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The Angry Red Planet


Title: The Angry Red Planet
Year Of Release: 1959
Running Time: 83 minutes
DVD Released By: MGM Midnite Movies
Directed By: Ib Melchior
Writing Credits: Sidney W. Pink (story),
Ib Melchior and
Sidney W. Pink (screenplay)

Starring: Gerald Mohr, Nora Hayden, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen
Taglines:
1. Spectacular Adventure Beyond Time and Space ...
Alternate Titles:
Invasion of Mars
Journey to Planet Four

Review Date: 3.15.10

Shadow's Title: "The Angry Mad Audience"

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The Angry Red Planet  

DVD
Midnite Movies: 4 Movies (Morons from Outer Space / Alien from L.A. / The Man from Planet X / The Angry Red Planet)

Movies 4 You - Sci Fi Classics (The Man from Planet X / Beyond the Time Barrier / The Time Travelers / The Angry Red Planet)  

Characters
Colonel Thomas O'Bannion - This is the commanding officer of the MR-1, the rocket tasked with traveling to Mars and scouting things out. He develops an eye for Dr. Ryan and makes several creepy statements to her. He gets "slimed" while on Mars and returns to Earth with a green arm.
Dr. Iris "Irish" Ryan - The expedition’s biologist/zoologist. However, on two occasions she fails to recognize the potential danger in Martian life forms, proving that she might as well have come along to cook dinner, make coffee and do the laundry for all the good she did.
Professor Theodore Gettell - He designed the MR-1. Quite the engineering achievement, considering the technology of the time. I wonder how far they were into the trip before everyone realized that he forgot to include a toilet. Seriously! I never saw one. Did they crap out the airlock?
Chief Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs - He’s the electronics and radar expert on the MR-1. He spends just about as much time cracking lame jokes, singing annoyingly, reading scifi magazines and kissing his gun as he does sitting at the radio making his regular mission progress reports.
Major General George Treegar - I’m not sure exactly where he was in the command hierarchy, but he was calling all the shots on Earth, deciding to use remote control systems to bring the rocket back to the surface. I’m not sure he's been properly educated on radiation.
Professor Paul Weiner - Another one of the big wigs who confer and then opt to bring the MR-1 back down via remote control. I’m guessing he was the top civilian scientist that worked on the project. He also contributes to the attempts at helping Iris regain her memory.
Dr. Frank Gordon - The lead doctor that is trying to help Iris regain the memories of Mars that her subconscious has shut away into the dark recesses of her mind. I wonder if appearing in this film counts as one of those undesirable remembrances? It probably should.
The Martians - The Martians have three eyes and speak in deep voices reminiscent of Terran newscasters. They’re also the biggest morons in twenty star systems. If they’ve monitored earth radio signals for so long, why do they think we’re trying to invade Mars?

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

In today's politically correct world, this would be known as The Happiness Challenged World of Color.This movie foregoes any opening credits and jumps right into the action. We open with a shot of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Then we see the Pentagon. Now that we’ve established that we’re in the nation’s capitol, a car - under MP escort - arrives at the Pentagon and two guys get out and enter in a hurry. Once inside they meet with several other dudes in a conference room.

A Major General George Treegar reveals that as of three AM that morning, the expeditionary X-1 rocketship, which has been missing for that last sixty-one days, had been spotted drifting in orbit, ninety thousand miles above the earth’s surface. All attempts at communication have failed, so they have no idea if anyone is alive on board. The last anyone ever heard from the rocket was when it achieved Mars orbit two months previously and messaged that they were preparing to land. Since no further communications were sent, the authorities on Earth assumed the rocket had crashed, no doubt having seen the film, It! The Terror From Beyond Space.

Treegar says that the ship, dubbed the MR-1 (I suppose X-1 was the class of rocket and MR-1 was its official designation), must be retrieved, as it no doubt has vital information from the trip and on the planet Mars. He asks a Professor Weiner of their chances of successfully retrieving the rocket. The Professor suggests using the remote control systems built into the craft to guide the ship down to safety in the Nevada desert…if the vehicle still has enough fuel. Another bigshot brings up another point: if there is someone alive on that ship, the sudden and unexpected acceleration (up to five or six G’s) might harm them. Still, the chance has to be taken, so Treegar says that they must leave for Nevada at once.

It’s time to digress a wee bit and ponder a question that has flittered into my mind: why in the hell can’t these people name their exploratory rockets something good? All we get are numbers and letters. Just think about some of the ones that have appeared in movies from that time. There was the title rocket in Rocketship X-M, The XY-21 from 20 Million Miles To Earth and the XRM from World Without End to name three. Even other films like Journey to the Seventh Planet and the aforementioned It! The terror From Beyond Space could not let their rocketship names escape without adding a few numbers (the Explorer 12 and the Challenge 141, respectively). Sheesh, couldn’t anyone just give it a name and leave it at that? And what’s with MR-1? Does that stand for Mentally Retarded One? After seeing the crew, I’d venture to say yes (in all probability, MR-1 stands for Mars Reconnaissance 1).

After lots of stock footage of planes, airbases, radar dishes and what not, the brass arrives at an USAF base in Nevada. There they monitor proceedings as the rocket is remote controlled into motion. They are still unsure if there is enough fuel to bring it down safely and can only compute the expected arrival time and then sit down to wait.

