Monday, November 23, 2015



In northern Sweden, a large glowing orb flies across the sky, skims over the ground leaving skid marks in the snow, and crashes into a hill. Onlookers assume it's a meteor, but because it flew horizontally rather than dropped from the sky, some scientists from the Royal Academy, led by Dr. Wilson and young playboy geologist Erik Engstrom, set out to investigate. At the hotel, Erik falls for a lovely girl putting on an ice skating exhibition; she turns out to be Diane Wilson, Dr. Wilson's daughter and an Olympic skater who can hold her own with the flirtatious Erik—when they go skiing together, he deliberately knocks her down, so she grabs his skis and takes off, forcing him to walk back to the lodge. But I digress (because the movie does). That night, a number of animals are found slaughtered in the snow, with a gigantic footprint nearby. The next day, they find the orb, actually a spaceship, embedded in the hillside, and they eventually run into the beast that killed the animals, a shambling, furry 20-foot tall monster with tusks. Erik and Diane ski off to get help but when she is injured, they wind up at an isolated rescue cabin, and that night the beast shows up, causing an avalanche and abducting Diane, leaving her in a cave with a couple of normal-sized but cone-headed aliens. Can Erik and Dr. Wilson save her and find a way to battle the destructive creature?

There is something almost charming about this sci-fi monster movie. It's no great shakes, and if I'd seen this as a kid on Chiller Theater, I would have been impatient for the monster stuff to start—too much time is spent getting Erik and Diane together. But the beast is effective, in a Godzilla kind of way; it's clearly a man in a hairy suit, walking around among miniature sets or being shot using forced perspective, but mostly it works. Even the pointy-headed guys don't look half bad, even though they're wearing full-length robes, the cheapest costumes possible. Too much time is devoted to the romance and to skiing, and no explanation is even attempted as to what the aliens are up to or how the monster is related to the coneheads, but it's just a little over an hour so it's bearable. For the record, the main trio are Barbara Wilson (Diane), Sten Gester (Erik), and Robert Burton—who actually had a lengthy career as a character actor on TV—(Wilson). The American version released under the "Animal People" title apparently has a little more footage and narration by John Carradine. [Streaming/DVD]

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