Feb 23, 2016
Terror from the Year 5000 (1958) (part 3 of 8)
We next see stock footage of a commercial airliner coming in for a landing. Bob disembarks, then takes a second to go to the airport Hertz Rent-a-Car counter in another moment of shameful product placement.
Then we get nice, long, underlit shots of Bob driving, and driving, and driving. Suddenly, he starts skidding around corners like a madman. Then we hear his thoughts in echo-y voiceover as he wonders if the car behind him (which we don’t see) is following him. Then the camera flashes on the lead-encased statue sitting on the passenger seat.
Continuing the echo-y voiceovers, we hear Bob flash back to his conversation with Other Scientist Guy about Prof. Erling potentially wanting to kill him. This voiceover is particularly poorly done, and sounds like it’s coming out of the car’s AM radio. Bob re-hears the stuff about “you’d be the victim of an almost perfect crime!” and starts to panic.
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In an attempt to get away from the lousy voiceover effect, Bob puts the pedal to the metal. He starts swerving all over the road as a big Buick behind him speeds up to keep pace. (The French Connection, this ain’t.) Finally, Bob sees some cypress trees up ahead and screeches to a stop right before nearly plunging into the swamp. He places a nervous hand on the statue as the other car pulls up behind him.
The driver of the other car is finally seen, and turns out to be a young blonde woman. “Well, you proved you can drive,” she calls out. “Now what do we play?” Ah, what a sprightly, free spirited, devil-may-care kind of woman! I’m amazed she’s not wearing a name tag that says DESIGNATED LOVE INTEREST.
They both get out of their cars and shake hands. She knows he’s Dr. Bob Hedges, because she turns out to be Claire Erling, the professor’s daughter. She explains how she went to meet him at the airport but just missed him. Bob immediately asks if the Prof is okay. “Is he well? I mean, is he alright?” I mean, is he satisfactory? Is he mezzo-mezzo? “You mean,” Claire says, “Is he crazy?” Well, now that you mention it…
She insists that her father’s “perfectly sane”, but Bob says he was just concerned because of the telegrams and the statue. As it turns out, Claire was the one who sent them [!]. Man, she must have a really low opinion of her dad to send out telegrams in his name that say stuff like “You have proof that I am not insane.”
She says that when Bob didn’t reply to any of her previous letters, she sent the statue, hoping it would “shock you into some sort of reply!” Like, dropping dead? That sort of reply? Bob says, “I never received any letters!” Well, that’s what you get for hiring a secretary like Miss Blake.
Claire asks if he established the statue’s date of origin, and Bob informs her that it’s radioactive. “Radioactive?” Claire says in disbelief. “Yes”, he replies, “I think I’m entitled to an explanation!” Um, okay. You see, when an atomic nucleus emits alpha particles… Oh, wait, he means an explanation of why she sent the statue. Never mind.
Claire promises to explain everything back at the house, and has him follow her there. They drive up to a dock, and Bob is bewildered. As it turns out, the professor’s house is on an island. “An island!” Bob cries. Claire replies, “I’ll explain on the way over!” You see, Bob, it’s a land mass surrounded by… Oh, forget it.
Bob spots an old guy pulling a motorboat up to the shore, and Claire says that’s Old Man Angelo, whom she identifies as her father’s “chief cook and bottle washer!” Does there really need to be a “chief” of bottle washing? How many people does it take to wash out a bottle, anyway?
For some reason, this makes Bob suspicious, and he asks how he can be sure she’s really Prof. Erling’s daughter. She tells him, “Victor was right! Scientists are the biggest old fogies in the world!” Ouch. Bob just got dissed hard. He wants to know who “Victor” is, and Claire replies, “He’s a man.” And that’s the end of the discussion. Amazingly, Bob doesn’t yell that he’s entitled to an explanation.
Anyway, as proof of her identity, Claire pulls out her driver’s license and registration from her purse. Why in the world would she carry her vehicle registration around with her? Then she jokingly offers to present her birth certificate, but I have no doubt that’s also in her purse. Bob says the license is “satisfactory” and apologizes for being so suspicious, saying “all of this is kind of new to me!” All of what, Bob? Getting on a boat and going to an island? This leads to a choice exchange of dialogue:
| Claire: I thought scientists were great explorers of the unknown!
Bob: I’ll do my exploring in the laboratory, if you don’t mind.
What an old fogey! Eventually, they both hop in the motorboat and Angelo whisks them away. We cut to Bob and Claire in the boat as she tells him how a local newspaper said the Prof’s “theory about crossing the time barrier was ‘ridiculous’.” (If finger quotes had existed at the time, Claire would be doing them now.) Apparently, this article got him “disqualified from doing top secret work, so the missile center fired him!” And a million Florida residents were suddenly able to sleep at night.
