Kronos features a top-notch score, tons of special effects and a giant robot heck-bent on destroying the Earth! Two thumbs up!

Vera: "I've never seen you this tense about a planetoid before."

Dr. Gaskell: "M-47 is my baby. Naturally, I begin to worry when she's ailing."


Dr. Gaskell: "An asteroid would have been pulverized by that atomic barrage. But it wasn't. Instead, it struck downward toward the Earth like a wounded animal lashing out at its tormentor!"



(Try and follow this technical, computer jargon)
Arnie: "This computer can stand just so much input, then her feedback circuit overloads, jams and then she goes into a regular tizzy!"

(Arnie and Dr. Gaskell discuss the asteroid)
Arnie: "Have you named her yet?"

Gaskell: "I don't think I know her well enough to call her by name. After all, I haven't even computed her ecliptic yet!"
(Eww!)

Kronos (1957)
Starring Jeff Morrow, Barbara Lawrence, John Emery, Morris Ankrum. Produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. Special effects by Jack Rabin, Irving Block and Louis De Witt. Music by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter.

My young daughter pulled her mom into the livingroom yelling, "Alligator Peop -o! Alligator Peop -o!" My wife asked with a chill in her voice, "Why is our two-year-old watching The Alligator People?" (There wasn't really a chill in her voice but it makes a better story if I make her out to be a Alice Kramden-like character). I had a good reason: I meant to show her the long-lost Hand of Death starring John Agar which I taped on the Fox Movie Channel. But also taped the last 10 minutes of The Alligator People (which of course is the best part). But then it hit me like a bolt from the blue: I'll write a movie review with my two-year-old right in the room with me! Kind of like a foreign correspondent in the middle of a war or a whacky weather man who reports from the eye of a hurricane, then gets blown by gale force winds like a tumbleweed.

Kronos begins the way every B movie should: A glowing spaceship looking like two paper plates glued together flies through space while we hear the "ooo-EEEE-oooo" of a Theramin. Yes! This movie has just earned one Atomic Blast already! The space ship dispatches a small ball of light which zaps a guy driving a pickup at night down a lonely desert road. Now a mindless zombie under alien control, he makes a U-turn and ultimately breaks into "LABCENTRAL" a top secret government research facility. How does a lone truck driver break into a top secret government installation? He knocks out the unarmed guard with a pipe wrench (everyone should have a pipe wrench on the front seat of their vehicle) and makes his way through the offices until he finds renowned scientist Dr. Eliot who asks, "How did you get past the guard?" and seems genuinely surprised! Suddenly, the glowing alien presence transfers from the driver to Dr. Eliot, leaving him dazed and the driver dead from a heart attack.

In the computer lab we meet two more of our players, Arnie and Dr. Leslie Gaskell (Les), as they discuss their discovery - an asteroid they've named M-47. I love this scene because "the asteroid" they're watching on a TV monitor is so clearly a spaceship, yet for some reason they still think it's an asteroid! Les says, "That's odd-it's suddenly changed course!" YEAH, IT'S ALSO SHAPED LIKE A SAUCER! Hoping photographs can shed some light on this mysterious dinner plate-shaped asteroid that darts and weaves in different directions, Les looks to Vera (love interest and photo developer) for answers. But Vera has only one thing on her mind and you know what that is! That's right - seeing a movie. Every two seconds she's like, "I thought we were going to the movies?!" and when something comes up she gripes, "There goes that movie." OK, Vera, we get it -- you like movies. But y'know what? You're at work now!

Then I felt a tiny finger tap my shoulder. "I wanna go to the castle," said the angelic yet badly-timed voice. The castle she's referring to is actually a kids maze constructed of cases of Pepsi that our local Giant Eagle had set up for Halloween. The entrance of the maze was a cardboard castle complete with dangling rubber spiders and skeletons. We would run through this maze for the entire time her mom shopped for groceries. I guess the only drawback for me was that the soda cases, or "walls" of the maze were only about 4 feet high, meaning that people walking into the store couldn't see my daughter, only a 39-year-old man running through it yelling, " Ohh , how do I find my way out of here?! Ah, the spider's gonna get me! Uh oh -- dead end!!!" In any case, I explain to her the castle's been long since removed but I stop the movie to take her outside to visit the neighbor's cartoonish, inflatable Frankenstein still on their porch which she loves.

