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Jack Arnold
Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake
Harry Essex

A spaceship from another world crashes in the Arizona desert and only an amateur stargazer and a schoolteacher suspect alien influence when the local townsfolk begin to act strangely.
Not Rated.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA 3.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 10/4/2016

• Both 2D and 3D Versions
• Audio Commentary From Film Historian Tom Weaver
• “The Universe According to Universal” Documentary
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


It Came From Outer Space [Blu-Ray/Blu-Ray 3D] (1954)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 24, 2019)

Considering their dependence on special effects, it seems logical that more modern horror or science fiction films would work better than their elders. After all, if you can’t suspend disbelief and accept what you see on screen as reality, it appears difficult to get involved in the story.

However, this isn’t always the case. At least in the realm of horror, some of the genre’s oldest efforts remain its best.

Despite dated effects, flicks like Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man continue to provide a lot of entertainment and deliver some satisfying material.

Honestly, horror movies started strong in the 1930s and slowly declined through the 1940s and 1950s until they finally started to rebound in the 1960s and 1970s via films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

During the 1950s, the genre got silly, with post-nuclear creatures and space monsters abundant. The former represented the fear of nuclear annihilation and the scary new world that emerged after Hiroshima, while the latter showed concerns over the apparent encroachment of communism. Both clearly seemed a part of their era, and they often don’t translate well to modern standards.

Frankly, I’m not sure whether one should classify 1953’s It Came From Outer Space as a horror movie or a science fiction flick. It straddles both genres and never firmly lands in one or the other, though I’d claim it falls closer to the sci-fi camp. In any case, it provides a pretty silly and ineffectual effort that leaves me cold.

The movie takes place in the western desert, where local egghead John Putnam (Richard Carlson) and his girlfriend Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush) see a fireball shoot across the sky and crash into the barren realm.

Everyone seems to think it’s just a meteor, but Putnam quickly starts to suspect something else is at work, as he feels that this was no rock. Instead, Putnam becomes convinced that it was a ship with alien critters aboard.

Basically, the rest of the film depicts Putnam as he attempts to convince the townsfolk of his theory. While this happens, the aliens slowly kidnap many of the residents and adopt their forms so they can roam undetected through the realm.

They do this not for nefarious means ala Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as they possess no ambitions to conquer the planet. Instead, they work in this manner simply because they need to repair their ship, and this method will grant them the easiest access to the necessary materials.

However, once the locals finally figure out that space monkeys reside in their midst, they regard them with fear and mistrust. This threatens the aliens’ attempts to get away peacefully.

It Came From Outer Space offers a mess of contradictions. On one hand, Putnam spends most of the film trying to convince his neighbors that the aliens are no threat and that they should be left alone to leave the planet.

However, were it not for his persistent insistence that the space creatures existed in the area, I doubt anyone would have bothered them, and no confrontations would have existed.

In addition, the aliens often declaim that they’re peaceful and mean no harm to the earthlings. In other words, just like ET, they’re innocuous visitors who just want to head home.

But as Tom Weaver points out in his excellent audio commentary, the space folk often adopt a belligerent tone due to the most minor indiscretions. They also kidnap and threaten far more locals than necessary.

Weaver notes something else that surprised me. When I watched Space, I thought that it offered a unique take on space visitors as benign critters with no desire to threaten the Earth.

However, Weaver mentions that quite a few predecessors in the genre featured similarly innocuous aliens. In fact, according to Weaver, the aggressive creatures bent on domination were rare at the time, though they became more prevalent with the following years.

So much for the only thing about Space that initially impressed me! I gave it some points for what I perceived as its benign aliens, but apparently it didn’t merit that credit.

It probably doesn’t deserve it anyway, for the creatures come across as so haughty and pushy that I’m not sure they’re as gentle as the story posits.

Without that groundbreaking quality, Space becomes little more than another space thriller, albeit one with a better-than-usual pedigree, as it comes from a treatment written by Ray Bradbury. According to Weaver, Space also deeply influenced a young Steven Spielberg, who later used it as partial inspiration for a true sci-fi classic, 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Despite those associations, I see little in Space to stand out from the crowd. The film features fairly good special effects for its day, and the cast all seem adequate if not special.

