Woe be unto the soul who has not yet discovered the twisted conspiracy perpetuated by the dreaded Mole People. Blind, bitter, and malevolent, the evil Mole People scuttle about their subterranean dwellings with thoughts of vengeance in their hearts, their inability to enjoy or appreciate classic cinema driving them to concoct and produce purposefully awful films in an attempt to pollute the movie theatres, and destroy the art of cinema forever.
This harsh reality is by no means a recent development. Ever since mankind first started to produce cinematic gems, the Mole People were there, ready to try and destroy people’s faith in the silver-screen with the aid of their human puppets. Director Tom Graeff is just one of the Mole People’s many puppets, and his cardboard-souled film — ‘Teenagers from Outer Space (1959) — is just one of many of his masters’ insanity-inducing films.
The film tells the story of a teenage alien named Derek (David Love) — whose undeniably terrestrial name and anthropoid physiology suggest that he is neither an alien nor a teenager but rather a twenty-something-year-old man in a track suit — who accompanies some of his fellow “aliens” to Earth as part of an experiment to determine if the planet is capable of housing his people’s main food supply, the delectable “gargon” (or “lobster, painted black”).
Soon after landing on Earth, Thor (Bryan Grant) — Derek’s slightly more homicidal comrade — shoots and kills a dog with a disintegration ray. After inspecting the dog’s remains and discovering a dog-tag that was not damaged by the disintegration ray for some reason, Derek eventually tracks the deceased mutt down to its owner, a sweet Earth girl by the name of Betty (Dawn Bender) who lives at home with her grandfather, Gramps (Harvey B. Dunn).
Soon after this, the homicide-happy Thor goes on a search-kill-rescue mission, looking for the AWOL Derek while zapping random people with his disintegration ray for the most negligible of reasons. When Derek learns of the murders, and of his people’s plans to turn earth into their giant gargon farm, he and Betty team up to stop the murderous Thor, and prevent the ever-growing gargon threat from destroying the Earth.
Though Graeff’s film is atypical from most Mole Men productions in that it is reasonably well-plotted and structured, this “slip-up” in the typical Mole Men formula goes more or less unnoticed as the audience is assaulted again and again with cheap special effects and stilted acting. The “alien” costumes are easily some of the most laziest constructed gear in the solar system, and appear to be nothing more than mere jumpsuits with masking-tape used to create geometric designs on them, while socks are simply pulled up over the actor’s shoes to give them that unique “space look” (whatever the heck that is). Meanwhile, the “gargon” is equally ludicrous, and is nothing more than mere footage of a lobster juxtaposed over the action of the film (and not juxtaposed in any manner that can be called convincing either).
However, perhaps it’s the stilted acting and odd dialogue delivery where the Mole People’s influence is most direct and noticeable. Love, Grant, and all of the other “aliens” delivery their lines with the same amount of enthusiasm as a broken chair-leg. Though their stilted delivery is meant to represent the “emotionless” society in which their “supreme race” was bred and live, the fact remains that their dialogue only comes off as being awkward, annoying, and clumsy. Also of note is the love-struck Betty, whose gushing over Love’s Derek and seemingly inability to comprehend the seriousness of the dire situations she often finds herself in gives one the impression not so much that her character is naive, as she is brain-damaged.
Although Graeff’s attempts to debilitate his audience and destroy one’s faith in the magic of film is a decent effort on his, ultimately, his film proves to be more tolerable than most Mole Men productions, owning in part to the fact that Graeff’s film is so ludicrous that, when viewed as a “comedy” instead of the “straight” film it disguises itself as, ‘Teenagers from Outer Space’ actually proves itself to be quite entertaining in its ironic way. It might be cheap, puerile, silly, and dangerous under-acted, but at least it’s not as boring or unwatchable as some of the Mole People’s other, more deadly assaults on the senses.
Find the nearest Blockbuster near your home so you can rent this film almost immediately. Or, if you prefer that movies came to you instead, set up a Netflix account and start your ordering as soon as possible.