1950's Sci-Fi Movie Question

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Bob Lovely, Mar 10, 2003.

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  1. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Friends,

    Perhaps someone may know the answer to this question. So many of those campy Sci-Fi movies made during the 1950's had a common opening scene, of course shot at night, where the Alien(s) or Mutated creatures either made their first appearance on Earth in one of two locations:

    1) a dilapidated town in the Mojave desert, or

    2) a teenage lover's lane

    Does anyone know why this is?

    Thanks!

    Bob
     
  2. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    Bob,

    This is good! A sci-fi frame of mind is essential to an appreciation of the World-At-Large.

    My theories:

    1. Land in a desolate place and it looks more dramatic; plenty of open space to make the aliens seem even more ominous--and undetected by the innocent, unsuspecting populace soon to be the recipient of their mayhem. That, and the fact a film would be short if the spaceship lands in Times Square and the military goes into high alert too soon.

    2. Teenagers are the prime audience for such movies, hence, put them in danger, or as witnesses, and the audience goes along for the ride with them. Good way to sell those films back then; still works!

    ED:cool:
     
  3. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION, CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP Back lots (studio that is)

    A lot of current low budget movie and mor so TV Si-Fi is shot in Wharehouse Studios with very low lighting so expensive sets won't be necessary.
     
  4. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Ed,

    Upon reflection, I think that your explanations make perfect sense. I had noticed this commonality and I had to ask here since, my knowledge of film history, is more limited.

    Thanks!

    Bob:)
     
  5. Jimbo

    Jimbo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Zero/Zero Island
    I would add that much of the US atomic bomb testing took place in the southwest. All that lingering radiation was the perfect breeding ground for generating giants ants, Gila monsters, grasshoppers--even colossal men and 50-ft. women!!:rolleyes: :agree:
     
  6. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Re: Re: 1950's Sci-Fi Movie Question

    Khorn,

    Has to more than "just" that. There are plenty of "cheap" locations beyond the Mojave desert and Teen lover's lanes....

    Bob
     
  7. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Jimbo,

    Hey Yeah! Big testing in the New Mexico and Nevada deserts...mutants attacking desolate truck stops, etc....always at night, of course!

    Add the weird music and presto!

    Bob:)
     
  8. Gardo

    Gardo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    One more thought: there's a real and strange love-and-death thing going on with threats in lovers' lanes. The teen witnesses could be in a gym or in class, but it wouldn't be the same.
     
  9. Re: Re: Re: 1950's Sci-Fi Movie Question

    Sorry I was thinking from the production "bottom line" rather than artistic interpretation viewpoint.
     
  10. aashton

    aashton Here for the waters...

    Location:
    Gortshire, England
    Well - when the Zorganian Intergalactic Auditors undertook a survey of planet Earth to determine the ideal spots for starting a planetary conquest they came up with a dead heat between Mojave desert and lovers lane :)

    As these are demonstrable mathematically to be the ideal spots coupled with the fact that all extra terrestrials use the same survey data we have repeated incursions starting from the same places.

    Now where did I leave my medication :)

    All the best - Andrew
     
  11. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Gardo,

    You got me thinking. If the "creatures" show themselves to only Teenagers first, it would have naturally created a scenario whereby the Adults, once informed of the Aliens or Mutants, would be less likely to believe in their existence. This would cause the Adults to delay in their response to the "invasion" thereby affording the Aliens and Mutants more time wreak havoc....frighten locals, consume or kill more unsuspecting victims....

    Thinking out loud here...

    Bob:)
     
  12. Ed Bishop

    Ed Bishop Incredibly, I'm still here

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 1950's Sci-Fi Movie Question

    Yet there's real validity to what you said. THE BLOB is a great example: obviously filmed inside a cramped set, the opening McQueen scenes where he and his girl see a flashing light across the sky could not have been done as surrealistically out of doors, with a bigger budget. The fact it looks so false and cheesy adds to the unrealistic atmosphere essential to all sci-fi cinema, as the purpose is to take us to another place even when that place is our own.

    ED:cool:
     
  13. Time to stick out you're thumb and Hitch Hike around the Galaxy Andrew :D
     
  14. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden MichiGort Staff

    Location:
    Livonia, MI
    My initial thoughts were:

    teens + sex = Box Office

    and

    Remote locations are scarier as there are fewer places to run for cover, and a desert provides less cover than just about anything except for an arctic tundra. Desert is probably easier to come by and work in than other remote climes, and the teens don't have to wear parkas like they would in the arctic (see 1st comment). :)

    Regards,
     
  15. Gardo

    Gardo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    And if the teen said "I saw an alien last night" and the parent said "where?" and the teen incautiously said "down on lovers' lane," the parent would be mightily distracted and could forget all about the alien issue--at least, in the 1950's.:)
     
  16. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff Thread Starter

    Ken,

    I agree with your observations. Yes, of course, the Alien or Mutant would seem to be most interested in terrorizing the rather well-endowed Teen girl in the lower cut sweater.

    The film "The Thing" was, of course, an exception to all this...

    Bob
     
  17. Thing that gets me is back then there was a lot of "stock footage" used and you would see exactly the identical scene in many movies (westerns & jungle films) in particular. Didn't bother most of us though, too busy stuffin our faces with popcorn.....
     
  18. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden MichiGort Staff

    Location:
    Livonia, MI
    African footage shot for the 1950 version of "King Solomon's Mines" was apparently pretty popular for other, lower budget jungle films. When you see a classic film that does not rely heavily on stock footage (such as "Hatari!" from 1962), it really sticks out and impresses.

    Regards,
     
  19. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    Location, Location, Location...Lovers Lane was a popular hangout,very relatable...especially in the 50's...The Desert has it's mysteries...Convienence.
     
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