Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1950s Sci-Fi Movies!

It’s plain and simple. If you’re a geek, dweeb, spaz, or nerd, you were probably weaned on Saturday afternoon re-runs of the 1950s Sci-Fi movies. If you’re just Joe Blow Average citizen without any particular tendencies, you probably still enjoy a lazy afternoon with back-to-back showings of the classic Drive-In style black-and-white movies that the rest of us worship.

I have to admit that with the advent of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I didn’t realize others had fun making witty comments about the “technology” in the old Sci-Fi movies like we did. We always enjoy noticing the flying granola in the asteroid belts and the control panels in these movies. What’s nearly as fun is watching them 50+ years later when in the movie they said it was “1979” and they were flying to Venus! Campiness aside, these movies are addictive. The acting is always by stage actors who aren’t sure what to do in front of a camera. Sets are small. Men speak so quickly and witty you barely pick up what they said until you have time to sift through it in your head. There’s always a brunette woman pseudo-scientist who has a daddy who runs the lab and allows her to work with the big men. She will almost always be abducted by the aliens and have the hero jet-flying scientist or military man falling in love with her.

There are some favorites that nearly everyone can name like “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “The Thing From Another World!” “Invaders From Mars,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” This Island Earth,” “The Day of the Triffids,” “The Village of the Damned,” “Godzilla,” “Failsafe,” “The Fly,” “War of the Worlds,” and “It Came From Outer Space.” When you start reading this list, you realize what a hugely popular genre this was, and still is.

I enjoy some of the more obscure and overlooked ones that had interesting plots like “Five Million Years to Earth” (aka “Quartermass and the Pit). Although this was done in 1968, the feel of it is very much like the 1950s films, so I consider this a “classic.” This British film had a mood that was spine-tingling and a plot that was interesting enough that you want to go back to it again and again just for the feel. They’re building a subway tunnel in England and come across an alien spacecraft deep in the earth. Upon finding strange skulls, chaos ensues. Was this an invading alien space crew? Or were they the seeds of life on Earth?

Looking for more obscure 50’s Sci-Fi you might have missed the first go-round on TV?
I’d suggest “When Worlds Collide” (1951). This one was actually an interesting social commentary. The Earth is about to collide with another planet and the only hope for civilization is a spacecraft carrying young healthy adults to another planet that is passing close to Earth. Deciding who goes and who stays, how the public handles their impending deaths, and how one goes about starting life on a new planet, were all realistically handled for the time.

My all-time favorite is “Creature From The Black Lagoon” (1954). A scientific expedition on the Amazon finds traces of some kind of gilled swimming man-creature. What they don’t realize is that—he’s still swimming around the pond their boat is anchored in. This is such a classic, and I’d consider it one of the big and not obscure ones, but because it’s my favorite with the beauty-and-the-beast classic theme, I wanted to set this one apart from the others.

Once again, that crazy atomic testing in the arctic manages to flash thaw a dinosaur that invades the East Coast of the US. “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” (1953). This is just one of those classic plot lines that makes for an American version of Godzilla.

“Them!” (1954). It seems that pesky atomic testing in New Mexico caused a big problem—giant ants! This movie is really dramatic, over the top, and awesomely embodies all the elements of a great 50’s Sci-Fi movie. The sound effects alone will keep you shivering throughout.

It doesn’t matter what kind of genre you usually choose at the video store, I can pretty much guarantee you’ve seen at least a half dozen of the ones listed above, that makes you and honorary 1950s Sci-Fi geek! If you can't take them seriously, then don't take them seriously, watch them on MST 3000 episodes where they say the things you're thinking and make you laugh so hard you shouldn't eat or drink while watching them.

Let me know if you have some other favorite obscure ones. I've probably seen them all, but sometimes I come across one that I missed or one that I had forgotten.


  1. Ah, I'm a total geek. I remember all those movies from when I was a kid; that's all we had.
    I was a big fan of the Twilight Zone and still am. Those episodes are still great today.
    And the original Outer Limits, I like to see those again. I have vague memories of those shows.

  2. Yeah, I was a Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Outer Limits kind of girl, but I think I liked the subjects on Night Gallery better and Outer Limits had this one episode that I recall watching as a tiny kid, hiding behind a chair. It was some kind of creature made of electricity and I remember being horrified. I must have been 3 or 4. I'd love to see that one again!

  3. I am a total geek also although dont have the pocket protector look haha!! thanks as always for this delightful post Autumnforest!! I have so much catching up to do on my own stuff and everyone elses-I have been hit with a case of the summertime blahs like nobody's business and it has mad me so damn lazy-so trying to go around blogdom tonight and say hi to friends-best to you as always!!ps I put shower-years ago it would have been so the ghose would not have got scared seeing me haha-as I was so overweight-now that I am back to a normal weight it might still scare some:-) but mostly cause it would remind me of "Psycho"!!

  4. I vaguely remember that episode with the creature made with electricity.
    I remember an episode with tumble weeds in it, that spooked me. I don't even remember what the story was but I remember the tumbleweeds.
    I liked night gallery and the night stalker too!

