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Robot Chicken

Oh Turner Classic Movies, what would we do without you? They’ve been playing some groovy old Japanese horror/sci-fi films lately that deserve a little write-up here. First up was Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), broadcast on October 1st. This film follows a small passenger aircraft as, mysteriously, the sky turns bright red and birds start crashing into the windows. A glowing UFO appears, causing the plane to crash in an empty canyon. As the terrified band of passengers attempt to survive with no food and water, an alien host invades one man who then tries to kill the others in various entertaining ways. This was a memorably unsettling film made even more resonant with its references to the Vietnam war. Although the alien looks like nothing more than a harmless blob of pearlescent shampoo, I found the scenes of it entering/exiting the human hosts through a slit in their foreheads truly creepy.

Our second film came in the form of last Sunday’s The X from Outer Space (1967), another one of those “giant creature on the loose” flicks. The creature in question, a big rubbery reptile/chicken saddled with the un-scary name Guilala, doesn’t appear until the second half. Until then, we have to endure a standard romantic love triangle in space involving a handsome astronaut, a pretty Asian traffic controller, and a pretty blonde scientist. I’d have to agree with one of the IMDb commenters, however, in interpretating that the two women seemed more interested in each other than in the man — which made this movie more interesting than the filmmakers likely imagined. Another thing I dug was the space station’s future-chic costumes and production design, which predated the similar looking TV series UFO and Space: 1999 by a few years. I also enjoyed the groovy rockish music score, although the repeating theme accompanying the monster’s inevitable rampage through cardboard buildings got old after awhile. In sum: two squawks up.

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