Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (DVD)

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers DVD (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Hugh Marlowe, Joan Taylor, Donald Curtis, Morris Ankrum, John Zaremba

Directed by Fred F. Sears

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

“When an armed and threatening power lands uninvited in our capitol, we don’t meet him with tea and cookies!” — General Edmunds, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers

Oh, those bastard extraterrestrials! They’re always causing such a ruckus! The Fifties saw the height of alien-inspired paranoia with people reporting U.F.O.’s by the boatload. They were everywhere. In newspapers, in comic books, and most prominently up on the old silver screen. Out of all the pulp to come out of this decade, one movie stands high above them all. One movie deserves to be referred to as quintessential — Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. It just doesn’t get any better than this, folks. Sit back and let me tell you of the days of high camp and white hot destruction!

The year is 1956. Dr. Russel Marvin (Marlowe) and his wife, Carol (Taylor), are out cruising the countryside when all of a sudden a large cigar-shaped spacecraft hovers above their car and then takes off into the sky. They decide to write off this experience(!) and move on with their day. After all, there’s much more important work to be done. The Marvins work for “Operation Skyhook,” a government funded project that sends rockets into outer space as a means to probe and plan for future space flights. Everything was fine and dandy until said rockets began to disappear. Upon investigation it becomes clear that aliens are behind these mysterious interstellar shenanigans and they also have far worse things planned on their agendas. Namely, attacking our planet and making slaves of us all. But this is America (fuck yeah). We don’t take this kind of thing lightly. In a flash it’s all-out war — and an all-out good time.

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers DVD (click for larger image)Simply put, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers is a B-Movie masterpiece. Leaving giant monsters behind for a bit, the great Ray Harryhausen is at the helm of some of the most amazing stop-motion effects ever put to film. The attack on Washington (later re-imagined in the big-budget Independence Day) is iconic in its imagery and every bit as effective as it was way back when. You cannot help but have a good time with this flick. It’s thick-sliced cheese heaven and stands as one of this reviewer’s all-time favorite flicks.

As with the other two latest Harryhausen releases, 20 Million Miles to Earth (review here) and It Came From Beneath the Sea (review here), this gem is brought to you in the original black & white version and again in surprisingly great computer generated color (see my comments in the other reviews about the new colorization process). It’s your choice how you want to watch. You cannot miss with either.

Every great film deserves a great home video release, and Sony has delivered one for us fans. There’s just one problem — the lion’s share of the DVD extras also appear on the DVD releases of the abovementioned titles. As a result, I’ll only be covering things exclusive to this two-disc package. You’ll have to do a little leg work by clicking the above links to find out about the supplemental repeats. That being said …

Thing’s begin with a commentary with Ray Harryhausen along with visual effects artists Jeffrey Okun and Ken Ralston and film historian Arnold Kunert. Sadly, this commentary is just about as subdued as the one found on It Came From Beneath the Sea. Though slightly more entertaining I cannot help but wish these cats would just loosen up and have fun. This is an alien invasion flick for God’s sake not a Shakespeare tragedy! Sony, if you’re reading, let me do some of these! At the very least they will be lively! Moving on …

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers DVD (click for larger image)Disc-two starts off with twenty-one minute featurette, Remembering Earth vs. The Flying Saucers. Here we mainly find Ray talking about the good times had and the hard work put into bringing this project to fruition. My advice, skip the commentary and watch this. It’s far more interesting and infinitely more of a brisk experience. The next new feature is really interesting — The Hollywood Black-List Bernard Gordon. Apparently writer Bernard Gordon was blacklisted by the powers-that-be for his political beliefs, and therefore his credit was removed from this film. In this thirty minute look at this ludicrous situation, Del Reisman of the Writers Guild of America explains the ins and outs of Fifties communism inspired paranoia and the long road back to more sensible thinking. Truly fascinating. The film’s original credit sequence is also included here as another feature. Things are then wrapped up with one of the most extensive video photo galleries I have ever seen (fifty-one minutes!) and a sneak peek at the comic, Flying Saucers vs. The Earth.

It doesn’t matter if your an older viewer looking to relive their childhood or a younger viewer looking for either a good time or some education — Earth vs. The Flying Saucers is a film that embodies every sense of the word classic. Click the link below and get yourself a copy, like yesterday. You wont regret it!

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen along with visual effects artists Jeffrey Okun and Ken Ralston and film historian Arnold Kunert
  • Remembering Earth vs. The Flying Saucers featurette
  • David Schecter on the Film Music’s Unsung Hero featurette
  • The Colorization Process featurette
  • The Hollywood Black-List Bernard Gordon featurette
  • Original Screenplay Credits featurette
  • A Present-Day Look at Stop-Motion featurette
  • Original Ad Artwork featurette
  • Tim Burton interviews Ray Harryhausen
  • Interview with Joan Taylor
  • Flying Saucers vs. The Earth comic book sneak peek
  • Video photo galleries
  • Film:

    4 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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    Steve Barton

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