Teenagers from Outer Space (review by Doug Smith)
“Teenagers From Outer Space” ranks right up there with Ed Wood’s work. With thirty-year-old teenagers who look more like they’re from swing choir than outer space, this movie also features a giant lobster shadow, a cap gun that’s supposed to be a “focusing disintegrator ray,” and enough unintentionally hilarious dialogue to keep Freud busy for years.
The title characters are played by David Love (good guy, Derek) and Bryan Grant (bad guy, Thor). There are other supposed teenagers in the movie, but those two are probably the closest to teenagers this movie gets. Also pseudo-starring in this picture is former radio actress, Dawn Anderson as Betty, who basically drops her current boyfriend (Joe Rogers, played by Tom Graeff himself) when Derek shows up and then goes running back to him when Derek leaves. Speaking of Joe and Derek, an interesting piece of trivia I discovered while researching this film (I know, I’m pathetic) is David Love and Tom Graeff were actually gay lovers in real life. Very brave in 1950s America (and now that I think about it, very brave today with the very fifties G.W. Bush in the oval orifice).
In the opening scene, we see a couple of astronomers, one of which has a taped-on beard and mustache. The younger of the two thinks he sees “some kind of drill-shaped object … rotating.” He quickly decides he didn’t and then gets all depressed about some creature gobbling up the earth at some point in the future. The most interesting thing in this scene is a couple of bugs flying around.
Had the astronomer not been so manic-depressive and had he actually tried to keep track of the object, he would have seen it land a few miles away. It basically … well … screws itself into the ground.
Right after it lands, a dog comes running up to it and barks at it. This will turn out to be Sparky’s last romp, though, because the top of the ship opens up, a teenager pops out and zaps the dog into nothing but a skeleton. Easy clean up with no sticky mess and leaves nothing but the fresh scent of pine! A few more people hop out of the spacecraft, a lot of glancing around happens, and a very whisper thin alien shows concern over the dog bones. This turns out to be our hero, Derek, who reminds everyone of that one guy in high school that joined every possible theater production, had a lot of female friends, and spent a lot of time in the boys locker room during basketball games. Anyway, he picks up the dog’s identification tag and gets into a little tiff with a couple of the other aliens. Something about how it’s wrong to kill, I think. I’m not sure because, I was busy shooting at things in Grand Theft Auto. Derek gets so upset that the other teen killed something, that he actually turns his gun on them and demands that they leave, at which point the apparent leader teen threatens Derek with “TORCHA!”
Oh, during this little scene, there’s some plot exposition as well. The aliens are scoping out Earth to see if it will be a suitable habitat for their food supply, known as the Gargons, which are pretty much land lobsters that grow really really big.
Now then, back to the teens having their little spat. The reason Derek is different than everyone else is because he has some life-enlightening book, probably like “The Dilbert Principle.” The commander asks to see the book and puts an arm lock on Derek instead, getting the gun. So much for the revolution. Another member of the crew brings a young Gargon up to test whether it will be able to survive on Earth and it starts out great, but then looks like it dies. I think a character in the movie sums it up best: “It suddenly fell limp and now does not move.”
Meanwhile, Derek is masterminding an ingenious escape plan. Distract them, and RUN! Thor, one of the other, bad guy aliens, tries to shoot him, but the commander stops him because Derek is actually the son of the alien-in-chief. The commander sends Thor to capture Derek and bring him back alive and then notices that the Gargon is actually thriving. It just had to take a little nap, I guess. So their plans once again are to bring the Gargons to Earth and let them run wild.
Derek eventually makes his way to a town, where he asks a gas station worker what the inscription on the dog tag means. The worker guy tells him its an address and also tells him how to get there, even though Derek could be some kind of psycho killer. Derek goes to the address and meets Betty and her grandpa, a very pleasant, portly fellow, whom, one can only imagine, must drink pork gravy with a straw.
From this point on, the movie is one hellacious clusterfu…uhhh…fart. Clusterfart, yeah. Betty and Derek go swimming, Derek tells Betty his people killed her dog and they go to the spot where it happened. After that, they go home and Derek explains what his people are here for, so then they go to talk to a professor, then they go home again and all the while Thor is running around town turning people into skeletons. Eventually, Thor catches up with them, gets shot and Derek and Betty escape while a doctor works on Thor. Keep in mind that none of these scenes really have anything to do with one another and we’re left with the same kind of feeling that you get when you realize you just ate an entire package of Oreos; kind of sad and a little sick.
As far as I can tell, there’s no distinguishable climax to this movie. Derek eventually kills the Gargon, which has grown to Godzilla size and then he turns on Betty and grandpa and teams up with Thor, only to turn on Thor and the other aliens once he’s in the cockpit of a spacecraft. He ends up giving orders to a swarm of ships heading for Earth and causes them to crash, killing himself and all the aliens. How exciting.
I’m not sure if any of this makes any sense at all, because god knows the movie itself sure as hell doesn’t. The only redeeming factor is that it’s so laughably bad, it can be a good time killer. I’ll give it a yak.