Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers”

(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 1956/2007. 83 minutes. Unrated. Color/B&W. Widescreen. 2 Discs. Directed by Fred F. Sears.) Hugh Marlowe, Joan Taylor, Donald Curtis. Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff.

The latest in a series of releases from the heyday of stop-motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen (another review is below). Mankind is attacked by flying saucers, and it’s up to Dr. Russell Marvin and his wife (Marlowe and Taylor) to figure out how to fight back. An obvious B-movie by stock and trade, there is plenty of campy fun to be had. The dialogue is overwrought, the science is pretty silly (the aliens’ suits are made of “solidified electricity”) and the Cold War paranoia is thick. The special effects, though they look goofy by today’s standards, are pretty impressive, especially considering the era and budget of the film. Ray Harryhausen’s flying saucers have a fair amount of personality, even though they essentially look like two rotating pie pans. The attack on Washington, D.C. was also very well executed. One interesting feature on the DVD is the Chromachoice between the black & white version or the newly colorized version. While I’m not a big fan of colorizing or editing old movies (I think they should be left well enough alone), the colorizing was remarkably well done. It seemed very natural with the exception of some fire and explosions, which always seemed just a little bit off. Special features abound, with a commentary track by Ray Harryhausen and several visual effects artists, plus featurettes on the blacklisting of one of the writers (tends to ramble), a present day look at stop-motion animation, the colorization process, an interview with Joan Taylor, a talk with Tim Burton and Ray Harryhausen (more like “Tim Burton gushes at Ray Harryhausen”), a look back with Harryhausen on the making of the movie and David Schecter talking about composer Mischa Bakaleinikoff. Also included are galleries of production artwork, ad artwork and photographs from the set. Fans of campy 1950s sci-fi, take heart.

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Jared Counts

Digital Technology Manager

Jared Counts moved to Houston in 1995, survived high school and college, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a degree in Communications (Media Production) and a minor in Film Studies. After being hired part-time at KUHF Radio in early 2003, he proceeded to bounce between...

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