Monday, May 26, 2014

They Came From the Ether - Review - @BrandonCSites

They Came From the Ether (2014) ***
D: James Pronath 
C: Christopher D. Fisher, Paul Gibson, Linnea Quigley, Judith O'Dea, Tom Gore, Bradley Eugene Greer, Rocio Thrasher, Tom Gore, Jillian Teetsell

Plot Synopsis: John Henry, a down on his luck salesman, is given a chance at success by an alien visitor, trading technology for help in human experimentation. Blinded by his ambition, the salesman open a doorway in which the alien can develop the means to control the human race. It's left to Detective Mike Washburn, who is investigating the missing persons reports, to get to the bottom of the disappearances. 

Review: When it comes to making a homage to another era of cinema, there's a lot of things you have to take into consideration. Such as designing props and using sets & locations that look like they belong in that era. Making sure you have costumes, hair and makeup that evoke that time period. Making sure your score & soundtrack selection could fit alongside the films of that time period. And with all the technological advances of today, making sure your effects stay true to the era you are paying tribute to. And that's just the surface details! 

They Came From the Ether is a tribute to the Roger Corman monster and sci-fi films of the 50's, particularly Not of this Earth. For the most part, it manages to get the surface details right on a limited budget. The film's low budget actually works its favor. For example, when the film's alien visitor reveals his true form and appears in a cheap rubber set, that's obviously very much in tune with the films of the 50's. What would have normally been a disadvantage for most films, turns out to be an asset here.

Other things that I appreciated about the film was that it was presented in black & white. I appreciated how some of performances captured that zany, outrageous kind of style of acting seen back in the 50's. In a cameo appearance, Judith O'Dea (from Night of the Living Dead fame) is quite hilarious. I also laughed out loud when one character tries to run away while the background remains the same.

However, surface details such as clothes, props, soundtrack selections, effects, etc. are only half the equation. The other half, is the story at hand and what it is trying to accomplish. An element that has always stood out to me about a Roger Corman film is his mix of movie formulas while incorporating messages that were important to him within the context of those films. One message, that takes prominence, is about how we're letting our technology control us. Another one of the film's key messages takes place during one of my favorite scenes in which Linnea Quigley's character talks about how she wouldn't replace her broom with a fancy new vacuum cleaner. That one scene summarizes the film itself and the era of these 50's B movies that the film pays tribute to. That in the wake of new technology, we (as a society) toss aside things of the past. That how there is still something special and of value about these things of yesteryear that we, as a society, have forgotten about when presented with something new.

They Came From the Ether may be set in the world of black & white and take place in the 50's, but the message is timeless and should resonate with not only this generation, but with future generations to come. [Not Rated] 90 mins. 

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