20 minutes later, alien-controlled Dr. Eliot enters the computer room and purposely short circuits the labs computer (S.U.S.I.E.) The good news for Vera is that because Arnie has to fix the computer, Les might as well take her to the movies! "Come on, Les! If we hurry, we can make the feature," says Vera, like a cinematic crack addict. Once in the car, Vera says something that puts a little auto history into the film, "That's the starter button right there on the dash." Cool. But Les has second thoughts and decides to go back to the office. "I don't know when I've enjoyed a movie so much!" scoffs Vera. OH, GET OVER IT!!!

Arnie repairs S.U.S.I.E. and gets the info on the "asteroid": diameter 4.9 miles, 6,000 megatons, speed 1750 miles per second. Dr. Eliot asks what can be done and the answer, as always, becomes: ATOMIC MISSILES! Now we've got ourselves a B movie!

The moment the nuclear missiles strike the spaceship, Dr. Eliot is rendered unconscious. Our players find him laying on the floor unconscious and, just as some of us might do if it was our boss, they leave him there on the floor. Radar shows that the missiles have not destroyed the ship but have caused it to fall toward the north American continent (NICE WORK!) TV news says it will probably fall harmlessly. Harmlessly? It's 5 miles wide! The experts are right and rather than causing a Tsunami, it collides harmlessly in the ocean near Mexico (cut to stock footage of underwater explosion mixed with lightning - nice!) Meanwhile, Les wants to take a trip to Mexico to investigate. When Arnie asks, "Shouldn't we get permission from Dr. Eliot?", Gaskell responds, "Right now, he's in no condition to disapprove." I get the feeling their boss is STILL laying on the floor, don't you?

   
 

This clip shows why it's never a good idea to have a high-voltage electric fence in your office.

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Meanwhile, someone must have tripped over Dr. Eliot laying in the doorway because he's finally in a hospital mumbling incoherently. His doctor found it necessary to hold a microphone to his mouth and tape record his ramblings (Do you think he records all his patient's mumblings?) When Dr. Eliot shows no responsiveness, his doctor tries the other treatment (In 1957, there were only two treatments known to medical science: sedatives which Eliot has already been given, and the second: SHOCK TREATMENT!) To be specific, the doctor prescribes, "Electro shock daily until further orders."

On a beach in Mexico, Les has just playfully tackled Vera From Here to Eternity-style! Just when Les has gotten her "in the mood" by asking Vera (and this is true) IF SHE CAN COOK, a giant glowing dome rises from the ocean where the spaceship went down. The next morning when our players wake up in their bungalow (after all - when there's a giant, glowing alien spaceship right outside your beach house, you just have to get some shuteye) they awaken to find a towering monolith, Kronos, standing on the shore.

Meanwhile, Eliot's doctor is in his office taping audio notes of his sessions. He claims to have been taken over by an alien presence from another planet. Energy is depleted on their world so they're looking for other planets to rob of electric and atomic energy. Eliot's doctor also adds that his electro shock therapy does little to "quiet" the patient - really??!! Moments later, our players land a helicopter on top of Kronos and take a stroll on his top floor. Suddenly the floor opens up and reveals a gigantic contraption! I have no idea what this scene means but it's pretty cool looking. I think they're just trying to show there are no lifeforms on board. They hightail it back to the chopper and fly back to the shore.

   
 

Notice the shadow of a helicopter blade turning slowly. Also, at the end of the clip, a recycled shot of our players.

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Under continuous shock treatment, the patient's fantasies go into more detail. It seems that Kronos is a large power warehouse, or "accumulator" using the aliens' terminology, which will absorb all of Earth's power. While Eliot's doctor unknowingly records secret invasion plans, the alien-controlled Eliot walks into his office and kills him. "How?" you may ask. Hit over the head? Stabbed with his own letter opener? Try pushed up against a live electric fence (complete with giant switch) in his office. That's kind of a dangerous thing to have in your office, isn't it? That's probably what he was thinking while he was smelling his own gray matter being sauteed.

   
 

This clip shows you can never be too old to fly for the Mexican air force.

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I thought of this ad for shock treatment: Is your patient's mind harboring secret plans for an   alien invasion? Try SHOCK TREATMENT! Only shock treatment gives you the instant results you demand as a psychiatrist and healer! Don't waste precious days, even weeks on psychotherapy and counseling! Former patient - "I was waxing my kitchen floor when I slipped and hit my head. I woke up in a hospital and, even though I had total recall, my mind was still a little hazy. That's when the doctor suggested extreme shock therapy. Actually, he didn't ask for my permission -- two big orderlies strapped me down and taped electrodes to my head. I blacked out during most of it, but they told me after just a couple of months...like, six months...of daily treatments, I remembered everything clearly again. So thanks shock therapy for..........what was I talking about?"