The news man is reading the news from binder paper.Naturally, the media gets a hold of the story and runs with it. People walking down the street stop to watch a newsman on the TV in a department store window. It is here we learn that the MR-1 was crewed by four people: pilot, navigator and commanding officer Colonel Thomas O'Bannion, biology and zoology expert Doctor Iris Ryan, the rocket’s designer Professor Theodore Gettell and electronics and radar expert Chief Warrant officer Sam Jacobs. The TV newsman says that “the prayers of a grateful nation” will be offered in the hope that these four can be returned safely to Earth. Uh…why is the nation grateful? What these four have done is piss off the Martians and bring back potentially catastrophic diseases. Not a lot to be grateful for if ya ask me.

Eventually, after numerous shots of people standing around in rooms, people standing on the airstrip and tracking devices spinning in endless circles, the rocket comes in for a landing. As one expects, this sight is accomplished with stock footage of a real rocket liftoff…run backwards.

Emergency personal move in to check radiation levels, but when the rocket begins to open up from the inside and Doctor Ryan can be seen emerging, General Treegar charges off after shouting “To hell with radiation!” I’m sure he’ll regret those words come tomorrow when his morning piss produces florescent green urine and that third arm starts protruding from his back.

Everyone now rushes to the rocket as is if rich aliens are about to appear any second and start dispensing hundred dollar bills. Two guys with a stretcher follow Doctor Ryan back inside and emerge a moment later, carrying someone. Whoever it is on the stretcher cannot be seen, as they have their face covered up, but a slimy green arm is exposed for all to see. This person (which is Colonel O’Bannion) is loaded into an ambulance and is driven away. Doctor Ryan is led away herself to receive treatment.

Sometime later, a bunch of doctors, including Doctor Frank Gordon, are discussing the green shit on Colonel O’Bannion’s arm. They have no idea what it is or how to combat it. To help the Colonel, they really need to know the circumstances surrounding his infection. Unfortunately, it appears that all the tape records have been wiped from the trip. The only hope is to talk to Doctor Ryan and hope she can provide the necessary information.

Doctor Iris “Irish” Ryan is damn near catatonic at this point, laying in her hospital bed and staring off into space with a vacant expression like she was just subjected to an Andy Milligan film festival. Doctor Gordon, Professor Weiner and General Treegar talk to her, but she can’t remember what happened on Mars. In order to help her recall things, they tell her to start at the beginning, when she and the others left Earth. She agrees and begins relating details of their lift off. The camera zooms in on her and one can almost hear the harp music as things get wavy and blurry.

Begin first flashback.

"Look, you can see my house from here. Oh, crap, I left the lights on!"Here comes Bellus! Everyone get your ass on the rocket!We see Colonel O’Bannion, Professor Gettell, Sam Jacobs and Irish in the rocket’s control room, which looks more like a radio station than an advanced interplanetary conveyance. The quartet are blabbering away about mission related stuff when the Colonel notices that “the radiation count is jumping.” This turns out to be caused by a radioactive meteor approaching. Irish and Sam walk to the big round window set in one wall and look out, spying the object as it passes. Whew! For a minute there I thought there might actually be some excitement! How wrong I was.

Once the meteor has passed them by, no doubt on its way to Earth, carrying within it an amorphous life form that absorbs others, they see Mars in the distance. Damn! They just took off a short while ago and now they can already see Mars. They must going about Warp 1.25 or something. Irish notes that both of Mars’ moons can be seen, which sparks Sam into launching into a song about moons and romance. Thankfully the Colonel orders him to shut the hell up. I guess it was either that or they’d be forced to space his ass out the airlock.

Sam radios Earth for an update, noting that the radio delay time can still be measured in seconds. Then he and Gettell head off to get some sleep, as they are scheduled for the second duty shift. Irish now walks to where the Colonel is sitting (and yes, I will be referring to O’Bannion as The Colonel most of the time throughout this review…it’s just easier for me to type) and the two talk about space travel. It’s during this conversation that we realize that the Colonel is appraising Irish for more than her talents as a biologist or zoologist. A couple looks he gives her when her back is turned are quite icky. I’m sure he has biology in mind, just not the kind she was assigned for.

The two stare out the window and she likens the black emptiness of space to a dark alley. He comes up behind her and asks about “exploring that alley” together when they return to Earth. I know what alley he wants to explore! She looks at him in mock surprise, but then says that he might have a date. Yech. The camera then zooms in on a clock and a counter than shows they have been in space for one day.

Sixteen days later, they are still en route. Maybe they took a wrong turn at the moon and were halfway to Venus before realizing it. Perhaps they had to go back to Earth cuz someone forgot to turn the stove off at home. Or maybe the ship is just that damn slow, despite a view of Mars that would suggest they are mere hours away. Gettell can be seen playing a game of chess with…himself. I suppose this is because on this ship of morons, no one is his intellectual equal. Sam moans about being hungry so Irish persuades the Colonel into helping distribute the rations. As they go over the canned goods, they chat some. He calls her Irish at one point and she reminds him that her name is Iris. She adds that she doesn’t know whether he is calling her by name or nationality when using Irish. He looks at her all weird and says, “When I call you by name…you’ll know it.” I don’t know about you, but he’s coming off as extremely creepy. Fade out.

