20 March 2010 | dougdoepke
I Guess We Won't Marinate this Mushroom
Space fungus menaces planet earth. Okay, everything else was menacing the besieged 1950's planet, so why not a creepy fungus. Well, it's actually a bloody slime from outer space that spreads like a dirty carpet, and unless trackers can catch up with the shapely blonde Typhoid Mary (Thomas) carrying it, we're all one big toadstool. I'm trying hard, but I just don't recall this epic from 1958, and I rarely missed one of these drive-in specials. According to IMDb, TCF didn't syndicate the film, which is why, I guess, it's gone unseen for 50 years.
Actually, the movie's pretty well produced for its kind. The location shots lend at least some credibility to the wacky plot. And catch those early versions of protective Hazmat suits in the train yard scene. Williams and Ellis do well as the bloodhounds, but why Ellis remains a lowly Pfc with his officer-level credentials seems odd. Also, I really like the unheralded Lyn Thomas as the nervous blonde.
Note that brilliant screenwriter Dan Mainwaring, e.g. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Out of the Past (1947), collaborated on the screenplay. I'm guessing that promising trapped-in-the-airliner concept came from him. Too bad the full potential of those scenes is not realized by director Bernds. At the same time, the movie ends all-too-abruptly, as though the production suddenly ran out of money. I get the feeling that with better backing and a more perceptive director, this drive-in programmer could have turned into an uptown smash on the order of Alien (1980).