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Mars in the Cinema
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Movies about Mars often tell us more about ourselves than Mars. Most of these movies were made during the Cold War and as such reflect a feeling of fear and paranoia about the unknown.

This information was obtained from several sources including: Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide and The VideoHound's Movie Guide.

The data is in the following format:

Title, Country of origin, Date, Rating, Format (color/black and white), Video available, Time in minutes, Review in *'s out of ****

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars

US, (1953) NR, B & W, V, 77, * .5

Director: Charles Lamont Cast: Bud Abbott, Robert Paige, Martha Hyer, Lou Costello, Marie Blanchard, Horace McMahon

Plot: A & C end up every where except Mars, a case of poor navigation.

Lesson: Bring a good map! And make sure your navigator passed Astronomy 101.

Aelita: Queen of Mars

Soviet, (1924) B & W, Silent

Director: Jakov Protazanov

Plot: A Soviet engineer builds a spaceship to reach Mars. He kills his wife, Natacha and flees to Mars, where he falls in love with Aelita, the Queen of Mars.

Lesson: This could be a Jerry Springer episode.

The Alpha Incident

US, (1977) PG, C, V, 84, **

Director: Bill Rebane Cast: Ralph Meeker, John Goff, Stafford Morgan, Carole Irene Newell

Plot: Government tries to cover up the existence of a deadly organism that has been retrieved from Mars.

Lesson: Beware of sample return missions.

The Angry Red Planet

US, (1959) NR, C, V, 83, **

Director: Ib Melchoir Cast: Gerald Mohr, Les Tremayne, Paul Hahn, Nora Hayden, Jack Kruschen

Plot: Martians attack first Earth expedition to Mars.

Lesson: They were angry we took so long to visit.

The Astronaut

US, (1971) NR, C, 73 (Made for TV average)

Director: Robert Michael Lewis Cast: Monte Markham, Susan Clark, James B. Sikking, Jackie Cooper, Robert Lansing, Wally "astronaut" Schirra

Plot: Space officials recruit a pilot to pose as an astronaut who died on Mars.

Lesson: Honesty is the best policy.

Battle Beyond the Sun

US, (1963) NR, C, V, 75, **

Director: Thomas Colchart Cast: Edd Perry, Andy Stewart, Arla Powell, Bruce Hunter

Plot: Director and cast names are pseudonyms. A reworking of the Soviet film Nebo Zowet (1959) by Roger Corman and Francis Ford Coppola. The story deals with rival space missions to Mars.

Lesson: Co-operation works better in the long run.

Capricorn One

US, (1978) PG, C, V, 124, ***

Director: Peter Hyams Cast: Elliot Gould, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas, Denise Nicholas, Robert Walden, James Brolin, Sam Waterston, O.J. "The Juice" Simpson, Brenda Vaccaro, David Huddleston, David Doyle

Plot: A faked first mission to Mars takes a wrong turn when the capsule supposedly burns up in re-entry. What do you do with the astronauts?

Lesson: It may be cheaper to just do the mission then to try to fake it.

Conquest of Space US, (1955) NR, C, V, 80, ** .5

Director: Byron Haskins Cast: Eric Fleming, Ross Martin, Joan Shawlee, William Hopper, Walter Brooke

Plot: A George Pal production about the first expedition to Mars, based on Werner von Braun's book The Mars Project.

Lesson: Von Braun really wanted to go to Mars.

D-Day on Mars

US, (1945), NR, B & W, 100, **

Director: Spencer Bennet, Fred Bannon Cast: Dennis Moore, Roy Barcroft, Bud Geary, Linda Sterling, James Craven, Mary Moore

Plot: Re-edited from the Republic serial "The Purple Monster Strikes". Square jawed heroes battle evil purple Martian invaders.

Lesson: Purple? Sounds like Barney.

The Day Mars Invaded Earth

US, (1962) NR, B & W, 70, * .5

Director: Maury Dexter Cast: Kent Taylor, William Mims, Lowell Brown, Marie Windsor, Betty Beall, Gregg Shank

Plot: Martians who look identical to Earth scientist invade Earth.

Lesson: Aliens look just like Earthlings.