"Damn! Somebody already sent away for the X-Ray glasses."Later, Sam is reading a pulp magazine, Fantastic Science Fiction Stories. Alas, the story about some otherworldly monster is serialized and he is unable to get the newest issue, being halfway between Earth and Mars. He wonders if he’ll ever get to see that next issue. Um…that would be a resounding no, pal.

A short montage of the crew working now follows. At one point we see Irish applying some perfume. Don’t tell me that she’s actually attracted to that creep of a Colonel? Or maybe it’s some sort of asswipe repellent she’s putting on. That might make better sense. Eventually, on day forty-seven, they arrive at Mars and establish orbit. Without wasting any time, they initiate landing procedures. Once again, the sight of the rocket landing is brought to life by the same stock footage seen earlier. POW. With a jolt, they set down on the surface of Mars.

Everyone rushes to the window to get a good look. They discuss what they see, mentioning how quiet and still the landscape is, despite the abundance of vegetation. Naturally, we the audience don’t get to see what they see, but have to make do with their descriptions for now. Gettell and Irish head off to begin their various tests, while the Colonel retrieves a pistol from a locker. He loads and polishes it. Uh…is he expecting to get into a gunfight on Mars? Fade out.

Fade in. Some time has passed. Sam is still looking out the window, but rather than bright red light visible through the opening, it’s now bright blue. Have we gone from the Angry Red Planet to the Moody Blue Planet? Why the color change? I guess we’ll have to wait for an explanation, as there is a loud crash from the upper deck. The colonel tells Sam to stay put while he high tails up the ladder. Sam stares at the ladder and you can tell he desperately wants to climb up and see what happened. He walks over to the base and is hit in the face with some sort of uniform, dropped by the Colonel, who informs him that Irish tripped over it. He should be lucky it wasn’t somebody’s dirty underwear that was dropped in his face. Unless it belong to Irish that is, then he might end up sniffing it. Then again, the Colonel probably has all of her dirty undies hidden in his bunk so he can sniff them before sleep.

Gettell returns and informs them that the atmosphere is what they expected: too thin for humans, but enough for some sort of alien life to exist. He joins Sam by the window, which is still letting bright blue light into the ship. They look outside, but there is still no sign of life. Irish descends from the upper deck and the four of them look out the window again, remarking on how still it is outside. Someone wonders if perhaps some Martian intelligence is purposely maintaining such quiet, so the Colonel decides he is going outside. Gettell thinks they should all go, as it will give him and Irish the chance to use some of their high tech equipment.

So the four morons suit up, Sam admitting to being scared for the first time. Once they’ve donned the appropriate apparel and are standing around bullshitting, Irish glances at the window. Outside she sees a triple-eyed alien face staring back at her. Naturally, she opens up her mouth and lets loose with a scream that can no doubt be heard on the far side of the planet.

End first flashback.

The production had taken its toll on the actors by the end of shooting.And with that, we’re back to Irish in her hospital bed, relating her story to Doctor Gordon, Professor Weiner and General Treegar. She lets out a scream. Gordon asks what is wrong, but she cannot remember, only that “it was horrible.” Hell, that description fits a lot of things, like half the acting in this film.

Dr. Gordon tells her to get some sleep and that they will continue later. Once she’s asleep, Gordon, Weiner and Treegar discuss what they are going to do. Gordon says that Irish has some sort of mental block. Treegar stresses again that they need to find out what happened. They’ve nearly gone through all the mission tapes and have found them all to be empty. Weiner suggests something called Narcosynthesis. Gordon agrees that it’s their best hope, but reminds them that Irish is weak. If they use drugs to force her to remember the horror she has so carefully shut away, her mind might snap. Whatever this narcosynthesis process is, Weiner explains that when she remembers what happened, they will see things they way Irish’s mind saw them, colored by her own interpretation.

I want to know what he means by “We’ll see it as her mind saw it.” Are they gonna hook up some doodad to her brain that broadcasts her memories to a monitor or TV screen? Are they all gonna drop the same drugs and engage in some sort of group mind meld? Just how are they going to see things?

Irish comes to at this point and asks about O’Bannion. They tell her that they have no idea what they are fighting. She realizes that it is up to her to remember, so she agrees to whatever procedure they have in mind. So Gordon injects her with something and she closes her eyes…

Begin second flashback.

Back on the MR-1, Irish is telling the others that she saw something outside through the window. The Colonel and Gettell rush to the window and look out, but see nothing. By the way, the light outside is now red again. She describes the three-eyed face she saw, but gets the feeling that the others don’t believe her. The Colonel decides to go outside and look along with Gettell. He orders Irish to stay inside with Sam. She says “not on your life” and rushes to follow. Sam, not wanting to be alone, runs after her.

I like how the both of them just flagrantly disobeyed an order from their commanding officer. Were these people the best candidates for this mission? Really?

We turn to the Colonel exiting the ship and WHOA…hold on a sec while I adjust the color settings. Er…nope, that didn’t work. Let me try…hey, it’s not working at all. No matter what I fiddle with, the color remains screwed up. Huh? It’s supposed to be this way? You’re kidding! You’re not kidding? WTF?! Why would they purposely tint the film so red? To portray the surface of Mars? This is the much talked about and highly praised Cinemagic effect? Sheesh, it looks like I’m watching the entire movie through one half of an old pair of 3-D glasses. I’m getting a headache already from the red glare.

