Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Cape Canaveral Monsters

The Cape Canaveral Monsters – Available on YouTube
69 Minutes - What a Bargain!
CCM Productions
Director: Phil Tucker
Writer: Phil Tucker

Another lovable oddity from the mind of Phil Tucker who brought us the existential machinations of Robot Monster.  Described as one of the reds-under-the-beds cycle of films, we have a couple driving home from the beach being followed by squabbling aliens in the form of two balls of light. They are killed in a car accident, the man losing his arm, and their dead bodies are inhabited by the extraterrestrial interlopers. A familiar trope, the aliens aim to halt our space program and clear the way for an invasion force.

There is certainly creativity and innovation at work here no matter what you think of the production values. As cheaply as the car accident was pulled off the arm hanging out the rear window is still creepy to me. This movie was intended for theatrical release but never made it and was sold to TV in the early 60s. I was maybe ten when I first saw it and was mesmerized. I knew there was a space program and I knew they were blasting rockets from Cape Canaveral (Cape Kennedy from 1963 – 1973.) So I was very excited about the reference to Cape Canaveral, the stock footage of failed rockets, and the inclusion of evil aliens with ray guns. What I distinctly remember was the use of pig latin to vex the aliens (at the age of ten who could forget that.) Radium from a wrist watch and litmus paper are also put to good use. It was and is hilarious. What I didn’t catch was the sexual innuendo and endless quarreling between the alien couple Hauron and Nadja played by Jason Johnson (Invasion of the Saucer Men) and Katherine Victor (Mesa of Lost Women, Zombies.) He has a body with one arm and misses his laboratory back on wherever.  She says she never wanted him as a partner and chides him for never really feeling comfortable in the body of an earthling. When she harps on his armlessness being a handicap, he basically tells her to f-off. Meanwhile their leader tells them – via an intra-galactic, rotating potato-chip-radio – that they must “prevent the humans from discovering space flight for a few more months” to “clear the way for an invasion force.”  He then goes on to say they need more human bodies for experimentation, particularly female bodies, as the ones transported during the first mission all arrived dead. So WTF are they doing with those female bodies? (Although one of the first widely reported alien abduction cases wasn’t until 1961 involving Betty and Barney Hill, many were reported prior to that (See Killers from Space for the earliest movie reference.)

The Epitome of Practical Effects

Nadja and Hauron’s shitty relationship is set against the all American wholesomeness of space engineer Tom Wright played by Scott Peters (Panic in the Year Zero, The Saved Hitler’s Brain) and number one girl AND fellow scientist Sally Markham played by Linda Connell (daughter of the cinematographer starring in her only role.) Their love and devotion is taller than a Saturn 5 rocket and best enjoyed while double dating with best friends Bob and Shirley; but back to the female specimens. There is a scene that involves the kidnapping, sedating, electroshocking and freezing of Shirley that is also creepy and suggestive. What stands out is a shot where Nadja unhooks a sedated Shirley’s bra while Hauron leers at Shirley’s nude back (I do remember that three hook bra - it looked like my mom’s…..EECK!).  After freezing Shirley they sedate Bob and amputate his arm to sew onto Hauron’s body then transport both of them back to their planet! Of course there is nothing that explicit as this was American television in the early 60s, but I forgot all this shit!

Ixnay on the Onerbay

Oh, and the final shot is worthy of an Edward D. Wood Jr. honorable mention. Priceless.

One final note, Brian F. Wood plays a funny local hick with a shotgun. Sadly this was his only film credit as well. A must see on a double bill with Robot Monster. Three All American Erkinmase. Check it out.

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