This has not been a good start to the day. I blame the weather really as I always tend to feel like crap just before it rains, which at times can be pretty handy for planning your day. Anyways, a lot of things have not gone exactly like I planned for today. So it is taking me a while to get today’s movie review posted. So I might as well buckle down and get this finished and then see if I can manage to get some things accomplished today. First things first, on with today’s movie, Phantom From Space.
The plot: Early one evening, an unidentified flying object is picked up on radar over Alaska and tracked for an hour as it flies along the coast until it disappears over California. When calls of communication disruptions start coming in, the FCC sends out mobile units to try and pinpoint the disturbance. As one of the units heads towards a possible location, they are stopped by a woman, Betty Evans, asking for help with her husband and friend, Pete. They call for an ambulance, getting some interference on their own, then one of the men, Charlie, head with the woman to the picnic grounds to check on the men. When the ambulance arrives, the Betty’s husband is dead while Pete and Charlie are asked to come to the police station for questioning. After hearing Pere’s story about what happened, saying a man in a strange helmet came towards them despite their telling him to leave them alone, Charlie is told he is free to go while the lead homicide detective, Lt. Bowers, questions Pete further, believing Pete killed the Betty’s husband out of jealousy. Bowers gets a call about a second murder and heads out to the scene. When he gets there, the man who found the body said that his TV signal had gone out and that is when he found the body. Charlie and his partner pull up just then having followed the interference to that location. Charlie and his partner continue tracking the interference the the Huntington Oil Field, where they see an explosion has occurred. Back at the police precinct, Hazen, a representative from the FCC, arrives at Bowers’ request and sees a sketch drawn from Pete and Betty’s description, then shows the sketch to the witness of the second murder, who says he saw the same person. Hazen and Peter end up meeting with Dr. Wyatt from the Griffith Observatory and Major Andrews, a representative from the Air Force, and they are told about the U.F.O. and believe that the incidents are somehow related. Learning that radiation was detected at the site of the explosion, they work out a plan to track the interference to a location, then use geiger counters to find the person in the suit. They manage to track the person to an industrial area and trap it in a building but when they manage to break the door down, all they find is the suit the person was wearing. With the geiger counters indicating the suit is radioactive, some men are sent to find a lead box to put it in and while they are locating it, Andrews tells Bowers that when he glimpsed the person, the helmet was empty, just like the other witnesses described it. Andrews and Wyatt head back to the observatory to run tests on the suit and meet Wyatt’s assistant Barbara and her husband Bill as they are leaving. As Wyatt asks Barbara if she can stay for an hour longer, Barbara’s dog, Venus, runs off and Barbara chases after it, finally grabbing him as he appears to be barking at an empty room. After Barbara secures Venus outside, she heads back in to help Wyatt and Andrews and they discover that the suit is magnetic and is made from a material that they can’t cut, burn, or dissolve. When the examine the contents of the breathing apparatus, they discover that it is methane based, making them believe that the person inside will not be able to last long without the suit. Bowers calls and informs them that there is no sign of the intruder and that the pictures taken by Jow Wakeman, the newspaper reporter that was with them, came up blank. When Wakeman shows up at the observatory, Wyatt and Andrews go to talk with him but while they are gone, Barbara discovers an invisible intruder inside the room, who quickly locks the door and takes the key. When Bill shows up to get Barbara, she tells him what is going on and asks him to get help. Bill goes to get Wyatt and Andrews and when they return, they find the door open and the room empty. As the men search for Barbara but can’t find her, Barbara comes too back in the lab and sees the alien wearing it’s helmet but hears it’s labored breathing. When it grabs some scissors and starts tapping on the desk, Barbara realizes it is trying to speak in code and that it is running out of breath. Accidentally turning on a UV light, she is able to see the creature and cries out, alerting the others to where she is but when they get there, the creature is gone. When Venus starts barking, Andrews goes to check on her and Wyatt and Barbara notice the alien suit starting to disintegrate. Bowers, Hazen, and Charlie head back to the observatory and Charlie and Bill are told to wait outside by the mobile unit while the others talk about how the alien came to Earth. As Bill and Charlie talk outside the car, the alien sneaks inside it and begins tapping out a signal on the communication equipment, causing the main base to call the car. Charlie hears the radio and turns to the car, just as the door opens and closes. Charlie races inside to tell the others and they plan on setting a trap for it when it comes back for it’s helmet. When a sensor goes off, they head out thinking it is the alien only to discover it is Wakeman, who had snuck into the observatory. Since everyone had left the room, nobody notices a second sensor going off until Venus starts barking and heading towards a lab that Barbara is in. Barbara sees the alien picking up the helmet and putting it on and tells the others to come in slowly but when Wakeman tries to take a picture of it, it freaks out, breaking the helmet and then, while invisible, attacks Wakeman and escapes. Venus chases after it, followed by the others and they trap it in the observation room and manage to catch site of the alien using UV lamps. As it continues to tap out a message, they notice the glow around the creature is fading and it eventually suffocates and falls to the ground, where it becomes visible briefly before the body disintegrates.
This was definitely one of those low budget movies from the 50’s that you don’t hear a lot about. The acting was ok at best but at times it just felt completely bland and boring. The plot was pretty weak as they basically had all of this taking place in one night, in order to use the plot device of the alien running out of breathable air in his helmet, but it just seemed to be pushing things in bit as far as everything taking place like it did. The special effects were decent considering the lack of budget but they mainly consisted of some wires to make objects appear to move by an invisible alien. The alien itself, when finally revealed, was pretty generic an unremarkable, making for a very anti-climactic finish. On the whole, it could be an entertaining time killer if you are in the right frame of mind for it, but there are better movies out there.
Rating: 2 out of 5