Claire continues that “we both laughed at first.” (Laughed? At which part, his getting ridiculed in the local paper, or his getting fired?) But things soon turned serious when they started getting “anonymous phone calls” calling him a “traitor” and telling him to leave town. This turns out to be the first reason why the Prof has set up shop out on an island.
Reason #2 is that the Prof’s “electrical equipment is so powerful, it messes up TV reception for miles around!” Almost as if on cue, the motorboat stalls, and Old Man Angelo can’t get it started again. Angelo asks Claire if her father is working “that contraption” again, but Claire insists his equipment wouldn’t disturb them this far out. Well, this is what happens when you ask a bottle washer to operate a motorboat.
As Bob and Claire climb towards the back of the boat to get oars, Bob remarks that “When you said his equipment was powerful, it was the understatement of the century!” No, saying this film is scientifically inaccurate would be the understatement of the century. Claire hands him an oar and says, “If you wanna eat, you have to work!” Actually, this line wasn’t in the script. We just saw Joyce Holden breaking character to explain what she’s doing in this movie.
They all paddle towards the house, and Angelo sounds a foghorn. Victor, secretly working the Hot Water Heater Time Machine, peeks out a window and sees them approach. Unbeknownst to him, however, something is scratching at the window of the Water Heater. Suddenly, the glass is shattered by a gloved hand. Victor asks no one in particular, “What was that?” and then just nonchalantly walks out of the boiler room.
He doffs his lab coat and heads out to the shore, where he’s joined by Prof. Erling, who was just woken up by the foghorn. Victor, the sneaky bastard, lies and says he just woke up from a nap, too. Claire calls out from the boat that she has Dr. Bob Hedges from New York with her, and the Prof waves at him, calling it a “wonderful surprise!” He tells Victor that this is the “outside verification” that they’ve been waiting for, but Victor wishes he had known Bob was coming. “I’d like to have been [sinister pause] prepared for him.”
In a scene that has that “inserted in the wrong place” feel to it, we see Victor back in the boiler room examining the shattered Hot Water Heater window. Luckily, he just happens to have another pane of glass in the corner that’s already cut to the exact height and width needed to replace the window.
Next, we see Bob having tea with the Prof and Claire. They walk into the living room, and Victor is already sitting there, slouched way down in a chair. Bob asks about the statue, and as it turns out, the Prof knew it was radioactive. Claire wonders why nobody told her. The Prof says, “You’ve been told never to touch anything in the laboratory!” After all, she might get her icky girl cooties all over everything.
Victor barks, “That should have been enough!” Claire turns to him and says, “You needn’t be so mean, Victor. You know, you’re not my husband yet.” So, I guess once he does become her husband, he’s free to be as mean as he wants.
The Prof explains to a chain-smoking Bob that they stopped their experiments when they found out how radioactive the statue was. Bob, somehow gaining the ability to put together two and two, says the Prof must have been operating the machine just now because the motorboat conked out on them. The Prof insists, however, that they haven’t touched the Hot Water Heater since they got the statue.
Victor quickly attempts to stop the gears spinning in Bob’s head (no difficult task, I’m sure) by telling him that he “must be exhausted!” The Prof agrees, and has Bob come with him so Angelo can set him up in one of the bedrooms. As soon as they leave, Claire breathlessly intones, “Alone at last!” and plops herself down in Victor’s lap. She gazes at him, starry eyed, while in the background, Old Man Angelo creeps up. For no apparent reason, Angelo just stares at them as Victor chastises his fiancée for bringing Bob to the island.
Claire explains her motives, saying that she thought they wanted “outside verification”. Victor, however, insists that Bob is “laughing up his sleeve” at them because he “smiled” when the Prof said the statue actually did come from the future.
Claire says Bob certainly wasn’t laughing at the Prof, and “besides, I think he’s cute!” Geez, have a little subtlety, woman. Subtle or no, this succeeds in getting the Green Eyed Monster to emerge from Victor. She asks if he’s jealous, and he says, “Who? Me? Jealous of that overgrown Boy Scout?” [??]
She tells him he doesn’t have to be jealous and they proceed to make out, and the whole time, creepy Angelo just stands off in the shadows and watches them. Oh, yuck.
Some unspecified time later, Victor happens upon Angelo trying to unlock the door to a spare room. Victor flips his lid and wants to know what he’s doing. Angelo says he was going to put Bob in this room for the night, but it’s locked, and “I don’t remember having no key to this room!” Angelo, have you given any thought to the possibility that maybe this isn’t the right line of work for you? Maybe you should move into a field less complicated, like being the guy who wipes salsa off of menus at a Mexican restaurant.
Victor darkly tells Angelo to leave that room alone and put Bob in Victor’s room. Angelo complies and Victor wanders back down to the boiler room, where he finds Bob and the Prof sitting around and shooting the bull. He informs them he’s letting Bob sleep in his room, which we pretty much figured out in the previous scene. Hilariously, after Victor says this, he actually smirks and walks backwards into the shadows [!]. Wow, I think he’s almost, like, evil or something!