Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


VOYAGE TO THE PREHISTORIC PLANET (1965). Writer/director: John Sebastian. [Direction of added American scenes by Curtis Harrington].

AIP took a Russian science fiction movie and made two new movies out of it by adding scenes with American actors: Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet was the first of the two. As astronauts in 2020 explore the planet Venus, Basil Rathbone [yes, Sherlock Holmes!] and Faith Domergue [of It Came from Beneath the Sea fame] communicate with them from HQ and another ship. [Rathbone and Domergue have no scenes together. Rathbone is filmed with two young actors, while Domergue -- with an unflattering beehive hairdo -- is all by her lonesome.] The astronauts encounter a tentacled killer plant, funny hopping rubber lizards [men in costumes], a mechanical brontosaurus, and a phony flying reptile. [There's also a quick shot of a squiggling underwater creature]. One of the astronauts hears a woman's voice as well as music, and they find a statue, shaped like a reptile, that proves Venus had once had a flourishing civilization -- and, the strangely poetic ending would indicate, still does. There's also a big robot -- and a hilarious scene with reel to reel tape [in 2020]! Composer Ronald Stein effectively reuses his music from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Rathbone and Domergue actually give good performances in their added sequences. However, they can't disguise the fact that the original movie, while not entirely terrible, was probably no world-beater. Followed by Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women.

Verdict: Rathbone and Domergue deserved better. **.

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