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Terror from the Year 5000 (1958) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Prof. Erling and his financial backer Victor build a prototype time machine to snatch objects from the past. Latest find, a statuette, radiometrically dates to 5200 AD! When this draws colleague Richard Hedges to the island lab, Erling reveals that 20th-century objects put in the machine seem to be "traded" for analogous future objects by intelligent life. And on the sly, Victor's been trying to get a living visitor. Does the future need help, or is the present in danger?


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Synopsis

  • The movie opens with a voice-over listing a few technological accomplishments: "In the year 1947, man broke through the sound barrier. In 1958 man launched the first satellite and pierced the space barrier. Now in an isolated area of central Florida man struggles to penetrate the most imposing barrier of all--the time barrier." We cut to a lab with Professor Howard Erling (Frederic Downs) and his assistant, and financial backer, Victor (John Stratton) working on another experimental probe into the future. A statue appears in the apparatus and for a moment a faint image of an adult woman is seen. Unfortunately this latest experiment is deemed unsatisfactory due to excessive radiation.

    In a museum, we meet the curator, Dr. Robert Hedges (Ward Costello) and his secretary Miss Blake (Beatrice Furdeaux). He is reviewing a telegram from an old friend, Prof. Erling, asking that a statue be carbon dated to determine its age. They open the box and remove a very modern looking headless female nude about 12 inches high and made of an unknown metallic alloy. After initial tests, Hedges determines the statue was made in 5200 A.D. He decides to go down to Spooner Beach, FL with the statue and meet personally with Erling and investigate. The laboratory he sent the statue to informed him that is was quite radioactive. Hedges wants an explanation.

    When Dr. Hedges arrives in Florida, he discovers it was Prof Erling's daughter, Claire (Joyce Holden) who sent the telegram and statue, but she was unaware it was radioactive. She explains also that her father was fired from the missle center and lost his security clearance and has moved to an island because their experiments cause interference with television reception. On the boat ride over to the island the engine quits and they have to row the remaining distance. She tells Hedges the motor reacts that way only when the apparatus is operated at a high power setting. Unbeknownst to Prof. Erling, Victor is doing his own experiments and using the higher power setting. Erling is happy that Dr. Hedges has arrived and can provide outside verification of their experiments. Erling explains that they have suspended their experiments because of excess radiation.

    Attempting to get Dr. Hedges settled in for the night, Angelo (Fred Herrick) described as chief cook and bottle washer can't get the spare room door open. Victor tells him to put Dr. Hedges in his room for the evening. That night, while everyone is asleep, Victor sneaks down to the locked room and retrieves a couple of suitcases and walks down to the lake to dispose of them in the water. He doesn't see that Hedges followed him and saw what he was doing.

    The next morning Hedges and Claire go swimming. Hedges wants to see what Victor threw in the lake. He finds a multi-eyed cat in one of the suitcases. After his swim, he returns to the lab to witness an experiment. Erling places an object in the machine and it is transformed into a metallic object. Erling explains that it wasn't transformed, but exchanged with a future civilization he's contacted. Hedges is skeptical, and insists that an object of his choosing be sent through the machine. Erling agrees. Hedges pulls out his Phi Beta Kappa key and suggests it be the next experiment. What is exchanged is a medallion with greek writing on the back that translates "Save Us".

    That evening Bob and Claire are on the porch and Victor joins them. It is becoming clear that Claire has developed feelings for Dr. Hedges and Victor is becoming aware and jealous. Claire retires to her room and undresses. Angelo is outside peeping. She notices and screams. Meanwhile Victor returns to the lab for more of his own unauthorized experiments, and this time he manages to bring something through that attacks him, leaving him with a nasty radiation burn. He manages to keep it from getting out of the machine. Hedges and Claire's father, Prof. Erling, discover the peeper is Angelo. Victor exits the lab bleeding. Hedges goes up to explain to Claire that is was Angelo who was peeping at her. They kiss, but are observed by Prof. Erling who expresses his disapproval. Returning to his room, Hedges notices the blood drops and tells Prof. Erling that Victor has been experimenting and brought life through the machine. Erling does not believe him.

    The next morning Hedges returns to the lake to retrieve the suit cases to provide Erling with the proof of his allegations. Victors sees this and attacks Hedges in the lake. He loses the fight and Prof. Erling is shown the radiation burns. They take the boat over to the mainland and drop Victor off at the hospital to have a qualified radiologist assess the burns. Victor leaves the hospital before he can be examined and heads to a local bar and gets very drunk. He steals the boat and returns to the lab. The Erlings and Hedges stop by the same bar a little later and are told that Victor was there and was asked to leave. They also notice that the television in the bar has a very distinctive pattern of interference, and the Erlings inform Hedges that it is the result of the apparatus being operated at a very high power level. They race back to the island and discover the lab in disarray and Victor babbling about something coming out of the machine. They call for a doctor. They don't yet know that Victor was successful in bringing back an adult female (Salome Jens). The doctor examines Victor and suggests a nurse watch Victor while he recuperates. The future woman kills Angelo. Hedges and Claire head back to the lake to recover Victor's suit cases and discover Angelo's body.

    Victor explains to Prof. Erling, Claire, and Hedges about his experiments and the woman he brought through the machine. Meanwhile, outside, the nurse encounters the future woman and is killed. Using a device she brought with her, she steals the face of the nurse and returns to the house in her uniform. Erling and Hedges don radiation suits and set out to find the future woman, unaware the nurse has assumed her identity. Claire remains in the house, but suspects the nurse isn't quite what she seems. Through hypnosis, the nurse explains her mission to Victor and tries to convince him to return with her to the future. He is told that radiation has damaged the genes of future humans and new pre-atomic genes are man's only salvation for the future. Victor and the nurse head down to the lab, but Claire stops Victor from entering the machine. Claire and the nurse/future woman struggle, and Clair pulls off her stolen face. The future woman's radiation mutated face is revealed and Victor snaps out of his trance. Erling and Hedges return to the house in time to shoot the future woman. Wounded, she enters the machine, but Victor tries to stop her and shorts out the machine and both are killed. We close looking at the face of the Terror from the Year 5000.

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