While Basil Rathbone, Herbert Rudley & Akim Tamiroff pull their weight in this talky 1956 monster mash, it’s incomprehensible that Lon Chaney, John Carradine, Bela Lugosi & Tor Johnson have all been consigned to shuffling mutely in the corners. 5/10
The earliest preserved “adaptation” of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau from 1921 disappoints Wells fans. While sporting impressive actors, the German comedy is marred by a haphazard script and lazy direction. 3/10
The third and final Gill-man film from 1956 toys with interesting fish-out-of-water themes. Despite competent direction and good acting, the low budget and aimless script fail to give this movie buoyance. 5/10
Much of the heritage in SF movies comes from non-English language films from the first half of the 20th century, many of which are largely unknown to an English-speaking audience today. Here we list the 25 greatest non-English language science fiction movies made prior to 1950. How many have you seen?
The first US time machine film from 1956 is a fun but clunky Technicolor adventure. Astronauts accidentally travel 500 years into the future, where the meek, pacifist human survivors hide from barbaric mutants in an underground civilisation. 5/10
A 1956 cult classic, this gangster-monster mashup with Lon Chaney Jr. as a super-charged avenger suffers from the cutting of most of Chaney’s lines, and with them key scenes. Decent performances & good location shooting make it worth a watch. 3/10
Based on Shakespeare, MGM’s 1956 epic starring Anne Francis & Leslie Nielsen is a landmark SF movie. The pulpy premise of space explorers saving a virgin from an alien monster hides surprisingly serious and adult themes. 9/10
A plastic surgeon believes that by giving a scarred female criminal a pretty new face, he can reform her. The twist in this 1952 Hammer entry by Terence Fisher is that the surgeon gives the criminal the face of the woman he loves, and marries her. 5/10
The famous 1925 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s novel is best remembered for Betty Blythe’s varied states of undress. While UFA provides handsome set pieces, the British production falters in the directing and cinematography departments. 3/10
Percy Stow was one of the pioneers of British trick films, and often took on science fiction subjects in his short films made between 1901 and 1915. In these he showcased high technical quality and a touch of originality.
The first feature film depicting George Orwell’s dystopian vision of a totalitarian future capture the book’s bleak atmosphere well. A miscast leading couple and Michael Anderson’s uninspired direction prevent the movie from reaching its potential. 5/10
This 1956 SF thriller directed by Don Siegel is a masterpiece dissecting American post-war paranoia and timeless themes of losing one’s identity and sense of belonging. One of the few fifties horror films that is still spine-chilling today. 10/10
Two bumbling journalists accidentally save a European backwater country from a mad scientists creating zombies and a master race with the help of gamma rays in this British B production from later Bond producer Albert Broccoli. 4/10
Friendly star-shaped aliens try to warn Tokyo’s inhabitants of a planetary collision. Humans flee in fear at the sight of the alien starfish, so one of them shape-shifts and infiltrates. This 1956 colour spectacle is entertaining but contrived. 5/10
A well-meaning goofball is injected with a serum that allows him to see future events. Suddenly there is no end of people wanting to take advantage of the kind-hearted tramp. This Mexican 1956 effort is a minor film for comedian Clavillazo. 4/10