‘John Carter’ opens tomorrow. The $250 million epic is an Edgar Rice Burroughs book adapted for the screen and directed by Pixar’s talented Andrew Stanton. As a result, there is a lot of talk about great Martian films. I’m taking the opposite tack, the 10 worst films about Mars.
The very first film about Mars was in 1910 when some guy named Edison. He made ‘A Trip to Mars’. Since then there have been serious and trashy. The themes usually revolve around Mars needing some natural resource from us, usually as breeding stock. It seems they are jealous of our blue planet. It makes then red with anger.
Here are 10 films that have little going for them except their ‘badness’, and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways, in order of release date.
1) Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952)
Martians plan to blast Earth out of its orbit and replace it with Mars! This 50s serial is fun to watch for its very campy nature but also for a very young Leonard Nimoy (as a zombie). Equally interesting is Tom Steele, noted stuntman, in a role simply stated as “Thug in Launch”
2) Devil Girl From Mars (1954)
Pouty lipped Martian Babe dressed in leather, has a ray gun and a killer robot. Her needs Earth hunks for breeding purposes. Apparently Martian men lack the right stuff. David MacDonald directs this opus while Patricia Laffa looks great in leather.
3) Angry Red Planet (1959)
The first manned flight to Mars returns. Of the two survivors one has a green growth on his arm, and the other, under hypnosis, tells of their escape. Mars is inhabited with man-eating plants, giant Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab monsters and a one-eyed monster with dissolving super-powers. Sounds like wonderful a vacation spot. Orbitz can get your a deal.
4) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Santa is captured by Martians to stop Earth kids from being cheery. But Santa teaches those little green brats the real meaning of Christmas. The silliest movie ever made, directed by Nicholas Webster and starring John Call, Pia Zadora, Jamie Farr.
5) The Maid and the Martians (Pajama Party) (1964)
Martian teenager, Gogo, comes to Earth in preparation of a Martian invasion lead by Big Bang (Don Rickles). Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello play the titular stars who find love knows planetary bounds. Great to see legends Buster Keaton, Dorothy Lamour, and Elsa Lanchester. Look for a very young Teri Garr as one of the many Pajama Girls.
6) Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)
An atomic war on Mars destroys the planet’s women (again?). Martian Princess Marcuzan travels to earth seeking new breeding stock. Landing in Puerto Rico, a brain damaged android terrorizes the island while Martians raid pool parties. Respected actor James Karen probably changed agents after starring in this.
7) Planet of Blood (also called Queen of Blood) (1966)
In 1990, an Earth vessel is sent to rescue an alien ship which has crashed on Mars. A team of astronauts discover a lone survivor, a green-skinned female with a horny taste for human blood and some eggs in need of delivery. John Saxon, Basil Rathbone and Dennis Hopper star
8) Mars Needs Women (1967)
A dying race (who else, Martians) need nubile Earthlings for hanky panky. They gravitate towards strippers, co-eds and flight attendants, just like any normal hormonally deranged teenage boy would do. Will the friendly Martians manage to succeed on their mission? Will the evil human scientists stop them? Oh, the tension. The tag line says it all: “They were looking for chicks… to go all the way!”
9) Bad Girls from Mars (1990)
Sexy spoof about a director making a soft-porn scifi flick. The movie within a movie cost a paltry $52,000 to make and every penny is seen on the screen. Starring Edy Williams, she of hubby Russ Meyer’s ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’ infamy, the film has more to do with boobs than Mars.
10) Mars Needs Moms (2011)
The reason ‘John Carter’ is not named ‘John Carter of Mars’ is because this baby sank a company and hurt the bottom line of another. It cost $200 million and yielded less than $30. Once again, the Martians need Earthling bodies, moms, to help them survive. My aren’t we egotists to imagine how important we are to the universe?
Over the past several years, Mars has tailed off as film subject matter. Most likely because science has shown it devoid of advanced life forms. And as these films have shown, Hollywood could be accused of the same.