JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET was more enjoyable than I thought it would be as it started running where I’d recorded it on DVR. Written and directed by Sid(ney) W. Pink(produced the first widely released 3-D film and who also discovered Dustin Hoffman), it had a whopping budget of $75,000 in 1962 dollars($543,000 in 2011 bucks). Shot in Denmark, when completed, the special effects by a Danish company were so crappy, American International brought in Jim Danforth and Wah Chang to shoot some new stuff, as well as adapt footage from a couple of other movies. They had an effects shot from THE ANGRY RED PLANET and a tinted sequence from EARTH VS. THE SPIDER for one of the battle scenes. Danforth and Chang’s major contribution was a stop motion sequence of a giant, cyclopean rat monster, whose roar was Rhodan’s from that memorable Japanese movie.
Though John Agar got top billing, he was not the star of this picture. Looking a little weather beaten, he was in his early forties at the time of this movie, long past his heyday of the early and mid-fifties as king of the B-movies(mostly science fiction/monster). The rest of the cast were likely Danish actors(I recognized none of them). Carl Ottosen, Peter Monch, Ove Sprogoe, Greta Thyssen, and Bente Juel were some of the names.
One of the actors, Ove Sprogoe, considered one of Denmark’s finest and most beloved actors, must not have wanted to be associated with this mess. He maintained that he never participated in the movie, claiming to be sick the whole week they shot it. He was there though.
Now on to the plot.
In this far flung future, humanity had learned to get along and the United Nations is the sole planetary government. An expedition was launched to explore Uranus, the last planet left in the system in which no one had been landed. An international crew was aboard; An American(Agar), an Irishman, a German, a Swede, and the commander, likely a Russian(it was never made clear).
It is the year 2001.
In flight as they near Uranus, everyone freezes in place, we see a lot of wavering lights, and a somber voice talking about taking over and ruling Earth. Then they unfreeze and discuss what happened. “Blacked out I guess,” from one, checking his watch, “two hours.” “And how many days?” from another who had been eating an apple when the froze in place, now rotten.
They arrive and land(?) on Uranus. From our prospective, it’s an icy wasteland one instant, then lush forestry the next.
Astounded, they begin to explore. Tall trees surround them, some reaching a hundred feet. Agar, while staring at these huge trees, asks, “Has anyone seen anything alive?’ I guess he meant animal life. They soon discover that the planets have no roots when one pulls a small bush up, stuck only an inch or two in the ground. It’s repeated with several more. “None of this is real.” No explanation of why hundred foot tall trees with no root system remain standing is ever mentioned.
They figure out quickly it’s all being manufactured from their minds as suddenly beautiful women from their past suddenly show up to tempt them. God times from their past are recreated. There’s also a force field surrounding their little patch of forestry. It gives a bit, so a stick is pushed through, coming back frozen solid. They begin to wonder if a human could get through. So the German, Karl, pushes one arm into the field, screaming in pain and pulling back a frozen arm. Incredibly stupid, I knew then Karl was doomed somewhere down the line. Later, the arm thawed and was perfectly alright.
Suiting up, they push through and start looking around. Agar stumbles and falls into a pit of a powdery substance, starting to sink. My first thought was quicksnow and I’ll be damned if they didn’t say it. In a cave, they found, they encountered the cyclopean rat monster, the giant spider, and the being doing it all, a giant brain with an eye(how original)!
Now that they know the enemy, whose plan is to take over the weakest mind and go to Earth, where the playgrounds would be vast. The brain continues to tempt the men with an array of beautiful women(a lot of hugging and kissing is all. Hey, it was 1962 after all).
They must figure out a way to kill this thing. They begin to build an acetylene torch hooked up to an oxygen tank, that should do the job. These guys, for people suppoed to be smart, never realize a being who can plumb their minds would know what they were planning. it is almost their undoing.
I had a lot of fun watching this one when I figured out just how bad it was going to be. I like this kind of stuff.
Here’s the trailer:
and here’s the theme song sung over the closing credits:
For more overlooked movies and related stuff, check out Todd Mason\'s SWEET FREEDOM.