Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956)
Hi all, Nate here with a boorish, boring, bland, buggeringly bad b-movie. Why am I reviewing this one in particular? Because I got my hands on the restored Blu-ray, and yes, we live in an unjust, cruel world where this piece of forgettable snot gets a Blu-ray but all seven seasons of Deep Space Nine are still only available in shitty VHS-quality SD. I don't like living in this world anymore.
So, movie. Five strapping, square-jawed astronauts board a stock-footage V-2 rocket and head off to the 13th moon of Jupiter. The five intrepid explorers are that guy, that dude, that other dude, that one old fart with the hat, and that guy. The trip take just three weeks (snicker) and along the way our crew does pretty much nothing and we learn nothing about them. Not making that up. They do shave at least once and dodge a weak back-projected asteroid field, but for the most part they spend those three weeks flexing and posing in front of the mirror and listening to Pitbull albums while watching porn.
It's always Casual Friday here.
The 13th moon turns out to be habitable, of course, and looks almost exactly (totally exactly) like a day-rented county park near Pasadena, California. The ship lands on its tailfins like a proper 1950's spaceship and they all get out to wander around, making sure to hike up their high-waisted pants and strap on their six-shooter pistols for good measure.
Shoot all the ETs.
It's not long before they find a long lost colony of Atlantis, populated almost entirely by hot young white girls between the ages of 18 and 24. Sigh, it's that kind of movie. Logically, our explorers want nothing more than to have sticky, semi-consentual missionary sex with the girls, a carnal concern so pressing that none of them stop to ask what a colony of line-dancing, English-speaking, Athena-worshipping Atlantean girls is doing on a Jovian moon in the first place. And, no, it's never sufficiently explained.
But dance explains everything.
There's a monster thing on the prowl, which looks suspiciously like a guy in a Halloween mask and a surfer's wet-suit, a monster that has been slowly whittling down the population of Atlantean babes. Will our crew of red-blooded American men be able to defeat the monster and save the girls? Will they all die of Space Herpies? Will they just knock them up and run back to Earth because they just aren't ready for fatherhood yet, ok man? I honestly don't care, and neither should you because this movie fucking sucks.
Who wants to have my babies?
Why does this movie even exist? It does nothing better than any of the hundred dozen other softcore space-babe exploitation movies you can find. It doesn't have anything interesting to say about relationships or colonialism or technology that we haven't seen from much better (and much worse) movies of the same era. The visuals and effects are as lame as Drive-in audiences would have expected, nothing new to see here. A tax write-off? Director under contract to make x number of movies in x months and he had to get one in under the deadline? Who knows, but I don't think I've seen a more forgettable movie in a while. The chicks aren't even that special, just pretty girls in relatively modest clothes doing fairly innocuous things on somebody's freshly-mown lawn. I've seen far more skin in my Sunday newspaper's store ads.
I know, right!?
Let's see, what else did I notice here? First off, what was the state of knowledge about Jupiter's moons in 1956? Google tells me that only 12 had been discovered by the time this film was made so the 13th was, indeed, a mystery. The real 13th moon, Leda, was not discovered until 1974 and has sadly been found to be a barren rock, utterly devoid of barely-legal scantily-clad overly-tanned ladies in knock-off Greek miniskirts. Science has again failed me and my penis.
What are you looking at?
Broken record with me, I know, but there are way, way too many characters here for both the skimpy plot and the short runtime. The five horny, incompetent astronaut dudes could really be reduced to two greasy, serial-rapist astronaut dudes and very little would be lost. It's not like we have the time to get to know any of them anyway, I can't even remember any of their names at this point, trimming down their size wouldn't hurt a thing. You can, however, keep all the girls, except for a couple primaries the rest of them are essentially just wordless background extras in short dresses. Nude on the Moon worked with just two guys and a bunch of girls, surely that's an admirable template to use.
More girls, less guys.
I've said this about almost every (or every one?) “lost civilization” sci-fi movie ever made, there's absolutely nothing in the script that requires it to be set in space at all. You could have the setting be some never-discovered tropical South Seas isle or a hidden valley deep in the Amazon and it would change nothing about the plot or characters. I get that in the 1950s everyone was bonkers crazyass for the Space Race and all but I'm guessing that dumb teens in Des Moines would still pay two bucks at the Drive-in to see this no matter where it was set.
He's dressed for space travel!
Every time I watch one of these old 1950s films I am struck by the casual misogyny and sexism, especially in lower-budget genre b-movies, and this is one of the more cringingly blatant examples. The women in this movie are treated like crap, to be honest, barely rising above giggling sexual objects worth little more than their ability to look hot and get naked (off screen) on command. I'm quite sure every man who worked on this movie's script and production, from the writers to the key grips, had wives, mothers, and daughters in their personal lives, one wonders if they felt the same way about women at home as they did in their professional product. I wouldn't want to be the girlfriend of this movie's director, he's a piece of shit. And yes, I know, he's only a piece of shit because that was how his entire generation felt about changing gender roles and the sexual obectivism of women but that doesn't make him any less a dirtbag.
So, you wanna make me a sammie?
While even the cheapest of b-movies make somewhat of an effort to have their “spaceship interiors” look at least passably sci-fi, even if most of them look more like bomber cabins or submarine control rooms, the producers of our movie just said, “Fuck it, let's just film this crap in that old primary school down on 33rd Street, just line some desks up and we'll duct tape some old radio circuit boards to the walls, no one will even care.” And they're right, no one cares, mostly because all the opening scenes in the spaceship are just delaying our opportunities to see pretty girls with perky boobies.
Unmarked throttles? Check!
One also can't help but notice that all the menfolk are chainsmokers. And not just on the surface of the moon or back at the Earth base, but aboard the spaceship as well. Because it's not like there's anything flammable on a spaceship from the 1950s, right?
The blatant product placement was also a surprise to me, I'm not used to that in such an early film. Along with Cocoa Cola and Lucky Strike brands prominently on display, the fine folks at TransWorld Airlines clearly paid a hefty promotional consideration in exchange for having their logo plastered all over the first ten minutes of the movie. From the TWA logos on bags and walls and placards, to a gorgeous TWA Constellation front-and-center, to even their company name in the dialogue, you can surely see where the director got the money to pay for his third wife's nosejob from. I will say, however, that the Connie is pretty sweet.
I was born too late.
Running out of things to pick on. Hey, they keep standing in a group shots! I know you have to get everyone in frame, especially when your camera is locked down and never pans, but it's pretty laughable when a bunch of dudes keep standing together in a two foot-square space.
Bunch up, boys.
I will finish this off by saying that the one redeeming moment for me was the half-second establishing shot of the landed rocket behind some trees. There was no need for this but they took the time and effort to cut and matte this shot and I appreciate it. See, I can say something nice about these crap movies!
Anyway, watch this one at your own risk. You will either be highly offended and bored to death, mildly bothered and bored to death, or maybe even slightly entertained in a I-feel-bad-about-myself kind of way (and bored to death). Regardless of how you feel about this movie as you watch it, I can 100% guarantee that within five minutes you will have completely forgotten everything about it.
Even about her.
Written in March 2017 by Nathan Decker.
comments powered by Disqus
that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...