Sgathaich: Phantom from Space

Time to go back to the 50s… and not 50s Japan (no I’m not going to review Godzilla Raids Again… it’s bad and boring) for some old sci fi, something that you probably haven’t heard of so let’s look at 1953s Phantom From Space.

Phantom From Space is an independently made black and white science fiction film. I’d say it shows but I’ve watched a lot of B movies and there isn’t much that would say this isn’t one of those so I can’t even say the special effects don’t hold up which is surprising.. Oh the plot isn’t all that great though.

The film is about the pilot of a crashed flying saucer. While his space suit is perfectly visible (in campy 50s space suit style) the actual inhabitant is invisible for most of the film. It doesn’t compare to The Invisible Man’s effects but they work and are passable.

What’s of interest is the alien is, from what I saw,completely innocent and just trying to stay alive. It can’t breathe in Earth’s atmosphere so when it takes off its space suit to elude capture it tries to get it back before it dies. This means that our “heroes” are ultimately the cause of the alien’s death as they inhibit its attempts to merely not die. Its actions are even relatively benevolent with it trying to avoid conflict and when there is any, it’s entirely self defense.

For a movie in the 50s from America I found that quite surprising as they were all in for evil aliens trying to invade us (usually as some metaphor for soviet agents)

The only times we see the alien properly are: once when it’s just the hand (of which the woman screaming scares him away, another cause of its death); and finally as it dies. The alien looking a bit like The Thing (from the 50s version) only much less threatening and naked.

The film is only 73 minutes long so none of the scenes really drag. I wouldn’t call it suspenseful as even with the possibility of an invisible alien by that point it’s not shown to be a dangerous being.

The main downside is definitely the humans in the story, and their dog since while they claim they want to peacefully communicate they do it so badly it causes the death of an innocent life (no one thought to put the dog away?)

Still rare to find 50s sci fi from America where the humans are arguably the bad guys… yes we have The Day The Earth Stood Still but that’s more an exception.


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