The Angry Red Planet

Year Of Release: 1960
Running Time: 83 Minutes
DVD Released By: MGM Midnite Movies
Directed By: Ib Melchior
Writing Credits: Ib Melchior, Sidney W. Pink
Filming Location: Unknown

Starring: Gerald Mohr, Naura Hayden, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen, Paul Hahn, J. Edward McKinley, Tom Daly, Don Lamond, Edward Innes

Tagline 1: Spectacular Adventure Beyond Time and Space...

Tagline 2: Martians Get Mad - Then Get Even!

Alternate Titles:
Invasion of Mars (1959)
Journey to Planet Four (1959)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Director Ib Melchior was given just 9 days to shoot the film, on a budget of $200,000.  The 40-foot alien monster was actually a marionette about 15 inches high. It was essentially a combination of a bat, rat, spider, and crab.
The alien monster is the same one featured on the cover of the album "Walk Among Us" (1982) by The Misfits.  The "Cinemagic" process, used for all scenes on the surface of Mars, was the result of a film-developing mistake. The budget was slashed in mid-production and, to cut costs, was almost released in black and white. But when a reel of the black and white film accidentally came out double-exposed, showing a shimmering, proto-psychedelic glare, the director chose to have all of the black and white scenes developed that way but tinted purple, because it looked weird enough and it helped camouflage the disappointingly cheap Martian monsters and scenery.

Cast Of Characters
Colonel Tom O'Banyon: It's Bogie!  Well he looks like Bogie and uh he acts like Bogie.  Ok, so it's not really Humphrey Bogart, but he is a serious facsimile thereof.  He's the pilot and navigator of the M1.  This guy can kill with a cheesy smile at forty paces.  Will he ever be able to survive the attack of the alien snot?

Dr. Iris 'Irish' Ryan: Good ol' Iris, is the brilliant young authority on the sciences of biology and zoology.  She's also the daughter of the late professor Alfred Ryan, whoever the heck that is.  I think she either had a whole lot of scheduling problems, or a really bad memory while shooting this film, because a huge amount of her dialogue was shot separately from everyone else's.

Professor Theodore Gettell: He designed the M1 rocket ship and is the foremost authority on space travel and rocketry.  Now tell me something.  How much sense does it make to send the world's foremost authority on this stuff out into space on a mission he has a good chance of not returning from?  I'm sorry but I just don't see that happening.  He has that kinda evil Dr. Smith Lost In Space kinda look in this picture, don't ya think?  He's actually a pretty good guy though so don't let his appearance in this shot fool you.

Sam Jacobs: He's an electronics and radar expert, though he acts more like some kind of a space cowboy from Brooklyn.  Don't try to figure that one out.  It'll just end up making your head hurt.  Actually, it's kinda the same headache you'll get when you have to listen to him talk.  He's a nice guy, but for some reason, I found myself wanting to bitch slap him randomly throughout the film.  Just one of life's little oddities I guess.  I realize this isn't a great screenshot, but there wasn't any real good face shots of him in the movie.

The Plot

A group of four astronauts flies off to Mars in Earth's first ever expedition to the red planet.  Upon arriving at their destination however, the group finds more than they ever expected, including man-eating alien plant life, three-eyed alien creatures, the dreaded batratspidercrab, and a giant amoeba creature that has the power to digest people whole or infect them with it's vile form.  When the astronauts try to escape, their rocket ship is held down by an immensely powerful alien force.  Will the astronauts ever escape from the angry red planet?  Let's read on and see...

What The Hell???
1. The movie opens with some stock footage of the white house and the pentagon and then goes into a closed door meeting where some military brass are talking about how they've finally located the M1 rocket ninety thousand miles out in space and how they don't know if anyone is still even left alive on it.  Seems that the rocket entered Mars orbit over two months ago.  Now the general wants the rocket retrieved.  How come generals are always so out of touch with reality?  They always talk about stuff like this like it's so easy.  It's like Captain Picard on Star Trek The Next Generation.  He always says "Make it so." without even asking if it's possible or not.  If it was me I'd be like, "Ok then, if you want it done so bad, you figure out a way to do it."

2. They don't know if anyone's alive on the M1, but they head off to the Nevada air base and try to re-activate the ships rockets to bring it home.  They do succeed in remotely activating it's engines and bringing it home.  The odd thing is that it landed base end down.  I thought rockets like this had to dump in the ocean or something?  Anyway, the door opens and Dr. Iris emerges from the rocket.  She's the only one left conscious after the horrible incident.  Now at this point, a few things are bothering me already.  Like how did she have enough air on that rocket to survive for so long trapped in the orbit of Mars?  And how'd they get the rocket home so fast when it probably would be somewhere around a two month trip back to Earth?  And how come when she did get back, she was able to come out of the ship and stand there with the generals and such?  After that long in space, her muscles would have atrophied and she wouldn't have been able to handle the Earth's gravity too well.  Oh well, it's a B-Movie.  That pretty much sums up the answer to all of the above.

3. The only other one left alive on the rocket is Tom O'Banyon who is infected with some kind of a Martian snot kinda thingy on his arm that's slowly taking over his body.  Back at the hospital, the doctors are discussing what could have happened to Tom.  Apparently, all the mission tapes have been erased, and their only source of information is Dr. Ryan, who is pretty much in a state of shock.  They ask her about what happened to Tom, but she's not much help.  She says she can't remember.  They tell her to start at the beginning, and suddenly she goes into the whole story.  This is finally where the movie begins.  So now that all the boring lead up is done, we can actually get to the fun part of the review.  At least I hope we can.  Some movies are just boring all the way through.  I've seen this one once before, but I can't really remember much of it.  I see a lot of movies, so unless it's a seriously stand out kinda movie, I tend to forget things.
4.  Uh oh!  The radiation levels in the rocket are jumping.  Turns out it was just a radioactive animated meteor buzzing the rocket.  They all stood by the viewport (porthole) and watched it fly by.  Can you feel the excitement already?
5. After some back and forth banter between the crew about how far they are from the Earth, Theodore and Sam leave, while Tom starts telling Iris about this dog he had when he was a little kid and how he used to go down and check on it all night just because his parents wouldn't let him have it in his room.  Then he proceeds to hit on her and basically scores.  She agrees to hook up with him when they get back to earth.  It's implied here that they had something going kinda on and off already.  And how could she help herself?  I's Bogie!!!  
6.  After Tom gets done hitting on Iris, the shot tilts up to the clock on the wall.  The clock was made by Bulova, so you know it's high quality.  There's a "Days In Flight" number above the clock.  It starts off saying "1" but then when the shot fades out and fades back in, the number changes to "17".  Now that's a long fade out!  I guess at this point the film crew got bored and fell asleep for sixteen days.

7. Here's a couple of fun items.  My wife Sharon just pointed out how much fun it is to say batratspidercrab.  You'll read more about that later.  Also, when I make screenshots for the reviews, I put them in a folder on the server that's named with the initials of the movie.  When I made the initials for this movie, it spelled TARP.  Not that it matters, but it's damn near midnight and I'm tired and I just felt like throwing that in there because so far this movie is pretty boring.  It does pick up later on though once they get to Mars, so keep reading.

8. Sam gets hungry, so Iris and Tom head off into the galley to round up some grub.  There's one cupboard in the galley that has a bunch of white label cans in it. Looks like about enough food for a weekend trip, but not for seventeen days and way beyond.   But that's not even the funny part.  This is hilarious.  Iris is standing in front of the cupboard talking to Tom.  There's some cans on the shelves and a green bowl and some stuff on the top shelf and what not.  Ok, cool.  So the shot cuts back to Tom for a second, and then when it goes back to Iris, all the stuff on the shelves is completely different.  The second shelf that had a green bowl and a few cans now has a ton of those cans and no bowl.  The stuff that was on the top shelf is totally different too!  I knew if I looked hard enough I'd catch something like that in this movie.  Ok third cut back to her now, and the green bowl is suddenly back, but it's now sitting with it's bottom down instead of leaning against the back of the cupboard like it was doing before.
9.  Now we got back to Sam who's reading a pulp B-Movie type story magazine called Super Fantastic Science Fiction Stories.  The cover story is called, The Monster and the Martian Maid.  The story is continued in the next issue and Sam wonders aloud if he'll ever get to see the next issue.  I have a feeling he probably won't.
10. After a few scenes of everyone doing their daily duties including a shot of Iris typing up the mission logs on an old manual typewriter, we're treated to a nice shot of the old reliable Bulova clock on the wall.  Didn't they used to give away a lot of Bulova watches on Let's Make A Deal?  Anyway, we're now at day twenty-nine.  So tell me something here.  How come they been in space this long on their way to Mars, and yet when they remotely controlled the ship at the beginning and brought them back, it only took like a few hours?  Did this thing have some kind of a warp drive that the crew didn't know about or something?  Considering we just saw Iris typing on a manual typewriter, I seriously doubt it.
11.  More shots of the crew now. We get to see Iris doing something technical with a screwdriver and then a shot of Sam shaving with an electric razor, and then back to Iris again who secretly puts on a little perfume, and then some really out of place looking shots of Tom and Theodore who I guess were supposedly secretly watching Iris put on the perfume but the shots don't look like that's what they were shot for.  Oh my god this is bad.  We see more shots of the crew doing stuff and then suddenly we see Bulova again!  Our old buddy Bulova.  Bulova says it's 11:37 now on day forty-seven.  I'd have been going stir crazy after just a couple of days.  I can't even imagine how nuts these people are getting after forty-seven days.
12.  So we finally get to Mars.  It seems pretty anticlimactic to get to Mars, the angry red planet, and the first glimpse of it they get is on a black and white monitor screen.

