Writer, director, producer Robert Gurney Jr., screenwriter behind an inarguable drive-in classic, Invasion of the Saucer Men, plucked elements from several sci-fi sub-genres to concoct this cheap, yet strangely savory cinema stew.

Terror From the Year 5,000, a 1958 AIP release, has more to recommend it than a first glance reveals. It does indeed contain a pinch of this film and a dash of that one, yet one can't help feeling that, once the initial viewing has been digested, Gurney came up with something a little different, maybe even a little better than average.

Set on an isolated Florida island, (a dash of Dr. Moreau) it details the experiments of two renegade scientists utilizing a matter transporter (a pinch of The Fly) to transport objects across the breech of time itself (The Time Machine and countless others). Needing outside verification of their findings, they consult a cynical geologist (beefily handsome Ward Costello), who soon wades into their swampy retreat (Attack of the Giant Leeches, Swamp Women) to investigate, consequently laying the groundwork for a lame love-triangle (every movie ever made) involving the elder doc's daughter.

It seems that, on the sly, the younger of the two technicians has succeeded in delivering a four-eyed cat into the here-and-now, but to conceal his nefarity, he packs it into a suitcase and drops it in the swamp. His cover is blown when a shapely female mutant, bedecked in a black leotard, steps from their time portal, assaulting the doc, before scampering into the swamp. What seasoned B film fan would have guessed that the post-atomic future is peopled by mutants (Day the World Ended, World Without End, et. al.) who need burly, present-day men to repopulate.

Who cares that the plot is a patchwork? Gurney's earnest approach makes up for this basic vagary of drive-in cinema. Throughout the film, flat, unimaginative domestic scenes give way to odd camera angles and dramatic lighting, and Gurney succeeds in turning his boiler-room basement lab into a genuinely creepy set.

The bucktoothed, mutant makeup doesn't wash, and a protracted fist fight is stretched a bit thin, as is the leering and lusting of a grubby groundskeeper.

One scene of note depicts our protagonists emerging from a downtown theater, surrounded by posters ballyhooing Herb Strock's Teenage Frankenstein. Costello even amuses his date with a quick impression of the monster's menacing gait.

In summation, splicing genres in hopes of delivering boffo box office has rarely, if ever, been artistically provident. Evidence is offered in the form of the following films, each an example of a bargain-basement hybrid gone slightly awry:

The Phantom Planet (1960)
It's very surprising that this C-grade gem, chronicling the travails of an astronaut who crash-lands on a planet inhabited by tiny folk, isn't revered as a camp classic. It features sagely silent-film great Francis X. Bushman as Sesom (spell it backwards), Richard (Jaws, Eegah) Kiel as a laughably menacing alien and flight suits left over from TV's Men Into Space.

Acting: C
Atmosphere: C
Fun: A-

Curse of the Undead (1959)
Dark, drooling Michael Pate is featured as a gunslinging vampire stalking the old west. He bites off more than he can chew in the form of cattle baron Bruce Gordon (Frank Nitti of Untouchables fame) and Rawhide's Eric Fleming, who wins the day as town pastor.

Acting: B+
Atmosphere: D-
Fun: B-

"If your flesh doesn't crawl, it's on too tight!"

The Night Visitor

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Invasion of the Blood Farmers

"See it - feel it - taste it!"
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