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Phantom from Space is a rare little treat for classic monster movie/sci-fi fans. The first half is incredibly dull with not a single monster sighting for about 25 minutes! Instead of thrills, the beginning offers a set-up of the boring police/news reporter/government agent business that seems to permeate many old moster flicks. BUT, once you get to the good stuff it really holds up well. It's always fascinating to watch the old invisibilty tricks harking back to Universal's Invisible Man. And check out that cool space suit! The ending tops all, thought, with a really cool effect that finally lets the viewer see the man behind the mask. Alpha Video has a release of this film on DVD with spectacular, color cover art, a quite nice print of the film, and a budget savvy price of around $5-$6 bucks! Definitely worth the price of admission for classic monster fans!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Some Spoilers) Early 1950's man from space movie where in this case,
it's the spaceman thats in trouble not the earthmen and women. A UFO is
tracked from Point Barrow Alaska entering the earth's atmosphere
traveling at some 5,000 MPH as it heads south some 3,000 miles down the
Pacific coast it loses speed and crashes in the ocean off Santa Monica
The local police are alerted when all the electricity around Santa Monica gets blacked-out and a number of people are found dead; one on the beach and another, a night watchman, outside an oil field that was set on fire. It turns out that the person responsible for all this is the spaceman, who ejected from the spacecraft before it crashed, and only killed in self-defense when he thought that he was being threatened by the people in the area. A local man-hunt is on to find the killer who sheds his space outfit and turns out to be invisible but he also finds it difficult to breath the air in the earth's atmosphere. The spaceman has to get back to the local observatory where his suit and helmet are to put on in order to stay alive.
Slowing suffocating the alien tries to make contact with the earthmen, with some kind of Morse Code, but to no avail. With the scientists and police trying to make contact and show the spaceman that they mean no harm a local reporter takes a photo of the alien which has it drop it's life saving helmet, due to the camera flash that excited it, and it breaks.
With that the last hope to stay alive for the spaceman is gone and as he runs up to the top of the observatory, chased by the earthmen, he starts to become visible as he slowly loses his ability to breath and dies. Even though the special effects in the movie "Phatom from Space" are of the bargain basement variety the very interesting and imaginative story more then makes up for them. We see in the film that it's the alien thats the victim of the earth's environment not the earthlings being threatened by the alien's advance technology.
The space alien didn't want to do the people of earth any harm, all he wanted to do was get back home to his planet,but it was the earth's atmosphere like in the movie "War of the Worlds" that in the end killed him.
I will never forget this movie. It is the very first sci-fi that I had ever
seen. My parents took me to see this film when I was about 6-7 years old.
I was very frightened by the whole thing. I could not stop watching however. Every night for months after seeing the film, I made certain my bedroom curtains were securely drawn. I just knew that the alien was out there looking into my window at me.
By todays standards, the special effects were really Mickey Mouse. Perhaps a remake of this film will happen some day. If so, I will be first in line to see it. This time I will not worry about my bedroom curtains.
The alien, plot and characters in this W. Lee Wilder travesty are not
just transparent, not just invisible, in truth, they practically do not
exist. W. Lee Wilder, brother of the talented William Wilder, continued
his descent into low-budget sci fi cinema oblivion with 1953' Phantom
from Space. Casting actors with names like Nora Nash and Sandy Sanders,
our fearless director solved the age old problem of having no budget by
creating a film which really required no budget - he left out the
action, any need for special effects, and, for the most part - the
The "Phantom" is an alien who has crash landed on earth. Capable of intergalactic travel, but can't avoid crashing on an inhabited planet among thousands of uninhabited ones? OK...) He wears an unremarkable space suit and seems on a quest for something. By the time "the authorities" - various military personnel, a cliché German scientist, and some newspaper reporters - figure out what is going on, "the phantom" comes to them, apparently for the sole purpose of taking off his clothes to reveal that he is, in fact, invisible. The story reveals how all this is possible and what it means, but it is not worth typing out. It is a pseudoscientific muddle that would only convince the most undereducated. Might have been improved by consultation with an actual scientist!
The story involves no real action and is driven entirely by the lackluster script (most of the characters being somewhat interchangeable). There is a tremendous amount of dryly delivered flat dialog and very little to see. Most of the action takes place off-camera and is explained by seemingly disinterested observers. The end of the film is the only part which had any real potential and, had it been attached to a different film, might have been really dramatic. Nevertheless, it is worth sticking around for if you've managed to survive the rest of the film - or you could just fast-forward.
