Sunday, September 25, 2011

Terror in the Midnight Sun (1959)

The original Swedish title, Rymdinvasion i Lappland, is actually the title I prefer, but for your sake I will us the British title Terror in the Midnight Sun and not the very silly and un-stylish “Invasion of the Animal People”, which was a different cut anyway. I first saw Terror at a bad movie festival in Östersund and it was an enormous success. But I think it’s important to realize that even if some parts are bad, it doesn’t mean that the whole movie is bad. It’s just so easy to laugh at everything on the screen when you just watched someone trying to imitate the Sami language. In comparison with other similar movies from the same time it’s not that bad, it’s just the script that’s very weak and a few absurd details here and there.

A UFO has landed (or maybe crashed) in the northern regions of Sweden, Lapland, and a team of fifties stereotypical scientists are sent there to investigate. The handsome scientist Erik Engström (Sten Gester) falls in love with the daughter to one of his colleagues, and she’s of course a famous Olympic figure skater played by Barbara Wilson who likes to shower. Up in Lapland they find out that it’s only a strange UFO creating tension, there’s also a huge hairy Chewbacca-type monster roaming the mountains attacking the Sami’s and eating their reindeers! What a life!

Terror has a lot of stupid stuff going on, but it’s also short and keeps a good pace from start to finish. Even of the Stockholm-scenes are a bit talky and stiff, the fun starts fast when they arrives to Lapland. A quite unexpected shower-scene and a performance by legendary Swedish singer Brita Borg (not at the same time of course) and the fantastic locations make it a unique old school sci-fi. Not much seem to have been shot in sets either, so it has plenty of fantastic sceneries. I mean, I hate skiing – but this movie makes me wanna ski! The snowy landscape and place of the UFO also reminded me of The Thing, both Howard Hawk’s and John Carpenter’s, but a lot cheesier.

The aliens themselves are just pale, big-headed guys wearing anoraks but their pet, the Chewbacca-monster is quite impressive. Without a doubt one of the best looking creatures from the golden era of monster movies. The sequence when the monster attacks the village is really well done with more than excellent miniatures being trashed by the beast. I think one of the reasons it looks so good is that it was shot on location with natural lightning, because details like that helps a lot creating more believable effects.

What makes this movie weaker than it should have been is the sudden ending, explaining absolutely nothing! I don’t demand explanations, but here it’s just no reason for the aliens to come to earth. They hang around for a while, their pet escapes and then they go away again. No actually communication occurs between the humans and spaceman and in the end everything leads to nothing and another movie is over.

Terror in the Midnight Sun is not bad, it’s very uneven. It’s worth watching for the cool monster and lovely locations, so if you’re into fifties sci-fi I think you could appreciate this classic co-production between Sweden and United States.


dfordoom said...

Sounds like fun!

Dead Moon Night said...

Bought this one yesterday after wanting to see it eversince Super 8 released it on VHS. 50 sek sounded like a great deal!

smallerdemon said... This looks amazing. It's like someone sat down and said "What are the things that represent Sweden to the rest of the world? Reindeers? Check. Parkas? Check. Children on sleds? Check."

I'll have to see if my video store has this.