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Film / The Space Children

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"Slowly... and with horror the parents realized THEIR CHILDREN WERE THE SLAVES OF "THE THING" FROM OUTER SPACE!"

The Space Children is a 1958 American Science Fiction film directed by Jack Arnold.

Electrical engineer Dave Brewster (Adam Williams) and his family relocate to a coastal trailer park so that he can join the team working on the Thunderer, the latest and greatest of ICBMs and the one which will hopefully settle this pesky arms race once and for all. But the Brewster kids hear a strange sound no adult can detect, and see an eerie light in the sky. Once they arrive at their new home they are lured to a coastal cave where they, and the children of the other scientists, are introduced to a pulsating, glowing blob, which telepathically communicates with them.

Oldest child Bud Brewster (Michel Ray) acts as the ringleader as the children become servants to Azathoth's little cousin, which is a relatively benign fate compared to what happens to adults who discover the creature; Dave Brewster is struck mute or knocked out whenever he tries to tell someone else about it, another scientist gets a short-term memory wipe, and a third fellow is killed though he was an unlikable, abusive drunkard, so nobody really minds.

But that isn't the extent of the blob's powers - soon the military base housing the Thunderer suffers a string of inexplicable accidents, each occurring near a creepy smiling child, culminating in the rocket's test launch resulting in spectacular, fiery disappointment. The military rushes to take down the star-spawn, but the children form a human wall and allow the blob to ascend back into the heavens. Finally free of its influence, Bud explains that all over the planet, other children have done as they did, sabotaging the nukes and doomsday devices of the world's nations. In awe, Anne Brewster (Peggy Webber) remarks that "the world is having a second chance," and the movie closes on a Bible quote: "Verily, I say unto you... except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (St. Matthew, Ch 18, v. 3)

...which glosses over the geopolitical ramifications of this sudden shift in the balance of power with confusing theology. So it's a movie sort of similar to The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), just, you know, not as good.

And no, The Space Children don't grow up into the Teenagers from Outer Space.

It appeared in this episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Space Children contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parent: Joe, so much.
    Joe: Come back here! I'll break your neck!
  • Adults Are Useless: it's up to the children (with an assist by a lump of silly putty) to save the world.
  • An Aesop: Nuclear weapons are bad, 'mkay? So you should, I dunno, get rid of them or something?
    • Space Whale Aesop: Disarm or a blob from outer space will enslave your children and do it for you?
  • The Alcoholic: Joe can't even chase down his stepson, he's weaving and staggering so bad.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Once Joe gets mind-fragged by the blob, even the other characters admit they won't miss him. His own wife is only a little upset, and we can probably chalk that up to watching him die!
  • Asshole Victim: Joe. See above.
  • Children Are Special: They're the only ones the Blob bothers to communicate with.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster in the Trope image. As you might guess, that never happened. Of course, being the '50's, the poster was probably printed before the script was even written. Ditto for the tagline, as its "enslavement" of the kids is done for entirely benevolent reasons.
  • Creepy Child: Serenely grinning children act as conduits for the blob's telekinetic powers, letting them stare at locks until they break or make trucks swerve off course with a creepy stare.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: What exactly is it, where did it come from and where the hell does it get off telling us what to do with our weapons? Y'know what, blob? You can just bite us! You have no right to-gah! What are you-aaagh! HAHAHA. DISREGARD THAT. THE BLOB IS AWESOME. GO TEAM BLOB. YAY.
  • Domestic Abuse: Joe again. He's probably the only character the Blob From Heaven is justified in killing, and the rest of the cast would thank it for doing so.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Blob from Heaven is a big glowing gob of protoplasm.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The film takes place over two days.
  • Fan Disservice: Jackie Coogan's outfits. The film was going for a creepy atmosphere, and it worked; once wardrobe decided to dress Coogan in little shorty-shorts, the rest of the crew could have knocked off early.
  • General Ripper: Completely averted. Col. Manley is a pretty level-headed guy who has a kid of his own. He's not even that upset when the Thunderer Project goes ker-flooey at the end. It's Jackie Coogan's civilian character who wants to kill.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: One of the "children" following Bud around looks a little too pubescent to play with that age group.
  • Invisible to Normals: While they're doing the blob's bidding, the Space Children can walk right by security checkpoints.
  • Kill Sat: The Thunderer launches an H-Bomb to a geosynchronous orbit over a target city, just waiting for the order to drop the metaphorical hammer.
  • Meaningful Name: Dr. Warman works for the defense department.
  • Mind Rape:
    • This is how the Blob kills Joe for trying to harm Tim.
    • Coogan's character gets a minor dose after following his daughter to the blob.
    • Dave Brewster gets mind-smacked when he tries to tell his superiors about the blob; first he finds himself unable to speak, then his attempt to write about it ends with unconsciousness.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Every shot of the Thunderer is accompanied by a majestic fanfare, even though it's visually quite unimpressive.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Subverted. Right as the viewer starts to question how sabotaging the Thunderer project is supposed to end the threat of nuclear war, Bud explains that other kids all over the world are unilaterally disarming every other country's nuclear weapon stockpiles, too.
  • Nonindicative Name: The eponymous children are not from space, nor do they go into space.
  • Nuke 'em: Hank's idea for how to end the Cold War.
    Ann Brewster: ...when is it going to end? Year after year of racing, racing trying to find something bigger and better to blow ourselves off the planet. When they ask me these questions, what do I tell them?
    Hank Johnson: You just say to 'em that down there stands the Thunderer, and what are we waiting for?!
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: The blob can do this, as probably probably another facet of its telepathy.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: When the truck drivers lose control of their vehicle, causing it to weave back and forth and eventually careen off the road, the musical accompaniment is placid and ethereal.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: The base housing the Thunderer is protected by a chain-link fence with exposed locks, a security kiosk with a wooden retractable barrier, and some signs. Even when they aren't under the blob's protection, the kids are able to run right up to it to gawk at the missile.
  • Telepathy: The blob hasn't got a mouth, so this is how it communicates/flash fries people's noodles.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Sand. It ruins everything, you know. Everything.
  • The World Is Not Ready: disarm itself, so the Blob From On High shows up to do it for us.