Friday, January 5, 2018

Night Caller from Outer Space

Night Caller from Outer Space (aka The Night Caller aka Blood Beast from Outer Space)
John Gilling

Three scientists observe an object falling from space. They track it down, expecting a giant meteorite, but instead only find a small white sphere. Soon after they bring it back for study, the sphere and something much larger than was contained within disappear. Women begin vanishing in London after setting up an interview from a number listed in the newspaper. Could these two things be related? Of course, they are, I just want to know how an alien figured out how to place a want ad in the local paper.

This in no way seems suspicious.
Night Caller from Outer Space falls back on the well-worn trope of aliens showing up on Earth to steal human women. It is a plot device the lends itself to various levels of sleaze, but this film handles it about as tastefully as possible. There is still an adult element at play, especially in a scene set in a pornographic bookshop that not only has plenty of nudies on the well, but also a proprietor who is coded as homosexual, a daring element for an SF film in 1965. The fact that the alien menace is eventually presented as more sympathetic than any of its unwitting victims is strange but not unexpected in light of the underlying misogyny of the premise.

The film is a low budget affair but makes the best of its limited resources by keeping the alien contained in the shadows save for a single clawed hand. It instead concentrates on the human side of the events, as scientists attempt to unravel just what is happening and how it is achieved. Night Caller from Outer Space even manages to create an interesting SF conceit with a sort of dimensional relay from the aliens’ home base. Still, it feels like a race of beings capable of such a feat would come up with a better plan to regrow their population.

The black and white photography helps considerably with setting a moody tone and overcoming some of the visual shortfalls of a low budget production. There are some excellent scenes set in the shadowy streets of London, and the alien invader’s office feels spacious and antiseptic in such a way to create the feeling that something is off-kilter. Those hoping for a big reveal of the true face of the alien are in for a disappointment, but if you are a fan of films from this era, you should know not to rely on the special effects.

Wicker Man 2000
Night Caller from Outer Space is an evenly paced, unassuming SF film. It is fairly reserved in the face of such a lurid premise, which might make it dull for some, but there is some subtle treasure to be found here. I can’t imagine this being at the top of anyone’s list of SF films from the 1960s, but it is entertaining and even mildly surprising at times.  Give it a ring.

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