The winners of the 17th Annual Rondo Awards have been announced! Congratulations to everyone involved including all of the winners and nominees. You can read the full list at the Classic Horror Film Board but I wanted to take a moment to recognize a few friends and familiar faces.
- Justin Humphreys won Book of the Year for The Dr. Phibes Companion. Justin was just a guest on episode 30 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast. Tune in and get that book on your wish list today!
- Sam Irvin, another past guest of the podcast, won Best Interview for his interview with Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson in Screem magazine #36!
- Larry Underwood won Best Column for Dr. Gangrene’s Mad Interviews in Scary Monsters magazine!
- Derek M. Koch’s Monster Kid Radio was a runner-up for Best Multi-Media Site!
- Mark Maddox won Artist of the Year!
- Joe Bob Briggs won Monster Kid of the Year!
- Wes Shank, Ron Adams, Ricou Browning, Martine Beswick, Veronica Carlson and Caroline Munro were inducted into the Monster Kid Hall of Fame!
- Christopher R. Mihm may not have won for Guns of the Apocalypse but he did receive an honorable mention for Best Independent Film. Let’s focus on getting the Mihmiverse the recognition it deserves in 2020!
Again, congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!
Martian Mondays – Invaders from Mars (1953)
Cast: Jimmy Hunt as David MacLean
Helena Carter as Dr. Pat Blake
Arthur Franz as Dr. Stuart Kelston
Leif Erickson as George MacLean
Hilary Brooke as Mary MacLean
Morris Ankrum as Col. Fielding
Story by John Tucker Battle
Screenplay by Richard Blake
Directed by William Cameron Menzies
Plot: Martians land near a small town and begin to take over the townspeople. However, young David witnessed the spaceship land and when his father begins to act odd, he desperately looks for someone to believe him before it’s too late.
Richard’s Review: I really enjoyed this one as it’s full of great visuals and sounds. I loved the set-up of the two doctors helping young David as his parents were taken over by the Martians. I also liked how the military openly listened to David as they became aware of the Martian threat rather than dismiss him, as often happens in this movies. Young Jimmy Hunt was really good in his role as David and I’m surprised that he never did another genre film, other than a small role in the 1986 remake. A great cast and fun script helped round out this sci-fi classic.
There are two versions of this film. In the American version, which I watched first, the ending (spoiler) is a bit of a big cheat and I’m not a fan of how it played out. However, the UK version, which I watched second, ends it a bit more decisively and is my preferred version to watch. There’s also some additional footage in the planetarium about UFO cases. Check them both out to decide for yourself which one you prefer.
Karla’s Thoughts: I liked how this movie took at least a slightly more realistic approach at times despite getting off track with some very unrealistic facts. I really liked young David and his working with the military to help his parents. However, I was quite shocked at the death of the little girl early on. Thank goodness we didn’t see it on screen. I also really hated the dream sequence ending in the first version we watched. I did really like the movie though despite the lousy ending.
- William Cameron Menzies also directed genre favorites Chandu the Magician (1932) and The Maze (1953).
- This was the last film for Pat Blake before she was married in 1954 and left Hollywood.
- Leif Erickson is best remembered for 97 episodes of the television western The High Chaparral but did appear in the 1942 Bela Lugosi film Night Monster and two episodes of Night Gallery.
- Morris Ankrum appeared in the sci-fi classic Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) as well as Rocketship X-M (1950) and 22 episodes of Perry Masonas a judge.
- Lucie Potter, one of the munchkins from The Wizard of Oz (1939), starred as the Martian head.
- Barbara Billingsley (Leave It To Beaver) plays Dr. Kelston’s secretary in a small uncredited cameo.
- Richard Deacon in his film debut plays a military police officer in a small uncredited cameo.
- The sandpit sound was performed by a choir group of eight men and eight women.
- Remade in 1986 with Karen Black and directed by Tobe Hooper.
Availability: All home video versions of Invaders from Mars are currently out-of-print and demanding higher prices. Shop around for the best deal or watch it on Amazon Prime Video.
Martian Mondays – Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
Cast: Paul Mantee as Commander Christopher Draper
Victor Lundlin as Friday
Adam West as Col. Dan McReady
The Woolly Monkey as Mona
Based on the novel by Daniel Dafoe
Screenplay by Ib Melchior & John Higgins
Directed by Byron Haskin
Plot: After a near collision with an asteroid, two astronauts are forced to abandon ship and land on Mars. Only one man lives with little hope of survival on the barren landscape, armed with only a monkey and limited supplies. But who are the mysterious aliens who arrive and will a slave he names Friday help him get home again?
