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  George Worthing Yates
  Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
  Michael York
  Robert Zemeckis
  Terri Zimmern
  George Zucco
(1900–1975). American writer.

Wrote: Them! (story; script Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes) (Gordon Douglas 1954); It Came from Beneath the Sea (with Hal Smith) (Robert Gordon 1955); Earth Versus the Flying Saucers (with Raymond T. Marcus [Bernard Gordon]) (Fred F. SEARS 1956); Space Master X-7 (with Daniel Mainwaring) (Edward BERNDS 1958); Attack of the Puppet People (Bert I. GORDON 1958); The Flame Barrier (with Pat Fielder) (Paul Landers 1958); The Spider (with Laszlo Gorog) (Bert I. GORDON 1958); Frankenstein—1970 (with Richard Landau) (Howard W. Koch 1958); War of the Colossal Beast (B. I. Gordon 1958); Tormented (B. I. Gordon 1960).
Although there were several strange and striking films in the early 1950s that demonstrated in various ways what science fiction films of that era might have become—and the short list might include Destination Moon, The Thing, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Man from Planet X, and It Came from Outer Space—there was one film that precisely exemplified what science fiction film in the 1950s actually became, and that was Them! In a manner more clear and amenable to imitation than other possible progenitors one might identify, such as The War of the Worlds, Them! laid out all the conventions to follow: the appearance of a monstrous alien menace, often an immense version of a familiar creature; a massive and well orchestrated military response, allowing glimpses of all levels of the bureaucracy from the President of the United States down to the foot soldiers; a few scientists brought in to advise the high command—always including one muscular hunk to function as hero and one beautiful woman to function as romantic interest—who alternately dispense ludicrous scientific explanations, clever schemes for combating the menace, and impassioned protests against the less-that-brilliant plans of the generals; and a narrative structured as an episodic war movie, increasingly ferocious encounters with the menace interrupted by languid sequences of recuperation, preparation, and expository dialogue. Having established the pattern with his story for Them!, George Worthing Yates went on, like many others, to follow it several more times in lesser productions.

Yates—a figure so obscure as to be ignored by standard biographical references—can hardly be considered a splendid screenwriter; judging by the credits, his script for Them! was so flawed as to demand extensive reworking by two other hands, relegating him to a story credit, and the credited co-authors of several other scripts probably came on board to perform similar repairs. But there are definite signs of creative intelligence in his films: the immediate successors to Them!, It Came from Beneath the Sea and Earth Versus the Flying Saucers, made clever use of well-known landmarks for their epic battles and inspired Ray HARRYHAUSEN to do some of his finest work, and even the weaker efforts of Bert I. GORDON, like War of the Colossal Beast, have energetic and engaging moments. Moreover, though originally noted for his scenarios of frightening giganticism, Yates could also be imaginatively horrific at a more personal level. The cult classic Tormented singularly features Richard CARLSON haunted by the body parts of his murdered wife, while the rarely-seen Space Master X-7 brilliantly adapts the story line of The Quatermass Xperiment (aka The Creeping Unknown) to depict an infectious fungus from space, "bloodrust," spread by contaminated humans and ready to ooze unexpectedly from any corner. This was the film, more than any other, that terrified me as a child; for weeks afterward, I looked about the world uneasily, worried that bloodrust might suddenly trickle out from under the closet door. Other films like The Flame Barrier and Frankenstein—1970, if not extremely successful, still display some inventive touches. Only The Spider, Yates's surrender to the worst trend of the late 1950s—the marriage of the monster movie and teen exploitation film also attempted in The Giant Gila Monster and Village of the Giants—is a complete embarrassment.

It is perhaps appropriate that information on Yates's activities before and after his seven-year career in science fiction film is so hard to come by; for it is as if, like his most famous creations, he came from beneath the surface, effected some spectacular and entertaining damage, and finally returned from whence he came.

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