Directed by Gordon Flemyng
Written by Milton Subotsky
Following up Dr. Who and the Daleks, Amicus released its second and final color film based on Doctor Who with Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.. While the first film was based on the serial “The Daleks”, this sequel was based on the second Dalek serial, “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”. It also was a failure at the box office and ensured that this would be the last take on the series starring Peter Cushing and denying us a planned third installment adapting the other Season 2 Dalek story, “The Chase”.
Yes, Cushing returns as the bumbling Dr. Who but this time his companions have changed. Roberta Tovey returns as his granddaughter Susan, but Ian and Barbara (who were in the original serial) have been replaced with Bernard Cribbins’ Tom Campbell and Jill Curzon’s Louise respectively as a policeman and his niece. Yes, it’s that Bernard Cribbins who would later get a far more prominent role on the show itself decades later as Wilfred Mott, grandfather to companion Donna Noble and even a brief companion himself who was SPOILERS responsible for the end of The Tenth Doctor’s era. END OF SPOILERS.
The film opens on a gritty scene of an explosive robbery in progress with Cribbins’ officer being attacked and stumbling into the Tardis. Of course, thanks to the Doctor basically kidnapping him and taking him to the future, the robbers who aren’t afraid to blow up a building and assault the police get away which is just lovely. Thankfully for the film’s sake, they do eventually resolve this (with Tom heading back in time and knocking out the getaway drivers and then each of the robbers), but it really did involve a level of accuracy in using Tardis that the last movie’s Dr. Who clearly didn’t earn. I’d say this film was unrelated to the first, but there’s an explicit reference to the events of the last film.
Set in London in 2150 AD, the city is in ruins and at first seemingly abandoned. It is not however as the world has been taken over by the Daleks who are aided in their pursuit by brainwashed humans in futuristic clothing including a helmet with radio attached. “Creatively” called robomen, they are essentially proto-Cybermen but here function mostly as cannon fodder and curiously as comic relief. The Daleks themselves are all over the place in terms of threat level. A Dalek is easily defeated by being pushed down a long ramp and at times can be overpowered by a single person or two in a pinch thanks to the fact that they don’t always feel the need to fire their guns, letting the humans basically do what they want at completely arbitrary moments. They can be explosively destroyed by just hitting them with a car and the famous “Dalek coming out of the water” cliffhanger scene is no longer a dramatic scene of suspense, just a quick introduction to them.
At 84 minutes, the film is longer than the last but feels so much quicker and better paced. There is less padding though not none as evidenced by an extended comedic bit involving the Robomen and the bigger budget is truly felt as it is larger in scale and looks even better than the first film’s improved visuals. Thanks in part to Cushing’s illness (which mirrored Hartnell’s frequently ill health), the cast is often divided in the same way the show often did. First with Louise and Susan falling in with a group of survivors and later breaking them into three groups of Dr. Who and a younger man, Susan and an older man, and Tom and Louise for a spell as they all journey towards the Dalek mine. This mission gives the perfect opportunity for the film to better use its cast (though they are all still thinly defined, perhaps even more so this time) while having them all clearly building to a climax. It’s a problem the show struggled with, usually involving Ian involved in tangential plots.
All of this builds to Dr. Who taking on the Daleks head on and using the Robomen against their former masters while Tom is able to use the Daleks’ own bomb against them, deflecting it enough to create a magnetic force which destroys them all, their mine, and causes their ship to slowly crash into the ground where it explodes. It’s a satisfying end to a movie which is a definite improvement on the first film. It’s still a downgrade from the actual serial in terms of plot, but I enjoyed it for a bit of 60s sci-fi. Cushing portrayal still feels off, but thanks to some reduced screentime and that thinner characterization, it’s much easier to just get lost in the film and accept it. I can’t say it left me wishing there were more of these, but if there were it would at least replace the disinterest at having to watch them with a bit of excitement.
– I once again watched the Riffrax version and hopefully it didn’t affect my grade noticeably since this was the first time I viewed the film.
– As I said last week, there’s also a documentary Dalekmania about the production of both movies and which I rented in preparation of both of these reviews.
– Opening on “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” will always win you some points
– Andrew Keir, who has a role as Wyler in the film is better known as Bernard Quatermass in Hammer’s Quatermass and the Pit
– The interior of Tardis has received another makeover and I prefer this one to the last film at least.
– I quite like the Dalek flying saucer patrol ship design
– I love how quickly the Daleks put down a Dr. Who led rebellion of the Robomen, but I sure hope they were beyond saving or otherwise it would have been a Charge of the Light Brigade worthy massacre.
– This is the serial where Susan got left behind at the end, but that’s a plot point the film wisely ignores considering how poorly it was implemented in the original
– I truly apologize for two weeks of writing out “Dr. Who”. It was even more painful for me to do than for you to read but that is his character’s name and it needed to be emphasized that he’s a very different character from The Doctor.
– This Week in Cliffhangers: Nothing really as the final scene depicts Tom happily driving off with the unconscious criminals.
Next Up: We’ll see if I get to “The Dominators” next week or the following as I have other things I have also fallen behind on writing. That serial however is where we will finally be caught up with where I left off to start this feature and I’m excited to have the end of this rewatch in sight.
“The Mind Robber” (Where we head off into the great unknown together)