ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE (1952). Director: Fred C. Brannon.
The third and last of the rocket man serials replaces Commando Cody of the second serial (Radar Men from the Moon) with Larry Martin (Judd Holdren). Those pesky martians are at it again and trying to take over the Earth. The “zombies” of the title are simply the drone martians who work under Marex (Lane Bradford), the bad guy from Mars. (One of the zombies, Naran, is played by Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame. Marex blackmails Dr. Harding (Stanley Waxman), a scientist who's been selling atomic secrets into helping him. Working against Harding and the men from Mars are Larry and his associate Bob (Wilson Wood). [Aline Towne as get-the-coffee Sue has virtually nothing to do.] The slick production features some good cliffhanger situations, such as a thrilling train wreck in chapter one and a boat going over a dam in chapter two. There's also a kind of tin can robot and a larger, more impressive model that actually seems dangerous. The martians hide out in a cavern that has a underwater section through which they gain access to the main cave deep within. The performances are good, and the movie is fun.
Verdict: The Rocket Man Rules. ***.