Coming from Corinth Films comes Drive-In Retro Classics: Triple Sci-Fi Feature; a collection of three films of low-budget sci-fi films from the 1950s (1950s XM Rocket1958 The hideous sun demonand 1957The brain of planet Arous to be precise)!
Let’s do this revolting review rolling as we put our putrid peepers on XM Rocket:
Humanity is ready to land the first men (four in fact… and a woman too; the wonders will never end?!!) on the moon thanks to the experimental rocket RX-M (Rocketship Expedition-Moon). After encountering a crash or two, the rocket veers off course a bit and actually lands on Mars!
Once there, our heroes encounter the traces of a once great civilization now reduced to a pile of crap, and the Martians themselves have become crazed, radiation-scarred cavemen! I’m sure a crew equipped to handle the exploration of a desolate, empty moon will have no trouble handling this incredible event!
The main pleasure to have with XM Rocket is that the image makes bold attempts to explain the now incredibly dated science that populates the film with a reflection on how gravity would affect the ship, and what the atmosphere of Mars was like (to name a few -uns)…hell, even some social commentary on the threat of nuclear war is being offered (which, at the time of this writing, is sadly very on point).
The cast on hand is also loud and natural, with the exception of the usually high-end Lloyd Bridges, who come across as an over-the-top cocky sting here, and while it’s pleasing in both its brashness, it holds its own. in stark contrast to the calm acting of the other cast members (minus those cave people, those motherfuckers are out of control).
All in all, director Kurt Neumann (who also co-wrote the image) gives us a pretty solid pre-Cold War space race that features some entertaining concepts and visuals (especially in the nice touch of the movie). red-tinted black-and-white image once the crew lands on the surface of Mars).
Continuing, we arrive in the land of the creatures thanks to The hideous sun demon:
Dr. Gil McKenna (Robert Clarke, who also wrote, directed, and produced the film) is zapped through radiation hell, but shows no noticeable burns that baffle his peers; lab assistant Ann Russell (Patricia Manning) and scientist Dr. Frederick Buckell (Patrick Whyte).
As a treatment for his radiation exposure, Gil is prescribed time to soak up the sun’s rays in a solarium, and instead dies of cancer from radiation and the sun like anyone else…literally. anybody Predictably, Gil turns into a lizard creature which is admittedly no good.
With sunlight now completely out of the question for our hero, he naturally decides to hole up in his house and become a world-class alcoholic, and I’ve never felt so damn seen in my whole fucking life.
Will science find a cure for Gil, or will his life consist of hot stones and Maker’s Mark for the rest of his life?
Now it’s not like that anymore! I know this may sound strange to some, but I think XM Rocket was a little too fancy for a drive-in movie collection… but the complete nonsense that is The hideous sun demon well and really satisfied the old cheese tooth!
First off, the “science” on display is complete crap, which is a good thing because I don’t want a science lecture, I want grossly misidentified bug slides (you’re absolutely going to lose your mind when you’ll see the “mutant grasshopper”) and a lizard-man on a downward spiral doing sexy with the blousey singer from the dive bar down the street (unfortunately not in lizard mode, it ain’t fucking deep humanoids…).
Also worth noting is the absolutely brilliant creature design thanks to an uncredited Richard Cassarino which features an impressive amount of scaly detail and a nightmarish mouth…and I’d be remiss not to mention the way-too-emotional performance by Clarke that would make the classic Shatner blush.
In short, The Hideous Sun Demon is a classic creature loaded with cheap T&A, a big monster, and some chewable scenery, and it’s this monster’s recipe for a perfect movie night!
The last is coming The brain of planet Arous:
After some 50s-era patent sages and a trek through the desert, Steve March (John Agar) becomes possessed by an evil mastermind from outer space with chamber eyes named Gor (voiced by Dale Tate and completed by nonstop War of the Worlds noises).
At first, Steve/Gor is just a creepy-abusing animal, but before long he sets his sights higher and begins threatening the entire world with his evil machinations, all carried out through the glory of this sweet and sweet stock footage.
Luckily, a friendly brain creature named Vol (also voiced by Tate) comes to earth and owns Steve’s fiancee’s dog, Sally (Joyce Meadows), as one naturally would…and he’s determined to put an end to Gor’s bullshit. , pronto!
Remember how I said The hideous sun demon was everything a nice creature feature should be? Well double that and you get The brain of planet Arous!
You’ve read that creepy, wacky, daffy synopsis up top, then you already know that this sci-fi clash has quite a thread going, and damn it ever does! Throw in some groovy creature designs for our spooky brains, and another effective use of those aluminum contact lenses Commander Mitchell sported. star trekthe second pilot, Where no man has gone before.
The real heavy lifting here however is done by Hagar who is amiable in March and completely super-villain when controlled by Gor. It’s a fun performance, and it really looks like the actor is eating the whole thing with a spoon!
Taken as a whole, the Drive-In Retro Classics: Triple Sci-Fi Feature well worth your time; you get three rather fantastic sci-fi films from the golden age of sci-fi cinema for under $20, and all three are under 80 minutes each, so you can easily make a night out of them!