  5. Devin;
    Glad to see you getting over the summer blah's. I get them from about April first until November first. I HATE HEAT!!! To me, heat is anything over 76. I hate dry--to me dry is anything with less than 40% humidity. What am I doing here?? Yup, I know that feeling. In the summertime, I like to block the light coming in and curl up and light some candles and watch scary movies or work on my horror novel on the laptop with moody music playing. It makes me feel like it's my time of the year (autumn, duh)! Shower, huh? I put abandoned placed alone because I'd be edgy waiting to run into humans. Shower would be like Psycho, you're right. I have no shower curtain but have shower doors, so I don't think it would play out as dramatically if he decided to knife me. Hey, FYI, my son is in the running for the show "Ghost Hunters New Generation" and his audition tape is on youtube. Type the name of the show in the search bar. He's Alex Clauss. Let me know what you think. I think he has a really good chance.

    I LOVED the tumbleweed episode. I was a little kid when I saw it and I swore I'd never live where there's tumbleweeds. Oops--I'm in the desert! One time, I was driving to Tucson, and they had those awful winds they always have along I-10 and I was driving my brother's crappy little econo car and it was swaying. Out of nowhere, a ton of tumbleweeds hit the car and I couldn't see, they were caught under the car too. I pulled over and sat for a while and they ended up stacking up on the car. It was horrifying! Yikes! I still cringe when I have to drive to Tucson.

  6. Ha ha, so i'm not crazy, there actually was a tumbleweed episode! Like I mentioned, my memories was are very vague about this show, i was young, so i wasn't sure if it was on that show.
    Yeah, ever since that episode, tumbleweeds are freaky to me.
    I can't imagine being in a car and having them pile up. Yikes!

  7. Sandra;
    Yeah, that was a Twilight Zone with Rod Serling standing on the hillside, I think. I remember thinking the west was horrifying. When we first moved here in 77 when I was a teen, I thought there'd be hitching posts everywhere and no one told me they grew citrus. I thought deserts couldn't do that. I saw trees with orange things on them and said, "what's that?" My mom laughed. "oranges." I thought of them as grocery store items.

  8. So glad I came back to comments!! I will do the you tube in a minute-best of luck to him -really fascinating -I wish him the best in the world with this!! I am so glad to see that someone else (although I shouldn't really be glad about it-it just makes me feel like less of a freak for hating the heat so much) hates this time of year here-I feel exactly the same way I start dreading the return of summer in March sometimes which isn't the best way to live its just that it gets so friggin old-by august I am wiped out!! I will check out you tube-thanks for the information and best to you as always!!

  9. sorry for yet another multiple so soon-I can't get all my thoughts in one comment-I was gonna say i hate the dry also-and it seems that each year there is also less of a "monsoon" than there used to be-I first moved down here in the mid-80s and there used to be really beautiful thunderstorms all the time in the summer-there still are but they seem much less frequent-all the best!!

  10. Well my third time back-haha three times a charm I guess:-) just wanted to say I watched you son's video-what a fascinating experience at St Francis Cemetery!! I really hope he gets it-I didn't have time to compare his videos to any others but one-but the other one that I did see-Alex's was so much better than so I hope Alex's ease in front of the camera and obvious intelligence helps him get in!! I saved the vid to my faves-all the best to you as always!!

  11. Devin;
    So glad you got to see the video. Yeah, I think he has all the right stuff. It was unfortunate he had to edit the film down to 5 minutes because there was actually more to the encounter at St. Francis. After the thing darted behind the altar thing, the boys rushed away about 20' to the left and looked back and the thing (standing about 3' tall) peeked out from behind the edge of the altar at them and then they rushed through the cemetery. On the way out, the other boy saw it again darting between headstones. Jeez! My son is the most logic-minded Mr. Spock highly intellectual type and he was shaking when he was telling the story a year later. It took him a year to have the courage to tell me about it. He thought I'd be mad he went into a cemetery at night. I always wondered why he and his friend broke up their friendship and apparently the other kid was really freaked by what happened (religious type).

    Yeah, as far as the weather goes--ARGH! Even the pool is bathwater now. Ick! I like to swim in 67-74 degree water. My ultimate dream is to live in Oregon--fell madly in love with the place. I've never felt so at home somewhere in my entire life. I think it's nirvana. Apparently, I get my lack of sweat glands from my father who came from Norway because I just can't sweat and cool off. I hate sunshine too--hurts my eyes! I'm meant for autumnforests and rain and fog and cool. My very favorite day in the world in AZ is when it's winter and we get a day in the 40s/50s with rain and hard winds--love it!

  12. Oh, you guys, I'm the complete opposite. I can't stand gloomy, grey, cold weather. I dread it, I get so depressed.
    Although I don't like stifling heat, I do love the sunshine.
    I'm off to watch your son's video, I keep wanted to do that and I get distracted.

  13. Sandra;
    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, everyone I know is of the sun/warm type. I'm just very Northern European, I guess. I wear sunglasses even when it's gray!