It Conquered the World
|It Conquered the World|
Theatrical release poster
by Albert Kallis
|Directed by||Roger Corman|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Written by||Lou Rusoff|
Charles B. Griffith (uncredited)
Lee Van Cleef
|Music by||Ronald Stein|
|Cinematography||Fred E. West|
|Edited by||Charles Gross|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
It Conquered the World is an independently made 1956 American black-and-white science fiction film, produced and directed by Roger Corman, starring Peter Graves, Lee Van Cleef, Beverly Garland, and Sally Fraser. It Conquered the World was released theatrically by American International Pictures as a double feature with The She-Creature.
It Conquered the World concerns an alien creature from the planet Venus that secretly wants to take control of the Earth. The creature makes radio contact with a disillusioned human scientist, who agrees to help because the scientist believes such an alien intervention will bring peace and save a doomed humanity from itself.
Dr. Tom Anderson (Van Cleef), an embittered scientist, has made contact with a Venusian creature, while using his radio transmitter. The alien's secret motivation is to take complete control of the Earth by enslaving humanity using mind control devices; the alien claims it only wants to bring peace to our troubled world by eliminating all emotions. Anderson agrees to help the creature and even intends to allow it to assimilate his wife, Claire (Garland) and friend Dr. Paul Nelson (Graves).
The Venusian then disrupts all electric power on Earth, including motor vehicles, leaving Dr. Nelson to resort to riding a bicycle.
After avoiding a flying bat-like creature which carries the mind control device, Dr. Nelson returns home to find his wife newly assimilated. She then attempts to force his own assimilation using another bat-creature in her possession, and he ends up being forced to kill her in self-defense. By then, the only people who are still free from the Venusian's influence are Nelson, Anderson, Anderson's wife and a group of army soldiers on station in the nearby woods.
Nelson finally persuades the paranoid Anderson that he has made a horrible mistake in blindly trusting the Venusian's motives, allying himself with a creature bent on world domination. When they discover Tom's wife has taken a rifle to the alien's cave in order to kill it, they hurriedly follow her, but the creature kills Claire Anderson before the two doctors can rescue her. Finally, seeing the loss of everything he holds dear, Dr. Anderson viciously attacks the Venusian by holding a blowtorch to the creature's face; Anderson dies at the alien's hand as it expires.
- Peter Graves as Dr. Paul Nelson
- Lee Van Cleef as Dr. Tom Anderson
- Beverly Garland as Claire Anderson
- Sally Fraser as Joan Nelson
- Russ Bender as General James Pattick
- Taggart Casey as Sheriff N.J. Shallert
- Karen Kadler as Dr. Ellen Peters
- Dick Miller as Sgt. Neil
- Jonathan Haze as Corporal Manuel Ortiz
- Paul Harbor as Dr. Floyd Mason
- Charles B. Griffith as Dr. Pete Shelton
- Thomas E. Jackson as George Haskell
- Marshall Bradford as Secretary Platt
- David McMahon as General Carpenter
- Paul Blaisdell as The Monster (uncredited)
It Conquered the World was written by Lou Rusoff, but before being completed, Rusoff's brother died and he had to leave for Canada. Corman then called in Charles Griffith to do a final rewrite, two days before filming began; Griffith, however, didn't want his name to be credited on screen. Griffith does have a small part as a scientist.
The design of the creature was Corman's idea, and he thought that coming from a big planet, It would have evolved to deal with heavy gravity and would therefore be low to the ground. Corman later admitted this was a mistake, saying the creature would have been more frightening had It been larger or taller. When Beverly Garland first saw the creature, she commented "That conquered the world?" and kicked It over. Based on this action, the design of the creature was reworked.
Griffith on the creature prop:
I called it Denny Dimwit and somebody else called it an ice-cream cone. I was around when Paul Blaisdell was building it, and he thought the camera would make it look bigger. I have some photographs of it in construction, probably the only ones in existence. I asked for my name not to be on that picture, so I was unbilled. Surprisingly, it got good reviews.
The film originally received an "X" certificate in the UK, meaning the picture could only be seen by adults. At issue, the scene of the creature being destroyed by a blowtorch was seen as animal cruelty. However, producer Samuel Z. Arkoff convinced the film board that the violence was against a otherworldly person, and not an animal, earning the film its passing certificate.
During the 1960s, It Conquered the World was syndicated to television by American International Television. VHS versions appeared in the 1990s on the US home video market (RCA Columbia Home Video), but these are no longer in distribution, nor is the film available on DVD or Blu-ray in the US or in the UK.
Film historian and critic Leonard Maltin called It Conquered the World "... well acted and interesting but awkwardly plotted". Variety found the movie a cut above normal, despite its low budget, and praised the "remarkable adult questions" asked by the screenplay.
Time Out magazine, however, gave the film a negative review, criticizing its poor special effects. Critic Tony Rayns opined, "You have to see a movie like this to realise that film-makers who feel they have nothing to lose are rarer than you'd think".
The Chicago Reader gave the film a generally positive review, saying, "Amazingly, this 1953 [sic] picture isn't half bad". Allmovie gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, calling it an "above-average quickie".
In popular culture
- In 1966, It Conquered the World was remade in 16mm color by self-proclaimed "schlockmeister" Larry Buchanan after he secured rights from AIP; he retitled his rewritten remake Zontar, the Thing from Venus and then sold it to television syndication.
- Frank Zappa's 1974 live album Roxy & Elsewhere referred to the film in the introduction for the song "Cheepnis".
- The film's closing monologue inspired the similar ending of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- The end of the film was shown at the beginning of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988).
- In 1991, It Conquered the World was the subject of the comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000; joke topics included poor monster props, occasionally wooden acting, and an overblown closing monologue, although Dr. Clayton Forrester did concede it was probably Roger Corman's "finest film to date".
- Audio samples from the film were included in the song "Facing That" from M83's self-titled debut album, released in 2001.
- Season 4, episode 12 of SCTV featured an overarching story, "Zontar," which was closely based on "It Conquered the Word." Bonar Bain was featured as the scientist played by Lee Vav Cleef.
- Graham, Aaron W.['Little Shop of Genres: An interview with Charles B. Griffith." Senses of Cinema, April 15, 2005. Retrieved: January 13, 2015.
- Frank (1998) The Films of Roger Corman. Batsford
- Warren 1982[page needed]
- McGee 1996, p. 58.
- It Conquered the World on IMDb
- Rubine, Irving. "Boys meet ghouls, make money." The New York Times, March 16, 1958, p. X7.
- "'It Conquered the World' US-American VHS." Amazon.com. Retrieved: January 13, 2015.
- "'It Conquered the World' British VHS." Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved: January 13, 2015.
- Maltin 2009, p. 695.
- Rayns, Tony. "Review: 'It Conquered the World'." Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine Time Out magazine. Retrieved: January 13, 2015.
- Kehr, Dave. "Review: 'It Conquered the World'." Chicago Reader. Retrieved: January 13, 2015.
- Erickson, Hal. "Review'It Conquered the World'."[permanent dead link] All Movie Guide (Allrovi.com). 'Retrieved: January 13, 2015.
- Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. New York: New American Library, 2009 (originally published as TV Movies, then Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide), First edition 1969, published annually since 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2.
- McGee, Mark. Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1996. ISBN 978-0-78640-137-6.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching The Skies Vol. I: 1950–1957. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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