The Space Children


Action / Sci-Fi


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February 06, 2016 at 10:28 AM



Johnny Crawford as Ken Brewster
Jackie Coogan as Hank Johnson
Russell Johnson as Joe Gamble
Raymond Bailey as Dr. Wahrman
720p 1080p
487.52 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 9 min
P/S 0 / 5
1.03 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 9 min
P/S 2 / 1

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bensonmum2 7 / 10

The rating for The Space Children is as puzzling to me as any I've run across

I've seen a lot of weird things on IMDb, but the rating for The Space Children is as puzzling to me as any I've run across. 2.1?!?! I couldn't disagree any more. 2.1 is getting close to Manos territory. The Space Children may not be the best movie I've ever seen, but it doesn't deserve a 2.1. Why the low rating? I blame MST3K. I enjoy the show, but as I've argued any number of times, some of the movies that they lampooned didn't deserve it. Take a look at the reviews on IMDb. You can split them into two wildly divergent groups – those users who appear to only know The Space Children because of MST3K and those who have seen it on its own. The comments from the MST3K crowd always seem to mention Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) in a bathing suit as if it's one of the most important moments in the film. In contrast, many of the comments from non-MST3K viewers reminisce about seeing The Space Children during their childhood. Maybe it's not just an MST3K thing but an overall generational thing as well. Whatever, I tend to side with those who enjoy the movie for what it is.

And what is it? The Space Children is a nice little cautionary 50s sci-fi film that speaks to the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Jack Arnold, one of the best genre directors of the 50s, does his usual workmanlike job with the movie. It's not flashy, but it certainly looks good. The Space Children obviously was made on a limited budget. As a result, the special effects are also limited and Arnold focuses more on the people. A lot of what happens is implied. But that's not necessarily a weakness. Too often, low-budget sci-fi films from this period look ridiculous because of the desire for elaborate special effects (i.e. monster and aliens) that outstripped the funding it would require. The acting, while not outstanding, is solid. Even the kids, who can be annoying at times in this kind of movie, come off looking pretty good. The cast will be familiar to many who grew up watching television in the 60s. Overall I've got no big complaints with The Space Children. Not a bad way to spend just over an hour.

Reviewed by keith-moyes 4 / 10

A silk purse out of a sow's ear

As a late-comer to the heated debate about this movie, let me make my position clear. I am a Jack Arnold fan.

For me, Arnold's contribution to Fifties SF movies is greater than any other director. But he was heavily dependent on his screenwriters. When the screenplays were good he turned in some of the best SF movies of the decade: It Came from Outer Space; Creature from the Black Lagoon; Incredible Shrinking Man and, to a lesser extent, Tarantula. When they were poor (Revenge of the Creature; Monster on Campus) all he could do was make the pictures watchable: he couldn't make them good.

Apparently, Space Children was his personal favourite amongst his SF movies and the one on which he lavished most care, but it definitely falls in to that second category. It is watchable, but no more.

It establishes a good atmosphere. Arnold invests an ordinary stretch of coastline with the same eerie ambiance as the Black Lagoon and the desert locations of It Came from Outer Space and Tarantula. He also gets good performances from his juvenile cast. As a group, they are the least objectionable movie kids of the Fifties.

The problems all lie in the screenplay, which is derivative, half-baked and repetitive. The screenplays for Revenge of the Creature and Monster on Campus were simply trite, mechanical and by-the-numbers. This screenplay is actually incompetent and there is ultimately nothing Arnold can do to salvage it.

It is a movie with a message, but that message is thoroughly hackneyed. The mysterious (usually alien) stranger who uses almost magical powers to save us from our own follies is an idea that has had many outings over the years: Things to Come; The Day the Earth Stood Still; Stranger from Venus; The Cosmic Man; Strange World of Planet X and even Plan 9 from Outer Space. Space Children adds nothing new to this somewhat self-righteous, preachy sub-genre.

