20 Million Miles to Earth

Year Of Release: 1957
Running Time: 83 Minutes
DVD Released By: Columbia Pictures
Directed By: Nathan Juran
Writing Credits: Charlotte Knight (story), Bob Williams, Christopher Knopf
Filming Location: Rome, Lazio, Italy & Sperlonga, Latina, Lazio, Italy

Starring: William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia, John Zaremba, Thomas Browne Henry, Tito Vuolo, Jan Arvan, Arthur Space, Bart Braverman

Tagline: Out-Of-Space Creature Invades the Earth!

Alternate Titles:
Beast from Space, The (1957)
Giant Ymir, The (1957)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Ray Harryhausen's biggest influence was the movie King Kong, which ultimately led him to delve deep into the animation world, learning all he could about stop-motion animation as well as the great Willis O'Brien. So inspired was he by the effects and animation work in King Kong that he created his own animation short, which he then sent to O'Brien to take a look at. O'Brien was impressed. Harryhausen then went on to create a short film called Evolution, in which an apatosaurus was attacked by a rather ill tempered allosaurus, and sent that off as a demo reel. This demo reel landed him his first job in the industry when he went to work for George Pal on the Puppetoon shorts he was doing for Paramount. Although he had a long and prolific career, Harryhausen considered 1963's Jason and the Argonauts to be his best film.

Rogue Reviewers Round Table Review: June 2004
Review Topic: "The Genius of Ray Harryhausen"

 


 

Cast Of Characters
Col. Robert Calder: Bob was an astronaut on the ship that returned from Venus with the creature. He ended up being the lone survivor of the trip, but that probably wasn't a good thing considering how badly he mishandled the whole monster situation. If only he'd have handled the monster as well as he handled Marisa's attitude, the whole thing could have been resolved better.
Marisa Leonardo: Oh man, who's runnin' Hell while she's up here? This is Dr. Leonardo's granddaughter and only one year away from being a doctor in her own right. She spends about the first 1/3 of the movie being bitchy and then after that when she figures out that she can score with Robert, she mellows out finally and starts being more of a help than a hindrance.

Dr. Leonardo: I don't know why I have this fetish about getting screenshots of people when their teeth are showing, but for some reason I just find it totally amusing. Anyway, this is Marisa's grandfather. He's a zoological scientist who happens to be traveling with his daughter when the ship crashes into the ocean. While Marisa goes to help the two survivors, he hangs around their trailer. Unfortunately for him, Pepe showed up with this gelatinized turd that he found in a canister that floated ashore. That gelatinized turd ended up being the Ymir's birth sack.

