KLAATU YOU (26)
June 24, 2020
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite pre-Star Wars science fiction movies.
THE ANGRY RED PLANET | d. IB MELCHIOR | 1960
I saw this in a theater when I was a kid. I liked stumbling rubber monsters and model space stuff and man-eating plants with twining tentacles, and this movie had them all. Plus: marionettes, puppet-ed lady-eating plants, and a well-designed alien-masked dude that appears in the spaceship window, frowning — causing a lady scientist to scream and faint.
Purportedly filmed in “CineMagic,” The Angry Red Planet is a very low-budget flick with an admirably wild imagination — which made me assume, wrongly, for many years, that it was a George Pal movie. Recently, I learned that it was directed by Ib Melchior, who’d go on to write the screenplays for Reptilicus (1961), Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962), and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), not to mention an episode of The Outer Limits, as well as the story that was adapted as Death Race 2000 (1975).
Watching The Angry Red Planet now, I see it as a story of lust run amok. The leader of the first manned expedition to Mars, Colonel O’Bannion (Gerald Mohr), who rarely touches a control knob, spends many minutes sweating and clutching and grossly innuendoing Dr. Iris Ryan (Naura Hayden), whom he calls “Irish” as part of his attempt to move in on her. O’Bannion is a terrible wrecked Neanderthal type of a man, but viewers were supposed to think he is OK; in fact, he is the scariest monster in the movie. The courageous Dr. Ryan, who helps save the Colonel’s life when his arm is infected by an alien growth, is living in an invisible hell. The Chief Warrant Officer (Sam Jacobs) cracks wise with the vavavoom-type remarks, too; and the sexless Professor (Les Tremayne) doesn’t intercede. The crew’s behavior makes the ship — whose consoles appear to be fashioned of cardboard — seem greasy.
I saw a different movie, when I was a kid: an adventure involving a tree-sized screaming bat spider crab puppet that gets its eyes burnt out with a cheap ray gun (with a distracting dangling wire). Which seemed awful to do to the monster, which was standing around minding its own business. The story is related in a crazy red flashback — a solarized red, which is very nice haze to gaze through for half the movie. It looks pretty 1960 Mars-like.
Maybe I’ll watch The Angry Red Planet again some day, to see if a future viewing reveals some new, even worse kind of sleaze that I can’t even imagine now.
KLAATU YOU: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Matthew De Abaitua on ZARDOZ | Miranda Mellis on METROPOLIS | Rob Wringham on THE INVISIBLE MAN | Michael Grasso on THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN | Gordon Dahlquist on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | Erik Davis on DARK STAR | Carlo Rotella on THE OMEGA MAN | Madeline Ashby on KISS ME DEADLY | Adam McGovern on SILENT RUNNING | Michael Lewy on THIS ISLAND EARTH | Josh Glenn on WILD IN THE STREETS | Mimi Lipson on BARBARELLA vs. SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | Vanessa Berry on THE FLY | Lynn Peril on ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN | Peggy Nelson on SOLARIS | Adrienne Crew on LOGAN’S RUN | Ramona Lyons on THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH | Kio Stark on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Dan Fox on FANTASTIC PLANET | Chris Lanier on IKARIE XB-1 | Devin McKinney on IDAHO TRANSFER | Mark Kingwell on THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO | Luc Sante on THE TENTH VICTIM | William Nericcio on DEATH RACE 2000 | Rob Walker on CAPRICORN ONE | Gary Panter on ANGRY RED PLANET | David Levine on THE STEPFORD WIVES | Karinne Keithley Syers on ALPHAVILLE | Carolyn Kellogg on IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE | Sara Ryan on ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN | Lisa Jane Persky on PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE | Adam Harrison Levy on BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES | Gerald Peary on CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON | Susannah Breslin on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE | Seth on WAR OF THE WORLDS | James Hannaham on GOJIRA/GODZILLA | Lydia Millet on VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED | Matthew Daniel on FANTASTIC VOYAGE | Shawn Wolfe on ROLLERBALL | Erin M. Routson on WESTWORLD | Marc Weidenbaum on COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT | Neil LaBute on 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA | Vicente Lozano on DAY OF THE DOLPHIN | Tom Roston on SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE | Katya Apekina on A BOY AND HIS DOG | Chelsey Johnson on THE BLOB | Heather Kapplow on SPACE IS THE PLACE | Brian Berger on THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS | Anthony Miller on THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
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