Saturday, August 25, 2007
20 Million Miles to Earth
I had the distinct pleasure of watching Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth. This wonderful monster movie was recently re-released on DVD for it’s 50th anniversary in color. This was one of Harry’s films that I hadn’t seen yet and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a delectable 1950s, atomic horror treat.
A secret mission to Venus by the American Military spells trouble for Europe when a returning US Spaceship crashes off the coast Sicily. A reptilian alien, brought back by the crew, hatches from a gelatinous egg and grows unnaturally huge in earth’s atmosphere. Because of bungling and mistreatment the enraged creature rampages through Rome in a climatic battle causing death and destruction.
20 Million Miles to Earth has everything a classic science fiction fan could want; stiff acting, repressed sexual tension, “funny” foreigners, cold war allegories and amazing effects. Setting the film in Italy is pure genius; in fact it’s downright sexy! There’s just something so right about a cosmic beast battling troops in the remains of the forum and the coliseum. It’s a well-paced movie for a ‘50s film, and still exciting with tons of B-movie clichés twisted just enough to keep it interesting. It’s well done and a nice break from the overproduced sci-fi stuff we see today.
The DVD comes in a two-disk set with lots of goodies including, a retrospective documentary, a colorization process short and an interview with Harryhausen. The colorization of the film is quite good, although it's not as great as Ray Harryhausen raves it is. The monster and the coliseum are some of the best-colored parts of the film but there are some weak spots. For the purists, the DVD also includes the original black and white version.
20 Million Miles to Earth proves that without Ray Harryhausen, fantasy films would have been a whole lot less fun. This film was an international blockbuster in its day, and it’s easy to see why.
Note: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, It Came from Beneath the Sea, and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms are all set to get the same colorization treatment.
Here is the theatrical trailer: