Tonight on MeTV- we kick off our December schedule with the excitement and artistry of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion magic- when a spaceship returns from Venus with injured astronauts and a strange menace that gets bigger and more destructive after making the voyage of - “20 Million Miles to Earth”!
The story begins off the coast of the Italian island of Sicily, where the daily trawling for fish becomes anything but normal for the local fishermen when a sleek silver spacecraft splashes down in the water near them! The craft appears to be sinking, so the fishermen head out and board it in hopes of rescuing anyone inside it. They find two spacemen, and manage to get them out of the ship before it sinks below the surface.
Of the two astronauts, only one survives- Col. Robert Calder . The other man rescued from the ship was afflicted with a mysterious –and fatal- disease that had already claimed the rest of the ship’s crew. Calder is distraught over the loss of all his crew- and sadly begins to rehab from the accident, under the care of medical student Marisa, whose grand-father is an eminent zoologist, Dr. Leonardo, who is doing research nearby.
Authorities from Washington DC, upon news of the return of their spacecraft, plan to head to Italy to learn more about learn of the ship’s crew and fate. Meanwhile, Pepe, a boy who helps out the fishermen, discovers a metal cylinder that must have washed ashore from the sunken ship. Inside is a blob of some gelatinous substance he cannot identify- but the boy, knowing that zoologist Dr. Leonardo might find it intriguing enough to purchase from him, brings the odd specimen to the doctor. Pepe has called this one right, because the doc is amazed and confounded by whatever this thing is- and contributes to Pepe’s fund to buy American cowboy gear!
When granddaughter Marisa arrives at her grandfather’s trailer – she and the doctor are astounded to find that something has actually hatched from the odd mass of jelly- a small, reptilian-looking creature! Dr. Leonardo, unable to identify it, cages the specimen with the intention of taking it to Rome for further study. At the same time, the US military party has finally arrived in Italy, and, after a reunion with the recovered Calder, they head to brief the Italian authorities. They reveal to the skeptical senors that the spaceship actually had returned from Venus- and had on board some vital scientific cargo- a metal capsule with an unborn specimen of a Venusian creature! Divers are sent to locate the capsule, with no success- so Calder approaches the fishermen, offering a reward for the capsule. The fishermen have no information, but eavesdropping entrepreneur Pepe, now the proud owner of some cowboy gear from his previous score, springs into action upon hearing the word “reward”! He leads the group to the empty container, and reveals that the contents have been sold to Dr. Leonardo.
Calder and the authorities set out to find the doctor and retrieve the specimen, unaware that the creature has indeed hatched .Before long, they discover not only that, but that the creature has continued to grow and get stronger- and is now human-sized! It has escaped the doctor’s cage, and is now terrorizing the countryside! The fearful Italians want the rampaging creature destroyed, but Calder convinces them that they should attempt to capture it for scientific study. They manage to do so, as the creature continues to grow- but the Venusian monster escapes, and goes on a rampage of destruction through Rome- with the famed landmark of the Coliseum becoming the site of a raging battle between mankind and this giant alien gladiator!
This 1957 Harryhausen classic was the last of his films shot in black and white- though he had hoped to do it in color, but was thwarted by a tight budget. The monster - known as the Ymir ( but never referred to by that name in the film) is favorite among Harryhausen’s characters- with its movements and expressions showing the incredible techniques of the man. We’ll have lots of cast and background info, as well as a rough demonstration of how stop-motion animation is done- plus- a very special visit with the voice of Spongebob Squarepants ( and many other animated characters) –the great Tom Kenny!
“20 Million Miles to Earth” starts tonight on MeTV at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central- and, you can check for time and/or channel in your area in your local listings, or at www.metv.com . Our Chicago viewers can get one more look at William Castle’s frightening “Mr. Sardonicus” at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
If you’re in the area, Sventa Claus makes his first appearance of the holiday season this afternoon at the Christmas Mystic Market at the Elmhurst Animal Care Center in Elmhurst, IL. The appearance is a fundraiser and animal adoption event, with a portion of the proceeds from our sale of t shirts and posters going towards the cause. You can make some new animal friends, do some holiday shopping for the Sven fans on your list, and take a photo and get an autograph with Sventa! More info is on our site under “appearances”- and, next Friday night, it’s Sventa’s annual appearance at the Comic Collector on Harlem Ave. in Riverside, IL- right across the street from BERWYN ( really! It is!) Sven posters will be available there.
But-tonight- join us for a stop-motion feature that brings to life an extraterrestrial creature!