Mind Control

Killers from Space

Famous for its villains with ping pong ball eyes, this 1953 low-budget entry sees Peter Graves abducted by aliens planning to invade the Earth. Sadly, the stale script isn’t nearly as fun as the design of the antagonists would suggest. 2/10

El monstruo resucitado

As enthusiastic as it is bewildering, this operatic Mexican 1953 medical horror film is a clunky passion project. Throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, it’s a mix between The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein and Mystery of the Wax Museum. 6/10

Donovan’s Brain

The disembodied brain of ruthless millionaire Donovan takes telepathic control over the scientist keeping it alive in a fish tank. Based on Curt Siodmak’s novel, this 1953 effort is at its best a taut SF chiller, at its worst a confusing tax fraud potboiler. 5/10

Cat-Women of the Moon

The first “Amazon Women in Space” film, this 1953 low-budget clunker is one of the dumbest films ever made. However, despite its borrowed sets, atrocious acting and ludicrous script, it is thoroughly fun in its naivety. 3/10

The Quatermass Experiment

Hugely influential, BBC’s 1953 mini-series about an alien virus mutating their hosts was a massive British TV event. Aired live, its sets were clunky and the acting stiff, but the great script and innovative direction overcome the flaws even today. 6/10

Mesa of Lost Women

A contender for the worst movie ever, this 1953 patch-job is a mind-boggling series of failures. Built upon existing footage from an unreleased picture, this one includes spider women, mad scientists and evil dwarfs, and still manages to be deadly dull. 0/10

The Twonky

A mind-controlling machine from an authoritarian future disguises itself as a TV set in the home of a professor and starts messing with his life. Badly adapted from a story by “Lewis Padgett”, this 1953 attempt at satire is a dull turkey. 1/10

Invaders from Mars

This 1953 classic is the most visually unabashed SF movie of the 50s. While hampered by a low budget, this first “invasion of the body snatchers” film scared a generation of kids witless, but also contains interesting themes for adults to chew on. 7/10

Tales of Tomorrow

The first SF anthology TV show aired live in the US from 1951 to 1953. With material by some of the greatest SF authors of all time, its adult-oriented, intelligent scripts are often unsettling to watch even today. The cast boasts Leslie Nielsen, Rod Steiger, Paul Newman, Eva Gabor, James Dean, Joanne Woodward and many more. 6/10

The Man from Planet X

Director Edgar G. Ulmer turns this 1951 low-budget movie about an alien visitor to a small village into a visually atmospheric, intelligent Expressionist moral tale, as Hollywood brings the first alien invasion film to the big screen.  Unfortunately the low budget, pacing problems and a mediocre script hamper this minor classic. 6/10

Lights Out

The first anthology TV show to feature science fiction, Lights Out was adapted from a popular horror radio show in the US in 1949. Lights Out sports an impressive roster of actors and writers, but it struggles somewhat to transfer what was so great about the radio program to the screen. 5/10

The Superhero Serials

Batman, Superman and Captain America were among the superheroes that made their screen debuts in film serials. The superhero serials borrowed heavily from pulp stories, radio shows and comic magazines, and in turn helped lay many of the foundations for future SF movies. Here we take a look at the origins and history of the most influential superhero serials of the thirties and forties. 

House of Dracula

Universal’s third monster mash film from 1945 is a decent, if not necessarily worthy, farewell to the studio’s legendary ghouls. Despite flashes of originality, it feels as if we are re-heating the same TV dinner for the umpteenth time before the SF movies of the US caught up with the new post-war reality. Scifist Rating: 4/10

House of Frankenstein

Universal’s House of Frankenstein sees Boris Karloff as a mad scientist hiring Dracula as a hit man, attempting to cure the Wolf Man and restart the Frankenstein monster. All while J. Carrol Naish’s hunchback is trying to bonk a gypsy girl who’s in love with the werewolf. While the nutty story can be entertaining, this 1944 film’s downfall is its contrived plot and structure. 4/10

The Lady and the Monster

Braaaaaiiiins! The first adaptation of Curt Siodmak’s cult novel Donovan’s Brain turns up the mad scientist factor to eleven. The 1944 film sees Erich von Stroheim as the resident Frankenstein, as a disembodied brain takes control over his assistant’s mind. Atmospheric cinematography and an overall strong cast compensates for ice skater Vera Hruba Ralston’s lack of acting experience in the female lead. 5/10