Jul 26, 2014

Review: Kronos (1957)

We can all say that sci-fi has changed a lot since the 1950's and 1960's. Don't be deceived by IMDb's genre classing of Kronos, it's really a science fiction movie. One thing I've always liked about sci-fi movies, or at least the good ones, is that there's some sort of commentary going on. Kronos might seem like a regular B-movie out of the 50's but I think it's a little bit more than that and it does have something to say.

Kronos had a pretty modest budget of $160,000 which works out to a little over $1.3 million in today's dollar. For a movie that probably put most of that into special effects, that's not a whole lot and apparently, there was even a cut in the original budget which caused some scenes to be eliminated because of the cost.


Genre: action, drama, horror
Directed by: Kurt Neumann
Produced by:  Irving Block, Louis DeWitt, Kurt Neumann, etc
Written by: Lawrence L. Goldman, Irving Block
Music by: Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter
Running time: 78 minutes
Production company: Regal Films
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $160,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jeff Morrow, Barbara Lawrence, John Emery, George O'Hanlon, Morris Ankrum, Kenneth Alton, John Parrish, Jose Gonzales-Gonzales


An alien spacecraft, well what we all know as a flying saucer, enters Earth's orbit ending up somewhere in the United States. A man alone in the desert has a malfunction with his pickup truck and while he goes to investigate, he gets attacked by a strange glowing light. He seemingly becomes possessed and goes to a U.S. science lab where the entity then possesses Dr. Hubbell Eliot (John Emery), leaving the pickup man dead. Meanwhile in the same facility, Dr. Leslie Gaskell (Jeff Morrow) and Dr. Arnold Culver (George O'Hanlon) discover one of the flying saucers on their equipment thinking it's an asteroid. It's bizarre trajectory seems a bit suspicious though and they want to investigate further while Dr. Hubbell tries to secretly spoil their plans. 


It's hard not to laugh at some of the bad dialogue. It's clear that Lawrence Goldman and Irving Block have questionable scientific and medical knowledge but it makes for some amusing moments. Who doesn't like to listen to men spout nonsensical scientific banter? Kronos is not an all-guys affair since there's the love interest of Dr. Gaskell who spends most of the time being passive aggressive with him because he's always busy doing work. Vera Hunter (Barbara Lawrence) does have a pretty good amount of screen time but her impact isn't very big and she's mostly there just to look pretty. Beyond the funny scientific banter, the dialogue is mostly dull unfortunately and there aren't a whole lot of thrilling moments.

Kronos seems to use all those sci-fi conventions in terms of imagery and sound that we associate with 50's sci-fi that involves aliens invading Earth. Even the music is exactly what you'd expect. I'm sure that the reason why we never actually see any alien life form beyond a ball of light is because of the small budget. Still, we do get flying saucers at least as well as a giant robot which looks like a pile of cardboard boxes with antennas. Kronos is a funny looking brute who moves with the grace of a three-legged elephant on two stilts but he's all the same an interesting guy with a clear motive. (Spoilers) Man's irresponsible use of nuclear energy comes back to bite us in this case since Kronos is not just invulnerable to it, he absorbs it with ease. The end goal is to transport that energy back to his home planet, leaving earth a desolate husk. (End Spoilers)

The effects in Kronos are understandably outdated. Kronos is actually animated in scenes where it's moving but the whole effect is partially saved by the fact that the movie is all in black and white. There's even some limited use of miniatures but it's not particularly impressive, especially compared to what was coming out of Japan. (Spoilers) I'll say though that the final destruction scene is actually pretty impressive. (End Spoilers)

If you're not into watching B-movies in any shape or form, Kronos is a movie to avoid. There are some cool ideas that make for an interesting premise, but the overall execution is lacking. It's got that 50's sci-fi charm and some funny looking effects so there are at least some redeeming qualities.





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