Target Earth was based on a forgotten novelette by Paul W. Fairman, The Deadly City published under the house name Ivar Jorgensen in the March 1953 issue of the pulp magazine Worlds of If. The film is about as simple as science fiction ever gets: Venusian Robots attack Los Angeles. But it is lent semi-incidental depth by its paranoic subtext akin to much s-f from 1950s which resulted from America's fear of commies, Soviet Russia & nuclear holocaust.
Two men & two women are left behind when the robot-infested city is evacuated. Shot on location around L.A. with surprisingly good cinematography, it really captures a look & feel of an abandoned big city, which is almost as creepy as the death-ray spewing robots.
"Robots" should be singular, "robot," because the budget didn't permit building more than one. Even so, the film somehow fools a willing viewer into believing it's a whole invasion.
And even though the robot appears to have been constructed from large biscuit-tins & flexi-ducts then spray-painted silver, it's even so a wonderful piece of art deco minimalism, inspiring many a child of the 1950s to build their own robot costume from cardboard boxes.
This movie scared the bejabbers out of me as a kid when it was often run as a television matinee. I worried for weeks & weeks that if the robots came to earth again, next time they would have improved eye-screens that couldn't be broken.
After all these years it's still a pretty decent film, not the equal of Day the Earth Stood Still, but miles above the usual black & white sci-fi cheapies of its decade. Well acted, cool robots, with a more than adequate array of B-actors headed up by Richard Denning, & told with poker-faced conviction. Truly worthwhile.
Target Earth is a genuine classic of cheapo cinema, but a couple decades later, the title was recycled for a new films, the foolish Z budget independent film UFO: Target Earth (1974).
It scarsely even rises to the level of shlock since it lacks shlock events. It lacks everything one might hold thrilling about trash cinema.
It opens with some "realistic" documentary style interviews with sundry hicks who had personally seen & in some cases been kidnapped by flying saucers. This little section perfectly captures the earnest crackpotism that suffuses the community of saucer fanatics.
Then there's an exceptionally long opening credits sequence which thumbs us through every "real" photograph of UFOs popularly distributed up to 1974. Enjoy this part as much as you can, as these photographs are the only UFOs you are ever going to see.
The film proper begins with a more fully fiction-contexed series of encounters & interviews with people associated in one way or another with UFO sightings. There's an expectation that at any moment we are going to see an invasion or something but it's a film consisting entirey of padding, without substantative content.
Alan is an electronics whiz who thinks there's a UFO in the bottom of the lake. He believes he may have honed in on radio signals from UFOs. His research allows for endless minutes of our getting to watch him sitting still.
Near the end, Alan is hynotized by colored lights on his radio-wave screen & the lights begin communicating with him telephathically.
[SPOILER ALERT!] These are energy beings who have put him in a trance in order to reveal to him that their race lives on mind-energy generated by our imaginations. After this revelation the light show continues for some while & anyone stoned in their car at the drive-in cinema was probably going oh wow man.
So there are no such things as flying saucers but the fact that we imagine they exist feeds the alien energy beings, the mind-vampires, until we are drained & dead.
Allan begins to age rapidly as he walks entranced outside & down to the lake where his friend tries to keep him from drowning himself but fails. His friend tries to get him out of the water, but all he drags ashore is a skeleton. [END SPOILER ALERT]
It doesn't make a lick of sense.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl