Angry Red Planet [1960]

Although widely admired among longtime science fiction fans, The Angry Red Planet is merely a substandard entry from the genre's 1950s heyday. With wooden performances, atrocious dialogue, and some monsters that would scare only very young kids, it's perfect fodder for a rainy- day marathon of cheesy movies, as long as you keep your expectations low. Following the standard plot of its day, the movie tells (in flashback) the story of four astronauts who land Rocket M-1 on Mars, only to find the "angry red planet" lives up to its nickname. The plants are carnivorous, there's a gigantic "bat-rat-spider-crab" that can snap humans in half with its pincers, and a slithering Jello-beast with a rotating eyeball that threatens to dissolve the rocket ship into a pile of digested goo. Naturally, there's an onboard flirtation between shapely space-gal Nora Hayden and astro-hunk Gerald Mohr (who inexplicably spends the last half-hour with his hairy chest exposed), while Les Tremayne and Jack Kruschen play the stock characters (respectively) of elder scientist and blue-collar engineer--the latter toting an "ultrasonic freezer gun" that forces attacking monsters to chill out. If that's not enough to whet your schlock-movie appetite, the scenes on Mars were filmed in a gimmicky pink-hued process called "Cinemagic," which resembles a negative image covered in Pepto-Bismol. Is this any way to spend 83 precious minutes? Look at it this way: When an angry Martian warns humans to stay away ("you are technological adults, but spiritual and emotional infants"), you may be laughing enough to make it all worthwhile. --Jeff Shannon

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