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Year Of Release: 1954 Running Time: 75 Minutes DVD Released By: VCI Directed By: Sherman A. Rose Writing Credits: Paul W. Fairman (Story: Deadly City), James H. Nicholson, Wyott Ordung, William Raynor Filming Location: Unknown
Starring: Richard Denning (Frank Brooks), Kathleen Crowley (Nora King), Virginia Grey (Vicki Harris), Richard Reeves (Jim Wilson), Robert Roark (Davis, the Killer), Mort Marshall (Charles Otis), Arthur Space (Lt. General Wood), Whit Bissell (Tom, Chief research scientist), James Drake (Lieutenant), Steve Pendleton (Colonel), House Peters Jr. (Technician)
Tagline: Raw Panic The Screen Never Dared Reveal! Tagline: Fantastic Fury Strikes From Outer Space!
Cast Of Characters
Frank Brooks: Man, this poor schmuck had a bad night. He comes in from out of town on a business trip, gets drunk, flashes a wad of money and then gets konked on the head in an alley and has his money stolen. Then he wakes up to find he's in a city that's been evacuated and he don't know why. At least he found himself a bit of fluff and a couple of dunks to hang out with while he's trying to survive the robot invasion.
Nora King: She was passed out in her room when the city was evacuated. She took a bunch of sleeping pills in an attempt to commit suicide in a fit of depression over the death of her husband six months earlier. She meets up with Frank, and over the course of the movie, the two of them become an item. She's kinda worthless, but at least Frank got something out of this movie besides a busted head and an empty wallet. Unfortunately he'll probably marry her and end up bleeding and broke again. You know how women are after you put a ring on their finger.
Vicki Harris: This is Vicki. She's a drunk chick with doofy teeth. She's also Jim's woman, and the two of them bicker incessantly. Beneath that bickering though, there is a genuine love between them. Unfortunately, someone should have told her that when you're standing in front of a guy who's holding a gun on you, it's not smart to stand there telling him he doesn't have the nerve to shoot you, because there's probably about a 99.9% chance he does. She did...and he did. That didn't turn out too well for her, but at least she made it to almost the end of the movie.
Jim Wilson: Even though Jim likes his booze, he's actually a good guy and does everything he can to help out in such a bizarre situation. He's been with Vicki for ten years, and even though she wanted to get married a long time ago and they both loved each other very much (in a bickering sort of a way,) he never married her. Well it doesn't really matter now, because not only did she end up dead at the end of the movie, but so did he. It's sad really, because it was hard to find a woman in the 50's who would slip you the tongue when you kissed her. There's a shot in the movie where they kiss and when they pull apart, you see her pulling her tongue back. Yeah baby!
Charles Otis: This guy was nuts. See his picture there? Nuts! He started out kinda sane, but then after he met up with the group and hung out with them for a few, he decided to take his chances and made a run for it. Now personally I didn't find them that annoying, but this guy sure as hell did. Unfortunately for him, about twenty feet out the door a robot spotted him and cooked him with its eye beam. So basically this guy did about three scenes, made five bucks and got a kick in the butt off the set before he had a chance to pig out at the catering wagon. Hahaha...sucker!
Davis: I think they only threw this scumbag in the movie to be a pain in the butt and to kill Vicki. There really wasn't any other reason for him to be there, and after he killed Vicki, Jim killed him, so basically that was the end of his involvement in the film. Worthless character? Yes. Fat and happy with ten bucks in his wallet and a belly full of catered food because he was in the movie longer than Charles? You betcha!
Lt. General Wood: This is the guy in charge of the defenses against the alien robot invaders. Basically he doesn't have a clue, nothing he tried was effective, and he pretty much just deferred to Tom the scientist when his brute force tactics didn't work. I think he was only really in the movie so Tom would have someone to tell his research findings to.
Tom: This guy is the government scientist who eventually figured out how to stop the robots dead in their tracks by using sound waves on a certain resonant frequency to crack the glass in the CRTs of the robots. I feel sorry for him though. He basically saves the planet from invasion, and he didn't even get a woman or anything. Poor guy. Poor celibate guy.
The Robot: Ah yes, high tech at its best. This thing was even cheap lookin' for 1954, but in it's own way, it was actually pretty cool. It's got a beam that shoots out it's eye that kills people almost instantly, and they apparently have bigger weapons that can take out whole squadrons of military planes. They're basically indestructible and unstoppable. That is, they are until they run into those pesky sound waves. Instead of resonant sounds, they should have just played them some Barbara Streisand records. That's enough to drive anyone away.
