• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Angry Red Planet

TITLE: The Angry Red Planet

YEAR: 1959

GENRE: Science Fiction

Hollywood has made amazing technical strides since its rudimentary days in the silent film era, but periodically technological advances did come along that were used a couple times and subsequently never used again. This is mostly because the effect or technology did not give the desired effect or was quickly replaced by another advancement that made the other effect obsolete. One of these cases in Hollywood history would be the CineMagic technique, which was basically a colored filter that would be used to color everything in a shot the same color with outlines to make the actors appear more cartoonish so that the thespians could fit into less realistic, animated backgrounds which supposedly gave small budget science fiction films a more impressive work. The effect was basically used for two films due to its expensive nature and lack of effectiveness. The first film to feature this effect was The Angry Red Planet, a hopelessly average science fiction effort from the Cold War era.

The first manned space flight to Mars returns to Earth after being assumed lost in space. Two of the four original crew members are alive: Dr. Iris Ryan (played by Nora Hayden) and crew commander Colonel Tom O’Bannon Gerald Mohr), who happens to have some type of extra-terrestrial plant life growing on his arm. Scientists have no idea what is growing on Colonel O’Bannon, so they turn to Dr. Ryan to tell them what happened.  Dr. Ryan proceeds to tell a story of landing on the red planet and running across what looked like a farther advanced civilization only to encounter giant amoeba and plant-like monsters. The stories are frightening enough, but will the debriefing give enough clues to save Colonel O’Bannon?

In terms of the CineMagic effects, the scenes where it is used literally turns everything a bright red with a  slight orange hue including the actual actors, not allowing for any color separation. The effect has a minimal impact on the scene except for the obvious color changes and to cover up the minimally drawn background scenes. Another aspect that stands out in this film is the fact that the film is supposed to be progressive because there is a female on the crew, but Dr. Ryan is treated in a sexist way by many of her crew members: she is refereed to as ‘Irish” by the three male crew members because of her red hair and blue eyes, the men refer to her as “babe” or “doll” on numerous occasion, and CWO Sam Jocobs (Jack Kruschen)  comments about her spacesuit “I can’t say that I recommend spacesuits for beautiful young dolls. What happened to all your curves?” Dr. Ryan also does most of the domestic chores on the ship including cooking and dishes, and when she does reach into a toolbox she removes a bottle of perfume. Most of the effects and costuming are typical low budget 1950’s sci-fi as director Ib Melcior (mostly known for writing Death Race 2000, Reptilicus, and Robinson Crusoe On Mars) only had a nine day shoot and $190,000 budget in which to complete the project. Some stock footage is used including a rocket launch played backwards to simulate the flight to Mars returning to Earth. On the positive, the monsters on the planet look great especially an amoeba-style lake monster with a funky yellow eye.

Hayden is a former pin-up model and booth bunny for the Mercury automobile company and is the best overall performer throughout the movie. CineMagic was considered a flop due to customer reaction although the effects were used one more time in the 1962 sci-fi comedy The Three Stooges In Orbit. The Angry Red Planet does have its moments, but overall the film has a slow pace and is fairly dull watching except when the Earthlings are being chased by the Martian wildlife. This is not the best example of 1950’s sci-fi, but it is an OK way to waste a Saturday afternoon in between viewings of Forbidden Planet and The Thing From Another World.

* * 1/2

–Mark

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