The news media has received an audio message from Les warning the world of the giant energy-sucker he has nicknamed " Kronos " after the evil giant of mythology. Meanwhile, alien-controlled Eliot mentally summons Kronos by chanting " Navaroz electro" which later we learn means "attack the Navaroz electric plant." Kronos' metallic, paper towel tube-like legs churn up and down and Kronos begins to walk. It's not clear how legs that can only move up and down can enable it to walk, but then again I'm not an authority on giant, planet-sucking doomsday devices (or much else for that matter).

   
 

Kronos on a rampage in Mexico. "One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you."

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Soon Kronos finds itself engaged in battle with its first formidable foe: the Mexican airforce! After a little machine gun fire is exchanged, Kronos wraps up the Mexican airforce like a buritto (sorry, Mexico.) Next, our players land the helicopter to survey the damage (wouldn't it make more sense to survey it from the air?)

While Kronos' giant legs crush Mexicans flatter than a floured tortilla (sorry again, Mexico), my daughter's in the corner playing with a Halloween decoration, a dancing 2-foot-tall electronic skeleton that sings Super Freak. One day I went to pick her up from daycare and she was playing on the floor singing, "She's a super freak...super freak...she's super freaky - ow." Awesome!

Back at LABCENTRAL (that's how the sign reads), Les and Vera take the elevator down to the "isolation chamber" where alien-controlled Dr. Eliot does all his best evil plotting. It's nice and quiet. An alien can really think down there. And he cooks up a doozy of a plan! He convinces the Pentagon to use the H-bomb on Kronos! And of course we all know what a power-sucking machine thinks of an H-bomb, don't we? 5 COURSE DINNER! In fact, the crafty Eliot goes one step further and asks Les, "How would you stop Kronos? So.you have no plan?" Having a human spy on the ground was brilliant! These aliens have all the bases covered.

That is until alien-controlled Eliot goes too far! The hospital that Dr. Eliot escaped from calls Vera at LABCENTRAL and tells her of Eliot's escape. Eliot overhears and tries to kill her. Les hears the struggle and fights Eliot. In the struggle, Eliot is pushed into another high-voltage power grid! WHY ARE THERE ELECTRIC FENCES IN THESE OFFICES?! But the voltage doesn't kill Eliot, rather the current releases him from his electronic mind-control. Uninhibited, Eliot spills all of the alien's plans while Vera tape records the details. He tells us how "they" have discovered the secret of turning energy into matter, but they have used up their planet's energy. He says they have to reverse Kronos process somehow (If they get out of this with the "reverse the polarity" crap, I'm gonna be really mad).

Les telephones a general who orders the plane carrying the H-bomb to turn around -- in just under 40 SECONDS! But by then it's too late! Kronos has locked onto the plane and is pulling it magnetically! I love how Kronos tranforms into a solid box to prepare for the atomic detonation! Next, we see it soaking up the power of an H-bomb like a sponge. At that moment, alien-controlled Eliot faints and the "energy" flows out of his ear onto the floor. The essence sparks and essentially dies. Eliot's condition at this point is unclear. However, Les has devised a way to stop Kronos and you'll never believe how! ( sigh ) Reverse the polarity. I don't believe it.

   
 

Kronos absorbs a nuclear blast by magnetically reeling in a bomber that had orders to abort.

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Meanwhile, Kronos is headed for the H-bomb stockpile near L.A. (If the aliens wanted the nuclear stockpile near L.A. , they probably shouldn't have dumped it in the Gulf of Mexico! They probably realize it now as they monitor Kronos ' very slow, very long walk!)

A jet carrying Les's blend of secret spices from the Table of Elements, flies to intercept Kronos. (Viewing tip: This is not a good time to take a bathroom break!) The jet drops a small device by parachute which explodes above Kronos much like fireworks. Of course it's not fireworks, but rather super-secret neurons that...ok it's fireworks. But these fireworks are deadly to Kronos and its great dome begins to melt away. It's surface crackles with electricity. A chain reaction begins and Kronos eats itself alive, finally exploding like stock footage of an H-bomb! Vera asks, "What if they send more?" Les replies, "Then we'll be ready for them!" Unless these super-intelligent aliens tweak that little polarity problem. Then we're in big, big trouble!

   
 

The Kronos movie trailer. I love the echo sound effect!

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