Welcome to the sixth circle of hell. No, not the City of Dis, but something even worse: Hollywood.So the Colonel emerges from the rocket and stares at the red landscape. He walks down the ramp to the ground, followed by the others. They check their oxygen supplies and he instructs them to always stay in sight of him. Then Sam checks to see if his ultrasonic freeze gun is working properly. He aims it at a plant and fires. The only thing the weapon emits is an annoying sound best suited to alarm clocks. Still, when the Colonel checks the plant, he finds that it breaks easily, as if made from fragile china.

The four morons from Earth now go stomping through the jungle, snapping photos of the various plants as they go. They stop for a while so Gettell can check the soil and Irish can examine a plant. She remarks on how little chlorophyll it contains and says that it appears to have a nervous system. She begins tracing a vine through the foliage and when the Colonel reminds her to be careful, she loudly proclaims that she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

She walks a ways and finds a rather strange plant the size of a large bush, and while on another occasion I might say not that kind of bush, this plant has a large vaginal-like orifice that just can’t be ignored. Irish walks up to it and looks it over. A long tentacle-like tendril springs to life and coils around her. Well, it was more like it just rose up and the actress had to wrap it around herself as she “struggled” with it. Irish screams and lets out a call for the Colonel, crying “Tom!” several times. I had not realized she was on a first name basis with him. And what happened to being perfectly capable of taking care of herself? She’s barely gone sixty seconds alone and already she is about to be swallowed whole by a colossal pussyplant.

The others come running and arrive just as the rubber tentacles are shoving Irish into the big vagin…er…mouth. The Colonel frees her by using a machete and once she is clear, Sam shoots the plant with his funky rifle. Once Irish has recovered, she leads them over to the plant and explains that it is carnivorous, trapping prey and digesting them. The group decides they have had enough excitement for one day and return to the rocket.

Back aboard, Irish snaps a photo of Sam as he cleans and cradles his fancy gun. Professor Gettell has decided that this film is sorely lacking a paranoid person and so opts to fill that role. He notes how they all passed that plant creature without it attacking and wonders what caused it to attack Irish so suddenly. He cannot help but feel that the four of them are being watched. He proposes the idea that some intelligence on the planet is using the lower life forms (plants, animals, fast food workers) to control them. There is some scientific mumbo jumbo about “community minds” that may control it all (resistance is futile!).

The Colonel notices that their scheduled contact with Earth is late. Sam runs a test and finds that the radio signal is bouncing back. Gettell theorizes about some sort of ionizing layer in the atmosphere that prevents radio signals from passing through. About now my eyes are beginning to glaze over from all the techno babble. I had enough of that crap when I watched Star Trek. The colonel decides that they will remain on Mars the full five days that were scheduled, even if it means they have no contact with Earth.

The next scene we get is Irish and the Colonel talking as they gaze out the window. It should be noted that the light from outside is now blue again. Ugh. Blue or red, which is it? It keeps jumping back and forth. They talk some about cowardice and fear and then she notices that the sun is rising. The light outside turns from blue to red. AHA! Blue is the Martian night and red is the Martian day. Well, that makes more sense now. Sam’s voice is heard calling everyone to breakfast. Irish and the Colonel smile and walk off. Fade out.

Later the four of them are once again exiting the ship to explore the Martian landscape. We are treated to some cheap sets and even worse paintings that are meant to represent the surface of Mars. At one point they stop and Irish gestures towards some strange trees. “Like nothing we’ve seen,” says the Colonel. He and Irish approach for a closer look, Sam and Gettell staying put.

The Colonel and Irish walk up the trees, failing to notice that there are six of them, in two parallel rows of three. Taking the Colonel’s machete, Irish chops off what she thinks is a small branch. The tree suddenly moves and a horrible cry is heard. “It’s alive!” Irish cries as she and the Colonel run away.

Raar! I'm a monsta!They turn and get a good look at the monster, famously referred to as the Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab. This is because the six legs are reminiscent of those of a crustacean, while their positioning around the body is like that of an arachnid. Finally, the small body (in relation to the legs, it’s still as big as a bus) and head held aloft by these legs is like some strange amalgamation of bat and rodent. A long spindly tail can be seen at the creature’s ass end.

Looking at this beast, I only have one question: who did Irish and O’Bannion bribe and/or screw in order to get assigned to this mission? It certainly wasn’t their skills or brains that landed them the job. I cannot see how anyone can look at this monster and for one second think the legs were some sort of strange tree. The way each leg curls and bends as it protrudes from the body is evidence enough that they are not trees. Even then, the monster’s head, face and small vestigial arms are of adequate size that they cannot possibly be overlooked. The long tail is another clue. I just don’t see how these two morons could approach this beast and not realize it was a living creature. And she’s supposed to be a freakin’ expert in biology and zoology!

As the Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab marionette stumbles awkwardly around, Sam gets off several shots at it with his LAG (loud annoying gun), but the beast is not affected. The giant monster claws at the rock where Gettell is hiding, trapping him between two colossal pincers. The Colonel calls for Sam to aim for the eyes. Sam does this, blinding the creature. The monster screams in pain and grabs at its eyes with its small arms. Continuing to scream, it backs away and then turns and high tails it out of the area.