Dr. Judson Uhl: And the dorky hat of the year award goes to...wait a sec, I can't get the envelope open. Oh, there we go. And the winner is...Dr. Judson Uhl! Unfortunately Dr. Uhl can't be here with us tonight because he's busy doing doctor things like flying helicopters and dropping nets on monsters.
Maj. Gen. A.D. McIntosh: He's a hard boiled general with stainless steel teeth that can chew up barbed wire and spit bullets. Actually, he's a pretty reasonable guy and not one of these generals that won't listen to reason and wants to hear nothing from his people except that the creature is dead...or soon will be. Unfortunately, that role goes to the idiot down below.
Police Commissioner Charra: And here's the idiot. Actually, he's not that bad. In the initial stages of this whole thing he was actually quite helpful. It was only after some idiot farmer from the village stuck a pitchfork in the creature's back and got himself attacked and almost killed that this guy turned into a jerk and started going after the creature to kill it on his own rather than trying to help the American army guys capture it alive. Basically, if this were Frankenstein, he'd have been one of the villagers with a pitchfork in one hand and a torch in the other.
Contino: This suave and de bonaire turd is the guy from the Italian State Department. He's actually a pretty good guy and tries his best not to get in the way of the Americans capturing the creature. He doesn't do much to stop Charra once Charra gets that bug up his butt to kill the creature, but other than that he gives the Americans pretty much whatever assistance they need.
Pepe: You want teeth magic? I got ya teeth magic right here! Mexican style! Actually Pepe is a Mexican kid from Texas who ended up living in a Sicilian fishing village with Verico and Mondello. Now if you had a hard time following that, join the club. I just hope for his sake that they have some decent dentists in that village. You know what they say. Sparkling white teeth make the best teeth magic. It's never really explained how he ended up there in Sicily, but then again, it doesn't really matter for the purposes of the story. All this kid is concerned about is getting money so he can buy toys and cowboy hats and stuff. If he hadn't been such a little hoodlum and had just turned the canister over to the authorities when he found it, this whole thing could have been avoided. So you see, it's really all his fault.
Verico: Aside from the acne scars, this guy looks a lot like a guy that used to be in a soap opera my mom used to watch. Not that that matters or anything, I just thought I'd mention it. Verico is one of the village fishermen, and together with Pepe and Mondello in their three man boat, they travel through space earning a meager living by buying and selling rare merchandise, including unfortunately...tribbles. Oh wait...wrong show.
Mondello: Mondello claims to be the bravest man in the village, but you should've seen him wet his pants when Verico says that the two of them are going to go into the spaceship to look for survivors. He's not a bad guy, he's just not as brave as he claims to be. Verico and his involvement in this picture is minimal at best after their bit at the beginning where they rescue the astronauts from the crashed spaceship. I just thought they should be in here because they did play an important part right at the beginning.
The Ymir: Ugly little spud isn't he? You remember Stretch Armstrong dolls? I think I had a monster version of one of those when I was a kid that looked a lot like this. Anyway, this is the creature the astronauts brought back from Venus with them. It was only a baby then, but something in the Earth's atmosphere made it grow way faster and way bigger than it normally would have. The thing about this creature is, it's not aggressive unless it's threatened, and Robert knew that and told that to everyone. So what does everyone, including him do? Yeah, you guessed it. Idiots.

 


 

Screen Shots

"You mean to tell me that you spent twelve billion dollars on this thing and it doesn't even beep or make that funny little ping sound I always liked so much. No gentlemen, I'm afraid this just won't do."


This is the jello mold turd the monster popped out of. Oh if only Pepe hadn't have wanted to buy that cowboy hat so badly, none of this would have happened. See, Pepe found this turd in a canister that washed up on the beach after the rocket crashed. But then, rather than tell anyone, he took it over to Dr. Leonardo so he could sell it to him for cowboy hat money. I wonder how many people had to die so that Pepe could have his cowboy hat?


"Marisa quickly, get me the bug spray!"


Here's a shot of the monster eating sulphur. He passed up several opportunities to eat horses, sheep, and some comically thrown chickens, preferring instead to munch on this tasty bag of sulphur he found in some farmer's barn. Jeez, imagine what his farts are gonna smell like later.

The Ymir and this elephant got into it at the zoo and ended up taking it all the way out into the streets. You can see who won, but I have to admit, the elephant put up a better fight than I thought he would.

Wait a second, I'm getting a psychic vision. I get those sometimes you know. Yes it's coming in clearer now. The spirits are showing me a message. And the message is... Luigi's Laundrette will be making a lot of extra money cleaning the stains out of the pants of these army folks tomorrow.

And the creature meets it's final unfortunate end. Now I hope it starts farting and kills everyone around it with sulphur fumes. Believe me, they deserve it.

 


 

Best Quote

"Why is it always...always so costly for man to move from the present to the future?"

- Dr. Uhl posing a final closing question to General McIntosh. - (Reviewer's Note: I can answer that one. It's because people are idiots.)

 



Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

20 Million Miles to Earth
Some klutz knocks out the electrical equipment that was keeping the creature paralyzed, leading to a massive loss of bladder control by everyone in attendance.

