The Terrornauts (1967)

Could any film actually live up to the exploitative promise of this lurid poster artwork?

Three staff members of Project Star Talk (Simon Oates, Stanley Meadows & Zena Marshall) are working at a radio telescope site when they are taken to an asteroid fortress by a space ship. Also carried along for the ride is an accountant (Charles Hawtrey) and a tea lady (Patricia Hayes). The group meet a robot and must pass some tests before using the fortress’ missiles to save the Earth from an armada of alien vessels.

The asteroid fortress
The asteroid fortress
Here's the robot
Here’s the robot
Carry On movie regular Charles Hawtrey plays accountant Joshua Yellowlees 
Carry On movie regular Charles Hawtrey plays accountant Joshua Yellowlees 
Nom, nom, nom...
Nom, nom, nom…

THE TERRORNAUTS is a British science fiction film made by Amicus Productions, based on Murray Leinster’s 1960 novel The Wailing Asteroid. The screenplay was written by sci-fi author John Brunner and the film was directed by Montgomery (BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH) Tully.

Poster
US poster
You break it, you buy it, mate
You break it, you buy it, mate

There’s no escaping the fact that THE TERRORNAUTS was definitely done on the cheap… and I do mean very cheap!

Ah, look at those super-realistic planets!
Ah, look at those super-realistic planets!
Hi-tech robot!
Hi-tech robot!

The film resembles a brightly-coloured, low budget Doctor Who episode. But if you look beyond the threadbare production values, you’ll find that THE TERRORNAUTS does have an interesting premise: a long-gone alien race has left its tech behind so that mankind can defend itself from an interstellar foe.

Another shot of the robot
Another shot of the robot

I do also like the alien critter, revealed as a hologram. If you can imagine an unrealistic man-in-suit creature costume designed by a surrealist… that is what the alien looks like!

The alien's 'face'
The surreal alien’s ‘face’
Sandy (Zena Marshall) and the alien
Sandy (Zena Marshall) and the alien
The alien's eye, which is on its torso
The alien’s eye, which is on its torso

The lurid poster (claiming we’ll be seeing ‘The virgin sacrifice to the gods of a ghastly galaxy!’) highlights a moment in the movie where the heroine is accidentally teleported to a planet and is nearly sacrificed by a bunch of green-skinned savages.
This in-your-face poster artwork promises, of course, far more than the film could ever hope to deliver.

Yikes! This is the poster's depiction of the sacrifice scene...
Yikes! This is the poster’s depiction of the sacrifice scene…
...and this is what the attempted sacrifice actually looks like in the film!
…and this is what the sacrifice scene actually looks like in the film!
Don't worry: Sandy gets saved
Don’t worry: Sandy gets saved

Here’s the pre-production concept artwork for the hologram alien, by designer Bill Constable, showing that the strange being was always intended to have an eye positioned at an odd place on its body.

This concept for the alien creature makes it resemble a surreal tree stump
This concept for the alien creature makes it resemble a surreal tree stump

And here’s another couple of shots of the alien as seen in the film, with its eye located on its waist…

Not the most realistic alien costume ever produced!
Not the most realistic alien costume ever produced!
Who are you lookin' at?
Who are you lookin’ at?

Some lobby cards…

Lobby card
Lobby card
Mexican lobby card
Mexican lobby card

Finally, here’s the UK DVD cover…

UK DVD cover
UK DVD cover

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