"A pity they ever made the journey!" wrote Arthur Thirkell of The Daily Mirror of this 1967 sci-fi flick from Amicus. As one of its cast, that fine character actor Michael Gough, passed away last week, I thought it time to take another look. Based on the pulp novel 'The Gods Hate Kansas' by Joe Millard, Milton Subotsky's script follows its plot closely, except it has been relocated to England. The picture opens with psychedelic, Bond-like credits and a curious theme tune by James Stevens that suggests we are about to see an 'X'-rated documentary about wife-swapping in Swansea, narrated by Stan Stennett.
A swarm of meteorites crashes near a farm, and the authorities are curious as to why they landed in formation, so dispatch a team of scientists, headed by Lee Mason ( Jennifer Jayne ) to investigate. One tries to break off a chunk with a hammer and chisel, and a piercing scream rents the air as the rocks from space suddenly glow. The boffins are, to quote a sci-fi cliché, 'taken over' by creatures from another planet. They immediately head for Lloyds Bank to secure a million pound loan and, when the Captain Mainwaring-type manager is not particularly helpful, take him over too.
Mason's American fiancée, Dr.Curtis Temple ( Robert Hutton ) tries to contact Lee but finds she has shut herself away on private land guarded at all times by security men. She is acting strangely too ( that's Jennifer Jayne for you ). Temple, who drives a green Bentley like John Steed's and has a metal plate in his head from a past car accident, is the only man immune to the 'take over' process. As if Temple did not have enough to worry about, a deadly plague which covers people in red spots of blood breaks out in the village. Kenneth Kendall, then a B.B.C. newsreader, is soon on the scene, and mysteriously fails to succumb even though he is not wearing protective clothing of any kind ( presumably he has a plate in his head too ). Curtis learns from Arden ( Bernard Kay ) that plague victims are being shipped to the Moon using rockets. Is he telling the truth?
'Beyond' does not have a single original bone in its body. The basic plot is 'Quatermass 2' revisited, with 'First Men In The Moon' thrown in for good luck. Some of the model work - particularly the rocket that lifts off from a silo under the farm - is okay, but Hutton's wooden acting ( at times he seems like Leslie Nielsen's 'Lt.Frank Drebin' under another name ) and Jayne's pouting lips undermine it. Just when you think the story can not get any more foolish, it does. In one scene, Hutton pulls up at a petrol station to ask for directions to the farm and the sexy pump attendant ( Luanshya Greer ) eyes him up as though she cannot wait to get her knickers off for him. He looks old enough to be her father!
The 'take over' results in people rubbing the backs of their necks and pulling faces like Phil Cool on steroids. Curtis enlists the aid of 'Farge' ( Zia Mohyeddin ) and devises a novel defence against the aliens' power - a colander made of old silver horse trophies worn at all times on the head. Best of all the flight to the Moon brings us 'Monj' ( Gough ), the master of the aliens, who is wearing garish, long robes, looks to be in dire need of a blood transfusion, and delivers the florid lines as though they were Shakespeare.
If you love bad movies, look no further. Directed by the usually reliable Freddie Francis ( possibly when he wasn't feeling well ). The ending is a cop out that probably would have been rejected by D.C.
Review by ShadeGrenade from the Internet Movie Database.