Irish suggests calling it quits for the day, but Gettell says that he will be fine and that they should not waste the time they have. The Colonel mentions a nearby ridge and says that he wants to see what is on the other side. The four press onward.

Cresting the ridge, they find a studio set with a small pool. Beyond that is a painting of a large Martian lake. The lake is so big, the far shore cannot be seen. Of course, since Mars is a much smaller world than Earth, the planet’s curvature would make the horizon much closer. The water is so still and flat, it resembles a gigantic mirror. Even Irish comments on the feeling of deadness that permeates the air (and my soul, at this point in this mess). The water is rather oily and Irish says that it cannot support life…at least, not the kind of life they know. The Colonel says they will return the next day with their boat, so they can explore the lake. The four turn and head back to the rocket.

As they go, a three-eyed Martian watches them from behind a rock.

"I have two doctorates, yet I'm the one who gets stuck mixing the Colonel's cocktails."On the rocket, the Colonel confers with Gettell and they agree that they won’t stay the full five days. In fact, the Colonel wants to leave that very night. When Irish asks why, Gettell speaks up and we learn it’s because of his raging paranoia. He’s so sure there is some controlling force on Mars and doesn’t want to linger. The Colonel chimes in, saying they have fulfilled their mission goals. Further discoveries will just have to wait for the next expedition. With that O’Bannion tells them to prepare to blast off and to strap in.

Wait! I didn’t realize that leaving was that easy. The way the Colonel makes it sound, all they have to do is strap in, turn the key and start up the engines like the rocket was some gigantic hotrod. Sure enough, it’s just a matter of seconds until they are strapped in and have begun their fifteen second countdown. The rocket fires and…goes nowhere. The Colonel says that all their instruments are fine, but there is some sort of powerful force field keeping them in place. Huh? How did he know that? Of course, this only upsets Mr. Paranoia aka Professor Gettell, who realizes that whoever is controlling things on Mars, they don’t wish for these Human interlopers to leave. Fade out.

Later they ponder their situation. The Colonel says that whoever is doing this could have easily destroyed them before, so harming them is probably not what they have in mind. Gettell confirms the existence of a strong gravitational field keeping them in place. The Colonel decides it’s time to do some rafting and tells them to break out the boat so they can see what’s on the other side of that lake they discovered. Fade out.

Pow. We’re back at the water’s edge. The four morons climb into an inflatable raft and start paddling across the lake. Take note of the fact that in some shots, the raft is not in the water at all, the lake nothing more than a rear screen projected image. As they paddle, it’s quite obvious that their oars are just passing uselessly through the air.

As they cross the water, Gettell spots something through his binoculars: an ultra modern city of towering skyscrapers. They paddle onward. As they get closer, they realize that the taller buildings are at least half a mile in height. Indeed, one even vanishes into the clouds high in the sky. Given time, I’m sure we puny humans can construct something just as tall. We’re half way there already with the Burj Khalifa.

Long about now, the water between them and the Martian city begins to bubble. To their shock, awe and horror, a colossal amoeba rises from the depths. With a single gargantuan eyeball, this thing is so big and slimy, Godzilla himself might think twice about stepping on it. The amoeba moves towards the puny humans, who swiftly turn their boat around and row back to shore with all the desperate speed of an Olympic rowing team.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Mars...Once on shore, Sam takes a few shots at it with his LAG. Still the thing comes onward, so they all run like hell for the rocket, a three-eyed Martian watching them as they flee. They race through the jungle, the giant amoeba still behind them, rolling over trees as it pursues them. Curiously, its single eyeball seems to jump back and forth between locations on the amoeba’s body. Plus, the eye seems to be rotating in its socket, something it was not doing before. Don’t ask me, I don’t know why that is, I’m just pointing it out.

They run into the rocket and not a moment too soon. They’ve barely cleared the door when the giant amoeba encircles the MR-1. Sam proves that he is the first full-fledged idiot to visit Mars by turning and squeezing off another shot at the amoeba with his LAG. Alas, the slimy creature snares him with a sticky appendage. Sam is yanked from the grasp of the others and pulled into the amorphous mass. The others watch in horror as the amoeba absorbs Sam until nothing remains of the poor sap. FINALLY, the Colonel says to close the door. This whole time they just stood there slacked jawed and watched as Sam got melted away and absorbed. Now they close the door. Didn’t any of them worry about being snagged by the creature themselves? Sheesh, these people are deficient.

The three remaining morons soon realize that the amoeba has the rocket surrounded. They also realize that Colonel Fucktard has managed to get amoeba shit on his arm. The slimy substance has eaten through his suit so he quickly removes it so Irish can apply something to his arm. Being the resident biologist/zoologist, the others have to turn to her for insights on the amoeba. She describes it as an unicellular animal without a brain or nervous system. It reacts only to stimuli and absorbs its prey with strong acids. Right now it is trying to get through the ship in order to reach them. The Colonel wants to know what they can do it get rid of it.

After tossing ideas around left and right, Irish finally suggests electricity. The Colonel comes up with an idea. Since the rocket has an inner and outer hull, he wants to channel their power into the outer one without it spilling back into the inner. The two are insulated against one another, but there is still a risk that they could all end up fried worse than a batch of KFC. With no other options, the other two agree to the plan.

Soon enough, the interior of the rocket is a mess, all the instrument panels open and a massive rewiring job completed. After all the meaningful looks are tossed about, when they finally flip the switch, the plan works. The giant amoeba withdraws. Unfortunately for Gettell, he has sudden chest pains.

The radio now beeps, which means that in order to receive a signal, the force field holding them in place must be gone. The Colonel has Irish turn on a tape recorder while he answers the call. A deep voice can now be heard:

Men of Earth, we of the planet Mars give you this warning. Listen carefully and remember…

As the voice speaks, Irish looks out the window and who should be there? Yup, it’s the same three-eyed Martian that’s been keeping tags on them all along. She sees the alien and promptly passes out. Fade out.

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

Wait! I thought they were heading AWAY from Mars at this point? We now see the MR-1 one as it roars through space, despite the fact that sound cannot be heard in a vacuum. Irish awakens to find Gettell in a bad way. He mumbles incoherently for a couple minutes and then dies. We are left to assume that the pressure from blast off affected his heart adversely. Irish then ascends up the ladder to the upper cabin, where Colonel O’Bannion is sleeping in a bunk. She approaches and sees that his arm is now covered with that slimy green shit from the amoeba. The ship is still a mess, instruments rewired all over the place. Irish has no hope of putting things back the way they were. She can only sit back and look after the Colonel.

End second flashback.

We return to Irish in the hospital, having completed her story. General Treegar wants to know what the Martian warning was all about, but she cannot recall, as she was unconscious at the time. She finally passes out from exhaustion. Treegar, Professor Weiner and Doctor Gordon now discuss what she told them. Now that they know what is growing on O’Bannion’s arm, they at least have a chance of defeating it.

The next thing you know, we see O’Bannion in bed, his arm and upper chest bandaged up like a cheap mummy. He wakes and receives a shot, which seems to knock him back out.

You know, if it took them forty-seven days to reach Mars, then it probably took about the same to get back, a few days more or a few days less depending on the positions of the two planets relative to each in their individual orbits. Was O’Bannion in bed the whole time? How did he crap and pee? Did Irish help him to the crapper (not that we ever saw evidence of one on the rocket)? Did she help him wipe and hold his lil colonel for him when he tinkled? I sure as hell would not want to touch my goods if my hand was all slimed up like that. And speaking of alien slime, you’d think in the forty-seven days or so it took to return home, the stuff would not only have covered his whole arm, but his entire body as well.

In Irish’s room, Treegar is telling her that the slime on the Colonel’s arm has resisted everything they have tried. All they’ve managed to do is slow down its growth. Having recovered, Irish makes use of the lab and helps to concoct a workable plan. In short, she discovers that if a large tissue culture is placed next to O’Bannion’s slimed up arm, then the amoeba will jump ship over to it when they apply electric shocks to the Colonel’s skin.

ZAP! The procedure must have worked, for the next thing we see is O’Bannion in bed, the slime gone from his arm.

Why didn’t Irish realize the solution during the forty-seven day trip back to Earth? She had all that time to think about nothing else! Hell, she could have used Gettell’s body as a place for the amoeba to jump to. Of course, maybe she had no way of applying electric shocks to the Colonel, at least not without frying him outright.

Irish sits nearby, attired in a dress and with her long red hair down past her shoulders rather than in the tight bun she had in it throughout the whole movie. She reminds O’Bannion of their “date” and he refers to her for the very first time as Iris.

"We thought we'd play back some of the things you said when you were talking in your sleep."Treegar and Weiner now arrive. It seems the warning imparted by the Martians was found on the very last tape. Weiner activates a portable tape player so that O’Bannion and Irish can hear the message in full. As it plays we get reaction shots from all of them, then a final shot of the planet Mars.

Men of Earth, we of the planet Mars give you this warning. Listen carefully and remember. We have known your planet Earth since the first creature crawled out of the primeval slime of your seas to become man.

Wow. Talk about calling into question one’s parentage and breeding. I’ve been called a son of a bitch, but that’s the first time anyone called me a son of a slime.

For millennia we have followed your progress. For centuries we have watched you, listened to your radio signals and learned your speech and your culture. And now you have invaded our home.

Um…if these Martians were so immersed in our culture and had been monitoring our radio signals, then they’d know that it wasn’t not an invasion force sent to Mars but a peaceful exploratory mission. Geez, and I thought the Humans in this film were morons.

Technological adults, but spiritual and emotional infants. We kept you here, deciding your fate. Had lower forms of life on our planet destroyed you, we would not have interfered…but you survived. Your civilization has not progressed beyond destruction, war and violence against yourselves and others. Do as you will to your own and to your planet, but remember this warning: do not return to mars.

In other words, “Get off our lawn, you young punks!”

You will be permitted to leave for this sole purpose. Carry the warning to Earth. Do not come here. We can and will destroy you, all life on your planet if you do not heed us. You have seen us, been permitted to glimpse our world. Go now. Warn mankind not to return unbidden.

Those last four words explain a lot.Martians To Earth: Piss Off!“Get out and stay out!”

The End? Not by a long shot! The credits roll and we get individual shots of the main cast, a hip tune playing in the background. Finally after a close-up of some Martian slime, the remainder of the credits are shown. Now it's…

…The End.

