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From the video case: When an Earth rocket lands on Mars, the crew finds the planet more pink than red and not entirely dead. As these well-armed scientists begin to explore, they are attacked by unbelievably horrific and demented creatures at every turn. Battling for their lives, the survivors make it back to their ship only to discover intelligent life – and a warning they’ll never forget! (1960, color)

Mark says: Let me state right up front: I rarely get through this movie without falling into a hard slumber. However, for the purpose of this review, I slugged down a pot of coffee and was able to view the film in its entirety.

I’m not saying The Angry Red Planet is a complete loss; it does have some camp value and one memorable creature, but be prepared to listen to a lot of inane dialog before finding anything of value here. Even the technology known as “Cinemagic” can’t save this sleeper.

The hero of our story is Col. Thomas O’Bannion, played by Gerald Mohr (Invasion USA). Col. O’Bannion comes off as sort of a sleazy character, even while telling the heartwarming story of his first Christmas doggy. He’s the sort of guy you find hitting on one woman after another at the hotel lounge.

The object of Col. O’Bannion’s affection (and I’m sure he considers her an ‘object’) is fellow space traveler, Dr. Iris Ryan (Nora Hayden). Dr. Ryan (or ‘Irish,’ which the good colonel insists on calling her) is a curvy redhead who falls for O’Bannion’s cockroach charms. Bogart and Bacall they ain’t. It would be hard to find two people who have less chemistry between them.

Jack Kruschen (Abbott and Costello Go to Mars) plays comedy relief, Sam Jacobs. Sam has a strange relationship with his space rifle. He’s also a bit of a buffoon and we are not too heart-broken when he becomes the first victim of the Martian beasts.

Les Tremayne (The Monolith Monsters, The War of the Worlds) is Prof. Theodore Gettell, which is too bad, as he really does not deserve to be in this snorefest. I rather like Mr Tremayne, and so it hurts me to watch him in a film so beneath his talents.

As mentioned above, the Mars scenes are shot in “Cinemagic.” From what I’ve read, it’s a complicated process which produces unimpressive results. It sort of looks like someone added a pinkish-tinted lens to the camera and then blurred the images. We are also treated to some silly, cartoonish landscapes and monsters.

However, there is one creature, the rat-bat-spider monster, that proves to be memorable (see image above). I’m not saying this creature is going to scare you, but at least it is unusual enough to wake you up and take notice.

When we finally get to the end of the picture and hear the recorded Martian warning, “Do not return to Mars,” we are a little incensed and want to respond, “Don’t worry, we have much better things to do.” The nerve of those guys.

The Angry Red Planet gets a few points for camp value, Les Tremayne, and the rat-bat-spider beast, but I can’t recommend it further unless you suffer from insomnia.

Directed by Ib Melchior. Original story by Sid Pink.

Scene to watch for: Iris trips and spills a tray of test tubes (off camera) providing one of the most exciting scenes of the film.

Line to listen for: “The hell with radiation! Let’s go!”

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

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2 Comments

  1. In defence of this film. Try to use your imagination to move the hands of time back fifty years, then factor in the mind of a ten year old from that era watching his first cinema experience, with a ticket bought after collecting unwanted pop bottles from neighbours and returning them to the shop for the ‘deposit’ money. Maybe you will have forgotten all about this film fifty years later, but I certainly haven’t!

    • Steve: What a great memory! I didn’t see this particular film in boyhood, so I don’t have that “nostalgia factor” working for me. I often give mediocre films (even poor films) higher ratings because of childhood memories involving the movie. And really, that’s what this site is all about: reliving old monster memories. Oh, and to poke fun here and there (though I try not to be too malicious). Don’t let this review tarnish a great memory for you. After all, I’m just some dope spouting off about movies most folks won’t even waste their time on. I’m a fan first, and “critic” last. ;)


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