I first saw this movie as a Saturday double-feature at the Whitehaven Cinema in Memphis. I think it was 1968. For a dollar, I got the double-feature and a Coke and some popcorn. This kept me out of my parents' hair for at least three hours.
There was a late night movie host in Memphis. He dressed like a campy vampire and went by the name Sivad (Davis spelled backwards). I loved Sivad and I stayed up late on Friday and Saturday nights to watch his offerings. I guess he was a very southern male version of Elvira. Often, what I'd seen at the Cinema that afternoon was shown starting at 10:30 on TV. I'd watch the movie again. I probably saw this movie ten times before I was ten.
I love sci-fi and fantasy and have since I was a child, but The Angry Red Planet is one of those "moments" that became a standard for me. I can't even imagine how many times I've seen it in the last 40 years.
My children watched The Princess Bride and Yellow Submarine and Willy Wonka enough times to wear out multiple videotapes. The Angry Red Planet filled that kind of niche in my viewing life.
Is it a good movie? I shrug and roll my eyes and say "DANG." It's not a great movie. I love it though. It's just one of my favorite movies ever.
The basic story is a flashback told by Dr. Iris 'Irish' Ryan (Nora Hayden). She's traumatized, she's been through a horrific experience. She was part of a crew that traveled to Mars. She's feisty and she's cute and obviously worthy of being the love interest of Colonel Thomas O'Bannion (Gerald Mohr).
The explorers are recovered after an expedition to Mars. It's a wonder that there are survivors and Col. O'Bannion suffers from coma and some horrific fungal growth. It's up to Dr. Ryan to remember what happened. Thomas depends on her.
"Irish" recounts the tale of their landing on Mars and their encounter with terrifying alien creatures. The makers of this film capitalized on many monster stereotypes that made so much money in the 1950's. There is a gigantic creepy spider-like creature and there is a flesh eating blob with a whirling single eye.
The special effects are cheesy. They are pop-culture cheesy in a major way. The eye blob is very reminiscent of an egg sunny side up, but a evil, twisted, demented egg.
Much of the action takes place inside the space craft which limited the work that the set designers had to do.
The dialog is witty at times and filled with innuendo. At times Mohr's voice takes on a very self-important commanding quality which is right at home in this lower-budget science fiction thriller.
This movie doesn't have the Technicolor and star presence found in The Blob, but the acting and plot are certainly better than The Crawling Eye.
It's a fun horror flick from 1960. Here we are 48 years later and darned if we didn't just land something on Mars this past weekend. What will Phoenix find?
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12
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The Angry Red Planet (aka Invasion of Mars and Journey to Planet Four) is a 1959 science fiction film starring Gerald Mohr and directed by Ib Melchior. The director was given only 10 days to shoot the movie and a budget of $200,000 with which to make it.
The movie was made with a CineMagic technique which was applied for all of the scenes on the surface of Mars. This was an attempt to make the hand drawn animations appear as real as the live action footage. Although this process was largely unsuccessful producer Norman Maurer would attempt the same technique again in The Three Stooges in Orbit.
The first manned flight to Mars the rocketship MR-1, returns to Earth after being thought lost in space. Attempts to raise the crew via radio fail, so a decision is made to land the spacecraft under remote control.
Two survivors are found on board, Dr. Iris Ryan (Naura Hayden, billed as ...