From the Stars, a… – Terror in the Midnight Sun (1959)

Sometimes a film can go by many names and Terror in the Midnight Sun just happens to be one of those. It was originally called Rymdinvasion i Lappland or Space Invasion of Lapland, it being a co-production between the United States and Sweden and then it changed again when master filmmaker Jerry Warren got a hold of it, renaming it Invasion of the Animal People and each cut after the original, all having a different running time as well. When a film gets cut up and reassembled, it rarely represents what the original makers had in mind, and in most instances, it is that first version that always remains the best. In this instance, without even seeing the Jerry Warren version, one can be assured that the original was most likely best, though sometimes Warren can introduce elements hokey enough to make things absurdly funny and thereby, enjoyable.

The story consists of a woman named Diane who also happens to be an Olympic figure skating champion who heads on over to Sweden to meet up with her uncle. She soon meets a man named Erik, a doctor and an associate of her uncle and the two begin to fall in love. Eventually the uncle, Dr. Vance Wilson and Dr. Erik are investigating a herd of mutilated reindeer near the site of a meteor crash. Said meteor turns out to be an alien ship and it is soon discovered that there was indeed an alien aboard said craft, which is now terrorizing the local inhabitants. The giant monster is not the only alien who came aboard the ship though, and Diane gets herself into a bit of trouble with the pilots of the craft. The big guy soon comes upon the damsel in distress, gives her a helping hand and is then chased down by the locals much like Frankenstein’s Monster and comes to his end, through flame and fright.

While the story is a very clichéd one, it works due to its familiarity and most especially, due to its setting. Taking place in Sweden, the film is packed full of snowy vistas and it ends up compounding the horror in the film. The barrenness of the land, white and unforgiving not only represents danger itself, but mystery as well. It makes the audience wonder just how it is that such a large creature can hide itself among those wintry snows, how it can cause such destruction and then simply disappear, even when it leaves such uniquely large footprints. Adding to the story and setting is a very impressive costume for the beast, one that makes it seem quite fearsome and perfectly suited to the area it now finds itself in. The other aliens, assumedly its master, were not designed well at all – looking too humanoid to be threatening in any manner and completely unneeded.

Barbara Wilson is the star of the show, playing the lead and the object of Sten Gester’s affections, not to mention that of the monster’s. Wilson does everything right, playing the good girl, a little of the bad girl and the woman in need of saving. Gester does a good job, as does Robert Burton who plays the uncle and collectively they do fine work with the material given. Best of all though, was the monster that went around smashing things as if they were nothing and seeing the cast interact with it, what little they were able to.

Like The Snow Creature and The Abominable Snowman before it, Terror in the Midnight Sun delivers a different kind of creature-feature, blending science-fiction and horror to create a monster-movie well-worth watching.

3 out of 5

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