Shirley Thompson Versus the Aliens (1972)

I never thought I would see this one.

In fact, I’d heard it was lost, and nobody seemed to have seen it for years.

Heck, most Science Fiction film critics haven’t even heard of this one.

What’s next, Iron Bread?

It definitely came as a shock when Glen Ivory, a member in good standing of the Official Rivets Club sent me a link for this very strange Australian film.

You should be able to guess within the first few minutes that this film was made in the Seventies.

We have high contrast black and white; curious images; oddball editing; strange, possibly symbolic characters; and a very Seventies rock score.

And all that is before you learn it’s set at a mental hospital, and get a bit of pixilated action and a point-of-view drug trip when Shirley is sedated by the nurses.

As this one is from the Seventies, it should come as no surprise that Shirley is a once rebellious teenager turned disappointed but very pregnant housewife.

Her doctors believe that she is afraid of being pregnant, but Shirley has a very different story:

Aliens.

Oh, you guessed.  Must be the title.

She tells them of how the aliens contacted her at an amusement park in 1955 and gave her a message to share with the rest of the world.

Somewhere along the way it all turns to color as Shirley and her friends try to change the world.

But I probably don’t need to tell you that it doesn’t work out.

Now let’s be honest about this one:  this is a very arty film.

Admittedly, after the early scenes, the editing — and particularly the odd freeze frame on certain images — settles down into something fairly close to normal and the film becomes a little more conventional as it follows Shirley’s past.

Although we still get a few titles cards popping up once in a while and an unseen narrator who sounds like the announcer in an old newsreel.

Its real claim to fame is that Jim Sharman directed this one.  The name might not mean much to most of you, but you’ve probably heard of his most famous project, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Now Jim was more of a stage director than a film director, even if, during the early years of his career, he directed this film, and actually directed The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s original stage musical version before filming it.  He directed a few more movies later on, but ended up with a long theatrical career back in his native Australia.

Somehow, though, I really don’t think there’s too much in common between his most famous film and this one.

If you are expecting the sort of film that title suggests then you won’t be happy with Shirley Thompson Versus the Aliens.

Heck, you never even see the aliens.

If you aren’t into arty films, then probably this one won’t make much sense to you — and I’m reasonably certain you won’t enjoy it. This sort of film is definitely an acquired taste.

But I’ve been watching weird and overly artistic films since I was a kid, so I actually like this one.  I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it again, but it is worth a look for those of you who love this sort of Seventies weirdness.

And I know you’re out there.

To recap: this isn’t a girl fighting voracious space monsters, or an earlier Rocky Horror Picture Show movie.  It has odd camera angles, a strange sense of humor, and some rather vague and unfocused social commentary.

But it is an interesting minor Art House effort.

So try it, but remember, it is somewhat challenging.

Like most Seventies Art House Science Fiction…

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