There’s not much but to laugh at in the 1956 Roger Corman Sci-Fi classic It Conquered the World. The plot is simple: one scientist, Dr. Anderson, who is kind of pissed off that other scientists ignore his theories when it comes to putting a satellite in space. The first attempt was disastrous and Dr. Anderson feels this was a warning from other beings in space that man’s technology is moving forward too quickly. But you know us men…tell us we shouldn’t do something and well…you know…
Anyway, Dr. Anderson becomes cosmic pen pals with a creature from Venus who appears to have benevolent intentions to lead mankind into a peaceful era of brotherly love and equatorial Kum Ba Ya sing-a-longs. But once the Venusian (is that even a word?) lands and takes away our electricity in obviously a portentous 1956 first episode of Revolution, it sends out these flying bat thingies which carry some kind of electrodes that allow the monster to control them. Imagine Invasion of the Body Snatchers without the pods. The electrode thingies basically take away everyone’s emotions and they all become like the cast of Duck Dynasty: Happy Happy Happy.
The literary term I’d like to look at for this movie is VALORIZATION. When you privilege one important aspect of a text for analysis, that’s valorization. For example the New Critics valorize the text and mainly the text while ahistorical analysis valorizes the author’s life or historical period the text was created in to look for clues to meaning. A Freudian critic would valorize the subconscious elements or the sexual symbols of a text.
In It Conquered the World, logical reasoning gets valorized over the emotional mind. This appeals to Dr. Anderson because he thinks people don’t go along with his theories because they don’t like him. He sees emotion as the enemy to be wiped out and the Venusian alien (which is one of the least scary monsters in film history…I mean really…he’s like an upside down ice cream cone!) is more than happy to feed into Anderson’s need to be liked. For most of the movie he’s like Anderson’s imaginary friend. There’s definitely a Han Solo/ Chewbaca thing going on since the alien speaks only in a bizarre Theremin voice that Dr. Anderson seems to understand fluently. If it weren’t for clever dialogue such as, “What’s that you say? You’re landing your spaceship now?” We’d be at a loss.
So while Dr. Anderson valorizes logic over emotion, Corman valorizes expediency over production value! But that’s what has always made Corman…well…Corman and we love him for it!