The Space Children

Overview

Dave Brewster (Adam Williams) arrives to take his new job as an electronics technician at a top-secret Air Force base in California. With him are his wife Anne (Peggy Webber) and their two children, Bud (Mikel Ray) and Ken (Johnny Crawford), who are all apprehensive about this sudden transplant, as well as the spartan existence that all of the families live under. No sooner do they arrive, however, then Bud and Ken see a strange light in the sky pointing to the beach, and soon after that seem to be receiving ...
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Overview

Dave Brewster (Adam Williams) arrives to take his new job as an electronics technician at a top-secret Air Force base in California. With him are his wife Anne (Peggy Webber) and their two children, Bud (Mikel Ray) and Ken (Johnny Crawford), who are all apprehensive about this sudden transplant, as well as the spartan existence that all of the families live under. No sooner do they arrive, however, then Bud and Ken see a strange light in the sky pointing to the beach, and soon after that seem to be receiving increasingly powerful -- and detailed -- telepathic communications from an unseen source. The boys are drawn, along with the children from the other families, to a lonely cave near the beach, where an alien presence, in the form of a huge (and ever-growing) brain, has hidden itself. At first, it uses the children to try and persuade the more reasonable of the parents that their project -- a missile called The Thunderer, which will place a hydrogen bomb in orbit, capable of being used on any target in the event the United States is threatened -- is too dangerous to complete. But the parents aren't prepared to listen, either because they don't understand the danger, or because they genuinely believe in the conduct of the Cold War, as in the case of Hank Johnson (Jackie Coogan); or because they're too angry and belligerent, like Joe Gamble (Russell Johnson), who is at a dead-end in his job and has taken to alcoholism and abusing his wife (Jean Engstrom) and stepson (Johnny Washbrook). As the launch approaches and the children's entreaties are ignored, the alien takes more direct action with their help, and they soon find a potential ally in in Dr. Wahrman (Raymond Bailey), the inventor of The Thunderer, who is also the only man on the project smart enough to realize that he may not have all the answers. But the military head of the project (Richard Shannon) is stil prepared to launch The Thunderer, regardless of its inventor's doubts.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
The Space Children is, in many ways, a semi-follow up (but not a sequel, by any means) to Jack Arnold's It Came From Outer Space (1953). On that basis alone, it would bear a serious look from science fiction fans as well as devotees of Arnold's work. The fact that it's also a politically very daring brand of science fiction -- and doubly so, to have been made and released when it was -- only adds to its allure. And those aspects of its production, along with some very offbeat casting (offering certain actors some of the best scenes of their big-screen careers), allow it to overcome its obviously low budget. The movie is a threadbare production, to be sure, with much of it taking place in a trailer-park setting and some cavern sets that all must've cost all of $1.98 to decorate and build. But Arnold was an expert at making something -- and sometimes something very substantial -- out of very little (if not nothing), and he shows off that expertise here about as finely as in any movie he ever made. For starters, in terms of sheer oddness, we get Adam Williams, an actor who spent most of his career exclusively playing bad guys, as a harried if loving family man; and Peggy Webber, one of those acting secret weapons that Jack Webb always had up his sleeve on Dragnet, in one of her very few starring roles, superb as a mother who doesn't know what to do to save her children, her marriage, or -- ultimately -- her planet. And scattered among the rest of the players are Jackie Coogan as a gung-ho cold warrior; Russell Johnson (working against type) as an angry, drunken, abusive husband and stepfather; and Raymond Bailey, in his biggest movie role, as a scientist who discovers that he has to re-think his entire way of looking at the universe. All of these actors obviously saw their opportunity to do something different and ran with it; and one scene, involving the aftermath of Johnson's attempt to beat his son, is startling in its low-key horror which, at once, recalls moments of It Came From Outer Space and also the Arnold-spawned (but not directed) The Monolith Monsters. Arnold weaves their work together with some guileless performances by a brace of child actors (including a young Johnny Crawford, from The Rifleman), into a distinctly against-the-grain pacifist science fiction tale. The Space Children was made during the year following the Soviet launch of Sputnik, which caused an ensuing political panic in the United States and set the stage for what could have been a run-up to a war footing in real-life. The reality around Arnold, as he prepared and shot this film, was that some otherwise thoughtful Democrats, including Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, were stoking the political fires under the Eisenhower administration, trying to gain political advantage by pushing for sending weapons into space -- the movie's fictionalized orbital nuclear weapon The Thunderer is the cinematic fantasy answer to what they wanted. And Arnold had the temerity to make a movie that stated an emphatic "no!" to all of those sentiments. Just as It Came From Outer Space ended on a hopeful note, as the aliens were allowed to leave in peace -- though just barely -- so The Space Children, in a more uncertain way, presents a story that called for caution in our way of thinking. In many ways, the movie also anticipates Wolf Rilla's Village of the Damned (1960), with its images of children acting in concert with forces extraterrestrial, but offers a more benign vision than the one derived from John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos. If there is any serious flaw in the movie, it's the obvious haste with which the movie was made, and the low budget that Arnold had to work with -- but one strongly suspects that the only way that Paramount would agree to do the movie was if Arnold went in agreeing to those terms -- luckily, his story was bold enough and his cast good and sincere enough to pull it off, well enough so that the cheesiest effects, most under-decorated (and populated) sets, and most cavalier camera set-ups slide by, not affecting one's appreciation of the results.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/19/2012
  • UPC: 887090039703
  • Original Release: 1958
  • Rating:

  • Source: Olive Films
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Remastered / Wide Screen / B&W
  • Time: 1:09:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 14,184

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Adam Williams Dave Brewster
Peggy Webber Anne Brewster
Michael Ray Bud Brewster
John Crawford Ken Brewster
Jackie Coogan Hank Johnson
Sandy Descher Eadie Johnson
Richard Shannon Lt. Col. Manley
John Washbrook Tim Gamble
Russell Johnson Joe Gamble
Raymond Bailey Dr. Wahrman
Ty Hardin
Technical Credits
Jack Arnold Director
William Alland Producer
Roland Anderson Art Director
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
Tom Filer Original Story
John P. Fulton Special Effects
Ernest Laszlo Cinematographer
Frank R. McKelvey Set Decoration/Design
Terrell O. Morse Editor
Hal Pereira Art Director
Bernard Schoenfeld Screenwriter
Van Cleave Score Composer
Nathan VanCleave Score Composer
Wally Westmore Makeup
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Space Children
1. Opening [:12]
2. The Children [9:41]
3. The Alien Pod [10:00]
4. The Morning After [13:14]
5. Under Control [5:11]
6. More Instructions [10:08]
7. Connecting the Dots [5:40]
8. Rocket Launch [3:50]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- The Space Children
   Play
   Chapters
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I give it 5 stars just because of the cute little girl from THEM

    I give it 5 stars just because of the cute little girl from THEM in it.
    Sandy Descher, I think. Whatever happened to?? As to anything else in
    it, I'm going by a faded memory of its original release. Consider the
    time and competetion. There are a lot of movies that I thought were
    Great, when I was 8 years old! Now they look sometimes far worse than
    something by Ed Wood (whose movies were at least never boring). If you
    want to laugh, just watch The Giant Claw, also available now on DVD.
    Why is this one worth Blu-ray? God only knows.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews