Angry Red Planet (1959)

Also Known As:
Invasion of Mars
Journey to Planet Four
1959 – 83 Minutes/fullscreen Directed by Ib Melchior 

From the legendary scientific world of director/writer of Ib Melchior comes THE ANGRY RED PLANET. Best known for this film as well as ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (sorely needing a dvd release), REPTILICUS (also available as part of MGM’s Midnite Movies DVD series) and THE TIME TRAVELERS (a 1964 treat that needs to be seen to be appreciated). If anything else can be credited to Melchior’s career, it would have to be that with this film, he made one of the coolest 1950’s giant monsters from outer space in film history! Yes, were talking the BATRATSPIDERCRAB! Along for the ride are the most wooden and stereotypical actors in scifi history and at least 3 other cool looking monsters including a giant ocean amoeba with a rotating eye. All comes in a nice film print ala the magic of “Cinemagic” which hinders the film into a very bright orange/pink tone that makes everything look off worldly 3-D.

Four astronauts head off to Mars and discover plant life and little else. Strange thing they notice however is nothing moves. After a few discussions of safety and a possible alien sighting, they head off and explore only to discover a meat eating plant that grabs the only woman on board, Iris (Nora Hayden), nicknamed IRISH by Colonel Thomas O’Bannion (Gerald Mohr) who spends most of the movie flirting back and forth in typical 50’s cornball fashion! After a near death escape, Professor Gettell (Les Tremayne) gets this uneasy feeling that everything is being controlled by an intellectual race of Martians.

Well, they don’t find that when they fight of the giant BATRATSPIDERCRAB, but head off anyway with a raft to cross an oily ocean lake. What they discover is well beyond their wildest dreams and nightmares! Will they make it back alive? Will they ever see Earth again? Will O’Bannion ever get to take bombshell IRISH out for more that a lunar space ride? If you love the pulp scifi films of yesteryear, you probably already know the answers. If you don’t, there is nothing here to stop you from picking up this fine new DVD release! For years, this played on television when I was a kid. During the last two decades of video history, in the states, I believe it only received one small video release and was pretty tough to track down until now!

Of course, the real reason to recommend a film like this is for the pure brilliance of cool looking monsters, incredible ham and cheese acting, silly plot foibles and to groan whenever ugly mug Gerald Mohr tries to be Humphrey Bogart to the babes. The professor talks a lot of facts, but makes most of his decisions based on weird feelings and poor ole Chief Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs (Jack Kruschen), who plays the sidekick dummy, is in charge of the most powerful space weapon, communications and the ship’s electrician! The special effects really work and still look great today, the monsters are cool and the dialogue is daft! Ok, it isn’t as bad as REPTILICUS, but it is just as entertaining. Even with all the cheesiness, or because of, this is still one of my favorite science fiction films from the 1950’s.