Saturday, March 1, 2014

Kronos - The Destroyer Of The Universe!


I've been wanting to see Kronos - The Destroyer of the Universe for decades, but I've never come across a VHS nor a DVD in a store and when I did find it on Amazon it always seemed a bit pricey. The other day I found it for smaller money and ordered it up with some other stuff. Just screened it a few days ago and it proved to be a real hoot and a half.

First up it stars the always irascible Jeff Morrow, one of my favorite sci-fi stars from such classics as This Island Earth and the nutty but always entertaining The Giant Claw. Morrow is at his irritable best here as scientist Leslie Gaskell who works at "Lab Central". Lab Central seems to be a complex of laboratories and business offices underneath a huge telescope and is labeled with hilariously out-sized signs for the four folks who actually work there. They include Vera Hunter (played by Barbara Lawrence who sadly passed away just a few months ago), Gaskell's girl friend and photographer, and Dr. Arnold Culver (George O'Hanlon - the voice of George Jetson), computer maven. Their boss is Dr. Hubbell Eliot (John Emery) who seems a nice enough chap when he's not being taken over by alien intelligences.

Hanlon, Lawrence, and Morrow warily approach Kronos

Spoilers below.

The story starts when a strange light descends from the dark skies and possesses a poor guy who just seems to want to get home after a long day. He drives to Lab Central and fights his way in to confront Dr. Hubbell where the intelligence trades up, while the poor guy who brought him promptly dies. Then we learn an asteroid is acting strangely and might be headed for Earth. It looks like a flying saucer, but they keep calling it an asteroid and a meteor. Gaskell and his team discover it and warn the military who shoot missiles which do little but divert it into the ocean off Mexico. Gaskell, Hunter, and Culver head down there while Eliot ends up in the hospital after collapsing. Some time passes while Gaskell and Hunter do a From Here to Eternity bit on the beach and then a huge energy bubble emerges from the sea. Overnight it becomes a peculiar and gigantic machine which Gaskell dubs "Kronos". Meanwhile Eliot has recovered somewhat due to electro-shock therapy and has revealed to Dr. Albert Stern (the always reliable Morris Ankrum) that he's in contact with Kronos a vast weapon sent to Earth to drain all of its energy. Stern tries to make a record of this but Eliot kills him and heads unabashedly back to Lab Central as if nothing happened. Gaskell and his team are back from Mexico after a close encounter on top of Kronos which itself has started moving around the country seeking electrical power and once in a while stomping on some peasants. Eliot confronts Gaskell and Hunter and thanks to a convenient burst of electrical energy comes to himself long enough to confess the plot for world domination. Gaskell talks the military into stopping an atomic bomb drop onto Kronos, but Kronos makes it happen anyway then they figure out that they might be able to cross the polarity in Kronos and make it suck on its own power. This works and the monster is defeated for now.

End of spoilers.

This movie is much similar to The Giant Claw, a real fave of mine. Morrow's fumbles around  with his girlfriend while an unearthly menace looms but eventually comes up with a plan which the military put into action which defeats the creature. The structure is rock solid and also was the framework for countless monster epics from Atlas and others during the 50's.

Hanlon, Emery, and Morrow at Lab Central
Kronos is a little different because the monster is so very different. It's a giant energy collector, with almost no attempt to give it any sense of a personality. It doesn't project any emotion, but is simply a horrific device which must be shut down. I thought of Universal's The Monolith Monsters which are likewise lacking in any sense of malevolent intelligence. In the case of Kronos there is a malign alien force behind it, but itself is bereft of it or seems to be. At times though it sure looks pretty slick.

Morrow and Lawrence relax just before the world begins to end.
I love Jeff Morrow in these movies. He always comes off as slightly irritated as if his shoes don't fit quite right. And he always blows up then apologizes which people forgive because of the stress of the situation. But I notice they don't do it, only him. He entertains me immensely with his grouchy manner.

I'm glad I finally got a chance to see Kronos. It's a classic small-budget affair for sure with the usual standing around in various sets while stock footage carries the action, but it's very entertaining nonetheless.

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