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Thursday, February 7, 2013

KRONOS (1957) -- movie review by Squashpants


Tonight's movie is:

KRONOS (1957)

The Fifties were big on alien invaders and most of them were biological entities arriving in flying saucers of one sort or another. Here we have an alien invader which was not biological, but rather a sort of giant robot.

Jeff Morrow (THIS ISLAND EARTH) plays Dr. Les Gaskell working at a high tech research laboratory near the standard California desert. He is monitoring near Earth for asteroids one night and discovers a very unusual space rock. In fact, it looks on his telescope monitor exactly like a huge Flying Saucer. It is absolutely hilarious that he doesn't recognize it as the technological device that it obviously is.

Dr. Les isn't alone at this outpost. He has computer expert Dr. Arnold Culver, played by George Jetson's voice, George O'Hanlon, and his apparent girl friend and the lab photographic technician, Vera Hunter (Barbara Lawrence). And finally, rounding out the crew is project head Dr. Hubbell Elliot, played by John Emery and his massive eye bags.

Well, Dr. Les sees the asteroid/UFO crash into the Gulf of Mexico, and not an hour later an disembodied entity of some sort makes its way from the spaceship to our friends' research lab and into the body of Dr. Elliot. And under the control of the entity, the good doctor will provide the guidance required for the alien invader to pursue its mission.

And what is that mission? To use an "accumulator", a huge, semi-intelligen­t robot, to absorb energy from any available generating source or distribution network, and once at capacity, assumedly, the colossus will be reloaded into the spaceship and the aliens will steal away home with their stolen electricity.

Most of what happens in the movie revolves around the seemingly unstoppable Kronos, and how our clever scientists finally find a way to make the thing destroy itself.

The big selling point for this movie is the special effect of the accumulator device. Big (my guess is over 100 feet tall, apparenty), solid chrome, with a dome and antenna-like structures on top, and thick cylinder legs that pound up and down and somehow propel the thing forwards(?). The first time we see the structure, it is sitting on a Mexican beach, imposing and stately, and very high tech looking, even considering the 1950s design elements. And when a jet is sent to nuclear bomb the machine, it does something pretty damn cool. It retracts all its external structures and sinks into a massive cube. And when the A-bomb explodes, it absorbs all the bomb's released energy. Unharmed, it de-compacts itself and moves on. All done very convincingly.

The way that the scientists decide they can defeat Kronos is slightly cryptic but, to me at least, plausible. And when they deploy the strategem, the effects of the self-demolition­ of the giant machine are damn effective, even exciting.

There is no doubt that this was a fun picture to see at the theater, and it doesn't play badly on the small screen either. I am sure I saw this at least once as a little weirdo, on TV, and loved it.

One of the other fun things about KRONOS is the characters' relationships. Poor Vera really digs Dr. Les, but you would think the man has no sex organs. He is more concerned about work than going to a movie and necking with his girl friend. Arnie doesn't have a girl friend and doesn't need one because he has S.U.S.I.E. the computer. Don't ask me what the silly acronym means. It's explained in the movie. And then there's Dr. Elliot, our possessed alien agent, who just happens to have an small electrical generating plant in his office with a cyclone fence around it(!).

A truly fun pic with great effects and nice characterizatio­ns. You could definitely do worse for an afternoon's entertainment. I give this pic a Weirdo Rating of 3 out of 4 stars.

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