Tuesday, August 30, 2016


aka SPACE MONSTER (TV title)

The pilot of the spaceship Faith I radios Earth Control with a desperate message: everyone else on board is dead and he is suffering from intense and painful radiation poisoning, so he wants the military men on the ground to blow up his craft by remote control, which they reluctantly do. The next ship, the Hope I, heads off—their mission is unclear to us—with a four-person crew. Hank, the studly commander, doesn't take well to the presence of Lisa, lady scientist, whose most important function seems be to calling out "Dinner is served!" John, the obnoxious horndog, is looking forward to making money from writing magazine articles about his trip. Paul is the colorless doctor who is there to be, well, the colorless fourth person. In the middle of their petty personal conflicts, they run into a meteorite swarm and have to turn on their forcefield, which somehow damages the ship; it speeds up and won't slow down, draining their resources. They wind up landing on a "rogue moon," though rather than landing on land, they end up on the bottom on an ocean. After the crew wards off an attack by giant crabs, John suits up (luckily, there is scuba gear on board), heads out to shore, and discovers that the atmosphere of the moon will support human life. But a "Black Lagoon"-type of creature kills him before he can make it back to the ship. Now that the egotistical creep has redeemed himself, the rest of the crew can head home, after deciding to name the moon after the creep.

I feel like I've hit the bottom of the barrel in my summertime 60s sci-fi scrounging. If it's not the sexism, it's the bargain basement effects (the crab attack is the low point), or the confusing plot—what the hell are their missions? (We get a sense of this when, at the tail end of the movie, the doctor takes a spiritual tone to talk about the hand that guided them to find "Earth reborn.") Where the hell is the Triangulum Galaxy? Is Taurus the moon? If it is, why does it need another name? Why was there a scuba outfit on board? Why doesn't Lisa tell Hank to shove it up his ass? (Instead, of course, she falls in love with him.) And spaceships named Faith and Hope??? Generally I think it's unfair to bash movies for their outdated social attitudes, but here the sexism is so front-and-center that it's difficult to get past it. The high point of the movie, both in terms of actual action and crazy plot developments, is when Hank and John barge onto an another spaceship and think nothing of killing the alien who inhabits it, whose main aggressive move is to flick its tongue at the two men. The underwater monster is the same creature from WAR-GODS OF THE DEEP, produced the same year by the same company, American International.  For that matter, the tongued alien (pictured above right) looks the same as one from another 1965 low-budget film, THE WIZARD OF MARS. James B. Brown (who I know as the young soldier in GOING MY WAY) does what he can with the boneheaded male role. For the record, the other actors are Francine York (Lisa), Baynes Barron (John--pictured with Brown), and Russ Bender (Paul). [YouTube]

No comments: