Thursday, March 24, 2016


Woo-hoo! Like PLANET OUTLAWS, the Buck Rogers film I reviewed recently, this is another condensed serial; this one cut down to 70 minutes from the 3-hour ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE (1952), which I tried to watch last year but got bogged down in. The same problems apply here as to PLANET OUTLAWS: it's fast-moving but feels rather ragged, with the feeling that major subplots are missing—as they undoubtedly are. It's rather a mess from the beginning as we see, with no context, some guy put on a mask and a jet pack and shoot off into the sky to find out what's behind the arrival of a small rocket from outer space. We eventually find out that the flying hero is the bland and blandly-named Larry Martin, assisted by the equally bland but earthbound Bob Wilson and the lovely but almost completely useless Sue Davis. The Martian Marex (Lane Bradford) and his assistant Narab (a young Leonard Nimoy) have come to Earth and, working with some nondescript earthling thugs, are planning on building a bomb to blow Earth out of its orbit so that Mars can move into its space to be closer to the sun. The craziest thing about the way this film is put together is that, though many scenes of narrative development clearly have been left out, the filmmakers have left in scene after scene of Larry and Bob and Marez and Narab going back and forth in an underwater chamber between two of the Martians' secret hideouts. Except for an exciting underwater knife fight, this gets old fast. Judd Holdren and Wilson Wood are adequate as the heroes, but Aline Towne, as Sue, just stands around and wrings her hands. Kinda fun, but I may still tackle the full serial someday. PS—neither Satan nor any satellites are in evidence at any point. [Paramount Vault on YouTube]

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