Wednesday, January 4, 2012



Sometimes I wish I was old enough to have done drugs in the 60s.
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967) was an Amicus-produced movie from 1967, based on the novel The Gods Hate Kansas by Joseph Millard. Only, they don’t really care about Kansas in this version because they’re in England. In the English countryside, a flock of meteors crash land. These meteors contain otherworldly hitchhikers who hijack the minds of all the humans they come in contact with…all, except one. This scientist luckily had just gotten into a car accident and, thus, has a metal plate in his head that blocks their evil rays. Can he stop the spacemen before it’s too late? And what is the extraterrestrial motivation?

They sure tried real hard. The actors approached the material as if it were serious nonfiction. Sadly, they had to fight against a poor script and even worse is the effects. The screenplay offered nothing new. The characters were one-dimensional archtypes. The effects consisted of strobe ligting and liquid kaleidoscope moving images. I don’t think even college students make movies with such lo-fi offerings. You will get some giggles from this flick (and I can’t guarantee that it’s at things done intentionally.
SPOILER ALERT—My biggest problem with the movie was the end.

I’m going to have to find out how The Gods Hate Kansas ended, because the movie ending was beyond horrible. Despite the enslavement of thousands of humans, the aliens are somewhat sympathetic. After all, they just need those slaves to build a new spaceship so that they can return home. Our metal-plated hero is able (in a span of less than a paragraph’s worth of dialogue) to convince the aliens that “You don’t have to force us—we humans will be more than happy to help out.” The final image is of the scientist and lead spaceman shaking hands and agreeing to work together to get the aliens home. I’m sorry, but the last thing I want from a horror story is “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.”

I did have fun watching the trippy effects and wondering if some of the images were used for electric Kool-Aid acid tests. THEY CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is a fun movie to look at, but a bad movie to watch.


BOOK: THE GODS HATE KANSAS by Joseph Millard (1941)

The first time this short novel was published as a book was in 1964, as a paperback original from Monarch Books. It had already seen life elsewhere, though, as far back as 1941, when it was originally published as the main feature in an issue of Startling Stories.

The pulp origins help to explain the flaws in the story. The characterization is shallow, the scientific exposition is excessive, and the alien motivations are completely analogous to human motivations despite having different experiences and intellectual pursuits. In other words, it is missing all of the defining characteristics of the new wave of science fiction that dominated the 1960s. But as a pulp story from the early 1940s, it can and should be judged on different merits. As such a story, the novel is a qualified success.

The dialogue is still unimpressive and the conclusion is ludicrous. But the story adroitly mixes odd science (there was a preponderance of known North American meteorite strikes in Kansas, for example) with an alien invasion story that is just odd enough to stand out. Millard also takes pains to provide us with alien invaders who are unpleasant enough to cause the reader to support ending their plans while pleasant enough to not cause annoyance when the protagonist provides them with an alternative solution to their problems.

In between those poles, Millard provides us with an active, fast-paced adventure story capable of drawing attention. Unfortunately, the writing is stiff enough to lose that attention shortly afterward.

Three stars out of five