Friday 8 January 2010

British Science Fiction Movie Posters of the 1950s and early 1960s Part II

It wasn’t just BBC serials that inspired sci-fi movies; the fledgling ITV’s serial The Trollenberg Terror (1956) was later adapted into a movie of the same title in 1958 starring Laurence Payne (later TV’s Sexton Blake) and Forrest Tucker. Also known as The Crawling Eye, Creature from Another World, The Creeping Eye, and The Flying Eye, it was directed, as was the television series, by Quentin Lawrence and was the final film to be produced by Southall Studios, one of the earliest pioneer film studios in the UK.
This atmospheric chiller involves Journalist Philip Truscott investigating unusual accidents occurring at a Swiss resort where he meets United Nations troubleshooter Alan Brooks (Tucker). However, the strange menace makes itself known through the telepathic reception of a mind-reader (Janet Munro), a heroine key to the drama rather than the stereotypically female screaming victim that we are all familiar with. The monsters are (typically for this period) radioactive and strange clouds begin to move and cut off the escape road to the mountain hotel...

Yet another British sci-fi movie that features monsters triggered by radioactivity is 1958’s Fiend Without a Face. Directed by Arthur Crabtree, it concerns a series of mysterious deaths at the hands of an invisible monster that steals human brains.

To appeal to American audiences, the film was set on an American airbase in Manitoba, Canada, and featured largely American and Canadian actors living in Britain. Some British actors were even dubbed by Americans. Star Marshall Thompson would appear to be a curious choice. He seldom had a starring role and never in a major film; his key role in the genre occurred the same year in the Alien inspiration It: The Terror From Beyond Space, which was actually released later. Of course, he found fame almost 20 years later as the veterinarian in televison’s Daktari.

The locals think fallout from radiation at the base is causing the deaths, but Major Jeff Cummings is suspicious of Professor Walgate, a British scientist who is experimenting with telekinetics. Eventually, he discovers Walgate has succeeded in developing telekinesis, and that nuclear experiments at the base have increased its effect beyond his intentions, creating a new, invisible form of life which escapes the laboratory. They are later revealed to be brain-shaped monsters that suck out the brains of their victims to absorb intelligence.Note the scantily clad girl - always a selling point for a movie like this

Fiend Without A Face was clearly inspired by the success of Quatermass, as was The Strange World of Planet X (1957), which features a small, rural British lab, run by Dr. Laird and his staff who create ultra-intense magnetic fields; the apparatus begins to affect distant objects and to draw extra power from some unknown source. After an unusual storm, strange things happen in nearby Bryerly Woods, insects and spiders begin to mutate into monsters and a UFO hovers over London warning that Laird's experiments will cause a catastrophe. Directed by Gilbert Gunn, it was an adaptation of a seven part ITV serial, though a rather tenuous one, and was clearly inspired by Robert Wise’s The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).

Forrest Tucker stars as a Canadian scientist as, once again, the producers hoped to increase the film’s appeal across the Atlantic; indeed when it was first released in the USA, it was given the more sensational title of The Cosmic Monsters and is also known as The Crawling Terror and The Crawling Horror.The poster adopts the classic conventions of the period: screaming woman in the foreground being threatened by the monster near the top of the picture

Like American science fiction cinema of this period, British film included its share of sensational trash; nowhere was this more apparent than in Devil Girl From Mars (1954), in which a sexy alien woman dressed in black vinyl lands on a remote Scottish moor looking for virile men to replace the dying male population on her home planet.
The shoestring budget meant that most of the 'action' took place in one room of a pub! Possibly the only noteworthy fact about this movie is that future Thunderbirds creator, Gerry Anderson, worked on the editing.

For a look at American posters from this period, check out:

1 comment:

  1. Wow......... I have really found the great mysterious and horror movie posters from this post. And I am really impressed to see the Devil Girl poster. That one is really looking awesome. Thanks for sharing some fantastic information about it.