The Deadly Ray From Mars

US, (1938) NR, B & W, V, 99, ** .5

Director: Ford Beebe, Robert Hill Cast: Buster Crabbe, Charles Middleton, Donald Kerr, Jean Rogers, Frank Shannon, Beatrice Roberts

Plot: Edited version of Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars Serial. Ming tries to siphon nitrogen from the Earth's atmosphere, now that's evil.

Lesson: Every body needs buffer gas.

Devil Girl From Mars

UK (1954) NR, B & W, V, 77, * .5

Director: David MacDonald Cast: Patricia Laffan, Hazel Court, Peter Reynolds, John Laurie, Hugh McDermott, Adrienne Corri, Joseph Tomelty

Plot: A Martian woman dressed in black leather lands in Scotland, to find a human husband.

Lesson: Scotland is a good Martian analog.

Flight to Mars

US, (1951) NR, C, V, 72, **

Director: Lesley Selander Cast: Marguerite Chapman, Virginia Huston, Cameron Mitchell, Arthur Franz

Plot: Scientists and newspapermen land on Mars and find a lost civilization.

Lesson: They must have had fuel to spare.

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster

US, (1965) NR, B & W, V, 78, *

Director: Robert Gaffney Cast: James Karen, Nancy Marshall, David Kerman, Marilyn Hanold

Plot: Interplanetary robot runs amuck, hey it could happen. Released on video with the more appropriate title Mars Invades Puerto Rico.

Lesson: I wonder if they went to Arecibo?

The Girl From Mars

New Zealand-Canada, (1991) NR, C, 100 (made for TV average)

Director: Neill Feranley Cast: Edward Albert, Sarah Sawatsky, Christianne Hirt, Eddie Albert, Gary Day, Gwynyth Walsh

Plot: A politician's daughter, helping with ecological problems, is really a Martian.

Lesson: Martian ecologists must have learned the hard way with Mars.

Invaders from Mars

US, (1953) NR, C, V, 78, ***

Director: William Cameron Menzies Cast: Helena Carter, Jimmy Hunt, Hillary Brooke, Arthur Franz, Lief Erickson, Bert Freed

Plot: Martians invade Earth and brainwash residents of a small town.

Lesson: Small towns are dangerous.

Invaders from Mars

US, (1986) PG, C, V, 100, * .5

Director: Tobe Hooper Cast: Karen Black, Timothy Bottoms, James Karen, Bud Cort, Hunter Carson, Laraine Newman, Louise Fletcher, Jimmy Hunt

Plot: Martians invade Earth and brainwash residents of a small town.

Lesson: Hollywood lacks originality.

It! The Terror from Beyond Space

US, (1958) NR, B & W, V, 69, ** .5

Director: Edward L. Cahn Cast: Marshall Thompson, Kim Spalding, Shawn Smith, Ann Doran

Plot: A second expedition to Mars returns to Earth with the sole survivor of the first mission. A Martian monster has stowed away, causing trouble.

Lesson: Count the crew and passengers before you leave.

Just Imagine

US, (1930) NR, B & W, 102, * .5

Director: David Butler Cast: El Brendel, John Garrick, Frank Albertson, Maureen O'Sullivan, Majorie White, Hobart Bosworth

Plot: A musical science fiction comedy made in the thirties but set in the eighties. A dead man is revived after being dead for fifty years, whereupon he goes to Mars.

Lesson: Sounds a lot like Futurama to me.

Lobster Man from Mars

US, (1989) PG, C, V,84, **.5

Director: Stanley Shiff Cast: Tony Curtis, Deborah Foreman, Patrick MacNee, Roddy McDowell, Tommy Sledge, Billy Barty, Phil Proctor

Plot: A young film student tries to sell his weird movie about a Lobster Man from Mars.

Lesson: Big stars will make stupid movies.

Mars Attacks!

US, (1996) C, V

Director: - Cast: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Natalie Portman, Pierce Brosnan, Annette Bening, Danny Devito, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones

Plot: Martians attack Earth.

Lesson: A bad movie can be saved by calling it a spoof.

Mars Needs Women

US, (1968) NR, C, V, 80, * .5

Director: Larry Buchanan Cast: Tommy Kirk, Byron Lord, Warren Hammack, Yvonne "Batgirl" Craig, Roger Ready, Anthony Houston

Plot: Martians invade Earth to capture live women. OK, so a slow night on Utopia Planitia?

Lesson: I suppose this proves the theory of panspermia.

Martians Go Home

US, (1990) PG-13, C,V,89, * .5

Director: David Odell Cast: Randt Quaid, Anita Morris, Vic Dunlop, Gerrit Graham, Harry Basil, Margaret Colin, Barry Sobel, John Philbin, Ronny Cox

Plot: A TV personality summons billions of Martians to Earth.

Lesson: Be careful of visitors.

Missile Monsters

US, (1958) NR, B & W, 75, * .5

Director: Fred C. Brannon Cast: Walter Reed, Gregory Gay, Lois Collier, James Craven

Plot: Re-edited version of the serial "Flying Disc Man from Mars". Martians try to take over Earth using guided missiles.

Lesson: They went with robotic probes rather than manned (?) missions.

Mission Mars

US, (1968) NR, C, V, 95, *.5

Director: Nick Webster Cast: Darren McGavin, George DeVries, Michael DeBeausset, Nick Adams, Heather Hewitt, Shirley Parker

Plot: US, astronauts battle unseen forces during a Mars mission.

Lesson: This was understandable with all the space probes which malfunctioned in that era.

Murder in Space

US, (1985) NR, C, V, 89, (made for TV below average)

Director: Steven Hillard Stern Cast: Wilford Brimley, Martin Balsam, Damir Andrei, Peter Dvorsky, Alberta Watson, Arthur Hill, Michael Ironside, Tom Butler, Cathie Shirriff

Plot: Murders occur on an expedition returning from Mars.

Lesson: You really must do good psychological profiles on the crew.

Planet of Blood

US, (1966) NR, C,V,81,** .5

Director: Curtis Harrington Cast: Basil Rathbone John Saxon, Dennis Hopper, Florence Marly

Plot: An expedition to Mars finds a crashed alien space ship. They bring back the only survivor; a bloodsucking, female alien. Then the trouble begins.

Lesson: Don't pick up hitchhikers.

Red Planet Mars

US, (1952) NR, B & W, V, 87, ** .5

Director: Harry Homer Cast: Peter Graves, Marvin Miller, House Peters, Andrea King, Herbert Berghof, Vince Barnett

Plot: Messages from Mars turn out to be coming from god!

Lesson: What type of antenna were they using anyway?

Robinson Crusoe on Mars

US, (1964) NR, C, V, 109, ** .5

Director: Byron Haskin Cast: Paul Mantee, Adam "Batman" West, Vic Lundin

Plot: Astronaut is stranded on Mars in a reworking of the Defoe classic.

Lesson: Don't send just one astronaut.

Rocket Ship X-M

US, (1950) NR, B & W, V, 77, ** .5

Director: Kurt Neumann Cast: Lloyd Bridges, Hugh O'Brian, Osa Massen, John Emery

Plot: An expedition to the Moon goes astray and ends up on Mars. As If! NASA gets really steamed when this happens.

Lesson: Another example of bad navigation.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

US, (1964), NR, C, V, 80, *

Director: Nicholas Webster Cast: John Call, Vincent Beck, Pia Zadora, Leonard Hicks, Donna Conforti

Plot: Martians abduct Santa Claus.

Lesson: Is the atmosphere on Mars thick enough to support reindeer flight? Now this is just silly.

Total Recall

US, (1990) C, V, 113, ***

Director: Paul Verhoeven Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Mel Johnson Jr., Rachel Ticotin, Ronny Cox, Marshall Bell

Plot: Arnold travels to Mars and becomes involved with a revolution.

Lesson: Real travel may be safer than virtual reality.

War of the Worlds

US, (1953) NR, C, V, 85, *** .5

Director: Byron Haskins Cast: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Henery Brandon, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Les Tremayne, Robert Cornthwaite

Plot: Martians invade Earth, but succumb to the common cold. An adaptaion of the H.G. Wells story.

Lesson: Get immunized before going on a trip.

World without End

US, (1956) NR, C, 80, 88 .5

Director: Edward Bernds Cast: Hugh Marlowe, Nelson Leigh, Nancy Gates, Rod Taylor

Plot: A space flight to Mars breaks the time barrier and ends up in the future, bummer.

Lesson: Don't speed!

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