13.   Open the viewport.  Outside mics on.  Nothing moved outside.  Gee, ya think?  Oh wait, there's a ton of vegetation outside the ship.  They're keeping watch for anything that moves.  Now that's funny.  There wasn't any vegetation outside the ship in the shots of the planet they were showing when the rocket landed.  Something else funny here too.  Suddenly it's morning, and the outside sky isn't red's blue!  Now here's a science lesson for all you kiddies.  The sky is blue on Earth because of the way light reflects off the oxygen and nitrogen particles in the atmosphere.  The sky is red on Mars because the atmosphere on Mars is very thin and dusty with most of the dust being composed of iron oxide, which is basically rust.  The dust particles in Mars' atmosphere are larger than the wavelengths of visible light, so the light takes on the color of the particles as it passes through the atmosphere.  So basically, the sky on Mars wouldn't be blue no matter what time of day it is.

14.  So they been cooped up in this rocket forever, and after they land they spend at least twelve hours just hangin' out in the space craft lookin' out the window and waiting for something to happen or for some sound to occur from outside.  Finally, just as they're getting ready to go outside, Iris spots some three eyed alien peeking in at them through the viewport.  Actually, it's an artists rendition of a martian peeking in at them, but it's still pretty scary nonetheless.  Iris screams and then they're back in the hospital back on Earth with her screaming there.  She tells the doctors she can't remember what she saw, and the doctors have to drug her to get her to remember more.  She's annoying enough without drugs to be perfectly honest.

