Derek and Betty in Teenagers from Outer Space
Rebel alien "Derek" (David Love)
and "Betty" (Dawn Anderson) in
Teenagers from Outer Space

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Killers from Outer Space

The experience working with Roger Corman led directly to Graeff's writing a heart-felt science-fiction script entitled Killers from Outer Space and, modeling himself after Corman, Graeff set about getting investors, hiring actors, and planning the production. Securing some of the $14,000 budget from actor Gene Sterling, Graeff placed a small ad in The Hollywood Reporter looking for more investors. The ad was answered by British actor Bryan Pearson (billed as Bryan Grant), who put up $5000 in exchange for playing the role of Thor, the evil alien, and casting his wife Ursula Pearson (billed as Ursula Hansen) in the small role of Hilda.

Filmed in the fall of 1956, the film changed titles several times before it was eventually released as Teenagers from Outer Space by Warner Brothers in June of 1959. The film, now considered a cult classic, tells the tale of Derek (played by Chuck Roberts, a.k.a David Love) a space alien with a conscience who must save Earth from an invasion of giant flesh-eating monsters. It was shot entirely on location in Hollywood, California. The final title of the film was apparently not Graeff's choice. The last title he gave to the film before selling it to Warner Brothers was The Boy From Out of This World.

When it was finally released, it appeared as the lower part of a double bill alongside the second Godzilla film, Gigantis the Fire Monster, and was shown almost exclusively at drive-in theaters. Critics were not kind to the film, though Graeff was mentioned in the Los Angeles Times and Variety as a director with talent and a creative approach to a minimal budget. Audiences and theater exhibitors were vocal in their contempt for the film.

In the early 1960s, however, the film was sold to television, where it played frequently for the next thirty years and gained a cult following as a supreme example of a film whose intentions far outstripped its budget and for its infamous ray gun that turned living things into instant skeletons, an effect lovingly borrowed by Tim Burton in his film Mars Attacks!.

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The film Teenagers from Outer Space is in the public domain. All stills taken from the film are not subject to copyright restrictions.