In the end, I can’t state that It Came From Outer Space offers a bad film. However, it seems goofy and dated 65 years after its creation.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

It Came From Outer Space appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not bad, this became an inconsistent presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed good, but exceptions occurred, as some shots felt a bit soft. Even at its best, the movie never felt razor sharp, but it still appeared fairly well-defined most of the time, even with sporadic soft elements.

The image lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. With a fine layer of grain, I suspected no digital noise reduction, but occasional print flaws appeared. Though minor, some thin lines and small specks caused distractions.

Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows were smooth and clear despite the use of “day for night” photography. In general, the movie offered good visuals, but the inconsistencies made it a “C+”.

The DTS-HD MA 3.0 soundtrack of It Came From Outer Space succeeded more fully. The mix used only the front three speakers, so it differed from a standard stereo presentation due to the presence of a discrete center channel.

Much of the track remained bound to the middle, but the music displayed reasonably solid breadth and spread across the front. In addition, I heard some decent localization and movement of effects.

At times, their placement appeared moderately awkward, and they also moved a bit stiffly across the channels, but they usually seemed to work acceptably well in both regards. Localized speech also could feel a bit loose, but the lines usually appeared in their correct spots, with only occasional bleeding.

Audio quality showed its age but not badly so. Dialogue could seem a bit reedy, but the lines lacked edginess and remained easily intelligible.

Music showed positive fidelity and range for its age, while effects felt reasonably clean and distinct. No background noise marred the presentation. This became an above-average mix for its era.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio was clearer, more robust and better integrated, while visuals seemed tighter and smoother. Even with some drawbacks, the Blu-ray offered an upgrade.

Unlike the DVD, this package includes both 2D and 3D versions of Space. The picture comments above reflect the 2D edition – how did the 3D compare?

In terms of quality, both seemed very similar. Actually, the moments of softness became less of a distraction in the 3D version, as it blended elements better. Still, both looked a lot alike to me.

As for the visual impact, the 3D effects of Space worked extremely well. The movie offered a great sense of depth that allowed for an impressive sense of place.

In addition, the movie brought out subtle but effective “pop out” moments. These avoided a gimmicky feel and allowed for different elements to emerge from the screen in an impressive way.

For instance, a telescope made its way out of the screen in a totally convincing way, and other objects did the same. This offered one of the strongest 3D presentations I’ve seen.

Next we find an audio commentary from historian Tom Weaver. The provides a running, screen-specific look at the origins of the project, Ray Bradbury’s involvement, various production issues, notes about the cast, critical and audience reactions - including comments from screening cards - and plenty of other subjects.

Weaver does so with his usual sense of candor and wit, as he provides lots of funny and insightful remarks. Half the joy of a Weaver commentary comes from his lovingly snide complaints about the flick. Expect a very informative and fun commentary.

Called The Universe According to Universal, a documentary lasts 31 minutes, 36 seconds and offers narration from film historian Rudy Behlmer. We hear additional comments from science-fiction illustrator/historian Vincent Di Fate, collector/archivist Bob Burns, producer of Monstrous Movie Music David Schecter, film historian Paul Jensen, curator of the 3-D Archives Bob Furmanek, and composer Irving Gertz.

“Universe” starts with a brief overview of early science-fiction offerings - primarily those from Universal, natch - and then offers some details about Space itself. After that, we hear a little about director Jack Arnold’s subsequent films such as The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

The best aspects of this piece concentrate on the film’s music and its use of 3D photography, though the participants are so enthusiastic for the latter that they make the 2D version seem almost useless.

It’s also fun to get a look at alternate concepts for the xenomorph. Because Weaver’s commentary covers so much ground, “Universe” can feel redundant, but it still becomes a decent overview.

Two versions of the film’s trailer appear, as we can view it 2D or 3D. Note that both offer the same material, so other than dimensionality, they’re the same.

Back in 1953, It Came From Outer Space shocked and dazzled audiences, but in 2019, it seems silly and dull. The movie appears competent for its era, but it never does anything particularly noteworthy to merit continued attention. The Blu-ray brings erratic picture along with pretty good audio and some informative supplements. While not much of a movie, I admit the 3D version makes it more interesting.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main