly the evidence presented here supports the dull part.

Lee Wilder basically never broke out of Hollywood’s sub-basement, with zero-budget dreck like this, Phantom from Space,  The Snowbeast and Man Without a Body.  Killers did get the big b-movie accolade, however, when it was featured on MST3K. (My bad!) The Film Crew (ex-MST3Kers) zinged the film; their full-lenth bashing of it can be found on YouTube.

  • BeckoningChasm

    You know, if you turned down the goofosity level on these aliens, ie, gave them normal eyes, the film itself isn’t bad. It isn’t GOOD, mind, but at least it didn’t make me want to tear my brain out, like Wilder’s “Phantom From Space.”

  • Ericb

    The title is a bit overblown. These aliens killed a total of one guy in the movie.

  • Gamera

    Aliens? I thought that’s what happens to you if you sit too close to the TV. Or at least that’s what my parents told me…

  • Ericb

    The guy who played the alien in the picture reminds me of E. G. Marshall.

  • alex

    I can’t believe Billy Wilder and W. Lee Wilder were brothers. Wow! I hope Lee didn’t become a director to compete with his brother. Lee can’t even compete with Ed Wood (who was dumd but at least entertaining).

  • P Stroud

    Should have named this movie “Stock footage From Space”.

  • Rock Baker

    Harry Thomas provided the make-up for this film (as well as such diverse pictures as The Neandethal Man, She-Freak, Frankenstein’s Daughter, and House on Bare Mountain). He made out pretty well, going from schlock movies to being the personal make-up man for President Reagan! A nice bit of trivia here is that the eyes of the Killers were not made from ping pong balls, but the sunken portions of egg crates!

    The movie itself has some good moments, seems like I recall the vision of eyes on the darkend road was fairly eerie, and the weird noises inside the cave gave those scenes an unnerving quality. Graves was always a good actor. The over all picture has a nice documentary feel and the power-plant setting of the last reel was nicely exploited, giving the picture a larger look than it could otherwise afford. (I’m sure getting permission to shoot there had something to do with the production being green-lit, ditto the observatory in Phantom From Space) Not a great picture by any means, but one of those that I think has suffered from a worse rep than it deserves. (I’d also pay that statement to Phantom From Space, which also benifits from an impressive real location shooting. Fortunatley its only an hour long, because it can be pretty stiff and uneventful, but I always liked the Phantom’s space suit. I’ll admit, a large part of my affection probably comes from seeing Phantom From Space, and Killers From Space, at a very early age. They were both put out by Goodtimes, and thus were affordible tapes back then)

    One thing that did strike me as supremely silly even as a little kid was how close the mushroom cloud was to the window at the end. I think the assembled cast would’ve been vaporized by the blast.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Rock, I’ll grant you that “Killers” is actually not a bad little film, cheapness notwithstanding. But I just re-read my own review, and I stand firm that “Phantom” is like watching a film shot entirely in amber while being trapped in it oneself.

  • Rock Baker

    Phantom from Space is not a very good movie, I can’t deny that it was static, sluggish, and small. But I do think it had some good moments (like the ‘floating’ helmet gag). Bear in mind, I fully admit that I may like it more than it deserves simply because it was one of my first B movies.

  • I haven’t seen Phantom from Space since I was probably ten years old. Still, the Phantom made enough of an impression that he appeared in my short story A Night with the Boys.

  • Reed

    Am I the only one who was amused at reading that Harry Thomas provided make-up for “Night on Bare Mountain”?

    Yes, I understand that even naked women in movies wear make-up, but still…

  • BeckoningChasm

    Bear in mind, I fully admit that I may like it more than it deserves simply because it was one of my first B movies.

    I first misread that as “Beer in mind…” and was totally in agreement with you…:)

  • BeckoningChasm

    We all have things we hold dear that might not hold up in the cold light of adulthood, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon them. I remember as a tot seeing a picture of the Metalunan Mutant and it scared the daylights out of me.

  • Rock Baker

    I think Harry’s major element of House on Bare Mountain was Krakow the werewolf. As werewolves go, Krakow was pretty lacking, as it was mostly a really tall guy with a very minimal amount of fur glued to his face. Oh, and it seems like he had some fur glued to the back of his hands too.

  • Bruce Probst

    Killers did get the big b-movie accolade, however, when it was featured on MST3K.

    ? Killers was never a MST3K episode; it was (as you mention) a Film Crew DVD.

  • Really? I am getting senile. I swear I remember the guys doing Killers from Space. Weird.

  • Reed

    [i]Oh, and it seems like he had some fur glued to the back of his hands too.[/i]

    But the hair on his palms just happened naturally during filming!

  • John Nowak

    I’ve seen the film courtesy The Film Crew.

    I just can’t work up the spleen to laugh at the aliens. For some reason, for me those eyes loop around “Laughable” and hit “Pitiful.” All I can think of are those poor actors trying not to look ridiculous, and failing.

    So I guess it’s a worse film than Plan 9, which I at least laughed at.

  • Those belts and the mittens don’t help.

  • John Nowak

    None of the costume works. I swear, the first time I saw it I thought it was from a deliberate spoof, like Lost Skeleton of Cadavera.

  • sandra

    I just watched this over on Youtube. Killers From Space – They Came To Bore Us To Death !

  • Eric Hinkle

    I finally saw this film (got it on a DVD collection that includes ‘Monster From A Prehistoric Planet’) and yikes is it ever boring.