[Updated] Monster of the Day #282

Boy, this guy would have been terrific as one of the classmates on The Paper Chase.

UPDATE: In case anyone wondered, he would be a terrific classmate on The Paper Chase because he’s a great pupil. A great pupil.

  • Ericb

    This was one of the most effective and scary looking aliens from the 50s and interestingly turned out to be relatively benevolent in the end. A long, long way from the cute “Close Encounters” and “E.T.” aliens.

  • Rock Baker

    I got to see a 3D version of this, although it was only a 400′ digest. Still, incredible stuff. I actually found myself ducking when Barbara Rush fires the death ray at Richard Carlson!

    The film’s true power, though, it that its such a great movie that it works extrememly well in 2D. I still have the Goodtimes video Pop picked up when he found it in town way back when I was eight or so. Spectacular picture!

  • Gamera

    Hmmmmm, was reading Ken’s reviews of ‘The Cosmic Man’ and ‘Stranger From Venus’ over on the old site and he noted that ‘good’ aliens were generally handsome humanoids and ‘evil’ aliens horrid monsters. Odd, this was one of the few aliens that didn’t follow the pattern. Don’t know if I’d call it ‘good’ but as Eric pointed out it wasn’t evil either – as I remember the aliens just wanted to repair their starship and leave.

  • Rock Baker

    Yeah, I would argue Klatuu was more evil than these guys were. Which reminds me of at least two other actually evil invaders Michael played in an episode of The Invaders and the film Assignment: Terror!

  • Flangepart

    Ah, yes. The Monocle gang. Wonder if they’re related to the species we saw in ‘The Atomic Submarine’, before he/she/it got a nuke up the exhaust port.

    “Stop that, I have lousy depth perceprion.”- Leela.

  • Reed

    Don’t know this movie.

    Rock, what are you refering to by “it was only a 400′ digest”?

  • The Rev.

    Reed: I may be wrong, but I think it’s It Came From Outer Space, based on Gamera’s post.

    I haven’t seen it, though.

  • He means (I think) the sort of short, 8mm and 16mm abridgement versions of old monster films, the sort you used to buy via the pages of Famous Monsters back in the day. You played these on home film projectors of the sort that tied in with making home movies shot on 8 or 16mm. Castle Films, in this case, put out what was thus the first (sort of) mass market home theater / video format back in the day. This was also the earliest ‘home’ format for porno films, although that didn’t really hit it big until VHS.

  • The Rev.

    Also, Ken must be feeling better.

    Or else he’s decided he’s better off making everyone else suffer with those puns of his.

  • Marsden

    Thank you Karnac, er, I mean Ken, for explaining that.

  • John Campbell

    Ken, your pun made me long to be punched by a shark!

  • Reed

    John, they say when you punch too long into the abysal shark that the abysal shark punches you back.

    I think that they probably need medication.

  • Rock Baker

    To spell it out even more, the Castle (the Universal library) and Ken Films (AIP’s library) digests that were sold so heavily through Famous Monsters were usually 200′ versions and would run about 8 minutes or so. 400′ editions would run more like 16 minutes, and thus you could get a lot more of the plot than you could in a 200′ digest. They got even cheaper, though, as many a cartoon was released in 50′ editions. Those were the ones most kids bought for their projectors.

    Families tended to buy the 200′ editions (from racks at the local drug or grocery store), but there was also a market for 400′ and even feature prints. (The under-the-counter porn stuff Ken mentions, meanwhile, was usually on 50′ or 100′ reels, although you could find longer stuff if you wished. I briefly came into possession of 200′ X loop starring notorious stripper Candy Barr! Don’t worry, I didn’t watch it. I donated it to Something Weird Video.)

    Most of the shorter films were silent, which was cheaper than sound. Sound films become more common the longer you go. Today, sound is the norm. The 200′ format is perfect for cartoons, and many are still being pressed today (the best way to get some of the Disney stuff). I have several recent pressings of cartoons like Two-Gun Goofy, Donald’s Crime, Coal Black and de Seven Dwarfs, and Uncle Tom’s Cabana. The 8mm market remains the best market to find a lot of these classic “banned” or heavily edited cartoons.

    There are also different formats of film. 8mm (or ‘regular’ 8 mm), Super 8 (which is the current format of choice), 16mm (good for schools and churches, as well as home use, also the format used by television up until just recently), 35mm (which is what you see at the theater), and a few special sizes like 70mm! Television still uses film a lot more than you might think, with a lot of stuff shot on Super 16 (which, if I understand it right, uses the entire space on the emulsion to record the image, so the sound can be recorded onto a disc). The irony being that the earliest soundtracks were also recorded on discs, just of another type.

  • Reed

    Weird. It’s not like I’m particularly young (heck, I’m in my 40’s), and I’ve never heard of this 200′ and 400′ digest stuff. Of course, my family were never film buffs. What time frame are we talking about here? 50’s? 60’s? 70’s?

  • Rock Baker

    Yes. I’d say late 40’s up to about 1982(? 83?) you could still find digests in general and department stores. With the coming of VHS and BETA, formats which could hold an entire feature and always in sound, and no extra cost for color, digests began to die off. Digests are hardly ever produced today, although much the same function is served with excerpts. Hobbiests today sometimes buy segements from a feature (like a battle sequence from one of the Matrix movies) when they get put out. Trailers are real big on the current market. Pop has a Super 8 trailer for Serenity.

  • The box art was a big feature, and so beloved by monster movie fans of a certain age (ahem) that at least two sets of card stock reproductions have been released.

  • Rock Baker

    I used to make box art for 200′ and 400′ boxes. The trouble (?) with today’s world is that now ANYBODY can make box tops so I no longer have a marketable skill in that arena.