 

Review

This movie can easily be classified as fun for the B-Movie fan. Yes, there are goofy aspects to it all. In fact, silly, goofy and cheesy may be the best way to describe this film. When broken down into its component elements, we get annoying characters, cheesy dialog, cheap sets, bad paintings to represent landscape, monsters best suited for Sesame Street, costumes that really don’t fit the storyline and more than a few moments of mind-numbing boredom. Yet, for all those knocks against it, The Angry Red Planet still manages to be entertaining, a sure sign of a product being more than the sum of its parts.

The storyline differs here from others in its construction. Rather than a linear tale of a trip to Mars, we start off with the expedition having returned, the events of the voyage recalled by one of the surviving members. In essence, the bulk of the film is one big flashback. In a way this makes it hard to instill much excitement in the events on Mars. We already know who is coming back and who isn’t. It’s just a matter of waiting for the proper time to see the unfortunates exit the film.

It’s obvious the film had a limited budget, but the producers got inventive when bringing the planet Mars to life. The “cinemagic” process touted in the ad campaign appears to be nothing more than a red tint applied to all scenes on the Martian surface. While a bit jarring at first, one quickly gets used to it and in the end is does help to make things seem more alien and bizarre, elevating the cheap sets and paintings a notch or two just from the novelty of looking so different from what we’d expect. Legend has it that the process came about by mistake. At one point when the budget was slashed in mid production, it looked like the film was going to have to be released in black and white. A reel of the black and white film accidentally came out double-exposed, showing a shimmering glare, so director Ib Melchior decided to use this process on all the Martian exterior scenes, adding the colored tint.

The film’s biggest drawback are its main characters. None of them are really that likable. O’Bannion comes across as a little creepy, like he’s just waiting for the right time to ditch the others so he can have Irish all to himself. Iris “Irish” Ryan strikes me as being mentally challenged in some way, as she responds to the Colonel’s advances rather than rebuff him. Sam is just flat out annoying with his ill-placed humor and general attitude. The only one who isn’t annoying is Professor Gettell, but he has such a little part compared to the others that it was hard to feel bad for him when he keeled over dead.

The acting is another factor that may make you squirm. All too often scenes with two or more characters interacting are shot so that all we see is a single actor at one time. It’s obvious that each person’s lines where filmed separately and then the footage was spliced together to make it appear as if they are all standing together. In these instances, things just seem off. Sight lines don’t always match up and because they have no other actors to play off, some of the performances are rather wooden. Or perhaps these actors were just rather crappy. I’ll let you decide.

If there is a bright spot, or at the very least, notable aspect to this film, it is the Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab monster. It’s so unique in appearance, seemingly a mash-up of several types of animals (and thus earning its name), that it has stood the test of time. It has such a small part in the movie, but even after all these decades (yikes, last year marked the fiftieth anniversary of this film), its photo is more recognizable than anything else from the movie, with the possible exception of the “Cinemagic” process.

In the end, don’t go into this film expecting too much and you may be surprised. Yes, it can be pretty bad, but for the B-movie lover, this film is cinematic gold.

 

Expect To See:
Aliens - They don't put in an appearance until the end of the film, but the Martians here are the usual grumpy sort that don't want anything to do with the annoying Humans.
Comic Relief - It isn't as overtly done as in other films, but the character of Sam Jacobs seems meant to provide a few moments of laughter. Too bad it was more like horrible pain.
Giant Monsters - One Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab monster which these Earth morons mistake for a bunch of trees. Plus, a giant amoeba that looks like something Godzilla sneezed up.
Jungle Hijinks - Lots of stomping around a Martian jungle. I'm thinking the harsh red light on Mars helps disguise the fact that the jungle is nothing more than a studio set.
Killer Plants - Irish meets up with a big carnivorous plant that nearly has her for lunch. That's not the freaky part, though. the freaky part would be what exactly the plant resembles.
Offworld Hijinks - The bulk of this movie centers around four morons running around on the surface Mars like irresponsible campers on the rampage at the closest state park.
Outer Space - While the crew of the MR-1 spends forty-seven days en route to Mars, we the audience are only subjected to a few minutes of it, making the film only seem a week long.
Romance - It doesn't develop until they are underway, but there seems to be some sort of relationship building between Colonel O'Bannion and Dr. Ryan. Both could do better.
Science - Lots of scientific mumbo jumbo, gibberish, technbabble and gobbledygook to be heard. Amazingly enough, some of it is actually correct. Some, mind you.
Spaceships - We have the MR-1, the usual phallic shaped rocket from these old films. As usual for these types of conveyances, it seems to be bigger within than without.
Stock Footage - There isn't a lot of this, but we do get a few shots of Air Force planes as well as operators at mission control that look to have been recycled.
Violence - There is actually very little of this in the movie. In fact, the most violent moment comes when Sam gets caught and absorbed by the giant amoeba.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 2
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 0
Alcoholic drinks consumed by audience: undetermined
Times Gettell has his pipe in his mouth: 5
Flashbacks: 2
Times Sam kisses his gun: 3
Fade out/in scene transitions: 9
Screams from Iris: 3
Times Iris is called “Dr. Ryan”: 9
Times Iris is called by her first name: 17
Times Iris is called “Irish”: 22
Times Iris is referred to as “the girl”: 2
Days crew spends on Mars: 2
Days that seem to pass for audience: 10

03 Mins – Is that area 51?
06 Mins – I think the newsman is reading directly from the script.
15 Mins – They’re about to collide with a giant beefsteak tomato.
23 Mins – Why are they spinning?
26 Mins – O’Bannion loads his gun and then cleans it.
36 Mins – This movie has apparently gone to hell.
41 Mins – Attack of the rubber plant monster.
50 Mins – Somebody call PETMA.
59 Mins - They’re paddling thin air.
61 Mins – Suddenly they’re rowing like they’re in the Olympics.
63 Mins – Is he waving good-bye to them as he’s digested?
67 Mins – Be sure to reverse the polarity while you’re at it.
75 Mins – His looks like it’s swollen to three times the normal size.
80 Mins – And keep the noise down, ya hippie freaks!


