Sunday, August 15, 2021

Journey To The Seventh Planet (1962)

People once gazed at the stars in wonder and dreamed of awesome possibilities, those blinking lights in a black canvas firing creative imaginations in print and on screen. Pulp magazines of the 1940s and 50s were filled to the brim with tales of rocket-ships roaring through space and swashbuckling heroes of Mars. These bled into Hollywood b-movies throbbing with radioactive giant insects and invaders from Mars alongside mad scientists and beasts from under the sea. This leads us to Journey To The Seventh Planet, from 1962, a film produced between Denmark and AIP studios, directed by Sid Pink. Mr. Pink (haha!) is an interesting character, somewhat an early pioneer of 3D movies and was an early distributor of spaghetti westerns before the Leone boom. He produced or distributed a string of genre movies from the early 1950s to the 1970s, along with a smattering of films to his own name of which this is one.

Journey To The Seventh Planet is set in the year 2001, when the world is now unified behind the United Nations and in echoes of Star Trek, rockets blast into the cosmos as part of a space fleet to explore. A crew of five square jawed astronauts land on Uranus to find, not the world of sun seared rocks they expected but a lush land of pine woodland. Nothing is what it seems, with dream women appearing out of nowhere and a picture postcard village, complete with windmill. The rugged space adventurers pull on their nifty spacesuits to investigate and adventure ensues! They find that nothing is what it seems, and encounter strange beasts in dank caves and a glowing space brain than plans to use them for nefarious purposes! Gasp! 

I had a lot of fun with this, I expected nothing and got a lot back. It had a pea sized budget but the makers got a lot out of their money as far as I can see.  There is nifty costumes, including fab blue spacesuits, and even some stop motion monsters and some good old bug eyed aliens. Yes there is some stock footage of rockets but its inserted into the picture well. Hell the movie is cheesy and dated and sexist as hell, but zips along at a rocket pace, never dwelling too long on any particular area before rolling on to the next scene. on the negative side the cast is a bit of a charisma blackhole apart from 50s sci-fi mainstay John Agar, but they are all Danish actors dubbed into English. But its not Kubrick's 2001 and the film doesn't try to be. Agar is my favourite part of the film, he comes across as a Flash Gordon type that probably has a whisky bottle shoved down his trousers and three women in every spaceport. Story wise alas with the passage of time its a plot folk will have seen before, over and over, particularly the Star Trek episode "Shore Leave" but at only 77 minutes its a breezy pulp tale and doesn't outstay its welcome. I dug it.

Most Valuable Thing: John Agar. His randy but cheery astronaut brings a dose of spark to the crew.

Make Or Break: When the crew put on their suits and go exploring.

Score: 6 outta 10

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