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The Angry Red Planet (1960)
Sounds like another sci-fi communist scare to me! Actually, there isn’t
one mention of the Red Menace in the movie. Instead, writers Sid Pink
and Ib Melchior weave a wild tale about four astronauts who bring back
a warning from Mars! What makes this movie so enjoyable is that all four
characters are hysterically stereotyped. Most sci-fi
First you have Tom, the pistol-packin’ pilot. This guy isn’t just the macho leading man -- he’s a lounge lizard! The hairs on this guy’s chest outnumber the stars in space. He’s got more moves than U-Haul! (OK, I’ll stop.) Then there’s Iris, the red-headed, doe-eyed biologist. I believe she’s the only female astronaut in history to take a break from her experiments to splash on a little perfume! Sammy is the chubby, funny one. He’s a poor man’s Lou Costello who’s so annoying that you might cheer when he meets his demise. Last and definitely least, there’s Professor Gatelle, the brainy, humorless scientist, who, when he hears other people joking, just smiles and waits until it blows over like a bad rain storm.
The crew flies aboard the MR1 which is believed to have crashed on Mars during a landing attempt. Military brass discuss how to bring it back to Earth intact. "That's a tall order, George!" says one general. A tall order indeed. Undaunted, they hurry to Nevada in hopes of returning the rocket by REMOTE CONTROL. (Having seen a few of these b-movies now, I've learned the potential for remote control is limitless.)
gives the order of "final countdown" to the grainy,
stock footage technicians. It works! The rocket ship is returning to Earth!
Even the front page of the phony newspaper, The Washington Telegraph, reads:
Meanwhile, the ship's tapes, containing priceless Martian information, have been mysteriously erased by some unknown magnetic force! The doctor, rather than get all the information he can from Iris, the only conscious astronaut, has given her sedatives to "keep her quiet." Yeah. Good plan. Later, the doctor realizes the only one with any information is “the girl.” Who is in charge of this operation?!
When they finally question the girl...I mean...Dr. Ryan, she begins to tell the tale and we, the viewers, are brought up to speed! According to Iris' recollection, the crew had been enjoying smooth sailing until they looked out their window and saw a cartoon meteor hurtling towards them! They were able to avoid it, but what a close call!
I wish I knew more about space travel. For instance, when the commander tells the engineer to record something, he replies, "I'm putting it on auxiliary tape, sir." Shouldn't you just put it on tape, before going to auxiliary tape? What the heck IS auxiliary tape? The tape used when all the regular recording tape breaks down?!
living 47 fascinating days aboard
a rocket, featuring everything from typing papers in a large office to
putting on perfume, they finally land on Mars. Tom throws Sam's space
suit at him, chastising, "I told you not
to leave this thing lying around! Iris tripped over it and dropped a
tray of test tubes!" (Stupid "GIRL.") After stepping
onto the surface of Mars, Tom commands, "Check
your oxygen gauge!" This seems kind of pointless since they're all wearing
crash helmets with no face protection. It's around this time that Sam, armed
with a pistol, gives the command to shoot first and ask questions later.
Ah, scientific exploration. Sam takes a moment to test his ultrasonic freeze
gun on some local vegetation. It works like a charm. But later, when Iris
is attacked by the tentacles of a giant Venus Flytrap, It's not the freeze
gun that saves her. Nor is it the pistol, which Tom carelessly waves in people's
faces as he talks. Instead, Tom whips out a MACHETE that he's managed to
conceal in his space suit! He chops off the plant's foam rubber arms!
Marionette monsters, astronauts on Mars packin' heat and a main character who's mistakenly edited out of the movie! This one's a gem!
Prof: “Come on Sam, let's get some rest.”
Sam: “O.K. professor... I dig!”
Tom: "Y'know, Irish, you're the first scientist I've met with really lovely, long red hair!"
Iris: "And your the first pilot I've ever “gone to Mars with.” But listen – my name's "Iris" not "Irish." I never know if you're calling me by name or nationality!"
Tom: (Seductive look) "When I call you by name...you'll know it!"
Sam to Iris: Y'know, I can't say I recommend space suits for
beautiful young dolls. What happened to all your lovely curves?
After landing on Mars...