["Death Comes from Space"] Film (1958; vt Le Danger Vient de l'Espace; vt Death from Outer Space; vt The Day the Sky Exploded). Lux/C C F Lux/Royal Film. Directed by Paolo Heusch, starring Paul Hubschmid, Fiorella Mari, Madeleine Fischer, Ivo Garrini, Dario Michaelis, Peter Meersman, Jean-Jacques Delbo, Massimo Zeppieri, Sam Galter. Written by Sondra Continenza and Marcello Coscia, based on a story by Virgilio Sabel. 82 minutes. Black and white.
Americans and Russians have collaborated to launch an atomic Spaceship to orbit the Moon, piloted by American John McLaren (Paul Hubschmid). When a rocket misfires, he detaches his portion of the spaceship and returns safely to Earth, but the vehicle continues on to cause an atomic explosion in the Delta Asteroids. Somehow, this causes them to merge into one gigantic mass that is soon approaching the Earth, causing various problems (strange animal migrations, a draining of the Earth's magnetic field, increased heat, fires) and threatening the destroy the Earth. Fortunately, McLaren hits upon the idea of firing all of Earth's nuclear missiles at the mass, which causes it to disintegrate.
This film is one candidate for the honour of being the first film to anticipate that Earth might be threatened by a devastating asteroid impact; yet the circumstances that bring about this danger here are ludicrously implausible, to say the least, and its solution to the problem – blasting the approaching asteroid with missiles within Earth's atmosphere – is unworkable as well, as this actually would at best result in splitting the asteroid into several still-menacing fragments. Still, one must admire the film for its unusual focus on an impending natural disaster, instead of the usual sinister Aliens, and there is a moderately interesting subplot involving a crazed Scientist who attempts to sabotage efforts to launch the missiles because he believes that the asteroid represents God's way of punishing humanity for daring to engage in Space Flight. [GW]