Film (1962). Cinemagic. Directed by Sidney W Pink. Written by Ib Melchior and Sidney W Pink, based on a story by Sidney W Pink. Starring John Agar, Carl Ottosen, Peter Monch, Ove Sprogøe, Louie Miehe-Renard, Ann Smyrner, Greta Thyssen, Ulla Moritz, Mimi Heinrich, Annie Birgit Garde, Bente Juel. 77 minutes. Colour.
Having found no signs of life on the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (> Outer Planets), the future United Nations turns its attention to Uranus, launching a mission to that planet. Its astronauts, while briefly experiencing weightlessness during their descent, have their minds taken over by an Alien entity, said to be "from space and time itself", which extracts their memories and plans to use them as part of a plan to conquer the Earth. Upon landing on Uranus, they find themselves in an Earthlike environment resembling one man's childhood memories, and the astronauts later meet up with beautiful women from their past. Upon discovering that this temperate zone is surrounded by a permeable "barrier" leading to the planet's true, harsh environment, the men don spacesuits and walk through the barrier to encounter the strange creature responsible for these phenomena, which also frightens them with a rat-like Monster and a giant spider. They construct a large acetylene torch to kill the creature, but when that does not work (having been sabotaged by one of the women) they use freezing-cold liquid oxygen to destroy it and take off to return to Earth.
Pink and Melchior's follow-up to The Angry Red Planet (1959; vt Invasion of Mars) is not nearly as successful, although it does offer some nice visual touches, including the misty, brightly-coloured surface of Uranus and the astronauts' striking blue-and-yellow spacesuits. It also has a story that seems derived from Stanisław Lem's recently published Solaris (1961), which someone associated with this joint Swedish-American production may have been familiar with, since its space travellers also visit another world to be greeted by familiar scenes and people apparently created by aliens. But while Lem's alien presence was enigmatic, the being here is implacably evil and hence is justifiably slaughtered by its human foes, although this is also an ironic conclusion to a mission that was launched in an effort to find alien life. This is apparently the only sf film that features a landing on Uranus, the primary reason why it merits some attention. [GW]
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