Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Game over, Man!

Mission Mars (1968) was a low-budget tale of the first manned expedition to Mars. Is that a great poster or what? Bikini babes, a scene evoking From Here to Eternity and the contrast of realistic human figures to the abstract aliens reminiscent of the puzzling, eerie work of Jack Gaughan.

One of the recurring themes of science fiction was the rejection of manifest destiny. Typically, the mysterious native residents of wherever the plucky astronauts (read, Americans) planted their flag would generally kill, torture and screw with the crew before sending them off with a final warning not to come back or at least not return until they learn to behave themselves. The 2010 series of novels by Arthur C. Clarke explored this theme most famously and successfully.

Mission Mars was a bit cheesy and cheap. The idea of suspension of disbelief may have been created just for this film. In particular the astronaut helmets exposed to atmosphere and the notion that an historic inter-planetary expedition could be managed by a mission control staff of two people at the teacher's desk of an unused high-school science classroom. Yet for all the economical short-cuts of the film it still managed to produce a few minutes of really terrifying classic Sci-Fi horror that has been tragically forgotten for years. Until now, that is. I saw this for the first time on local Saturday morning television back in the 1970s and a few scenes stayed with me for decades.

Take a few minutes to check out this meeting between men and aliens. Caution, it just may scar you for life.

Yeah, that's effed up, man.


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