Monday, December 10, 2007


Zombies get the outer space treatment again in THE DAY IT CAME TO EARTH, Harry Thomason's 1977 picture that's so stupefyingly bad I'm amazed Joel and the Bots never got their mitts on it. Despite being thoroughly wretched, cinematic masochists will find much to celebrate here.

This Arkansas-based sci-fi/horror hybrid gets underway with a brief, film noir-wannabe prologue where a mob informant is shot, shackled, and sank into a nearby lake, only to be re-animated as a skull-faced zombie when a flaming meteor (the IT of the title, and a marvel of no-budget special FX) crashes into the very same lake. Whereas most movies may be content to set an entire plot around the mob guys getting their comeuppance at the zombie's hands, Thomason decides to let his monster get his vengeance early, so he can focus his attention on scaring a handful of picnicking college co-eds (including the future Mrs. Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson).

Sort of a cross between SCOOBY-DOO and AMERICAN GRAFFITI by way of Al Adamson, the movie plays like a winking homage to the science fiction films of the 1950's. However, Thomason is such an incompetent filmmaker that his movie ends up being more ludicrous than the movies he's spoofing (or perhaps I'm giving him too much credit and he's simply way out of touch with '70's youth). Fans of Z-grade cinema will enjoy the film's erratic plot, which includes the most dunderheaded police investigation I've seen in ages, a subplot involving the meteor that revived the zombie (which it apparently controls it, though nothing is ever explained), and a laff-filled sorority-initiation prank. Acting here comes in two varities, Over and Non, with a special award going to star Wink Roberts as teen hero Eddie, in a performance so over-the-top and whiny you'd want to bitch-slap him (could you refrain from laughing long enough to do so). Even Wilson succumbs to the artifical-acting bug, though she does get to sneak in a few glimpses of talent (wonder if she and hubby ever had a double-bill with this and Hanks's HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE).

A treasure trove of bad-movie gold, THE DAY IT CAME TO EARTH should be required viewing for the Ed Wood set (really, as terrible as it is, I'm surprised it isn't mentioned with the likes of PLAN 9 or THE CRAWLING HAND), but I must warn you, the film's godawful theme song will haunt your brain for days.

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