“Halloween Twenty Fifteen”: A Review of “The Angry Red Planet” (1959)


“A spectacular adventure beyond space and time!” Well, not exactly. Actually, the adventure was quite boring and I found myself rooting for the enemy monsters to attack the spaceship that landed on planet Mars and devour the crew before they had a chance to explore further. The Angry Red Planet is told in flashback form by a Dr. Iris (Nora Hayden) who was so traumatized by the trip that the attending physicians back on earth needed to give her a serum to help her remember what happened. It goes through the entire journey of her time on the ship and exploring planet Mars with her three dimwitted and chauvinistic associates. The monsters are not seen until the very end, and there is a reason for that (not mystique, I was thinking more along the lines of budgetary constraints), yet somehow the scientists are able to ascertain that the Martians are controlling them in their minds and will not let them leave. Long story short, and believe me, I wish it was shorter, they eventually do find the Martian monsters and stumble upon one of their cities.

The creatures they discover are gigantic puppet-like tarantula-rats who are so not scary and unconvincing that it is almost painful to watch, even for the time period. The whole movie is one cringe moment after another, highlights being when certain characters die off, unfortunately not at a rate that would have been entertaining. The only thing this film has going for it was shooting all of the outside exploration scenes in an orange-red tint, to lend to the whole “Red Planet” theme (for your viewing pleasure: image 1, image 2, image 3). However, the chemical process that the film underwent to achieve this effect left the result so murky at times, and it is difficult to see what the hell is exactly going on. I was watching this in restored high-definition. The process cost a third of the film’s budget (so, what, about twenty dollars?) and was named “Cinemagic”. It was magic alright—how quickly it was able to make a bad film even worse.

I will give them points for trying and creativity, but it fails magnificently. Then, we have one of the worst forced lines I have ever heard, when Iris glares out the window and dramatically declares, “The planet is angry!” I wonder what came first, that line, or the title of the movie? One of them was created to fit the other. Watch this only to see an obscure part of film history, when movie-makers and studios were trying anything and everything they could to get the one-up on other studios by creating new special effects techniques. Thankfully, “Cinemagic” is dead and buried, much like the excitement level of this film. File under: “so bad, its good”.

Also starring are Gerald Mohr, Les Tremayne, and Jack Kruschen. Directed by Ib Melchior for American International Pictures.

2 out of 10 stars.

More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here. Additional “Cinemagic” screenshots of The Angry Red Planet will be posted to my Facebook page shortly.

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