When I watch these alien sci-fi movies from the 50’s, I’m reminded of that scene in Back to the Future where George McFly is visited one night by Marty McFly dressed in his contamination suit and pretending to be a being from another planet. Although I’m not rating them, watching these 50’s sci-fi movies is extremely enjoyable (especially on a rainy night). Aside from being regarded as one of the better sci-fi films to come out of this era,¬†It Came From Outer Space has the distinction of being one of the early films to use 3-D. I did not see this in 3-D, but I don’t imagine it looking quite as impressive as Avatar in 3-D either.

It Came From Outer Space’s story is pretty typical of the genre during this time period. A young amateur astronomer and his girlfriend witness an alien spaceship crash into the Arizona desert one night. The man investigates the crash landing and finds the alien ship. However, a landslide occurs and covers up the ship. The man decides to tell the citizens of the nearby small town of what he has seen, but no one believes him. During the next few days, some people begin to disappear and return acting strangely. Eventually, the town’s sheriff gets suspicious and he and the astronomer begin to investigate where the aliens are and what exactly is going on.

This film was based on a short story written by sci-fi giant, Ray Bradbury. It Came From Outer Space was unusual for its day because unlike other 50’s sci-fi films, the aliens in this film don’t have a malicious intent. This film has been interpreted by film historians as a refutation of the Cold War xenophobia that was gripping Americans during the 50’s. Our main character represents the voice of reason whereas the town’s citizens represent American society in general and its fear and distrust of Communism. The aliens are pretty much the Communists and by not making them malicious, the filmmaker is pointing to the unwarranted irrationality of American society toward Communism.

Aside from its Cold War allegory, It Came From Outer Space contains a simplistic plot that doesn’t offer any surprises and it paces along slowly (even though it only runs for 80 minutes). However, you’re unlikely going to watch this film for spectacular special effects and mind-blowing action sequences. I approached this movie and others like it with a sense of nostalgia and from a film historical perspective. The allegory in this film is quite obvious to anyone familiar with U.S. history and its these comparisons that most attracts me to watch these movies.

One of the surprising aspects of It Came From Outer Space was the quality of performance from the actors. The science fiction genre is notorious for sub-par dialogue and acting so it was a pleasant surprise to watch skilled actors handle this material. The astronomer’s girlfriend is played by Barbara Rush. Although her lines mostly lack any originality and her role fits the typical tag-a-long girlfriend who needs saving mold, Rush plays her part well and she ends up being one of the most memorable aspects of the film.

Setting a sci-fi alien movie in the desert is pretty cliche these days, but considering its where Area 51 is located and its the place for UFO sightings, it makes a lot of sense to set these movies here. There is also something cool about the desolateness of deserts and UFO’s together that makes these settings a no-brainer. Add to this the beautiful black and white cinematography of It Came From Outer Space and you have a pretty good-looking movie to look at.

I quite enjoyed It Came From Outer Space. It may not have the most sophisticated plot in the world, but the nostalgia it brings up and the message it contains about the politics of the 1950’s makes it very interesting to watch. If you’re into film history or alien movies, you won’t be sorry watching this.

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