Friday, June 12, 2009


Director Ib Melchior's "The Angry Red Planet" (1960). Leave all logic behind you at the door and prepare to be blasted off to the planet Mars for some classic, low budget sci-fi fun. This movie is about an expedition to Mars that goes horribly awry. Of course, this came out in 1960, when no one knew what Mars was really like. This vision of the Red Planet contains strange, exotic man-eating vegetation, rat/bat/spider/crabs, eerie metallic rivers, a giant one-eyed all-terrain octopus, and towering cities built by an alien race. The effects are low budget yet effective. All of the scenes outside of Mars are filmed in regular color. Once we reach the planet, the color turns to a very psychedelic and blurry red, red, red light with the highly creative hand drawn sets tinted red, black & white. This an effect that can be visually overwhelming but psychologically brings out the tension that our Mars visitors feel.

As far as the plot goes, it is pretty generic. The story starts at the end. The military is trying to track down a rocket lost in space on an expedition to Mars. They find it, and they force the rocket to land. Of a crew of four, there are but two survivors. The gorgeous red head Iris, who is in shock of course, and one crew member with a mysterious green growth on his arm are all that remain. Gradually, Iris comes back to her senses and tells us the story of how they came to Mars and the horrors they found there.

This is really a classic visually driven adventure story. The dialogue is laughable and the characters are cardboard cutouts for the most part. What really drives this film is the child-like wonder of exploring another planet and the creative creature and set designs of Ib Melchior. His luminous red vegetation, one-eyed sea creature and rat/bat/spider/crab are purely ominous and foreboding. As for the ending and how our Mars crew became so disheveled, well, you need to watch the movie. You know, the Martians have been watching us for a long, long, time...

Highly recommended...a great thrill ride of early science fiction.

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