Kronos is a 1957 black-and-white science fiction film directed by Kurt Neumann, released by Regal Films, starring Jeff Morrow and Barbara Lawrence. The film is also known as Kronos, Destroyer of the Universe.
In the years since its release Kronos has been widely praised both for its above-average storyline and its farsighted portrayal of the consequences of over consumption of both natural and man-made resources; it has achieved minor cult status as a result.
A huge, blinking flying saucer that's approaching earth emits a glowing object. This object races ahead of it to intercept a man who's driving down a lonely road. It takes over the man's body and directs him to Central Labs, a U.S. research facility that's been tracking the saucer (supposing it to be an asteroid).
The saucer approaches New York; and that it can change course proves its true nature scientifically. The possessed man forces his way into the lab, takes over the body of the chief scientist, and drops dead. The possessed scientist directs that three nuclear missiles be fired at the saucer. Everyone is shocked when they fail to destroy it. It crashes into the Pacific Ocean near Mexico. Impatient with the delay involved in getting a formal expedition to the crash scene, two scientist buddies and the film-processing girlfriend of one of them go there. While swimming and romancing, the couple sees the saucer appear on the surface. Terrified, they flee to their inn, gorge themselves on burritos and go to sleep.
Next morning the scientists and girl look out the window of the inn to see Kronos, a gigantic slow-moving machine that has appeared on the beach. Its four-legged body transforms into a cube when threatened. It features two mobile antennae that resemble the terminals of a capacitor. They use a small helicopter to land on its top, and glimpse its inner workings before being forced to flee.
Under the direction of the possessed scientist at the lab, who happens to have a manila folder full of lists of power stations and atom-bomb arsenals, Kronos methodically attacks power plants in Mexico, draining them of all their energy. In doing so Kronos grows in size each time, becoming larger as it consumes more and more energy. Four Mexican Air Force fighter planes attack Kronos with machine guns; but this only provokes it to destroy them.
In a lucid moment, the possessed scientist tells his returned friends that Kronos is an accumulator sent by an alien race that has exhausted its own natural resources; they have sent it to drain all the Earth's available power and return it to their dying world.
The U. S. Air Force decides to destroy Kronos by using an atomic bomb on it. This is done using a U. S. Air Force B-47 Bomber; but Kronos only absorbs the bomb's nuclear power, and the machine grows to titanic size. It now threatens to drain all the world's cities and starve the Earth of all power.
As the monster approaches Los Angeles, scientists devise a clever plan that reverses Kronos' polarity, causing it to feed upon itself, destroying the machine in a huge explosion.
The Earth is saved...for now. But will the alien menace be a threat again someday? The underwater flying saucer is available, should a sequel to this movie ever be contemplated.
Jeff Morrow as Dr. Leslie Gaskell
Barbara Lawrence as Vera Hunter
John Emery as Dr. Hubbell Eliot
George O'Hanlon as Dr. Arnold Culver
Morris Ankrum as Dr. Albert Stern
Kenneth Alton as McCrary - The Pickup Driver
John Parrish as Gen. Perry
Jose Gonzales-Gonzales as Manuel Ramirez
Richard Harrison as Pilot
Marjorie Stapp as Nurse
Robert Shayne as Air Force General
Don Eitner as Weather Operator
Gordon Mills as Sergeant
John Halloran as Lab Central Security Guard
Kronos was filmed in a little more than two weeks (mid-January to late January 1957) in California; special effects were created by Jack Rabin, Irving Block, and Louis DeWitt. The idea of an alien machine absorbing energy is similar to the giant alien machine from the later (1966) Star Trek television episode "The Doomsday Machine" which destroys planets and uses them to fuel itself.
George O'Hanlon, who plays Dr. Arnold Culver in the film, was later known as the voice of George Jetson in the popular cartoon series The Jetsons.
When the film was first released in 1957, Variety magazine gave the film a favorable review. The staff wrote, "Kronos is a well-made, moderate budget science-fictioner which boasts quality special effects that would do credit to a much higher-budgeted film ... John Emery is convincing as the lab head forced by the outer-space intelligence to direct the monster. Barbara Lawrence is in strictly for distaff interest, but pretty."
Film critic Dennis Schwartz was disappointed in the film's screenplay and the acting. He wrote, "German emigre to Hollywood, Kurt Neumann (Tarzan and the Amazons/Son of Ali Baba/She Devil), directs this b/w shot dull so-so sci-fi film, that's played straight-forward, is humorless and all the thespians are wooden. It's based on the story by Irving Block and the weak script is written by Lawrence Louis Goldman."