A spaceship from another world crashes in the Arizona desert and only an amateur stargazer and a schoolteacher suspect alien influence when the local townsfolk begin to act strangely.


Jack Arnold


Harry Essex (screenplay), Ray Bradbury (story)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Richard Carlson ... John Putnam
Barbara Rush ... Ellen Fields
Charles Drake ... Sheriff Matt Warren
Joe Sawyer ... Frank Daylon
Russell Johnson ... George
Kathleen Hughes ... Jane


John Putnam is a writer and an amateur stargazer with a new home out in the beautiful Arizona desert, which he enjoys with Ellen Fields, his girlfriend and a local schoolteacher. John is not trusted by the people of the small town near where he lives, certainly not by Sheriff Matt Warren, who feels protective of Ellen, and perhaps something more. One night, John and Ellen see a meteorite crash in the desert. John drags his friend, Pete, out of bed to take him over to the crash site in his helicopter. Once there, John climbs down into the crater. Unfortunately, he does so alone, as Pete and Ellen wait for him. John is the only one who sees the spaceship before a landslide covers it. And John is the only one who catches a glimpse of the hideous thing inside. At first John's story seems mad, until some of the townsfolk begin acting strange - as if they aren't really who they seem to be. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Horror | Sci-Fi


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Russell Johnson (George) with Kathleen Hughes (Jane) though do not share any scenes in this movie. See more »


All the selected body hijacked, taken over (attacked) citizens are first shown through alien 'bubble eye' Point of View and the human bodies then stashed away in the mine (scene at end), while they work on their ship: but the headline billed (Richard Carlson) character, sleuth professor, John Putnam never is: yet his 'body double' is the head alien fixing the spaceship ray ... and like 'Ellen', is then wearing different clothes which is unlike all the other usurped citizen bodies in their same clothes. See more »


[first lines]
John Putnam: [off-screen] This is Sand Rock, Arizona, of a late evening in early spring. It's a nice town, knowing its past and sure of its future, as it makes ready for the night, and the predictable morning. The desert blankets the earth, cooling, resting for the fight with tomorrow's sun. And in my house near the town, we're also sure of the future. So very sure.
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Crazy Credits

The credits are at the end rather than at the beginning. They include shots of the characters with the cast names, and the pictures would mean nothing if seen before the film. See more »


Referenced in It Came from Hollywood (1982) See more »

User Reviews

Clothes Encounters
29 May 2002 | by twanuritSee all my reviews

This is director Jack Arnold's first science-fiction effort and one of the earliest to use a desert setting. Richard Carlson is very believable as an astronomer who, along with his fiancée (Barbara Rush), witnesses a meteor crash-landing that turns out to be a spacecraft. No one in the small town believes him until disappearances occur. At one point, Carlson discovers his closet has been ransacked and wardrobe stolen!

Arnold uses Theremin music to great effect, the photography is eerie, dialog (by Ray Bradbury) poetic, and the alien is a large crawling mass with one bulging eye that leaves a snail-like trail in its path. Incognito as humans so as not to terrify earthlings with their unique physicality, the aliens are NOT bent on destruction - an interesting precursor to Steven Spielberg's expensive "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) - even its main titles are also at the end.

In an unconscious insight into social behavior, a scene has Carlson speaking to the sheriff (Charles Drake) while watching a spider on the desert ground ("...Why are you afraid of it? Because it has 8 legs, its mouth moves from side to side, instead of up and down? What would you do if it came towards you?"). The sheriff squashes it. This holds true for animals, as well as people (who have different coloring, etc.), avoiding, harming or destroying, sadly. The classic Twilight Zone episode "Eye of the Beholder" (1960) is a fine example: most of the "monsters" in these science-fiction/horror films just look different than humans, we might be "monsters" to them. This is low-key, intelligent, satisfying drama. Russell Johnson, Joe Sawyer, and Kathleen Hughes co-star.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

5 June 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Atomic Monster See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$800,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

3 Channel Stereo (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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