EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS
INVASION OF THE FLYING SAUCERS
Earth vs the Flying Saucers was made by stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen and his long time producing partner Charles H. Schneer. Ray Harryhausen had earlier made The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), which had started off the atomic monster genre that competed heavily with the alien invader genre to be the most prevalent theme in 1950s science-fiction. Throughout the 1950s, Harryhausen vied between either theme, making atomic monster films like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and the giant octopus effort It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), and alien invader films such as this and 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). In 1958, Harryhausen made the highly successful The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), which took his career off in fantasy directions. All of Ray Harryhausens films, however, be they science-fiction or fantasy, are construed as special effects vehicles set around Harryhausens provision of monsters. Here the monsters that Harryhausen provides are flying saucers and aliens. The effects work with the saucers buzzing around, accompanied by their shimmering force-fields and tiny pinpricks of explosions bouncing off them, and the blank-suited aliens, blowing up rockets and melting soldiers, are superlative. Harryhausen has done some clever cost-cutting by matting the saucers over the top of stock footage of Navy and Air Force destroyers and bombers. While most stock footage looks just like that, here it is a move that works surprisingly well in the films favour.
The connecting theme that runs through all of Ray Harryhausens aforementioned atomic monster and alien invader films of this era is that of the various menaces of the show attacking famous landmarks the rhedosaurus in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms rampaging through New York City and tearing down Coney Island, the octopus in It Came from Beneath the Sea attacking the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Ymir in 20 Million Miles to Earth meeting its end at the Coliseum in Rome. However, Harryhausens vandalistic fantasies reached their absolute apotheosis in Earth vs the Flying Saucers with the military shooting down the saucers over Washington D.C. and in seeing them going crashing into the Washington Monument and impaling themselves in the side of the Capitol Building. There is something sensational in watching such destructive spleandour.
Part of the fun to be had with Earth vs the Flying Saucers is the inventivity that has gone into the script (which comes partly from prolific B-movie hack Curt Siodmak). It comes packed with all sorts of novel inventions and devices forcefields, room-sized computers, a device that indexes all the information inside a human head, the aliens in their blank metal suits with helmets that are revealed to operate by amplifying the senses, rayguns and flashing Van Der Graaf accelerators, even a muddled suggestion of relativity theory at one point.
Ray Harryhausens other films are: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), the granddaddy of all atomic monster films; the giant atomic octopus film It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955); the alien monster film 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957); The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958); The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960); the Jules Verne adaptation Mysterious Island (1961); the Greek myth adventure Jason and the Argonauts (1963); the H.G. Wells adaptation The First Men in the Moon (1964); the caveman vs dinosaurs epic One Million Years B.C. (1966); the dinosaur film The Valley of Gwangi (1969); the two Sinbad sequels The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977); and the Greek myth adventure Clash of the Titans (1981).
Director Fred F. Sears was a prolific director of Westerns and crime dramas. His other genre contributions included the serial Blackhawk (1952) based on the comic strip, the radioactive werewolf film The WereWolf (1956), The Giant Claw (1957) about a giant alien bird and The Night the World Exploded (1957).