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This film is worth seeing just for the opening sequence alone. A surprise from the outset leading into a thunderous Sixties-style score, before the rot sets in. There is curiosity value for a performance from Patrick Allen (The Jaw, in what nearly amounts to a leading role) and a very rare appearance of Sean Connery's brother Neil in one of only two film roles that he made that I am aware off. Mid-way the love interest on a moonlit beach really sags and does not help the film much, while the ending is a let down and even stranger to see a prop stolen from the Doctor Who film Daleks: Invasion Earth. I almost expected Peter Cushing to materialise out of.....THIN AIR!!! Still, overall I found it...quite enjoyable!!
A few minutes of well-shot footage of parachute jumps and aerobatic
flying seem the real impetus for this British science fiction picture.
When there are no bodies hurtling towards the ground or planes shooting
past each other, what's left is a bad script with far too many scenes
of men in suits talking in offices and not nearly enough science or
action. Since it was made for a family audience, there isn't even much
in the way of female flesh.
Patrick Allen and his improbably large chin take the lead. His character, a NATO troubleshooter, is big on the sub-James Bond womanising and tough posturing. Yet for all his smooth lines and fetching cardigans, he does curiously little to actually solve the mystery of disappearing military parachutists. Plot development consists of supporting characters waving a Geiger counter over a few things while Allen chases the girls.
George Sanders is normally a reliable figure (see the far superior Psychomania, for instance), but he is wasted here as a personality-deficient general. Hilary Dwyer has the requisite qualities for a female star, being very pretty and a great screamer. Lorna Wilde is quite fetching as a mysterious blonde, but the rest of the cast do little.
This is a competently-made film from people who understood the limitations of their budget, limitations which mean rare special effects and few action sequences. The real problem is an absence of ideas or any ambition beyond filling the screen for 90 minutes. Once all the aerial footage has been used up, what is left is a very unoriginal story with little imagination or characterisation and lots of dialogue of a "The minister isn't going to like this" type. Nonetheless, Reg Tilsley's jazz score deserves a mention, ratcheting the tension even when the most mundane action is unfolding on screen.
It's hard to recommend this film when there are so many better British exploitation films from the era; it lacks even any Austin Powers-ish campness and shows nothing of 1960s Britain. As an attempt at family-friendly science fiction from Tigon, a studio better known for its sexually-frank horror, it's a slight curio of film history. For entertainment, you're better off jumping out of a plane, or even watching an in-flight movie.
The Body Stealers (a.k.a Thin Air) is truly one of the most dreadful movies
you'll ever have the misfortune to see. Simply because there are some
notable names on the cast list, you mustn't think that it is remotely good.
Everyone in this movie must have needed some fast cash to clear their debts.
How else can you explain such a strong cast being lured into such an obvious
bomb? OK, that's a bit cynical - nobody actually sets out to make a bad film
- but whatever the original intentions were, the resulting film is an utter
It's a science fiction story in which the military investigates several cases of parachutists vanishing in mid-air. For the first ten minutes, the peculiar mystery promises to build up to an intriguing resolution, but the promise rapidly evaporates as it becomes apparent that the answers are going to be childish rather than ingenious.
This is hilariously bad, to such an extent that it makes even the worst episode of Doctor Who look like it had high production values! You'd have to be a disturbed eight year old to figure out what the hell is going on as the solution draws close. Still, why worry about it when clearly the actors involved don't look interested either? One interesting thing about the film is the inclusion of Neil Connery (Sean's brother) in a significant role... believe me when I say this guy is no actor!
The 1960s was the era of the brash, misogynistic hero who uses his
fists first and asks questions later. He assumes that all women want to
sleep with him, no matter what the age gap, and wears a variety of
chunky knitwear a Cornish fisherman would feel comfortable in. This
behaviour can all be blamed on James Bond. The mega-success of the Bond
franchise lead to every other TV and movie producer falling over
themselves trying to get a piece of the action. There were spies,
espionage and action heroes everywhere. Now The Body Stealers is not a
spy film as such, but it is Bond that it most closely resembles,
despite its extra-terrestrial enemy. And unfortunately our Neil does
not take the lead role, the honour falling to Patrick Allen. Allen was
a great character actor in the 1960s, making many appearances in Hammer
films, including the fan favourite Captain Clegg aka Night Creatures,
along with assorted low-budget science fiction efforts. Here he plays a
no-nonsense, womanising private detective called in by the military to
solve the mystery of parachutists disappearing in mid-drop. Neil
Connery is relegated to standing in the background in most of the
scenes, playing an old friend of Allen's.
So, the plot goes something like this: The British Air Force are testing a new kind of parachute, but their jumpers (not the knitted kind) are vanishing into thin air before they hit the ground (incidentally Thin Air was the original title of the film, but exploitation master Tony Tenser, producer and head of Tigon, thought it wasn't catchy enough). It IS all a mystery. Allen, who used to be a parachutist himself, leaves a women he was enjoying an intimate picnic with at the order of George Sanders and moves into a seedy looking B&B by the airbase. After clumsily trying to chat up a female scientist, and meeting the chief scientist Maurice Evans (better known for his appearances under heavy makeup in the Planet of the Apes series), he starts to make his moves on a mysterious, bikini-clad blonde he meets on the beach. Meanwhile, for no given reason other than he may be a pervert of some kind, Neil Connery takes secret photos of his old mate Allen making love to this woman right there on the sand. But when he develops the photos, possibly for publication in a seedy magazine (everything was seedy in sixties low budget science fiction), he discovers that she doesn't appear in the photos! That's because she is an alien!
Are you following this? I won't continue, as I'm confusing myself as much as I'm probably confusing you, and I've seen the film. It's no wonder George Sanders spends most of his scenes looking mistily into the distance, no doubt reminiscing on his earlier days working with the likes of Visconti. Even Allen admits on the DVD commentary that he had no real idea of what was going on. Now depending on your view point, this confusing plot, and the lack of a satisfying conclusion, could lead you to believe that you have just wasted the last ninety minutes of your life. Or, if like me you have a certain fondness for sixties British science fiction then there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had from The Body Stealers. You can wonder how Neil Connery didn't do more to cash in on his brother's celebrity status (his only other film appearance of note is the notorious Italian Bond rip-off Operation Kid Brother), or whether this film was the tipping point for Sanders, resulting in his suicide just a couple of years later. You can admire how Allen's heroic chin can win over even the most resistant of women, and even speculate whether there couldn't have been an easier, lower-profile way for the alien race to abduct men to take back to their home planet.
An extremely lacklustre and slow-moving British alien invasion film of
the 1960s. There were quite a few of these low-budget movies coming out
around this time stuff like INVASION, THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING, THE
NIGHT CALLER but THE BODY STEALERS is by far the worst I've seen. The
budget is so poor on this one that literally nothing happens for 90% of
the running time.
For the most part we're stuck with jut-jawed wooden leading man Patrick Allen, following him around as he romances blonde women and barks gruff lines of dialogue at anybody who'll listen. Neil Connery pops up to support him, George Sanders is the cameoing veteran, and Robert Flemyng (THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR) lurks around in a natty uniform.
The story, when you see it down on paper, actually sounds fairly interesting: parachutists are disappearing mid-air, zapped away by aliens, with only their suits and chutes arriving on the ground. Other than some footage of skydiving, this doesn't actually equate to much, and Allen's investigation into the disappearances goes absolutely nowhere.
Of course, the women of the era are lovely and the film is fairly well shot given the paucity of its production budget. But there's no action, a real dearth of imagination, and rarely any special effects, and all of these are musts for a good science fiction movie. This boring outing is the worst Tigon film I've seen yet.
A bunch of military paratroopers descend on a freefall flight and as a
group from NATO wait for them to land they disappear in to thin air
A good opening hook and as the film continues you get the impression that the production have no idea to develop the film outside of the opening hook . In fact despite being a science fiction B movie you get the feeling the production crew are wanting to make a James Bond film and the premise does feel Bond like in many ways . Patrick Allen as Bob Megan is basically channeling Bond as he lights up a cigarette and eyes up every piece of skirt in sight . George Sander is a surrogate M while Neil Connery could easily be a surrogate Q How pathetic is that ? They couldn't get Sean Connery to star in THE BOY STEALERS as Bond but as a way of compensating for this they got Sean's brother !
One genuinely does wonder if at early draft stage THE BODY STEALERS may have been conceived as a straight forward esponaige thriller and rather late in the day became a science fiction genre movie ? Certainly there are scenes that remain confusing such as the culmination of a scene where Jim Radford pursues the mysterious Lorna and the rushed explanation of the ending . Quite often THE BODY STEALERS makes the top ten worst science fiction lists of people who have seen it . It's possibly not that bad and for a B movie the production values aren't all that bad simply because it is very talkative and therefore isn't reliant on special effects , but the problem is the screenplay is painfully under developed and its only al highpoint after the effective opening scene is a government minister being worried about Scotish nationalists repopulating the Highlands
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This starts out as promising, with Paratroopers disappearing out of the
sky, 'in comes Jim' (Patrick Allen) as the sort of armed forces special
investigator to try to find out what's happening. If you didn't know
Sean Connery's brother, Neil, was in it, just watch and you'll almost
think it was Sean, as Allen's right-hand man/pal. Although his acting's
pretty wooden, it's worth taking a look for this reason alone.
The plot as I have said, starts off interestingly enough, but Allen is given a pseudo Anthony Hopkins Naval Officer (When Eight Bells Toll) type of persona coupled with Bond in chasing every bit of skirt that happens to come his way. Liaising with the sceptical 'Ministers' and top brass that values him (a rather uninterested-looking George Sanders) this bumbles along.
