Killers From Space (1954) review

Killers From Space posterDirector: W. Lee Wilder

Starring: Peter Graves, James Seay, Steve Pendleton, Frank Gerstle

DOUG – Where do you come from?
DENEB TALA – From a planet yet unknown to you.
DOUG – You know my name. You speak English.
DENEB TALA – We speak every language.

If the title has you curious as to what this one’s about let me end your suspense – it’s about killers from space. And it’s shite.

A young Peter Graves (decades before his role as the white-haired Captain Oveur in Airplane!) plays Doctor Doug Martin, a scientist working for the US military.

After a spot of nuclear testing out in the desert, Doug is sent out in a plane to record data from the environment for research and testing purposes.

The latest Miley Cyrus video didn't impress Steve too much
The latest Miley Cyrus video didn’t impress Steve too much

Sadly, Doug is about as skilled at flying as I am at giving birth and as such his plane plummets to the ground. Mysteriously though, his body is nowhere to be found.

Days later, to the astonishment of his colleagues, a dazed Doug stumbles back to the base. Seemingly fighting fit, the only cause of concern is a mysterious scar on Doug’s chest.

Curious as to why Doug has no memories of the crash or its aftermath, the military decides to keep Doug grounded for a while so they can observe him.

It's pretty intense observation, to be fair
It’s pretty intense observation, to be fair

Pissed off that more nuclear tests are going on without him, an angry Doug breaks into the base’s safe, steals some top secret info and heads back into the desert with it, where he’s promptly caught and apprehended.

What’s going on? Killers from bastarding space, that’s what going on. Specifically, alien ones.

You see, it turns out that when Doug’s plane crashed his body was recovered by a group of aliens at a base of operations inside hidden caverns underneath the desert.

These are the aliens. Yes, seriously. Stop laughing, this is fucking serious
These are the aliens. Yes, seriously. Stop laughing, this is fucking serious

The aliens operated on Doug to save his life (hence the scar) but only because they needed something from him.

They plan to take over the world with giant mutant animals (of course), and they’ve been storing all the atomic energy created in the tests above ground in order to do so.

They also hypnotised Doug to make him their mole at the military base, hence the stealing of documents. But now Doug is free, no longer hypnotised, and having a bastard of a time trying to convince his colleagues that there are aliens with a load of atomic power living underground.

I do love a cheesy sci-fi flick but Killers From Space is just bad in every way. Scenes abruptly end mid-sentence, the performances are ropey (Graves aside) and the ending – in which Doug kills the off-screen aliens by cutting the nation’s power for ten seconds in an attempt to stop them containing the atomic power they’re storing – is one of the most underwhelming I’ve ever seen.

"Do you ever get the feeling someone's watching you?"
“Do you ever get the feeling someone’s watching you?”

The aliens themselves are also perhaps the worst example ever committed to celluloid. In fairness, this was before the days of the popular ‘grey’ design we all associate with aliens these days, so the filmmakers had nothing to go on.

That said, what they decide to go with is ridiculous: the aliens are simply normal people with large fake eyes which are clearly just ping-pong balls with dots painted on them as pupils.

Another cop-out is the scene in which Doug tries to escape the aliens’ caverns and comes face-to-face with their giant mutant animals. Well, I say face-to-face.

What really ensues is four mind-numbing minutes of Peter Graves wandering back and forth in half-arsed fear as blown-up footage of normal animals is played behind him. Four minutes has never felt so long.

"Oh Jesus Christ! It's the biggest video wall I've ever seen! I'm DOOMED"
“Oh Jesus Christ! It’s the biggest video wall I’ve ever seen! I’m DOOMED”

For all I know I’m being ignorant and Killers From Space was as thrilling as Saw back in the day, but these days it isn’t even funny enough to entertain as a cheesy film.

Three decades later, after starring in Airplane!, Peter Graves would become well-known for putting his arm over a young boy’s shoulder and asking him: “Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”.

I can’t help wondering if the original line had been “Joey, have you ever seen Killers From Space?” but it was decided that would be too offensive.


Killers From Space’s low rating earns it a place in the notorious TWABM Hall Of Shame. Click here to see what other pishfests made the grade (or, indeed, failed to).

Really? Okay. Killers From Space is only available on DVD – here’s the UK one and here’s the US one. Neither are particularly great quality, presumably encoded from a VHS copy.


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