As low-budget 1950's sci-fi stuff goes, this movie turns out to be relatively entertaining, certainly better than a lot of similar type movies from the era. The movie is set on a single night, and follows various government officials (police, military and communications) in the search for an alien being who's crash landed on earth, and who's killed a couple of people. The problem in finding him is that he's invisible, except when under ultra-violet lights. The effects are really what makes this seem very low-budget. They're pretty typical for the era, which means not very good. The movie also gets off to a bit of a slow start, as all we get to do for a while is watch "Mobile 1" and "Mobile 7" keep reporting into "Central" as they try to pinpoint the location of a mysterious signal of some type that's blocking communications. The first 10-15 minutes contain a lot of "Roger, Wilco, Out" kind of stuff. However, the actual story isn't bad and has a bit of mild suspense about it, particularly because we're not really sure about the motive of the alien. Did he deliberately kill the two people, or was it an accident or possibly self-defence? Ultimately, I thought this was a decent enough movie to spend a bit of time with. 6/10
United Artists sure had a mess on their hands when they distributed Phantom From Space in 1953. The story is of an alien spacecraft that seems to have crash landed somewhere near Santa Monica, and the humanoid alien that runs around. The alien gets involved with murdering a couple humans, and also causes an explosion. It is later learned the alien most likely killed because it was being attacked by the humans. A manhunt for the alien is then organized. The alien is cornered but escapes by taking off his helmet and radioactive suit, which makes him invisible to humans. The suit and helmet are taken to a lab (We know it's a lab because of the roughly made "lab" sign that can be seen.) It is guessed the alien will come to the lab for it's helmet, which it needs for breathing most of the time. The alien shows up and soon the crime investigators, the scientists, and a dog are running here, there, and everywhere looking for either the alien or the woman who has encountered the alien. There is so much running around in the lab building that it becomes humorous; like a Three Stooges comedy. It is also humorous during all this running to see people slipping on the slippery floor in the building's hall. These shots of people slipping slightly were either unnoticed while being filmed, or the director didn't want to do another take. Much of Phantom From Space screams "amateur." Some of the sci-fi elements in this movie are interesting (the invisible alien being viewed under ultra-violet light, the description of foreign gasses the alien breathes in its helmet) while other sci-fi elements do not seem likely. The movie seems more like a cops and criminal story than a science fiction thriller. Even the music sounds like a crime-drama score most of the time. There are several things in the movie which may cause unintended laughter; including the monotone narrator who begins the movie, and again speaks during other parts of the movie. Unintended laughter may also be brought about by some of the situations and dialogue in this movie, and by the acting. For the most part the acting is bad. Some actors display wooden acting. Other actors seem extremely amateur. The special effects are mostly bad when compared to other low-budget films from this era, and they may also lead to unintended snickers. Only near the end do the special effects seem better when the alien is seen under ultra-violet lighting. All the running around and silly situations make the movie seem more like a feature for children. The movie can be entertaining only if viewed with a juvenile frame of mind. Phantom From Space is a bad film, but may actually be a fun reminder of comic books and science fiction serials.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When an alien crash lands in Santa Monica, all it wants to do is get
home. But after killing a few people, it has to run from the
authorities out to catch it. Fortunately, it is invisible to the naked
eye. Unfortunately, its spacesuit, required for it to breathe for any
length of time in Earth's atmosphere, is not invisible. Though it tries
to communicate by means of a tapped out, Morse code, it always seems to
be misunderstood right up to the tragic climax.
Phantom from Space is a low budget science fiction film that had a lot of potential, but sadly this did not come through in the execution. While it is by no means the worst movie I've seen, it is really quite dull. The first half looks at the news reports, etc. surrounding the crash of the spacecraft, which should help set the mood, but here it just drags on. The second half, with the appearance of the alien, picks up; the pace a bit and becomes more interesting, but it comes a bit too late to save this one.
The acting wasn't awful, but none of the performances really grabbed me either. The dialog was decent and seemed real enough. The ending was tragic, but suited the story well and was probably the best part of the movie. The invisibility effects were interesting.
Not the best low budget science fiction film I've seen, though not the worst, this film would likely appeal to die hard science fiction fans, but probably not too many others.
An alien spaceship lands on Earth and an Invisible alien soon begins to
terrorize ordinary citizens.
This low-budget science fiction film actually strives to reach above its limitations. Now it doesn't entirely succeed and a lot of the film(especially the narration) is laughable but the ending does surprise you. Much better than I expected and while I wasn't expecting much , this does deserves marks for trying. Great fun for a Saturday afternoon.
I generally LOVE low-budget Sci-Fi films from the 1950's, but you have to admit they also made some pretty darn stupid and pointless movies back them! Take this oddity, for example! The opening sequences follow a meteor at least they all think it is a meteor whisking over the earth from Alaska to Santa Monica for SIX WHOLE MINUTES! All you hear is a typically 50's narrating voice rambling off coordinates and all you see is a type of rock flying through the sky! Fascinating!! The meteor turns out to be a spaceship and its captain immediately kills two earthlings because they were hostile to him. He then thinks they attacked him because they were afraid of his flamboyant spacesuit, so he takes it off and continues his trip naked. That's alright, though, because he also happens to be invisible. The rest of the film concerns a bunch of dreadfully boring scientists trying to figure out whether this visitor has friendly intentions or not, and by the end of the film we STILL don't know this. I can appreciate a lack of financial means & acting talent in B-cinema, but so much boredom in such a little film is really unforgivable. The people hunting for the alien simply sit around in their offices or laboratories waiting for him to come and pick up the suit he left behind at the scene of his first crimes. There's never any outer space menace or suspenseful sequences of mass hysteria and the conversations these people are having are dull, dull, dull!
The story is mainly about people running up and down hallways and stairs. I hope they got paid double for all their huffing and puffing. Oh yeah, there's also something about an invisible man in a diving helmet and pajamas. From the way he breathes, he ought to have his adenoids checked. I think he's from outer space, but more likely he's a diving school flunk-out. What can you say about a cheap snoozer like this with its no-name cast. Heck, there isn't even a sexy girl to keep us guys in the back row entertained. Between all the pseudo-scientific palaver and the sprinting back and forth, there's not much left to look at. My guess is it played one or two drive-ins farthest from town, and then disappeared like the phantom in the movie.
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