Richard’s Review: The one thing that struck me early on with the film is the lack of music as Draper is discovering his new surroundings. It helped with the feeling of isolation and that fact that he was essentially stranded on a desert isle. Once he discovers that McReady is dead, his grief is short-lived with the arrival of Mona, who plays a key role in his survival. One Friday enters the picture, I immediately began to think back to Enemy Mine (1985), a film I’ve always believed had to have been partially inspired by Robinson Crusoe on Mars. I really enjoyed this one, which felt like a nostalgic version of The Martian (2015) early on. However, I really wanted more in the final scene. At 110 minutes, the film runs a little long and could have been edited a little tighter to allow for a bigger sequence at the end.
Karla’s Thoughts: Overlooking the obvious scientific issues with the film, I enjoyed this one and would watch it again. I would have chosen Adam West as the lead over Paul Mantee. I did like how we saw the process in which Draper adapted to his new environment but it could have been shortened. I also liked how Mona is responsible for saving his life. I wanted more of an ending though as it seems way too rushed.
- Byron Haskin directed the classic War of the Worlds (1953) and The Naked Jungle (1954), as well as six episodes of The Outer Limits. After only 38 credits to his name, Haskin retired in 1968.
- Ib Melchior directed The Angry Red Planet (1959) and The Time Travelers (1964).
- Nathan Van Cleeve (Conquest for Space, Colossus of New York, The Space Children), created the musical score.
- Paul Mantee has many television credits including Batman in 1967, as well as genre favorites The Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
- Adam West is best remembered for the Batman television series in the 1960s and Batman: The Movie (1966). West died in 2017 at the age of 88 with 197 film and television credits to his name.
- The Martian plants used for food were actually pepperonis.
- The alien spacecraft was also used in War of the Worlds.
- A sequel, Robinson Crusoe in the Invisible Galaxy, was planned but canceled after the poor box office performance of this film.
- Friday was patterned after the Mayans due to the belief that the Mayans were descendants of aliens. Even some of the language used by Friday is a derivative of Mayan words.
- The Woolly Monkey’s real name was Barney. This was its only film credit.
Availability: Robinson Crusoe on Mars is available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
It’s a previously-unannounced meeting of The Classic Horrors Club as Jeff and I welcome Justin Humphreys in episode 30! Justin is a film historian and author of The Dr. Phibes Companion, which has been nominated for Book of the Year in this year’s Rondo Awards. We barely scratch the surface of the Vincent Price classic The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and its sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), but the behind-the-scenes conversation is fascinating and we appreciate Justin joining us.
The Dr. Phibes Companion, is available on Amazon and is published by Bear Manor Media.
Have you voted yet? Time is running out for this years Rondo Awards!
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Martian Mondays – The Angry Red Planet (1959)
Cast: Gerald Mohr as Col. Thomas O’Bannion
Nora Hayden as Dr. Iris ‘Irish’ Ryan
Les Tremayne as Professor Theodore Gettell
Jack Kruschen as Sam Jacobs
Written by Sidney W. Pink & Ib Melchior
Directed by Ib Melchior
Plot: Survivors from a doomed Mars expedition return to Earth with one unconscious and another traumatized. Through a prolonged process, we learn the tale of the ill-fated crew and the mysterious creatures they encountered on the red planet.
Richard’s Review: I enjoyed parts of this fun flick but found that it definitely did drag a little at times. The giant rat bat spider creature is still creepy as was the amoeba. The red special effects were also cool and didn’t bother me but I was surprised by the limited sets and outdated sci-fi elements. Other shows from the same era were a little more advanced. The non-linear storytelling was unique and the cast was entertaining despite a weak script. Fun fare for an afternoon matinee.
Karla’s Thoughts: I was really surprised how scientifically inaccurate this movie was considering the year it was made. The misinformation on Mars seems dated for 1959, from the spacesuits to the weird and cartoonish red visuals on Mars. The giant amoeba and carnivorous plant were a little illogical but the spider was definitely creepy and I thought the infection caused by the amoeba made sense. I did enjoy how the story was told through flashbacks and it was definitely fun, just odd for the time period.
- Ted Cassidy (Lurch from The Addams Family and the voice of Balok on the Star Trek episode The Corbomite Maneuver) is the uncredited voice of the Martian.
