When watching Tom Graeff’s Teenagers From Outer Space, a cheesy 1950s sci-fi movie with light hints of horror, one must ask: Are the aliens really even teenagers?
So many sci-fi movies involve aliens from another world, although many of them technically fail in significant ways. Still, about half of the failures manage to still be enjoyable in their own right. Teenagers From Outer Space is one of those movies. I almost feel too bad to criticize it. At the very least, I appreciate that it tries to be a moralistic picture. Near the beginning, one of the main alien villains, Thor (Bryan Grant), vaporizes a dog named Sparky with his ray gun. The good alien, Derek (David Love), takes offense to this deed. Thor defends his act, saying, “It was no more than an insect.” But Derek argues, “But it had life. And that life you had to take to satisfy your endless hunger for killing.” Heavy stuff, right?
Despite my love of gory and amoral horror films, I always come back to stuff like this. Maybe it’s because I sometimes need a break from the heavy stuff, but I don’t know. It could just be that these movies come off as honest, fun attempts to convey decent messages. Sure, those messages may get muddled along the way, and obscured by clunky acting and cluttered storytelling, but they’re available if you look. I could actually imagine Teenagers From Outer Space as a stage play, and that it could potentially receive some critical acclaim if done right.
The Weird Alien Mission
Rather than being overtly hostile invaders (or teenagers), the aliens in this story come seeking a planet for their Gargons — creatures that look a lot like stock footage lobsters. These guys eat Gargons, and they need a place to raise them. Sure, they have disdain for the earth’s inhabitants, but they don’t really kill anyone until Derek escapes as a rebel. His crime? He is essentially a thought criminal, hating his home planet’s policies of forbidding organic families and friendships from forming. The crazy thing is, of course, that this is eerily similar to what totalitarian ideologies do here on earth. These aliens even consider themselves the supreme beings of their world (and presumably anywhere else they venture). Gee, why does that sound familiar? I would never find such ideals by picking up a history book or reading opinion columns, right? Nope! Never!
So, oddly enough, some aspects of this alien story apply to our world, inarguably even a bit too well. Maybe we’ll never worry about giant lobsters overtaking our cities, but we do have to worry about ideologies, and how to treat rebels against those laws and morals. We also see more of the death and destruction Derek warned us about, including the unnecessary vaporization of Alice Woodward (Sonia Torgeson), who committed the egregious crime of flirting with Thor. Seriously, Thor sucks for doing that! What a laser gun rampaging ass he is! Also, poor Sparky!
Betty and Derek: Pure Love?
As mentioned before, this story seems somewhat heartfelt, regardless of how well it was conveyed on film. While on the run, Derek finds Sparky’s owner via his dog collar, and her name is Betty (Dawn Bender). What ensues between them isn’t dirty, sleazy, physical love, but an almost entirely pure and innocent respect. When he finally tells her his story, she believes him and fully commits to helping him on his mission. In turn, he professes a love for planet Earth, pledging to defend it from Gargons and his own kind, should they get too rough with it. It is unconditional love, and it’s nice. And yes, Derek is played by a guy named David Love.
Also, I have to mention that Harvey B. Dunn did a bang-up job as Gramps Morgan. Granted, I don’t even remember the character that well, but he left a warm impression in my mind, which is good enough. The three of them have some chemistry, even if it’s a little off at times. Yes, this movie deserved the MST3K treatment it got, but it’s also enjoyable on its own, as far as I’m concerned. Also, it makes me wonder how tasty Gargons are. I don’t eat lobster very often, and I’d hate to be eaten by one myself, but Gargons have to get their nutrition somehow. We might think we’re at the top of the food chain, but things could always change.
What are your thoughts on Teenagers From Outer Space? Have any advice on raising Gargons? Let us know in the comments!