Tonight on MeTV- we head back to the Frightened ‘50s- when agitated observers were on the lookout for spaceships in the skies- and worried about invasion by alien beings- as we witness those worst fears becoming a reality- brought to life by the incredible stop-motion animation of the renowned Ray Harryhausen! It’s a mind-boggling battle between terrestrials and beings from beyond in “Earth VS the Flying Saucers”!
Actually going back to medieval times, and then becoming prevalent starting in the late 1940s and into the ‘50s, sightings of flying discs have intrigued and frightened mankind. When this film premiered in 1956, Americans definitely were watching for flying saucers. So, this film, based on a best-selling book about flying saucers by a retired Marine Corps major was bound to be a hit.
Things start out when scientist Russell Marvin, who is heading a project to launch research satellites, is headed to work at the local military base, accompanied by his newly-wed wife Carol- and their commute suddenly becomes anything but ordinary, when a strange flying saucer buzzes their automobile! Russell at least had a tape recorder running when it happened- but no further proof. Carol’s father, General Hanley, has some bad news- all the satellites they’ve launched seem to have crash-landed back to earth. What could be causing this abrupt failure of the satellites? Russell has his own suspicions, after what they saw in the sky earlier.
His suspicions are proven right when a saucer actually lands at their facility the very next day! Aliens disembark, and the frightened military guards open fire on them. Suffering a casualty, the aliens protect themselves with a force field- and take horrible vengeance on the occupants of the facility, with Russell and Carol surviving- but Carol’s dad the General taken by the aliens.
Russell finds a way to decode a message from the audio on his tape recorder- explaining why the aliens destroyed his satellites, and what their intentions are- the main one being- the occupation of Earth! The chance of a meeting with the aliens ends up with a group including Russell and Carol being brought aboard one of the saucers, to witness how information is extracted from a human brain – and learn of other atrocities caused by these aliens. They release some of the earth people to set up a meeting with the world’s leaders to negotiate the surrender of the planet to its new masters.
Russell begins an exhaustive study of everything they can determine about the aliens, and what might protect the earth from these intruders. It all comes to a mammoth battle, with the saucermen attacking major cities around the world!
All this mayhem is depicted in astonishing form by the stop-motion wizardry of Harryhausen- from the spinning discs to the destruction of famous landmarks. We’ll talk about his work, the cast (though we’ll defer some of that for an upcoming feature which also showcases Harryhausen’s work and includes the same actors) and give you some behind-the-scenes information about what you’re seeing. Plus- of course- Sven saucer shtick and –the original song we did when we first showed this film locally in the Chicago market.
“Earth VS the Flying Saucers” takes off on MeTV tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central- if you need to check for time and/or channel where you are, you can get info in your local listings, or at www.metv.com . In the Chicago viewing area, you can get a second frightening look at “Mr. Sardonicus” at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
Join us tonight to witness the genius of Ray Harryhausen- and some stunning wholesale destruction by UFOs!( Of course, the government would probably say that Harryhausen was just animating …swamp gas…)