For the MST3K film, see Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.



Exeter from This Island Earth

Dr. Cal Meacham, a noted scientist, receives an unusual substitute for electronic condensers that he ordered. Instead, he receives instructions and parts to build a complex communication device called an interocitor. Although neither Meacham nor his assistant Joe Wilson have heard of the device, they immediately begin construction. When they finish, a mysterious man named Exeter appears on the device's screen and tells Meacham he has passed the test. His ability to build the interocitor demonstrates that he is gifted enough to be part of Exeter's special research project. Intrigued, Meacham is picked up the next day at the airport by an unmanned, computer-controlled Douglas DC-3 aircraft with no windows. Landing in a remote area of Georgia, he finds an international group of top-flight scientists already present – including an old flame, Dr. Ruth Adams. Cal is almost immediately suspicious of the odd-looking group of men leading the project


This Island Earth

Cal and Ruth flee with scientist Steve Carlson, but their car is attacked and Carlson is killed. When they take off in a Stinson 108 light aircraft, Cal and Ruth watch as the facility and all its inhabitants are incinerated, and their aircraft is drawn up by a bright beam into a flying saucer. They learn that Exeter and his group are from the planet Metaluna, having come to Earth seeking uranium deposits as well as scientists to help defend their planet in a war against the Zagons. Exeter informs the humans that he is taking them back to his world. Exeter and the Metalunans are attacked by Zagon starships guiding meteors as weapons against them and Metaluna. The Metalunan saucer easily avoids each attack, dodging oncoming meteors.

Exeter and the two humans arrive to find the planet under bombardment and falling quickly to the enemy. Metalunan society is breaking down and there is little hope. Their leader, known as the Monitor, reveals that the Metalunans intend to relocate to Earth and insists that Meacham and Adams be subjected to a Thought Transference Chamber in order to subjugate their free will so they cannot object. Exeter believes this is immoral and misguided, since it would impede the humans' ability to help the Metalunans. Before the couple are sent into the brain-reprogramming device, Exeter decides to help them escape.


One of the mutants from This Island Earth

Exeter is badly injured by a Mutant while the three flee from Metaluna in the saucer as the planet's protective "ionization layer" becomes ineffective. Under the Zagon bombardment, Metaluna heats up and turns into a lifeless "radioactive sun". The Mutant also boards the saucer and tries to attack, but dies as a result of pressure differences on the journey back to Earth. As they enter Earth's atmosphere, Exeter sends Cal and Ruth on their way in their aircraft, but Exeter himself is dying and the ship's energy is nearly depleted. The ship flies out over the ocean and rapidly accelerates until it is enclosed in a fireball and finally crashes into the water and explodes.



  • In a magazine article the special effects department admitted that the "mutant" costume originally had legs that matched the upper body but they had so much trouble making the legs look and work properly they were forced by studio deadline to simply have the mutant wear a pair of trousers. Posters of the movie show the mutant as it was supposed to appear.
  • It is believed that the Earth miniature used in the effects shots was also used to make the 50's-80's Earth in space Universal Pictures fanfare opening.
  • After the dinner at the secret facility, what the German scientist says is: "Ladies and gentlemen, the meal was excellent, but after Mozart's marvelous music I need to be alone with myself for a while. Good evening."
  • According to Faith Domergue, the pants of her costume were so skintight that she could not wear underwear. A female assistant had to help her put them on and take them off.
  • Most of the sound effects (the ship, the Interociter, etc) are recordings of radio teletype transmissions picked up on a short wave radio played at various speeds.
  • The Metaluna transport car had previously appeared in the 1953 film Abbott and Costello Go to Mars. It was slightly modified for This Island Earth.
  • The only woman from Metaluna seen in the film is at the control console for the decompression tubes on board the saucer. She is played by Charlotte Lander, in her only screen appearance.
  • After Dr. Meacham has arrived at the secret lab in Georgia and the scientists are having a dinner, a woman comments on the music playing at the background by saying: "Mozartti on oikein kaunista." This is Finnish and means "The music of Mozart is very beautiful."
  • Universal, dissatisfied with some of Joseph M. Newman's work, brought in Jack Arnold to re-shoot the Metaluna scenes.
  • Actors Jeff Morrow and Rex Reason went on record in interviews promoting this film that when the scenes involving the Mutant came up during the premiere, they were tempted to sneak out of the theater. They were embarrassed by the Mutant costume (which they likened to a giant bug), and they felt that the Mutant ruined what they thought was an otherwise decent film.
  • The Metaluna flying saucer design was based on a famous photograph of an Unidentified Flying Object. In 1950, a farmer in McMinnville, Oregon named Paul Trent photographed a strange craft flying overhead before it sped off at fantastic speed and disappeared over the horizon. The event has since become known as "The McMinnville Incident", and Trent's photographs have never been proven to be a hoax. They remain among the best photos ever taken of a UFO.