The SF content is completely haphazard, so we never really know what is going on. For example, when the alien lands it causes power cuts that extend as far as the rocket launch site, so it not clear why the alien needs to enlist the aid of the children in the first place (anyway, why not work through adults?). The nature of its connection with the children is also somewhat vague. Does it possess and coerce them, or merely enlist their voluntary aid? The visuals often suggest the former, but the intent of the story implies the latter. Then again, what help does it require? What do the children actually do to stop the launch of the missile? If it is telekinesis, why do they have to break into the launch site? Why does the alien grow in size during the course of the movie?

The SF content is so incoherent that the story can only really be viewed as fantasy. For example, the alien's use of children rather than adults is not dictated by the logic of the story: it is basically a poetic device. But even fantasy needs its own rules if the story is to grip. This movie has none, so it feels like random a sequence of events.

The dramatic structure of the movie is weak. It starts well enough, with the arrival at the missile base, the landing of the alien, its discovery by the children and its first communication with them. After that, it just meanders all over the place. There is no steady build up of tension and no real climax. Things happen, but for no particular reason.

For example, there is apparently a second alien arrival, but we only see one alien. We have to assume that, for some reason, it departed and then returned again.

There is a pointless sequence where Bud takes his father to the cave, they retrieve the alien and carry it off to their cabin - only to return it to the cave the following day. This adds nothing to the story and only contributes to the sense that the movie is just an endless succession of people going backwards and forwards to the beach.

The business of the adults finding out what is going on, but being unable to tell anyone about it, is also redundant.

The death of the drunken father is so poorly handled we don't really know what has actually happened. The implication is that the alien has killed him, but this undermines the notion that it is essentially benign. Probably what was intended is that the shock of encountering the alien caused him to die of natural causes (there is some dialogue with the doctor that lends weight to this interpretation) but here, as elsewhere in the movie, even the simplest plot points are fudged.

The truth is that all these scenes are mere padding. The picture seems so aimless because, having set up the basic situation, it is just marking time until the thwarting of the rocket launch and the final revelation. Take away these irrelevant scenes from the middle of the picture and there simply wouldn't be enough footage for release as a feature film.

It is hard to see how this relatively straightforward story could have been written any worse. What did Tom Filer and Bernard Schoenfeld do to earn their money?

Despite all these reservations, the movie is by no means a complete dud. It defects are mitigated by merits that other low budget SF of the era didn't have. Arnold tries his best to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but cannot quite manage it. Nonetheless, I am glad I finally have it on DVD to complete my Jack Arnold collection (even if it is a soft, second or third generation copy).

However, if I was trying to convince people that Arnold's SF films should be taken seriously I would be very wary about showing them this movie.

Reviewed by ([email protected]) 10 / 10

This one's not as good as I remembered . . . it's BETTER!!

In 1958, when I was ten years old, I went to the drive-in with my parents and saw this movie. I thought it was terrific, and for the next 28 years I yearned to see it again. Unfortunately it was never shown on television, nor was it available on videotape. But in 1986 the USA network aired it, and I finally got a chance to find out if "The Space Children" was as good as I remembered it.

It wasn't. It was BETTER. This is, in many ways, the most intelligent, thought-provoking, and sincere sci-fi film of the 1950s. In both concept and execution it far outshines most of today's glitzy effects-laden efforts. Sadly, some viewers are mystified by the subtlety and careful pacing of the story. I suppose it's just a matter of taste. After all, some people think "Citizen Cane" is a dull soap opera and "Scary Movie" is a work of art . ..

Since that second viewing in 1986 I have seen "The Space Children" many times, and I've often shown it to groups of kids the same age I was when I first saw it. Most of these kids were surprisingly impressed by the film, a fact which pleased me greatly.

If you've seen "The Space Children" and think it's just a low budget sci-fi movie from the 1950s, try watching it with a group of kids who can explain it to you. And pay special attention to the question which one of the characters asks in the film: "Is there no man on Earth with the wisdom and the innocence of a child?"

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