Phantom from Space

Year 1953

Ted Cooper as   Lieutenant Hazen  
Rudolph Anders   as Dr. Wyatt
Noreen Nash as Barbara Randall
Steven Clark as  Bill Randall
James Seay as Major Andrews
Director - W. Lee Wilder
Screenwriter - Myles Wilder
Story   - Myles Wilder  

If you want to watch a movie where nothing happens, then Phantom from Space gives you everything you've been craving and less. Ed Woods, writer/director of bad movies, gets a lot dishonorable mention as a member of nobility in the country of Schlock. I think that W. Lee Wilder is a higher ranking member of the ruling class in that dubious region.

Here're the events of the story. A UFO is tracked to California. Some people are killed by a person without a head. The killer is an invisible alien. Five or so people chase the alien around a facility. Then around a building. The out of breath alien dies of asphyxiation and evaporates. The end.

That's it. "Look! An invisible alien. Too late, he gone." Get it? He's invisible. How can you look to see someting invisible? Then he disappears? An invisible alien that disappears? Oh, my.

This one is a lot like the next movie by the father and son team of W. Lee Wilder and Myles Wilder called Killers from Space. Both movies use the same stock footage, the same actors, and are equally boring.

I saw both this movie and the other back-to-back. I feel like I can identify the speaker at the communications station in the dark since I've seen that stock shot so many times.

Here's a typical scene. The alien, in a space suit, is being pursued in an abandoned something or other with lots of wooden pallets. A shadow of the alien is seen moving across a wall from right to left. At another part of the abandoned facility, people are milling about and talking about maybe having heard something. The shadow moves from left to right. Milling people maybe hear something. The shadow moves from right to left. Milling people maybe hear something again, but this time they're close to the wooden pallets when they hear it.

If you think that's it, forget it. Later on, the same choreography occurs again. And they do the same thing yet again at a "research facility" or observatory. At least there it's fun to watch the actors slide across a well polished marble floor as they attempt to race around corners.

Then there's something about science. The word is mentioned, but there's very little scientific going on. "Turn on that ultraviolet light!" and someone whips out a heat lamp. "He must use silica instead of carbon, so he's clear as glass," is another scientific gem. "Don't touch it, it's radioactive!" the scientist says as everyone hovers inches from "it". Radiation must be like goo, if you don't touch it then none of it will get on you.

And what scientists! The alien taps out a message using a pair of scissors. "One, two, one..." records Mrs. Randall. When the scientist is presented with the pattern, he says, "He's probably using a different numbering system than ours." Translated, "Why bother?" True scientific thinking, by cracky.

My favorite part is how people identify the alien as headless. He's wearing a helmet like the one in the above image, but the eyes are covered by some sort of dark glass. Yet witnesses can say he's headless as if the helmet is transparent. (Aren't there movies like that where people who experience the same set of circumstances have completely different recollections?)

I have to say that the second ten to twenty minutes of the movie are mildly engrossing. These minutes are liars! They tease with the idea that maybe the director and author have a future point.

No nudity, no blasphemy, no point. In general, I'd advise a miss on this one.

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