15.  After they shoot her up with some good drugs, she starts remembering again.  Back on Mars, they all get dressed up in their space suits and pile out of the ship.  Now here's something odd.  Looking out of the viewport in the ship, it was blue outside.  Now that they're outside, the whole outside environment has this reddish-orange semi-negative looking effect.  Anyway, the come on out and check their instruments, and Sam finally gets to play with his ultrasonic freeze gun.  He tests it out on a plant and then Tom walks over and smacks it with his gun and the frozen plant shatters into a million pieces.  Iris and Theodore have these really spiffy old cameras that have the top down viewfinder on them.  Tom just has his good ol' .45 caliber pistol.  Not that that little pea shooter of his is gonna do much against the dreaded batratspidercrab though.  Oh, and he's also got a machete to cut through all that martian vegetation.
16.  It's funny, they see funky man eating plants and stuff but what they actually show in the movie is just a two dimensional artists rendition of the plants.  Not always though.  There is actually a man eating plant coming up here pretty soon that they did a good job with.  I just think it's funny how every so often they use a totally 2D artists rendition of certain things and then turn around and show real stuff as well.  I guess they didn't have the budget to get all the real props in there that they would have liked to have had.
17.  Iris examines some of the local plant life, and discovers that not only does it have very little chlorophyll content, but that the local plants seem to have some kind of a central nervous system.  Now after discovering this, naturally she has to trace some random vine back to it's source and naturally the vine leads back to a giant man eating plant, and naturally it grabs her, and naturally she starts screaming, and naturally everyone runs over and saves her.  Tom cuts her free of the plant's vines and then after everyone is clear, Sam shoots it with his really spiffy ultrasonic freeze ray.
18.  Back on the ship, Theodore starts coming up with this big theory about how all the life around them is like one big super intelligence that's being controlled by some sort of a central source of intelligence.  I sure am glad there's intelligence outside the ship, 'cause there sure doesn't seem to be much on the inside.
19.  They just explained why the light outside the viewport is blue sometimes and red sometimes.  Seems that it's red outside when the sun's up, and blue when it's night.  Yeah, that makes sense.  About as much sense as anything else in this movie anyway.
20.  It's the next day now, and they're out wandering around again.  They spot these funky trees.  Iris wants to use Tom's machete to hack off a piece for a sample.  Unfortunately for her, it turned out not to be a tree at all, but the leg of the now infamous batratspidercrab.  Now how the hell could you see something like that and not be able to look up and notice that it's something alive.  Anyway, this thing freaks out and traps Theodore between two rocks with it's giant claw.  Sam tries to shoot it with his freeze ray but it has no effect.  Finally Tom tells him to shoot it in the eyes which actually works and the poor thing screams and runs off.  Now is that nice?  I mean this poor thing is just sitting there, minding its own business, when these schmucks come up and whack a piece off it's leg.  I'd be really ticked off too if I was that thing.
21.  Once they chase the batratspidercrab away, they wander on over to this lake.  Iris bends down and feels the water and says that it doesn't feel like water.  That it feels heavy and slick like oil.  Now how is she gonna be able to feel all that through a thick ol' spacesuit glove?  Anyway, after they wander off, that three-eyed alien pops it's head up from behind a rock and watches them walk away.  Here's a note of interest for all you munchkin fans out there.  The three-eyed alien is actually played by Billy Curtis who is best known for his role as the Mayor of Munchkinland in The Wizard of Oz.
22.  Back on the ship, Tom and Theodore get to talking and Theodore convinces Tom that there's an even greater danger there on Mars than they even realize, and that they shouldn't stay the whole five days that they had been planning to stay.  Now two things bother me about this.  Isn't it funny how every time something bothers me in one of these reviews it always ends up being two things?  Anyway, the first thing is, if I spent forty-seven freakin' days traveling to another planet, I sure as hell would plan for it to be more than a five day landing.  It would have to be like a two week to a one month research mission to even make it worth the trip.  And the second thing is, if someone told me that after traveling all that way, we'd only be spending about three days there, I'd probably just put a bullet in my head.  I mean, sure they were in danger, but after forty-seven days cooped up in a relatively small space with a Bogie impersonator, a weird scientist, a redheaded ditz who can only manage a few seconds of dialogue at a time so they have to shoot her conversation scenes in about fifteen takes each, and a Brooklyn cowboy with an ultrasonic freeze ray, I sure as hell wouldn't be in any hurry to do it again right away.  Hell, the prospect of that makes fighting batratspidercrabs and man eating plants look like a trip to the friggin' amusement park.
23.  Once the decision has been made to go home, they try to take off but there's something stopping the rocket from taking off.  They stop trying so they can conserve their fuel.  Now we get to listen to them discuss what's going on.  Theodore says that they're being held by a gravitational pull that is so strong that it would take one-hundred times the thrust they're capable of just to break free of it.  So their plans for take off thwarted, our intrepid explorers decide they're gonna inflate a boat and row over to the other side of that big oily lake and see if they can find out what's going on.  Now tell me something.  Who the hell would have ever thought to bring an inflatable raft and four oars to freakin' Mars?
24.  As they're rowing across the oily lake, they can see a massive city off in the distance.  They make it about half way across, when suddenly this big sea beast rises up out of the water and chases them all the way back to the shore and then all the way back to the rocket.  Sam stopped to take one last shot at it and got grabbed by one of it's tentacles and sucked into it before they could shut the doors on the rocket.  Once inside, they realize that the creature touched Tom and he now has green alien snot all over his arm and it's eating right through his suit.  They get the suit off him quick and throw it in the disposal unit, but that explains how he got infected with that alien snot at the beginning.  Anyway, after they get his suit off, they open the viewports and realize that the creature has completely covered the ship with it's body.  All they can see is alien goo that kinda looks like a slimy, snotty fruitcake, with lime jello thrown in for effect, being smashed all over the windows.  Anybody got a Kleenex?
25.  God, you can totally tell that Iris couldn't remember her lines.  It's blatantly obvious that a huge number of her dialogue shots were shot separately from when the rest of the scene's dialogue was shot and then cut in at the appropriate places.  This creates a very disjointed kind of an effect during these types of scenes.  I really don't understand why they shot this like this.  When they cut to her dialogue, that's all they show in the shot is her.  That's how you can tell that it was shot separately.  The audio tone and quality doesn't quite match up either occasionally.
26.  Ok, the big plan now is to electrify the outside of the ship in an attempt to kill the creature.  The plan works, but it makes a high pitched noise that damn near busts all their ear drums.  After the monster is gone, the radio starts to work again.  They get a message from the martians.  It's a warning to the people of Earth.  While the message is playing, Iris looks out the window and sees that buggy lookin' three-eyed martian again, which of course causes her to faint.  The scene fades out with her fainting and then back in with the rocket flying through space.  Iris wakes up and finds that Theodore is now bleeding from the mouth.  The pressure of takeoff caused him internal injuries and he only says a few words to her about re-wiring the stuff in the ship so they can get home.  He dies right after that and she goes into the cabin to find Tom in bed.  His arm falls out from under the covers and it looks like he sneezed.  There's alien snot all over his arm and hand.  The last thing we see on the rocket is Iris looking at all the re-wired circuits and not knowing how to fix them.  After that, it cuts back to Iris in the hospital bed.
27.  Iris suddenly snaps out of it and becomes little miss scientist again.  She heads into the biology lab in the hospital and figures out a way to get the organism to leave Tom's arm by hitting it with electric shocks.  The process works and in the next scene, Iris is sitting next to Tom's bed in a green dress with her hair down looking all womanly, and proceeds to ask Tom if she can cash in her rain check for that date he promised her.  Jeez lady, give the guy a break.  He just got back from the brink of friggin' death and suddenly you want him to cart you off to broadway.
28.  The general and the doctor come into the room at that point.  They finally got to the last tape and found the warning from the Martians.  Basically it was about how we're technological adults but intellectual and spiritual children and that we were never to return to Mars unless bidden to do so, for if we did, they would destroy all life on Earth.  You know the story, there's been a bunch of movies like this with the same type of ending.  The big advanced aliens look at us like children, call us names, and then threaten us.  Doesn't sound like anyone you'd wanna hang out with anyway.  Jerks.  Oh by the way, that was the end of the movie, which I'm seriously glad about because I've somehow managed to stretch this review out over the last five days.  I'm still trying to figure out how that happened.



