They Came From Beyond Space REVIEW

Release Date: 30 July 2012
1967 | PG | 82 minutes | £15.99
Distributor: StudioCanal
Director: Freddie Francis
Cast: Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne, Zia Mohyeddin, Bernard Kay, Michael Gough

Best known for anthology horror films like Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors and Tales From The Crypt, British studio Amicus rarely dipped a toe into SF (the notable exception being the two ‘60s Doctor Who movies). Watching this cheesy effort, you can understand why.

It begins with the mysterious arrival of meteors flying in formation (Doctor Who fans might be reminded of Jon Pertwee’s debut adventure, “Spearhead From Space”). The scientific team investigating is soon possessed by alien intelligences – all except one boffin, thanks to a silver plate in his head.

It’s every bit as endearingly silly as the meaningless title suggests (where exactly is “beyond space”)? As middle-aged prof Dr Temple, leading man Robert Hutton is a good 20 years old to be playing the babe-magnet, crack shot action hero; as his stunt double hurls heavies about, it’s difficult to stifle a guffaw. The script is frequently laughable: for example, the possession victims snag unlimited funds after taking over a bank manager, but still dutifully post invoices for other requisitions back to HQ. It doesn’t help that the solution to the threat of possession involves wearing what looks like a silver-sprayed plastic colander on your head.

Fair’s fair: there are some entertaining twists, the sets of the aliens’ underground base are pretty impressive (considering the poverty row budget), and respected cinematographer Freddie Francis does his best to find interesting compositions, framing the action within circular shapes or reducing Temple’s possessed love interest to close-ups of glowering eyes and pouting lips. But you’ll probably conclude that Amicus should have stuck to what they were best at.

None, though the film does look immaculate after being digitally remastered. Don’t be tempted to buy the version which came out on the Elstree Hill label last year – taken from a rotten quality print, it’s cropped to 4:3 ratio and looks like a bad VHS copy.

Ian Berriman

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