Tonight on MeTV- it’s more amazing Ray Harryhausen stop-motion magic- when a spaceship returns from Venus with injured astronauts and a strange specimen that will become a menace that gets bigger and more destructive after making the voyage of “20 Million Miles to Earth”!
The story begins with some fishermen off the coast of Sicily, whose daily trawling is interrupted by a sleek silver spacecraft splashing down in their fishing waters! They head out to the craft, and manage to save a couple of the spacemen inside before the ship sinks out of sight.
Col. Robert Calder is one of the men rescued- and ends up the sole survivor when his fellow astronaut suffers the same fate as other shipmates had- afflicted by some unknown disease that had claimed the rest of the ship’s crew. Calder is being cared for by Marisa, a lovely medical student- who happens to be the grand-daughter of a zoologist, Dr. Leonardo.
While authorities from Washington DC learn of their ship’s return to earth, and head for Italy, Pepe, a boy who hangs around with the fishermen, has discovered a metal cylinder with some sort of gelatinous contents ( no, not “The Blob”, which was deposited in the frozen North last week!). The young entrepreneur heads to none other than Dr. Leonardo in an attempt to sell him the odd specimen- and the doctor, intrigued by whatever it may be, gladly pays the boy for the amazing find!
Marisa comes to the trailer of her grandfather, and they are both astounded to find that something has hatched from the odd mass of jelly- a small, reptilian-looking creature! Dr. Leonardo puts it in a cage, intent on taking it to Rome where it can be studied more fully. Meanwhile, the US military has arrived to meet up with the recovered Calder, and they head to the Italian authorities to reveal that the sunken spaceship had returned from Venus- and contained a metal capsule with an unborn Venusian specimen ( well- unborn when it had arrived…) Divers can’t locate the capsule- and Calder approaches the fishermen, offering a reward for the capsule. Our pal Pepe, hearing the words “reward”, springs into action- leading them to the empty container, and explaining that he had sold the contents to Dr. Leonardo. Calder and the authorities set out to find the doctor and retrieve the specimen.
Of course- it’s not that easy- because the creature has continued to grow and get stronger- it is now human-sized, and escapes from its cage to terrorize the countryside! The Italians at first want the rampaging creature destroyed, but eventually allow Calder to attempt to capture the creature for study. This is finally achieved, but the story doesn’t end there- as the creature continues to grow, and escapes to cause havoc and destruction throughout Rome- with the Coliseum becoming the site of a raging battle between mankind and the giant alien gladiator!
This 1957 sci fi epic was the last Harryhausen film to be shot in black and white (he had hoped to shoot it in color, but the budget wouldn’t allow it) and the monster is one of the best remembered Harryhausen characters- known as the Ymir ( but never referred to by that name in the film).We’ll have lots of cast and background info, as well as a rough demonstration of how stop-motion animation is done- plus- a very special visit with the voice of Spongebob Squarepants ( and many other animated characters) –the great Tom Kenny!
“20 Million Miles to Earth” starts tonight on MeTV at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central- and, you can check for time and/or channel in your area in your local listings, or at www.metv.com . Our Chicago viewers can sing along to the theme song one more time when we present “The Blob” at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
Speaking of the Chicago area- I’ll be joining in our big WCIU food drive- “Fill a Bag- Fill a Bus” this Thursday at noon for about an hour at the River Forest Jewel Osco . Watch for info on air locally and under the “appearances” tab here on our site!
Meanwhile, see how a Venusian specimen grows from big enough to fill a bag- to big enough to fill a bus- and even further- tonight on MeTV!