Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) – A Review


A review of the 1956 sci-fi classic Earth vs. The Flying Saucers with stop-motion special effects by Ray Harryhausen

Earth vs Flying Saucers sci-fi 1956

Unidentified flying objects are being spotted all around the world. Confusion and panic grip the planet. It is learned these flying saucers have plans to enslave the earth and it looks like there’s no hope of stopping them. But Dr. Russell Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) thinks he can devise a new sonic weapon that will take down these flying discs. Let’s hope he’s right!

Ah the 1950’s and the UFO craze! There were plenty of invaders from outer space that had us humans looking up at the skies with wide-open mouths. Some were benevolent creatures meaning us no harm, but most of the time they were scary aliens that wanted to destroy us and had us running for cover.

After some shocked and destructive encounters, TV sets would tell citizens to hold onto their loved ones and pray since all seems lost until either a scientist or a military man comes up with a solution to save the earth.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is pretty standard fare. It’s not terrible or anything like that, it’s just a very run-of-the-mill alien invasion movie with forgettable characters and the use of stock footage. Other than the inclusion of Ray Harryhausen’s effects for the flying saucers, nothing about it stands out or leaves a lasting impression.

We have aliens that are awfully advanced and powerful who have eyes in ruling the earth. A scientist character who wants to attempt communication with them, but the hot-headed military would rather just unload their weapons at these aliens. That fails badly, so it ends up being the more intellectual earthling to have to think up a way to stop these flying saucers once and for all.

As I said the story is average so you’re not going to find anything here you haven’t seen done better with more engaging characters, better tension and more unique solutions in some other alien invasion movies.

Earth vs the Flying Saucers 1956 alien costumesThe movie does have Harryhausen’s stop-motion flying saucers, which are fun to watch with their discs spinning around and crashing into DC monuments at the end. As soon as you see them appear onscreen you’ll recognize the influence they had on Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks.

The alien costumes are also quite bizarre. They look like giant chess pieces or something. They don’t look very sophisticated. The actual aliens which we get a brief glimpse of look pretty creepy, but the suits are a bit hokey.

When Dr. Russell gets ahold of one of the helmets and puts it on he begins describing how his senses are heightened by wearing it and all I could think was, ‘this guy can’t see a single thing out of this rubber helmet.’  There’s a bit of phallic shape to them too that just makes them look even sillier to me.

This is certainly not the best alien invasion movie that’s been done. Other than the old retro-style classic flying saucers with Harryhausen’s unique touch there’s not much else to hold your attention.

Joe Dante talking with Ray Harryhausen about his work on Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

Pretty fascinating stuff and certainly makes you appreciate all the work and time that went into the creation of the special effects


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *