‘It Came From Outer Space’ – an alien visitation

Ominous title aside, It Came From Outer Space (1953) is one of the more optimistic movies about visitors from the stars, and in its way was an inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s E.T.

In this twist on the alien invasion theme, the visitors are neither marauding killers nor diplomatic emissaries, merely crash-landed space travelers who “recruit” locals to facilitate repairs, temporarily replacing them with zombie-like doubles (shades of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!). Only B movie stalwart Richard Carlson understands that they’re just a benign bunch who want to get on their way.

The game but flat cast riffles through stiff expressions of fear, wonder, and steely intensity, but that’s par for the course given its exploitation origins, almost incidental to the film’s pleasures.



It’s the first in a series of imaginative, intelligent, science fiction thrillers directed by Jack Arnold and produced by William Alland, and they deliver the spectacle that audiences expect. The minimal but striking special effects include an awesome visualization of the alien ship hidden in a mountain cave, and Arnold uses the dark desert setting for all it’s eerie austerity.

It was freely adapted from Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Meteor” and originally shot in 3-D, but this inventive piece of sci-fi filmmaking needs no such gimmicks to hold your attention.

Barbara Rush, Charles Drake, and Gilligan’s Island Professor Russell Johnson co-star.

In black and white

On Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
It Came from Outer Space [Blu-ray]
It Came from Outer Space [DVD]

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The Blu-ray and DVD feature commentary by film historian Tom Weaver, a documentary featurette, and stills.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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