Two reporters – one American, one British – are traveling to cover an event when their train car detaches from the rest of the train and they end up far off course. They end up in a fictionalized Eastern European state called Gudavia where things aren’t quite pleasant, especially for unexpected visitors.
The men are desperate to get out of dodge, but they soon discover that there’s a big story going on in this strange place where they’ve landed, and they decide to extend their stay a bit to investigate. What they discover is that a doctor is turning Gudavia’s people into… well, “Gamma People.” The doctor has been pelting the local youth with gamma rays in order to turn them into a little herd of geniuses, but these experiments don’t always turn out as planned.
The Gamma People is a very odd but interesting little piece of filmmaking.
Equal parts comedy and science-fiction thriller, the film comes off as very silly. Of course, the prospect of people being bombarded with rays in order to alter them into super-beings is quite terrifying, but the consequence of the procedure shown here – zombie-like, brain dead folks wearing very obvious makeup and acting like stereotypical “creep” characters – brings more laughs than fright. The sense of comedy, while enjoyable to watch, does nothing to help the less-than-scary “thriller” elements of this film.
However, that’s not to say that silly is bad. The film certainly isn’t dull to watch. It isn’t the most fun I’ve had watching a 1950s sci-fi film, but it’s a pleasant viewing experience nonetheless.
The music of The Gamma People is far superior to the silly sound effects that one expects from this type of film. Some of the music is absolutely beautiful, and these tracks set the mood for many of the very suspenseful scenes, though there are few.
The performances are generally commendable, with the best coming from the gamma-infected children. Michael Caridia is extremely effective and is the stand out of the film as a sinister, Gamma-struck young boy named Hugo. The two leads are a bit of a let-down, letting themselves be outshined by the residents of Gudavia, but this doesn’t hamper the film much since it’s already so silly.
The Gamma People isn’t a great sci-fi film, but it’s an interesting horror-comedy with a very distinctly post-World War II plot. The score: 2.5/5