The Angry Red Planet comes from a time before most special effects were even being thought of. Not only that, but it was during the infancy of space exploration. Things outside of Earth’s atmosphere were unknown, and scary. For this reason almost exclusively, it is hard to knock this movie. But I will try.
The Angry Red Planet (Observations on Twitter during the movie)
Back before anyone really was thinking about going into space, people were both fascinated and frightened of what lurked outside of our planet. Thus the basis of many movies in the 50′s and 60′s were about people exploring space and having our own planet explored from the outside, most of the time with tragic results.
A team of four astronauts is sent on a mission to Mars to discover what lies there and bring back any research they can. When their rocket went off radar and radio silent, the crew were presumed dead and the mission a complete failure. Then one night the rocket is picked up floating in space by a telescope. Scientist at NASA bring the rocket in manually and find that there were two survivors on board. Dr. Iris ‘Irish’ Ryan and Col. Thomas O’Bannion Had survived the trip, however Dr. Ryan was deeply traumatized and Col. O’Bannion was injured with an unknown growth on his arm.
The story of their trip is told through flash-backs and fuzzy memories from Dr. Ryan. She tells the other scientists that everything went according to plan on the trip out, but when they landed, something went wrong. It was as if the planet itself was somehow sabotaging their trip. They found terrible creature that tried to, and in some cases did actually harm them. The crew attempted to escape but was unable to. The gravitational pull from Mars was localized to keep their ship from blasting off. They were attacked again, and only upon killing a giant creature that was attempting to devour the ship were they “allowed” to leave. The final scene in the movie is a tape recorded voice of “The Planet Mars” giving a warning to all would-be explorers to never return to Mars again.
It’s hard to knock a movie for looking horrible when it was made before my parents were even born. Considering the director was given a strict ten day time frame to make the movie, it’s hard not to forgive it for feeling rushed when it literally was. However, looking at the back drops for The Angry Red Planet that were no more than drawings with a filter over them, its easy to see why this would affect some peoples opinions. Also, there was a lot of stock footage used to pad out the scenes on Earth. It’s not surprising that no one connected to this movie went on to do anything of any real merit. The only notable connection was that the director Ib Melchoir wrote a short story called “The Racer” that would later inspire the cult classic film Death Race 2000.
There is a reason that MST3K was so successful, and a large chunk of that success can be attributed to the fact that so many cheesy movies like The Angry Red Planet were filmed back in the 50′s. Had the series ran on, I am confident that this would have been on their hit list. As I said, back then space was a scary place. Even with all the thought of aliens coming to kill or enslave us all, I can’t help but laugh at their crazy imaginations. It’s funny to see that they thought that Mars would have a “jungle” on it as well as be inhabited by giant amoebas, carnivorous plants, and some crazy rat-spider creature. Final thought, I don’t want to go to Mars… ever. Besides, the voice said for us not to come back.