 


 

Summary and Conclusion

I've wanted to review this movie, and some other Harryhausen films for a while now, but I was just kinda waiting for the right time. Well June 1st was the Rogue's 2nd anniversary, and since we wanted to do something special, I came up with the idea of doing a Ray Harryhausen roundtable, and I finally got my chance to review this movie. I hadn't seen this movie before, although I had seen some of the more famous scenes from it on televisions shows that talked about old movie effects and things of that nature, and as such, I didn't really know what to expect. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

The story is fairly simple, but it's played out extremely well by a really great crew of actors. When an American spaceship returns from Venus and crash lands in the ocean off the coast of Sicily, two fishermen and the boy that works with them row out and save two of the astronauts that were still on board and unconscious. The two fishermen, Verico and Mondello get the two surviving astronauts back to shore and when it's discovered that the doctor is out of town, the police commissioner sends Mondello to get Dr. Leonardo, a doctor who's traveling with his daughter near the village. Unfortunately, Dr. Leonardo is a zoological scientist and not a medical doctor, however, is daughter is only a year away from finishing medical school, so she goes to help. As soon as she leaves with Mondello though, Pepe comes to visit the doctor and offers to sell him this thing he found on the beach for 200 Lira, which he wanted so he could buy a cowboy hat. The doctor agrees to the deal and Pepe runs off with the money without telling the doctor the whole truth about where he got the thing from.

Later that night, the creature hatches, and the doctor and his daughter put it in the cage on the back of their truck and then go to sleep for the evening. When they wake up in the morning, the creature had grown considerably, and by that evening, the creature had grown so large that it broke out of its cage when they stopped to reattach the tarp that was covering it and escaped. It grabbed Marisa by the arm before it fully escaped from the cage, but didn't hurt her. That's your first indication that the creature is not really hostile, it's just scared. It's at this point where the big chase between the creature and the army begins.

My one big problem with this movie is that Robert knew the creatures weren't hostile unless provoked, and yet throughout the film, everyone, including him, provoked it and was hostile to it in one way or another except for Dr. Leonardo and his daughter. I mean, put yourself in the creature's place. You're brought here from another planet, locked in a cage, hunted like an animal and ultimately killed. If they had only treated the creature with kindness from the beginning, then they probably could have contained it without any loss of human life or any harm coming to the creature whatsoever. Unfortunately, because people tend to be idiots and because people always seem to be driven to attack things they don't understand, the creature, along with a lot of army personnel ended up dead and there was damage done to the ancient Coliseum in Rome as well as to a beautiful old bridge and the labs at the zoological institute.

As far as the acting, the cinematography, the animation and everything else was concerned in this film, they were all first rate. The really great thing about this movie is that it actually made you feel sorry for the creature. The Ymir was nothing more than a stop-motion animated doll on the screen, manipulated from one frame to the next by it's incredibly talented puppet master. Normally this would be enough in and of itself to make for an enjoyable film, but it's the way Harryhausen brought out the emotions and the fear that the creature was feeling that really made you identify with it and, in the end, feel sorry for it. You almost never see a sympathetic creature in films of this era, so it was refreshing to come across a creature you could actually identify with on an emotional level in this one.

Something else I want to mention about this film is the DVD transfer quality. The DVD offers both full frame and widescreen versions, and has some nice extras as bonus features. The really great thing about this DVD though is the incredible quality of the transfer. It's pristine, and looks like it was taken from film that was shot only a short time ago. They either spent a lot of time cleaning this up, or they had some really pristine source materials to make the transfer from. Either way, both the sound and the video are just incredible, and you'll be amazed at the quality.

For those of you who aren't Harryhausen enthusiasts, if you were ever planning on becoming one, this would be an excellent film to start with. Pretty much all of Harryhausen's films are incredible to watch, but for overall quality of acting, effects, cinematography, lighting, and everything else, you just can't beat 20 Million Miles to Earth. That's why I'm very happy to be able to give it my highest rating of...

B-Movie Central's Rating: 5 Bees!

 

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