Best Quote

"Well?  Shall we go out and claim the planet in the name of Brooklyn?"

- After Sam got over being dazed from the landing they made on Mars, he got a dumb grin on his face and made this brilliant statement. -  (Reviewer's Note: Sure Sam, then we could open a hot dog stand on every corner and fill the place with immigrant taxi drivers.)

Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

The Angry Red Planet
Yes folks, here it is. This is the dreaded batratspidercrab. They sure did a sweet job on this thing. Too bad it didn't really do very much. It sure is fun to say the name though. Batratspidercrab, batratspidercrab, batratspidercrab, batratspidercrab!!! Woo Hoo!!!!!

The Conclusion
The Angry Red Planet...  Sounds kinda scary huh?  But the real question is, does the film live up to it's title?  The answer would have to be a resounding no, but that doesn't mean that the movie was entirely bad or unenjoyable, because it wasn't. The movie in and of itself was actually quite good, although it did have some problems.

One of the big problems in this film was when Iris' dialogue was shot separately and then cut together with the dialogue from her crewmates to create a complete conversation. It wasn't like this in every scene, but I'd say that at least sixty percent of her dialogue was shot this way.  I really have no idea why they did it like that other than maybe there were scheduling conflicts or they only had one camera or whatever, but it just doesn't create a proper flow of dialogue in a scene when you're constantly getting the feeling that the people you're watching have a conversation, probably aren't even in the same room together on the same day.  The cans and bowl on the shelf thing was something that showed a real lack of attention to continuity.  This was probably another result of the way they shot the segmented conversations with Iris, having to re-set up the scene later on when they shot whoever's dialogue came second in the filming.

Another problem I have with this film is that there's never any sense of real danger.  Sure there were dangerous things on the planet, but everything they encountered was either slow moving, stupid or both.  There were really only three real dangers anyway out of the four types of creatures they encountered.  There was the man-eating plant, the batratspidercrab, and the giant amoeba creature.  I think the movie would have been a lot more exciting if there had been more real danger and more of a feeling of suspense, leaving you wondering whether or not they would actually be able to escape.

There are just so many things in this movie that don't make sense, and unfortunately, just as many scenes where pure boredom took over.  So what does this mean?  Probably not what you'd think.  Despite all it's problems, I actually enjoyed this movie.  There's lots of cheesy goodness to be found here, and I absolutely loved the batratspidercrab.  Are there boring parts?  Sure, but there's also laughs to be had and enough cheese to keep you smiling throughout most of the movie.

Let me tell you something, I have sat through a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than what this film dishes up for us.  I'm giving it a middle of the road rating, but I would recommend it more than the rating would imply simply because even though it might be a little lacking in some areas, when you look at the movie as a whole the entertainment factor is definitely there.  This would be a great movie to show at a b-movie party where you have lots of friends hanging out so you can all goof on it while you watch.

B-Movie Central's Rating: 3 Bees

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