Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Terrornauts 1967 For Your Old School Space Opera

This is a trashtastic movie for your Sunday viewing. Made in 1967 this one has it all from a great plot to the "Doctor Who" style sets. Its all there and it's waiting to be used. 

The Plot according to Wiki: 
Project Star Talk is based at a UK radio telescope site, its mission is to listen for radio signals from other intelligences. Dr Joe Burke (Simon Oaks) is the head of the project assisted by his small team consisting of electronics expert Ben Keller (Stanley Meadows) and office manager Sandy Lund (Zena Marshall). Due to the lack of success reported by the Site Manager, Dr. Henry Shore (Max Adrian), Project Star Talk is given 90 days in order to report positive results. During this period an accountant Mr. Yellowlees (Charles Hawtrey) is sent to look over the project's accounts. As luck would have it, a repeating signal is received by the project, but the signal is only coming from a small asteroid with no atmosphere in the outer Solar System. Despite this, Dr Burke spends the balance of his grant to equip the telescope with a powerful transmitter to contact the source of the signals. The night of the transmission, Mr Yellowlees and Mrs. Jones (Patricia Hayes) who runs the tea trolley, stay to witness this historic event. While waiting for a response, Dr. Burke tells of his father's discovery at an archaeological dig in France of a cube that gave him strange dreams as a boy, inspiring him to become an astronomer . The signal is sent and reaches the asteroid. The asteroid has on it a huge installation that receives the radio signal and answers it with a spaceship sent riding down the radio beam to the point of transmission. When the spacecraft arrives at Project Star Talk, it picks up the transmitter shed and carries it, the project staff and the 2 witnesses to the alien installation. The telescope staff believe that the transmitter shed exploded, killing the Star Talk team.
Upon arrival at the asteroid, the team is greeted by a robot that takes them through a series of tests. After each test, they are provided with rewards such as food for the intelligence test, a weapon for the motivation test and a "Knowledge Cube" for the knowledge test. After a tour of a control room, they are then brought to a chamber with a small platform and a figure in a chair, who simply happens to be the long dead caretaker of the base. As they head back to the control room, Ben bumps Sandy onto the platform and she is "transposed" in a puff of smoke to a distant planet peopled by savages who try to kill her. Dr. Burke then follows Sandy to the planet armed with the gun and effects a rescue before she is killed discovering the secret of the Knowledge Cubes in the process. Dr Burke plugs in to the cube, and the horrible secret is revealed, the planet of savages is the home of the survivors of an interstellar war that is fast approaching Earth, and the Star Talk team are the only ones who can use the advanced weapons of the installation to stop an invading enemy fleet from destroying the Earth. The team searches frantically through the huge library of cubes for the instructions to use the weapons of the fort but are unsuccessful. as the enemy fleet comes into range, the robot delivers the cubes needed just in time. the battle is joined but the Star Talk team has a hard time hitting the aliens with missiles so with the cubes instruction, the fortress's engines are started and they rise off the asteroid to intercept the aliens, who nearing defeat, then crash into the fortress. Dr. Burke sets the "Transposer plates" for Earth and the Star Talk team, Mr. Yellowlees and Mrs Jones are transposed to the very archaeological dig in France where Dr. Burk's father found the cube so long ago. While they congratulate one another on their luck, a French Gendarme (André Maranne) arrives just in time to arrest them for trespassing.

Using The Terrornauts For Your OSR Campaign

The Terrornauts actually delivers quite a bit that can be used for any retrocloned science fantasy game.
Lets take the Star Talk Group themselves, this organization has the backing to become the UK twin of SGI from the Star Gate television series. If the modern upgrade works for Doctor Who it could potentially work for this group. They've got a network of "Transposer" plates that are the remains of an ancient stellar empire at their disposal.

 The plot is the perfect set up for getting those Time Displaced characters into the interstellar action of Star Ships and Space Men Second edition. Then of course there's the mega-dungeon space station right in the middle of the picture with the robot straight out of X plorers. 

Who knows what other potential treasures is on those "knowledge cubes" and lets not even get into that space fleet that's wreckage from the end of this picture. 

I'm going to bet that you could see an entire series of adventures just spinning off of this film. The characters are recuited by a secret government organization to find, explore, and catalog the remains of this once great thriving interstellar race. 
Could there be some connection to an entirely new galaxy as hinted at in the film? Perhaps a network of vast worlds that allow the PCs to leap from on world to another across billions of light years. 
Throw some Lovecraft  mythos in and your ready to go with a Terminal Space Campaign. 

The Terrornauts remains a guilty pleasure after my fiancee from the UK showed it to me on VHS many years ago. 

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