THE SPACE CHILDREN
The Space Children is a modestly enjoyable, if minor entry from Arnold. It is certainly the most overlooked films in Jack Arnolds oeuvre and in recent years has attained an unjustified bad reputation even being screened on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-99). In most regards, The Space Children is a perfect little 1950s B-picture. For all that it attempts, the film achieves it with modesty. The performances from the kids, which include a young Jackie Coogan among their number, are not too bad.
The Space Children is not another Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) or even Arnolds own It Came from Outer Space in terms of paranoia perhaps the idea of possessed children and the violation of traditional family had more chill impact back then. Some of this is also due to Arnolds prosaic handling rather than dealing with the horror of takeover, Arnold gives us scenes down at the level of the blob killing a drunken father as he attempts to beat one of the children. The story descends into much running around between the beach and the missile base. Nevertheless, Arnold creates moments of undeniably eerie atmosphere with the children entering into the cave. Once again, Arnold uses desert locations with haunting effect all this ocean and sand, Mikel Ray says at one point, it seems like another world a line that could sum up the recurrent theme that runs through the body of Jack Arnolds work.
As with It Came from Outer Space, Arnold liked to subvert expectations of the alien threat the alien is not a malevolent invader but is eventually shown akin to Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) to have come to hold humanity back from its more warlike tendencies. For a work of 1950s science-fiction, The Space Children is unusually optimistic, sitting as it does astride Cold War anxiety while holding an unusually determined pacifist position.
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