Angry Red Planet (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (15th June 2016).
The Film

In a meeting at The Pentagon the gathered scientists and military advisers are informed the rocket ship X-1 (later to be referred to as MR-1) has appeared on their radar screens 30,000 miles out from Earth. The ship was originally supposed to be on a mission to Mars but when all contact was lost those on Earth assumed that the ship had crashed whilst trying to land on the red planet. It is agreed that the scientists will attempt to land the ship via remote control into the Nevada desert. The operation is a success but it appears that there are only two survivors. The first survivor is quickly taken away in an ambulance with a strange green growth growing on him. The other survivor is Iris 'Irish' Ryan (Nora Hayden). She is also taken to the hospital where she is in a state of shock and exhaustion. The growth on the other survivor is rapidly increasing and their only chance of halting the infection is if Iris can give them some information about what happened aboard the rocket ship. Desperately trying to remember Iris starts to recall the fate of the ship from when it took off. On board the ship were four astronauts. As well as Iris Ryan there was Colonel Thomas O'Bannion (Gerald Mohr), Professor Theodore Gettell (Les Tremayne) and Sam Jacobs (Jack Kruschen). Initially everything went to plan. The long trip to Mars was going smoothly and bar a close call with a meteorite nothing much happens. Then the ship enters Mars orbit. The MR-1 lands safely and almost immediately the crew start to realise that they are not quite alone on the angry, red planet.

'The Angry Red Planet' was originally released in 1959 and it shows. The MR-1 rocket ship is incredibly roomy with a well stocked galley full of tins and a command centre with plenty of comfy chairs and even a chess board for the resident egg head to play on. The only woman on board is treated, like many women were during this time, as someone to cook and clean for the more important members of the crew (i.e., the men). Colonel O'Bannion struts around the ship either jutting out his jaw and gazing wistfully into the distance or constantly making inappropriate passes at Iris. Professor Gettell does not seem to do a great deal bar stroke his beard, play against himself at chess and, believe it or not, smoke his pipe. The remaining member of the crew is Jacobs who seems to be in control of the radio and not much else. He spends the remainder of his time reading science fiction pulp magazines and wondering, out loud, whether he is going to still be alive to see the next issue! Of course this is all part and parcel of a 1950's science fiction movie and adds considerably to the film's charm. The effects, especially once the crew land on Mars, are pretty unique and certainly add to the movies appeal. But what we are really here for, well I am anyway, is the monsters and 'The Angry Red Planet' does not disappoint here. Although some are fairly poorly realised, being simply drawings, there is enough on screen to keep most cult sci-fi fans happy. If you can overlook the film's obvious failings, such as anything to do with the science of space, then you'll have a whale of a time with 'The Angry Red Planet'.

Video

Fabulous Films have presented the film in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 Sadly this is not the film's original aspect ratio which was 1.85:1. This is a huge disappointment. It appears to be the exact same print that was released by MGM on their Midnite Movies label. I have not seen the Shout Factory release but I'm assuming it's the same. The film has not been restored in any way, shape or form and consequently is littered with scratches, light grain and plenty of other defects. The colours are a little soft and the blacks not particularly deep. I would have been happy to have put up with that if only the original aspect ratio had been transferred to DVD instead. Having said that the 1.33:1 ratio does not harm the film too much and there does not seem to be any glaring omissions from the picture despite it's truncated form. It just would have been nice to see it in its intended form for once.

Audio

The soundtrack is the same that was used on the Midnite Movies Region 1 disc and that is a dual mono soundtrack. The sound is perfectly acceptable and clear throughout. Of course there is no real bass provided so the sound of the rocket ship landing and taking off is rather tepid. There are no subtitles of any kind on the disc.

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:47) - A rather beat up, scratchy trailer is included extolling the virtues of the new Cinematic process.

Overall

Despite the discs limitations (which bar the lack of subtitles is no better, nor worse than either of it's two Region 1 predecessors) the film is an enjoyable slice of hokum. It's true that the initial 20 minutes or so of the movie are a little on the dull side but when the crew get to Mars things really start to progress. The 'new' Cinematic process leaves a bit to be desired but the effort put into the alien creatures is worth the price of admission on it's own. Perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The Film: B Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: E Overall: B-

 


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