Thursday, July 23, 2015

This Island Earth

Every Thursday I will be posting excerpts from the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia that is related to film or television.  Today's focus is on This Island Earth, a 1950s film that is more sci-fi than horror, but is considered a horror series by me because it introduces the Metaluna Mutant, who is considered by Scary Monsters Magazine as one of the classic Universal Monsters, and is featured in their Monster Kombat series.

This Island Earth has been linked often in crossovers because of the Metaluna Mutant, and because of an alien communication device called the interociter.

SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE # 51 “THE METALUNA MUTANT VS. THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON” (DENNIS DRUKTENIS PUBLISHING)
Release Date: June 2004 (Setting is 1953)
Series: This Island Earth; Creature from the Black Lagoon
The Story: The mutant creature from the planet Metaluna comes to Earth and arrives in the Amazon where he fights the Gill-Man.

Notes:The Metaluna Mutant is from This Island Earth. The Gill-Man is the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Gill Man is brought in along with most Universal horror by Return of the Wolf Man. This story brings in the 50s horror/sci-fi film This Island Earth. ‘nuff said.

THIS ISLAND EARTH (FILM)
Release Date: June 1, 1955 (Contemporary Setting)
Series: This Island Earth
Horror Crosses: Mihmiverse; The Works of Robert Rankin
Non-Horror Crosses: Doctor Who; UHF; Borderlands; Mystery Science Theater 3000; ReBoot; Looney Tunes; A Great Moon Hoax; Arena
The Story: Aliens from Metaluna are abducting scientists to aid in their battle against another
world.

Notes: As with most public alien invasions or giant monster attacks, the government and private concerns are able to cover up the events. It helps that in the Horror Universe, people seem almost intentionally oblivious in the face of anything beyond their normal expectations of their world. This is more of a sci-fi film, but the Metaluna Mutant from this film was considered to be part of the Universal monsters combat series in Scary Monsters Magazine. In fact, it was that series that brought this film in. Though this is a Universal film, I still consider the Gill-Man to be the last of the famous Universal Monsters to be introduced. The Metaluna Mutant isn’t so famous, though this is still a fun film if you’re into 1950s sci-fi films. This film (and the written story it was based on) also introduces the interocitor (sometimes spelled interositer). It is an alien communication device that will appear again in Doctor Who, UHF, Borderlands 2, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, ReBoot, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, A Great Moon Hoax or, A Princess of Mars, Arena, Attack of the Moon Zombies, The Suburban Book of the Dead (Armageddon III: The Remake), and others. Later on, I will explain more about Doctor Who in the Horror Universe. UHF is a comedy that can still fit realistically in the Horror Universe. Borderlands is a game series that takes place on another planet. Mystery Science Theater takes place in the not too distant future of one possible alternate future. ReBoot takes place within a video game reality that is attached to the Horror Universe. See the entry on Looney Tunes: Back in Action for how I explain the Looney Tunes characters in the Horror Universe. Looney Tunes: Back in Action also has the Metaluna Mutant. A Great Moon Hoax is a short humorous sci-fi story by Ben Bova. Arena takes place in space in one possible future timeline. Attack of the Moon Zombies is part of a series of 1950s B style movies that are part of Christopher R. Mihm’s Mihmiverse, and now the Horror Universe as well. Robert Rankin is an author who uses the device in many of his works, including The Suburban Book of the Dead. Since the device is a recurring item in his works, it brings in all of his works. This film has been referenced and spoofed many times in other films and television.

LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION (FILM)
Release Date: November 9, 2003 (Contemporary Setting)
Series: Looney Tunes
Horror Crosses: Scooby-Doo! (See Notes); This Island Earth; Fiend without a Face
Non-Horror Crosses: Doctor Who (Peter Cushing); Forbidden Planet; Robert the Robot; The Jack Benny Program
The Story: When Daffy demands his own movie, he’s fired by Warner Bros. Daffy ends up causing a security guard to be fired also, and follows him home to make amends. The fired guard is the son of a famous action star who turns out to be a real secret agent, and the guard and Daffy get involved in a mission. Meanwhile, Bugs refuses to work unless Daffy is hired back, so he and the vice president of comedy head out to find Daffy.
Notes: First, let me apologize to serious horror fans. However, the appearance of the Metaluna Mutant brings this film into the Horror Universe. The hard part for me was to explain how it could fit. Luckily, I have great friends who brought to my attention the film Evil Toons. Though some cartoon animals have been explained away as experiments of Doctor Moreau, in the case of this film, the Looney Tunes characters are clearly cartoons, but ones living in the “real world”, working for Warner Bros. and elsewhere in the world. In Evil Toons, which is in the Horror Universe due to the crossover relevant to this entry, the Necronomicon ex Mortis (from Evil Dead) is used to bring cartoon characters to life, in order to serve the spell caster. Warner Bros. must have performed such a spell to bring their creations to life to serve as actors (because it’s easier?) I presume the fact that people don’t freak out when encountering living cartoons is an effect of the spell as well. It should be noted that likely all fully animated Looney Tunes cartoons are fictional within the Horror Universe, but these living cartoons take on the characteristics and memories of the fictional characters they resemble. Scooby-Doo and Shaggy appear, as animated characters at the Warner Bros. cafeteria, complaining about their portrayal in the live action films. This can’t be the same Scooby and Shaggy from the 1970s and 1980s cartoons. Those cartoons feature a real person and dog (albeit a talking dog). In the 1980s, there was an animated movie called Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood. Since the 1980s films are in the Horror Universe, we can use that film as evidence that Mystery, Incorporated, and particularly Scooby, became famous. Evidently famous enough to have a cartoon and live action film based on them. The cartoon Scooby and Shaggy of this film must be the 21st century series of new Scooby-Doo! animated films, brought to life just as the Looney Tunes figures were. Based on that, we must assume those 21st century animated films, as well as the live action films they were complaining about, must be fictional within the Horror Universe. In one scene that takes place in a lab, the film’s heroes encounter the Metaluna Mutant, a pair of Daleks, Robbie the Robot, the Fiend without a Face and Robert the Robot. The Metaluna Mutant is the basis for this film’s inclusion in this guide and within the Horror Universe. The Metaluna Mutant is from This Island Earth. Though the film is more sci-fi than horror, the Metaluna Mutant was included in Scary Monsters Magazine’s Universal Kombat Series, thus placing him among the ranks of the classic Universal Monsters. The Daleks are an alien race that are enemies of the Doctor from Doctor Who, but these specific Daleks were an enemy of the Doctor’s alternate universe counterpart, Doctor Who, played by Peter Cushing. Robbie the Robot is from Forbidden Planet, which takes place in the future, but as seen in Gremlins, he seems to get around through time and space. The Fiend without a Face is the creature from the film of the same name. Robert the Robot was a toy of the 1950s, though the version here is life size, as the toy was meant to be imagined as, thus this is a crossover with the fictional world that the toy lived in. Finally, the car used in the film by the security guard and Daffy is the same talking car (voiced by Mel Blanc from archived footage) from the Jack Benny Program, thus bringing that television program of classic TV into the Horror Universe.

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