- Writer and director Ib Melchior is also known for Reptilicus (1961), The Time Travelers (1964) and Planet of the Vampires (1965).
- Gerald Mohr died suddenly of a heart attack in 1968 at the age of 54.
- Les Tremayne is better remembered by genre fans as Mentor in the Saturday morning TV series Shazam! (1974-1976).
Availability: The Angry Red Planet (1959) is currently available on Blu-ray or as part of a four-film DVD set.
If something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be…The Omen!
This month on episode 29 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, Jeff Owens and I dive into The Omen Trilogy! We start off with the original, The Omen (1976), before things start to get a little questionable with Damien: Omen II (1978) and, finally, The Final Conflict (1981)!
We also take some time to talk about the 17th Annual Rondo Awards. Check out the suggestions below for a small example of the many great nominees! You have until midnight on Sunday, April 20 to vote!
We want feedback! Call us at:
That’s (616) 649-CLUB
…join us in our clubhouse at:
Find Jeff at Classic Horrors Club: http://classichorrors.club
Rondo Nominee Suggestions:
Best Commentary: Troy Howarth (Zombie)
Best Independent Film: Guns of the Apocalypse
Book of the Year:
Best Magazine: We Belong Dead
Rod Labbe (John Karlen, Scary Monsters #108)
Sam Irvin (Cassandra Peterson, Screem #36)
Best Column: They Came from the Krypt by John Kitley (Horrorhound)
Best Cover: We Belong Dead #20 (Mark Maddox)
Best Website: Classic Horrors Club
Favorite Horror Host: Joe Bob Briggs (The Last Drive-In) – I still love Svengoolie but it’s awesome to have Joe Bob back!
- Jeff Owens (We Belong Dead, A Century of Horror)
- Stephen D. Sullivan (Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors)
- Frank Schildiner (The Devil Plague of Naples)
Best Artist: Mark Maddox
Monster Kid of the Year: Derek M. Koch
Best Fan Artist: Matthew Parmenter
Monster Kid Hall of Fame: Ricou Browning, Ron Adams, Sam Irvin, Kyle Yount
Martian Mondays – Flight to Mars (1951)
Cast: Marguerite Chapman as Alita
Cameron Mitchell as Steve Abbott
Arthur Franz as Dr. Jim Barker
Virginia Huston as Carol Stafford
John Litel as Dr. Lane
Morris Ankrum as Ikron
Richard Gaines as Professor Jackson
Based on the novel by Aleksei Tolstoy
Screenplay by Arthur Strawn
Directed by Lesley Selander
Plot: Newspaper reporter Steve Abbott joins a group of scientists on a mission to Mars. After they crash land on the red planet, they discover Martians look just like us and live in an amazing underground city. However, all is not as it seems as Mars is dying and the Martians are planning to steal the rocket ship to conquer Earth.
Richard’s Review: I stumbled upon the Mission Mars Collection DVD set at Half Price Books and it is a very odd collection of forgettable old and new films with one true classic (Invaders from Mars). Flight to Mars is that forgettable old flick. It’s ultimately harmless but never really seems to offer much. The science fact seems laughable without ever being fun. Watching old science fiction films, such as Flash Gordon serials, can be a challenge but often still be very enjoyable. However, the script here never really takes off and the movie comes to a screeching halt without even a good wrap-up scene. Worth a watch once but put it low on your list.
Karla’s Thoughts: I enjoyed it but there was no semblance to science fact at all. Life on the ship, the bunk beds for sleeping arrangements and the food they ate are examples of how little they really knew at the time. I found it strange that Mars had all that technology but couldn’t create a radio signal or space travel. The usual message of “Martians are bad” is present here but the ending is horribly rushed.
- The Martian spacesuits are left over from Destination Moon (1950) while the spaceship interior was used for Rocketship X-M (1950).
- Cameron Mitchell is best remembered for his role as Buck Cannon in the 1960s television western, The High Chaparral (1967-1971), as well as such genre films as Blood and Black Lace (1964), Island of the Doomed (1967) and Nightmare in Wax (1967).
- Although Cameron Mitchell died in 1994 at the age of 75 due to lung cancer, his last film was just released in 2018, Orson Welles’ long unfinished film, The Other Side of the Wind.
- Marguerite Chapman also starred in genre films Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940) and The Amazing Transparent Man (1960).
- Morris Ankrum, