TARGET EARTH (1954) Reviews and overview

  

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‘You’ll be paralysed with fear…’

Target Earth is a 1954 American science fiction film directed by Sherman A. Rose from a screenplay by Bill Raynor, AIP’s James Nicholson and Wyott Ordung (Monster from the Ocean Floor), based on the 1953 short story “Deadly City” by Paul W. Fairman. It was Herman Cohen‘s first production.

The movie stars Richard Denning (The Creature from the Black Lagoon; The Black Scorpion), Kathleen Crowley (Curse of the Undead), Virginia Grey (Black ZooUnknown Island; House of Horrors), Richard Reeves and Whit Bissell (I Was a Teenage Frankenstein; Creature from the Black Lagoon).

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Even though a “robot army” is mentioned several times, the production crew only constructed one robot which was used for all scenes. The film’s story is based in Chicago but was actually filmed in Los Angeles. Street scenes were filmed during early mornings when the streets were empty.

Chicago is seemingly deserted. A small group of people who have been overlooked during a mass evacuation band together to face an invasion of robot-like beings from the planet Venus…

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Reviews:

“It’s definitely hard to feel wonder, fright, menace or much of anything else when we first lay eyes on these alien robot invaders. But this is an early 1950s low-budget science fiction film, so you really have two options here:… 1. Roll with it, overlook the cheap design (or accept it as part of the charm) and focus on the characters and story, or 2. Press stop and walk, crawl, run or waddle away.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“What makes this film work quite well is the sense of unease and tension that is maintained throughout most of the first half of the movie followed by the character revelations in the second half. Add to this not only the imminent threat posed to the humans by the alien invaders but also the potential threat being posed by General Wood and the military.” Sci-Fi Film Fiesta

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“Outside of the military scenes, the rest of the film is taken up with the survivors sitting around in a hotel room. All the alien invasion takes place off-screen and is only relayed through what the characters tell us. There is a competent cast but the dramas involving them are dull – moreover, we learn almost nothing about any of them as characters throughout.” Moria

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“A tight, engaging little thriller that focuses more on character than special effects.” PopMatters

“Despite its very low budget, Target Earth is an excellent film. It achieves a real sense of menace with minimal materials. It is fast-paced but slows down when it needs to. The small cast may have been dictated by the limited budget but the film makes an asset of what could have been a liability – accentuating the foursome’s isolation and peril and also letting us get to know and like them.” Common Place Book

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Choice dialogue:

“I came to about noon, the only thing I had left was… a headache”

“In the meantime we gotta play hide and seek with a bunch of zombies from Mars, or wherever they come from?”

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