Friday, 9 October 2015


d. Dan Milner (1957)

The image of some creature lumbering out of the woods or jungle to threaten us is a primal fear, a reminder perhaps of harder, wilder times. No wonder that it features in so much of our folklore and mythology and, of course, our films. Where would our films be without screaming girls clutched in the horrible hands of hideous creatures? Nowhere, that’s where.

From Hell It Came is a South Sea Islands variation on the theme, and here the monster is the Tabanga, a malevolent tree stump. The film makers hedge (no pun intended) their bets a little by giving the grim faced tree multiple origins, and it is variously described as a mythical monster, a murdered Prince returning from the grave to exact revenge and a direct result of nuclear testing, but all of that is just incidental detail. What matters most is that the Tabanga is remarkably angry for flora, and immediately sets out on a murderous rampage.

The killer tree is notable for its permanent scowl, its indiscriminate and versatile approach to violence, and for the fact that it resembles something that they might put in a kids playground at a Halloween themed Wetherspoons. It eventually ends up in ‘the quicksand at the edge of the jungle’, a fairly predictable conclusion given that everyone in the cast says ‘the quicksand at the edge of the jungle’ at least once, just in case we miss the fact that it’s there. One primal fear down, 35,000 to go*.

* An arbitrary number, as thinking of primal fears was starting to freak me out. 

Friday, 2 October 2015


d. Kurt Neumann (1957)

When a huge asteroid crashes into the ocean, a crack scientific team are called out to investigate. What they don’t know, however, is that the asteroid is actually a UFO, and that the director of their scientific laboratory has been taken over by aliens, a race of people who have expended their own resources and are now travelling the universe seeing what they can steal from other planets. The aliens live by consuming energy: electrical, atomic, they’re not bothered, they just need lots of it and they don’t care where and how they get it.

To this end, they unleash an enormous, incredible machine onto the world, tall, black, metal, like a modernist sculpture of two water cisterns welded together. When the aliens are hungry, Kronos (as it is dubbed by one of the scientists – he knows his mythology, but can’t spell) rises up on hydraulic metal legs and more or less pogoes over to the next available power station and sucks it dry, crushing screaming peasants in his path. 

Can it be stopped? Well, yeah. For Dr Who fans, the solution is so obvious it’s amazing it takes the scientists and their computer SUSIE (Synchro Unifying Sinometric Integrating Equitensor) so long to come up with it: they reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.