Reception and legacy[]

  • At a preview screening in January 1955, audience members were asked on their comment cards who their favorite character was. Exeter got eighty votes, Cal Meacham got fifty-three, Ruth Adams got fourteen, and the Mutant got four.
  • The film was shown in drive in theaters in the US in the summer of 1960 on a double bill with Forbidden Planet (1956).
  • A sequel to this film was announced as being in "pre-production development" at the studio in 1956 after screenwriter Franklin Coen and producer William Alland submitted a script titled "Aliens In The Skies" to Universal Pictures. However, the studio head Edward Muhl rejected the project when he saw the proposed budget for the film, which was to be shot in Technicolor and CinemaScope and feature Rex Reason and Faith Domergue reprising their roles. Muhl deemed the project too expensive, believing that a science-fiction movie in the 1950s should be a cheaply-made B-movie with a monster in it to appeal to children.
  • Shock-rock group GWAR titled their fourth album "This Toilet Earth" as an homage to and parody of this picture.
  • The internal elevator tubes used in the spacecraft and on Metaluna are same type used in The Time Tunnel TV show for its Tic Toc Center.
  • A brief homage to This Island Earth is seen in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. E.T. turns the TV on during a showing of the film, at the scene when Cal and Ruth are being abducted by the aliens and Cal says "They're pulling us up!"
  • An episode of the Wonder Woman TV series (season 2 episode 10, 1977) uses space battle and alien planet footage from this film.
  • The album "Happy Together" (1987) by the a cappella group The Nylons featured a track titled "This Island Earth".
  • The video game Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders contains key references to this movie, including large-headed aliens disguised as humans, communications through interstellar teleconferencing, and an aircraft pulled into a flying saucer.
  • New Jersey punk band The Misfits included a song tribute entitled "This Island Earth" on their 1997 album "American Psycho".
  • The alien character Orbitron, the Man from Uranus from the 1960s toy line The Outer Space Men (also known as Colorform Aliens) is based on the Mutant.
  • Weird Al Yankovic, a fan of This Island Earth, has featured the Interocitor in both his film UHF and the music video for the song "Dare to be Stupid".
  • The Metaluna Mutant is one of the many alien monsters held captive at Area 52 in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. It was later one of the aliens released by Marvin the Martian so that it could stop the main characters from taking the "Queen of Diamonds" card.
  • Experimental pop artist Eric Millikin created a large mosaic portrait of the Metaluna Mutant out of Halloween candy and spiders as part of his "Totally Sweet" series in 2013.
  • Leonard Maltin wrote: "Three stars ... Suspenseful, intelligent science fiction... Thoughtful and exciting, with excellent visuals. "[1]

Riffed Versions[]

MST3K Connections[]

  • Director Jack Arnold was also director for The Chicken of Tomorrow, Revenge of the Creature, and The Space Children.
  • Lance Fuller also portrayed Dr. Ted Erickson in The She-Creature.
  • Russell Johnson also portrayed Joe Gamble in The Space Children.
  • Coleman Francis (express deliveryman) was also director, writer, and actor for The Skydivers (man in plane with gun), Red Zone Cuba (Griffin), and The Beast of Yucca Flats (multiple roles).
  • Marc Hamilton (Metaluna inhabitant) also portrayed a priest in The Mole People.
  • Regis Parton (Metalunan mutant) was also a stuntman in The Mole People.
  • Olan Soule (first reporter) also portrayed the watch repairman in The Bubble.
  • Robert B. Williams (Webb) also portrayed a TV newsman in Teenagers from Outer Space and George Johnson in Revenge of the Creature.
  • Producer William Alland was also producer for Revenge of the Creature, The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Space Children.
  • Composer Henry Mancini was also composer for The Thing That Couldn't Die as well as stock music composer for Kitten with a Whip, Revenge of the Creature, and The Deadly Mantis.
  • Composer Hans J. Salter was also stock music composer for Women of the Prehistoric Planet, First Spaceship on Venus (U.S. version), Hercules and the Captive Women (U.S. version), The Human Duplicators, Kitten with a Whip, The Brute Man (for which he was also musical director), Revenge of the Creature, and The Thing That Couldn't Die, as well as composer for The Leech Woman and The Mole People.
  • Score collaborator Herman Stein was also stock music composer for Kitten with a Whip and The Thing That Couldn't Die as well as score collaborator for Revenge of the Creature and The Mole People.
  • Cinematographer and visual effects technician Clifford Stine also did special photography for The Creeping Terror, The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Thing That Couldn't Die.
  • Editor Virgil Vogel was also director for The Mole People.
  • Art director Alexander Golitzen was also art director for Kitten with a Whip, Revenge of the Creature, The Leech Woman, The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Thing That Couldn't Die.
  • Set decorator Russell A. Gausman was also set decorator for The Brute Man, Revenge of the Creature, The Leech Woman, The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Thing That Couldn't Die.
  • Set decorator Julia Heron was also set decorator for Revenge of the Creature and The Thing That Couldn't Die.
  • Hair stylist Joan St. Oegger was also hair stylist for The Amazing Colossal Man, Revenge of the Creature, and The Mole People.
  • Makeup artist Bud Westmore was also makeup artist for San Francisco International, Kitten with a Whip, Revenge of the Creature, The Leech Woman, The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Thing That Couldn't Die.
  • Assistant director Fred Frank was also assistant director for Revenge of the Creature.
  • Sound technician Leslie I. Carey was sound technician for Revenge of the Creature, The Leech Woman, The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Thing That Couldn't Die.
  • Special effects technician David S. Horsley also portrayed a Navy sentry in Undersea Kingdom.
  • Special effects technician Cleo E. Baker also did special effects for The Deadly Mantis.
  • Music supervisor Joseph Gershenson was also music supervisor for Kitten with a Whip, Revenge of the Creature, The Mole People, The Deadly Mantis, and The Thing That Couldn't Die, as well as producer for The Leech Woman.
  • Script supervisor Dorothy Hughes was also script supervisor for The Bubble.
  • Mutant constructor Jack Kevan was also and creature designer for Revenge of the Creature and mole people mask maker for The Mole People.


  1. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, 2015 Edition