Tonight on MeTV- it’s a landmark science fiction film heralded in 1955 for its special effects, amazing aliens, and Technicolor- as the world’s top scientists are called to a strange research compound and learn they are pawns in a galactic battle with the very real possibility that aliens will try to take over “This Island Earth”!
Dr Cal Meacham, a nuclear physicist, is flying his small plane home when it is enveloped in a greenish glow- and is no longer under his control. Something makes the plane land safely, but it’s only the first mystery he must face. Returning to his lab, his assistant Joe has some bizarre news- instead of the resistors he had ordered, they’ve received some sort of odd new solid-state type, unlike anything they’ve ever seen, with amazing unheard of capacity! Puzzled, Meacham wants to order another batch from the same mysterious company- and, instead, receives an entire shipment of unfamiliar parts, along with instructions on how to build them into some sort of unknown machine. He and Joe get to work, building the contraption- and discover it is some sort of communication device called an “interocitor”- which picks up a transmission from an odd looking individual with an impossibly high forehead named Exeter ( no, the forehead isn’t named Exeter, the whole guy is…). The mysterious figure on the screen congratulates Meacham- saying that, by successfully building the device, he has “passed the test” – and proven himself worthy of becoming part of a special top secret project!
Cal bids Joe goodbye as he boards an unusual – and unmanned- aircraft, and is brought to a remote research compound- where he is met by fellow scientists- including Ruth,a lovely lady expert on nuclear power, that he has met before- who claims she has never encountered him in the past! Inside the main building, he finally meets Exeter and his similarly-high-domed cronies-and joins the other recruits- an international amalgam of scientists recruited just as he was. He bonds with Ruth,that female scientist and a fellow we recognize -he’s Russell Johnson-the Professor from “Gilligan’s Island”- portraying a fellow scientist who’s also curious about what this place is all about. The three of them have suspicions about what Exeter and his boys are actually planning, having the scientists attempting to create new forms of power- and soon learn that they are constantly being monitored, and are actually prisoners in the compound! They decide that they must escape, but their attempt results in Meacham and Ruth being captured and transported via spacecraft to the far-off planet Metaluna , which is quickly deteriorating and under siege by a powerful alien race. Along the way,they behold the bizarre and dangerous mutants used by Exeter’s people as a labor force. As the bombing progresses and the battle seems lost, the leader of Exeter’s group- the Monitor- reveals a new plan- to take over the earth as their new home, and reprogram people’s brains to remove their free will- starting with the two visiting earthlings! Will Cal and Ruth become pacified pawns who help lead to earth’s conquest?
This film is considered classic 1950s science fiction, with a fairly sophisticated story line and quality special effects for the time period,and is best remembered for the big headed “Metaluna Mutants”- which are pretty much the prototype for the space creatures of the 50s labelled “bug-eyed monsters”. The cast includes leading man Rex Reason, the sultry Faith Domergue, and Jeff Morrow as Exeter. We’ll talk about the cast, and provide some background on the film, as well as trying out our own Interocitor along the way. You will see our old set and coffin as well in this vintage Sven program.
“This Island Earth” beams to your TV sets ( no Interocitors required) tonight at 10 pm eastern/pacific, 9 central, or, check for time and channel where you live in your local listings, or at www.metv.com . Chicago area viewers can enjoy a second round of “The Boy Who Cried Werewolf” at 11 am on our sister station, WCIU, the U!
If you stay up extra late, you can hear me make a guest appearance on our pal Dave Plier’s late night show on WGN radio (AM 720) , sometime after 2:30 am (central time) where , along with executive producer Jim Roche,we’ll be chatting about my 38 years as the Svengoolie character, scary summer-themed movies, Adam West, and more! Remember that WGN is a clear channel station, and you can hear it all over the country- or- just stream it by going to www.wgnradio.com. Dave will also post it as a podcast on the WGN site early Sunday morning.
Don’t forget that MeTV invites you to Tweet along during our broadcast on Twitter- just use the hashtag #svengoolie . We seem to be among the top trending topics being commented on nationally every week!
Join us tonight for the big broadcast, featuring big heads and ( hopefully) big laughs!