The location scenery is fair and there are a rash of good supporting British actors that make it a little interesting from a British film history point of view. Patrick 'The JAW' Allen's role is much like he always can't get out of, the suave-cardigan lolloping type. He's a good enough actor, but the script here doesn't do anyone justice. The plot concerns of course, yes, you guessed it, aliens snatching our boys, an enigmatic female (Lorna) whom Allen can't wait to pounce on, which is central to the plot (not him pouncing, Lorna!).
This was very 60s from Tigon at the end of the horror/sci-fi genre in British film making and it didn't do it any favours.
The music score/incidental music is done to the death/lamped up almost at every moment, perhaps it helped you from dozing off in the cinema as the plot gets lost, slows and is a disappointment, as is using the 'flying saucer' from the Dr Who film 'Daleks Invasion Earth, 2150'. That part of it definitely let it down further. Again, worth watching for a good British cast a lot of us grew up with in British film making but that's about all, don't invite your friends around for pop and popcorn on this one.
The tale of paratroopers who disappear, literally, into thin air, this
film is an odd watch forty years later. It's primary interest lies more
in what it says about the time, than the film itself.
Released in 1969 three influences loom large.The year that Man first landed on the moon it reflects a fascination with, and fear of, what might lie in outer space. Militarily we were also in the midst of the Cold War when anything unexplained, and potentially evil, automatically raised the question of Communist involvement. And finally James Bond was the dominant screen character, and his shadow falls long here in more senses than one.
Veteran, square jawed character Patrck Allen, bulldozes his way through the role of an expert,Bob Megan, called in to solve the awkward problem of disappearing parachutists. One extraordinary scene speaks volumes for the Bond "character" and perceptions of women at the time. Megan chances upon a scantily clad beauty enjoying enjoying a solitary moment taking in the evening and then makes advances on her which vacillate between sexual assault and rape. No sooner is he introduced to a shapely scientist in a pencil skirt than she too is subjected to his clumsy male machismo which in the 21st century looks appalling.Of course both women come back for more. When he IS offered sex on a plate by the blousey, but ageing, hotel owner he rebuffs her to reinforce yet another sexual stereotype, the ageing temptress who can't get it because she has had it.
The Bond theme is further explored by the presence of Sean Connery's brother Neil, as Megans sidekick John Radford, in one of only two screen performances. Bearing a strong resemblance to Sean, his acting talents are strait jacketed by a preposterous script.
A dreadful ending combines the worst of "Dr Who" and "The Champions", suggesting that a 30 minute running time, rather than three times that, would have suited all concerned somewhat better. A hopeless film, but a fascinating sixties curiosity.
It is Patrick Allen, not George Sanders, who is the playboy.
Actors on the way down (George Sanders, Maurice Evans), an actor who never really had much of a career (Neil Connery--Sean's brother), and working actors treading water (Patrick Allen, Robert Flemyng).
The film is indeed a big snooze, with meager science-fiction trappings and a disinterested cast going through the motions.
Aliens kidnap skydivers to repopulate their plague-stricken planet. Theater owners probably had to kidnap patrons! Originally on a double bill with THE BLOOD ROSE, a French production advertised as 'the first sex- horror film.'
Shelagh Fraser ("Mrs. Thatcher") appears as Aunt Beru in STAR WARS.
Abysmal sci-fi (an unwise change of pace for Tigon) which, up to this
point, had been the low point of Anchor Bay UK's "The Tigon Collection"
- not that there were any particular highs! Michael Armstrong, director
of THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR (1969) - and who was eventually replaced
by Levy - compared it to Ed Wood in his Audio Commentary for that film,
and I can't say that he was too far off the mark!
A competent cast flounders in the face of an inane premise and lackluster handling: veterans George Sanders, Maurice Evans (as the chief villain/alien) and Robert Flemyng; heroes Patrick Allen and Neil Connery (yes, Sean's younger sibling!); starlets Hilary Dwyer (better suited to period pieces like her three films with Vincent Price - WITCHFINDER GENERAL , THE OBLONG BOX  and CRY OF THE BANSHEE ) and Sally Faulkner (I was impressed by her in VAMPYRES  and PREY , and here looks lovely if nothing else!). However, Lorna Wilde is terrible as an alien temptress(!) - and the (mercifully brief) contribution of Shelagh Fraser as Mrs. Thatcher(!), an ageing nymphomaniac barmaid with a shrill voice, is positively embarrassing!!
One of its most hilarious - and dated - aspects is the way it presents Allen and Minister's aide Allan Cuthbertson(!) as a couple of would-be studs, in obvious imitation of the James Bond extravaganzas; the cheesy score (by Reg Tilsley, who fared better with THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR) doesn't help, either. A measure of the film's sloppiness is the fact that Hilary Dwyer's name has been mysteriously omitted from the cast list at the end of the picture, though I doubt she voiced her complaint about it to the production company! Patrick Allen's Audio Commentary is actually quite engaging though, understandably, he offers little insight into the film itself - given also that he doesn't remember much at all about its making, and had never even watched the damn thing until now!
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