Tag Archives: Joan Taylor

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)

The Ugly American's got nothing on the Ugly Venusian.
The Ugly American’s got nothing on the Ugly Venusian

Plenty of sci-fi properties obsess over the planet Mars but there was a time, throughout the early part of the twentieth century, when the planet Venus commanded similar attention. Obviously, this was before robotic observation revealed the 900 °(F) desert under those miles-thick clouds of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. Damn place is hotter than Mercury once you get right down to it. But if you ever are magically transported to the surface, don’t panic: atmospheric pressure will crush you long before you have time to fry or choke on your own melting innards.

Nobody knew this in June, 1957, obviously. Sputnik was four months away from launch. Mariner-2 was five years away and scientists spent the rest of the 60s arguing about its data…i.e., doing their damn jobs. We can forgive 20 Million Miles to Earth its interplanetary ignorance. Especially since that ignorance doubles as the source of some truly batshit excuses for Science. And this is me talking: the from a man who thinks nothing of movies about dinosaurs spontaneously reanimated by atomic explosions. Unfortunately, this film signals a trend toward the same kinds of awful unthinking that kills genre movies to this day. It had all the elements of past successes, but the essential creative sparks that powered, say, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, or even Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, obviously faded as the decade that spawned them wore on.

I name drop those last two because 20 Million Miles to Earth is another collaboration between Columbia pictures and stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, flowing directly from 1955’s It Came from Beneath the Sea. Which also happened to be Harryhausen’s first collaboration with producer Charles H. Schneer, who would go on to produce Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and every other memorable movie with Harryhausen’s name on it until 1981’s Clash of the Titans. Continue reading 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956)

Watch the Skies!About six months ago I bought Earth vs. the Flying Saucers on impulse. I’d picked up an MST3K episode and was looking for something to go along with it. This was before Christmas, before the snowstorm trapped us all inside the house. So I bought Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and set it down on my bookshelf, next to the stack of Books To Read. I remember setting it down and thinking Eh, I’ll get to it, eventually.

Three months later I found the tape (still unopened) under a Dean Kootz book. Lightning, I think. I dusted the movie off and put it in my Movie Drawer, thinking, Eh, I’ll get to it, eventually. I began reading.

Three months after that (last night, as a matter of fact) I opened my Movie Drawer and there it was, nestled snug between my copies of The Thing and Bulworth, where it would rest, I realized, until the last trumpet sounds and the gates of Doomsday opened up to swallow us all, screaming. {More}