Here’s the next set of films from the SciFi Classics 50-Movie Pack.
Attack of the Monsters – another Japanese monster movie. Three kids find a flying saucer, two of them climb aboard and are whisked away to another world. They see a giant monster with a sword on its head fight a giant pterodactyl. Then they’re rescued by two women in futuristic costumes, and taken into the women’s base. But the women are evil, and want only to conquer Earth. Happily, Gamera the giant flying turtle arrives, kills the monster with the sword on its head, and saves the day. If you want to watch a Japanese sf film, watch The Mysterians. Not this.
Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet – this film was created from a re-edit of the Russian film, Planeta Burg, with English dialogue recorded over it and a couple of scenes featuring Basil Rathbone added. A US spaceship arrives in orbit about Venus, but the first landing mission crashes. So a second one is launched to rescue them. While the film is badly-paced, and the story doesn’t make a great deal of sense, it all looks pretty cool. Well, except for the dinosaurs, which look like men in rubber dinosaur suits.
Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women – this one uses the same footage as Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, with the mystifying addition of several scenes featuring Mamie van Doren and a bevy of beautiful women in bikinis who are apparently the telepathic inhabitants of the planet. Their scenes don’t actually seem related to the rest of the film. Much of the movie is narrated by “director” Peter Bogdanovich. Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet was interesting but a bit dull; Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women is near unwatchable.
Blood Tide – another one that wasn’t sf at all. James Earl Jones hams it up as a poet-turned-treasure-hunter on some Greek island. There’s an ancient temple accessible only via a sea cave, but it has some horrible guardian. Newcomers try to horn in on Jones’ treasure-hunting, the sea monster awakens, and the ancient temple is destroyed. A better transfer would have greatly improved this film. It didn’t actually appear that bad – although it was hard to tell at the time as the picture and sound were so poor.
First Spaceship on Venus – this is actually a badly-dubbed version of the East German film, Der Schweigende Stern (The Silent Star). Scientists analyse the debris of huge meteor impact, and discover a recording from a crashed spacesuit. They determine the spaceship was from Venus, and so send a mission to that planet. En route, they decode the recording. It’s an invasion plan… The production design is really good, with some excellent model work and some truly weird sets. I plan to get a copy of the original version – happily, it’s available on DVD.
Buck Rogers: Planet Outlaws – not the grinning beefy loon in a spandex girdle of the 1980s television series, this is the original one: Buster Crabbe. His prototype airship crashes on its maiden flight at the north pole, and he is frozen… and woken up centuries later. He ends up helping the inhabitants of an invisible city in their war against the evil Killer Kane. This involves such cunning ploys as hiding behind rocks, and jumping out at Kane’s men as they pass by. If you like Flash Gordon serials, then this is, well, exactly the same.
Killers from Space – Peter Graves of Mission Impossible stars as a scientist whose plane crashes during an atom bomb test. When he turns up later, no one believes his story of alien abduction and invasion. Unlike Whitley Strieber, it seems he’s telling the truth. This one wasn’t as bad as it sounds.
She Gods of Shark Reef – when the box cover says “SciFi Classics”, that’s what you expect: science fiction. By no stretch of the imagination could this film be considered that. Two gunrunners are shipwrecked on a Hawaiian island populated only by attractive women. When one of the women is chosen for the annual sacrifice to the shark god, the gunrunner who is in love with her tries to rescue her. Another film I suspect was more fun to make than to watch.
The Atomic Brain – a scientist experiments with brain transplants, including transplanting a woman’s brain into a cat, and vice versa. You can’t help but wonder how a human brain would fit into a cat’s skull, or what he used for padding when he put the cat’s brain in the woman’s skull. Judging by the woman’s acting, it was probably blancmange or something. This is the sort of film that gives B-movies a, er, bad name.
Son of Hercules: The Land of Darkness – another spaghetti sandal epic, and yet another random bodybuilder in the title roll. Except he’s not a son of Hercules, he’s actually Hercules himself. Although, for some bizarre reason, the English language dubbing calls him Argolese throughout. The blurb on the CD pack says, “Hercules falls for the daughter of a deposed king whose kingdom is held in thrall by an evil queen.” I know I’ve watched this film, but I can’t remember what actually happened in it.
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Crash of the Moons – this is a compilation of two episodes of a 1954 television series. It shows. Rocky’s sidekick, Winky, is annoyingly stupid. The female, Vena Ray, might prance about in a miniskirt, but she’s surprisingly assertive for the early 1950s. The special effects – apparently expensive for the time – are a little better than Flash Gordon from two decades earlier, but not much. Forbidden Planet this isn’t.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians – the theme-tune to this film is great, a perfect piece of 1960s bubblegum pop. Sadly, it’s all downhill from there. Green-skinned Martian kids are addicted to Santa Claus on Earth television, so their parents decided to kidnap him. But Santa sets up shop on Mars, and wins everyone over with sacks full of cheap toys. I suspect that seeing the film as an allegory for the rise of Japan after World War 2 might be reading a little too much into it. Especially since it’s, well, crap.
Part one is here.