Rating: *** Threat: Army of alien robots
Allied Artists. Written by William Ray nor based on a treatment by James Nicholson & Wyott Ordung of the novella Deadly City by Paul W. Fairman; Photographed by Guy Roe; Special effects by Dave Koehler; Edited by Sherman A. Rose; Music by Paul Dunlap; Produced by Herman Cohen; Directed by Sherman A. Rose. B & W, 75 minutes.
Richard Denning (Frank Brooks, traveling salesman); Kathleen Crowley (Nora King, widow who attempted suicide); Richard Reeves (Jim Wilson, gambler who won the daily double); Virginia Grey (Vicki Harris, his girlfriend); Robert Roark (Davis, escaped killer); Mort Marshall (Charles Otis, man killed while fleeing hotel); Arthur Space (Gen. Wood, officer in charge of defense); Steve Pendelton (colonel); Jim Drake (lieutenant); Whit Bissell (Tom, top government scientist); House Peters Jr. (Barton, electronics lab technician).
Conceived as a low-budget variation of the famous War of the Worlds (1953), Target Earth actually surpasses its rival with an impressive and eloquent opening half hour before faltering due to inferior and laughable special effects and a subplot padded with stock footage.
The film opens at a rooming house in a major Midwestern city. The panning camera notes a ticking clock displaying the time as 1:30 PM. A sleeping woman is slowly coming to her senses, and there is an open bottle of sleeping pills next to her hand on the bed. She gets up sluggishly and starts to get dressed. When she notices that her electricity is off, she knocks at the doors of her neighbors, but there is no response. The whole building is deserted, so she heads to the streets, which are totally empty. Every store is closed, and she becomes frantic, randomly pushing buttons of different apartments as she seeks an explanation. She finally comes across the corpse of a woman in a doorway and, backing away, she bumps into a man. Assuming the stranger has murdered the woman, she runs off in panic until the man catches her in an alley. He tries to calm her down, introducing himself as Frank Brooks. He had arrived in town the previous evening from Detroit and was passing time waiting for another train when he was hit over the head and robbed. He awoke at midday and has been searching for other people in the deserted city. The woman, Nora King, says she overslept and missed learning what had happened. They trade theories as to why the city is deserted. Since both the telephones and electric power are disconnected, Frank assumes it was a mass evacuation. They decide to head to the center