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time O'Bannion sits or stands with his leg propped up on something, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

"Gentlemen, I'm afraid we're facing
a national crisis of staggering
proportions. The country's supply
of donuts has just been depleted."


All these techs on the payroll, yet
my ISP keeps losing my emails.


"You da man!"

 
Michael Jackson's final trip to
the hospital.

"Uh...that's not a wash bowl, Doc.
That's the patient's bedpan."

"Cream corn? We're gonna be stuck
on this rocket for months and all
they give us is cream corn? Yuck!"


 
"Sam, it gets lonely up here in space."

 
"So, Sam...the Colonel says that you
like gladiator movies."

"I'm sorry, dear. They need you on
the set. Faking a mental illness
won't get you out of this film."

"Welcome to Mars, everyone. Now
hand over your wallets and then
reach for the sky."


"I told you that I didn't have a
green thumb! Help!"

"Looks like the she survived the giant
man-eating plant. Here's the five
bucks I owe you."

Seriously, who would mistake that
for a bunch of trees?

"Ugh. More of these annoying biped
pests running loose. Where's my
spray can?"


A shot from the new Stargate Atlantis
movie, Hell or High Water.

Unfortunately, that annoying voice
she so desperately wants to shut
out is that of the film's director.

"Ew! He's been jerking off in his
bunk again!"

"I think I finally got Windows 7
configured correctly."

This is what constant masturbation
will get you.

"I guess you've learned your lesson
and will limit yourself to one
viagra pill next time."

 

Immortal Dialog

The first words spoken on Mars.

Sam: “Well, shall we go out and claim the planet in the name of Brooklyn?”

Shadow’s Comment: Maybe the Martians will be interested in a game of stick ball.


Irish describes the giant amoeba that is currently trying to digest the ship

Irish: “One single cell without intelligence, without a nervous system at all. It reacts completely on extinct to external stimuli.”

Shadow’s Comment: Ah, so it's a lawyer?

 

Keep In Mind
  • Bombers are used to ferry Generals from base to base.
  • Hot girls are always more important than the threat of radiation.
  • Rockets are like a TARDIS: bigger on the inside than on the outside.
  • Generals will personally transport a patient to the hospital in their own jeep.
  • No matter how many doctorates one holds, women will still be referred to as "the girl."
  • Radioactive meteors resemble large blobby tomatoes.
  • Bulova is a contractor for NASA.
  • Loafers are standard issue foot wear for rocket crews.
  • Bad memories are easily remedied with mind-altering drugs.



This Film & Me

In 1978 my family went on a vacation to Utah, in order to visit places like Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. It was during that trip, while driving across the barren Nevada desert, that we stopped somewhere for something (gas and/or food most likely). I don’t recall the specifics much (hey I was nine), but I do remember my mother buying a magazine for me to help pass the time while we drove onward. Of course, I picked out a science fiction magazine of some sort. To this day, I wish I still had that magazine. I don’t even remember what it was called, though I do know that it was not Starlog. I remember that the magazine had a multi-page preview for the "new" series, Battlestar Galactica, complete with several photos of concept art. Anyway, within that magazine were photos from several older science fiction films that I had never heard of before, such as Forbidden Planet, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun and of course, The Angry Red Planet, complete with pictures of the Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab. Alas, it wasn’t until around 1980 or 81 that I saw the movie listed in the TV Guide. I was quite excited to see it, having read about it in that magazine a few years earlier. I watched it that one time and like so many films from that same era, that was the only time I ever managed to see it on TV, but boy, it sure did leave an impression. I would not see it again for a good twenty-five years. I suppose it was because of the need to squeeze in commercials and fit the film into a two-hour time block, but in my mind the movie seemed longer than it really is. Back then, it seemed like it was on for a long time. Now, watching the DVD, the movie was over before I knew it. I’m still trying to decide it that is a good or bad thing…

Shadow's rating: Six Tombstones



The Good

  • Most annoying character is eaten alive
  • Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab: a truly inspired monster
  • A few good shots of the Martian landscape
  • Iris is easy on the eyes
  • In the end, female lead saves the male lead's ass rather than vice versa.

The Bad

  • The music sounds recycled from Invisible Invaders
  • O'Bannion's creepy behavior towards Iris
  • Annoying sound Sam's gun makes
  • Martians may be bigger morons than the humans

The Ugly

  • "Cinemagic" nothing more than red tint
  • Three-eyed Martian looks goofy
  • Rotating eye on giant amoeba
  • Some of the acting *cough* Iris *cough* is truly horrible

 

 

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