Film (1972; vt Dune Rollers). Arista Productions Inc/New World Pictures. Produced by Roger Corman and Harry Essex. Directed by Harry Essex. Written by Essex based on "Dune Roller" (December 1951 Astounding) by Julian May, credited on screen as Judy Dikty. Cast includes Eric Allison, Mason Caulfield, Maria De Aragon and Marvin Howard. 75 minutes. Colour.
Prologue: a huge ball of fire falls from the sky into a large lake as a Native American watches from the shore; the fireball is an Alien of unknown origin which pursues and reduces the watcher to ashes which blow away in the breeze. Jumping to 1972, biologist Dr Ian Thorne (Howard) is researching the effects of Pollution near the lake when he notices strange rocks which intermittently glow. He collects two of these, and soon meets Jeanne (De Aragon) who has come to the countryside to recover emotionally after a recent divorce. They already know each other slightly and renew their friendship. Shortly, the entity emerges from the lake and begins stalking anybody who has one of the curious rocks, reducing them to ash. Thorne suspects something strange is happening, although local authorities are initially unbelieving. Thorne calls in an older Scientist, Willy Seppel (Allison); they deduce that the stones which give off energy once fell from space. Local legends tell of a "dune roller" appearing once every century or so, to wreak havoc around the lake. Jeanne is almost a victim one night while boating, but throws her stone overboard in time to divert the creature's attention. Dr Allison is killed when trying to destroy the "cremator" from a motorboat with a shotgun. Throne sets a trap using dynamite, with several of the stones as bait, and blows up the alien. Some stones still remain; it is hinted that these may eventually grow into another alien.
This is a poor film adaption of the May story, previously dramatized in the Television series Tales of Tomorrow (1951-1953). No real effort is made to explain why the perhaps intelligent alien is hostile. Nor is it clear whether the stones are its eggs or pieces of itself which broke off when it first crashed to Earth; the script suggests both possibilities at different times. This was Essex's final film and is slightly better than his previous Octaman (1971). [GFi]
Previous versions of this entry