It Conquered the World

1956 | B&W | 71min

Starring: Peter Graves, Lee Van Cleef, Beverly Garland, Sally Fraser, Russ Bender, Jonathan Haze, and Dick Miller

Directed by: Roger Corman


SPOILERS: No, it didn’t.

After years of warning anyone who would listen that aliens were monitoring and interfering with mankind’s activities in space, disgraced rocket scientist, Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef) makes contact with one of the last surviving members of a dying alien race. Fed up with with what he perceives as his fellow humans’ pettiness, irrationality, and fear, he conspires with the aliens to overthrow humanity and create a utopia on Earth by ridding humans of our free will and emotions. It’s up to Anderson’s wife (Beverly Garland) and his former colleague, Dr. Paul Nelson (Peter Graves) to stop the alien invasion and convince Anderson that despite–or perhaps, because of–our flaws, humanity is worth saving.

“Yes, your hi-fi system is really neat, Lee, but can we get back to that whole ‘cleanse the Earth of the unclean’ thing you were talking about earlier?”

Directed by none other than Mr. B-movie himself, Roger Corman, It Conquered the World features a stellar cast of b-movie stalwarts. In addition to Corman’s stable of regulars, you have Lee Van Cleef (who, thanks to Primus, I can’t even think about without hearing a funky bass line…), the wonderfully wooden Peter Graves, and the always lovely and reliable Beverly Garland, all of whom give performances which are way better than this film deserved. Any of the actors would have easily been forgiven for phoning this one in, but, unlike many b-films today where everyone involved is so concerned about winking at the camera to let us know they’re in on the joke too, the cast here plays it straight the whole way through. Obviously no one thought they were making high art, but the main cast still took their individual performances seriously, especially Beverly Garland, who near the film’s climax reads the alien invader the riot act with such force and conviction you would swear she was convinced she was reciting lines from Shakespeare instead of the ham-fisted prose of screenwriter Lou Rusoff.

Beverly Garland looks on as tensions rise between Graves and Van Cleef over which is the superior hair jelly, Fop or Dapper Dan.

Of course the real star of It Conquered the World is the laughable alien invader; a squat, conical, lobster-armed, Venusian space pickle with prominent eye ridges, and a big, toothy underbite. Designed, constructed, and played by b-movie prop guru Paul Blaisdell, the “mighty” conquering alien was so unimposing that upon seeing it for the first time, Beverly Garland famously scoffed, “THIS conquered the world?” and proceeded to kick the creature right the hell over.

“Your pitiful Earth weapons are no match for my ‘Claussen-fresh crunch!’

What Mr. Blaisdell’s design may have lacked in intimidation factor, it more than made up for in originality and memorability. Once you have laid eyes on Blaisdell’s iconic alien invader waddling into frame it will forever be seared into your memory. You may not be able to recall exactly in which film you saw it, but you will definitely remember the crusty, barnacle-covered visage of the evil, Venusian space pickle.

Apparently bacon grease is not an effective facial scrub…

It Conquered the World is the perfect example of the classic, 1950s drive-in quickie. Everything you’d expect from the genre is on display here in top form. The silly rubber monster, the cheapo special effects, the pretty girl in distress, the thinly-veiled Communism allegory, the infamous, long-winded speech by Peter Graves about man being a “feeling creature,” and the run time that is just long enough to feel satisfying but short enough that it never has a chance to drag. I absolutely love this film. It is one of my favorite b-flicks and is definitely required viewing for fans of classic schlock.

“Once again the day is saved. Thanks to me and my trusty Marlboro 100s.”


Reviewed by Derek “Venusian Space Pickle” Miller
Posted August 12, 2017


Video Clip – Peter’s Epic Speech

Additional Screenshots (Click an image to view full-size)


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