Target Earth is a 1954 science fiction film. It was directed by Sherman A. Rose and stars Richard Denning, Kathleen Crowley, Virginia Grey, and Whit Bissell. The film focuses on a deserted Chicago cityscape and a small group of people who have been overlooked during a mass evacuation due to an invasion of robot like beings from the planet Venus. The movie was based on the 1953 short story "Deadly City" by Paul W. Fairman.His short story "Deadly City", which appeared in the March, 1953 issue of If magazine under the pseudonym Ivar Jorgensen, was made into the motion picture Target Earth. The story was about an alien invasion of Chicago and the evacuation of the city. The aliens had destroyed several Michigan towns, killing all the inhabitants, and had moved on to Illinois.After a large American city is evacuated due to an invasion of Venusian robots, a handful of people are left behind to face the alien terror. While the army and a group of scientists work on finding a chink in the robots' armor, Nora (Kathleen Crowley), Frank (Richard Denning), Vicki (Virginia Grey), and Jim (Richard Reeves) take refuge in an abandoned hotel.There, they find Davis (Robert Roark) a psychopathic killer who won't let such a crisis curb his murderous tendencies. This overlooked piece of 1950's isolation/paranoia-based science-fiction . The plot revolves around five characters who remain in the deserted city. They have to survive in a city devoid of people and facing annihilation by alien invaders.
Great name for an alien invasion movie, but tragically bad robots. While credit must be given to them for having the tightest buns - buns of steel you might say (watch the video below) - they had terrible bow-legs, like they had ridden some magical Venusian horse across space just to get here.
As Venus makes this pathetic attempt to take over Earth, there are supposed to be hundreds of these robots roaming around Chicago, stumbling into homes through windows and bumping into furniture. But due to budget constraints only one robot costume was made and it was used for all robot scenes. This is why you never see more than one member of the supposed 'robot army' in a shot.
Again, like Gort, the robots (or should that be robot) are able fire out a laser beam from their eye area, vaporising anything it wants, but these creations are susceptable to certain sound waves, namely yodelling - a plot point borrowed by director Tim Burton 50 years later for his modern-day cornfest Mars Attacks.
Summary and Conclusion
Target Earth feels more like a Twilight Zone episode than it does a good ol' cheesy sci-fi movie. While there's nothing wrong with the Twilight Zone...I've seen it. I didn't need to see it again in film form when all the elements were here to actually create a really great 50's sci-fi epic. Well, that may be overstating it a bit, but it could have been a lot better than it was.
The story revolves mostly around four people who wake up one day to find that they're the only ones left alive in the city. Once they find each other, they team up in an effort to not only survive, but to also find out what's going on and where everyone went. See, the alien robots came down during the night and the city was evacuated. Unfortunately, these people were all asleep or knocked out or drunk or whatever while everyone else was evacuated and they ended up getting left behind. The military was helpless against the robots, and the only hope for the world is if a government scientist can figure out a way to stop the robot army by performing a series of tests on a captured one that had been damaged by some unknown means. If they can figure out what damaged it and made it shut down, they can save the world from alien invasion.
The biggest problem with this movie isn't the acting or the dialogue or anything like that. Those are well done, and the robot is full of 50's cheesiness. So what was the problem? There was almost no action! We hardly see the robot at all, and when we do, it's never for very long and never all that exciting. Plus, there's supposed to be an army of these things, but you never see more than one at any given time. The majority of the film revolved around the group of four that got left behind during the evacuation, their interactions and interpersonal relationships and how they move around the city looking for shelter. Another small portion of the film was devoted to the military scientist's efforts to find a way to stop them. Unfortunately, only a miniscule part of the film was devoted to the robots and their invasion of the city. Unfortunately, that's the one thing that you really want to see when you watch a movie like this. You don't need to know the in depth backgrounds of the characters and stuff like that. You just wanna see robots blowin' stuff up! We just don't get that with this film, and it was really disappointing that we didn't.
So where does that leave us for a rating? Well, the acting was great and the dialogue was great...and yes, even the robot was kinda cool, yet the movie, while not massively boring, wasn't all that exciting either. This is specifically the kind of a movie I had to add the Snoozer rating for, and unfortunately, that's the rating I have to give this film. Much like The Alligator People, this movie is really well done, but is almost completely missing the excitement factor that would have scored this film a rating more in line with what I would have liked to have given it. Had it been more exciting and had more robot scenes, I probably would have given this movie a four, or maybe even a five bee rating. As it is though, you're more likely to fall asleep about half way through than you are to be sitting there on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. So much wasted potential, all for the lack of a budget and some imagination..
Even though a "Robot Army" is mentioned several times, the production crew only constructed one robot which was used for all scenes.
The film's story is based in Chicago but was actually filmed in Los Angeles. Empty street scenes were filmed during early mornings when streets would be devoid of traffic and pedestrians.
Robert Roark was given his role since his father was a large investor in the film.
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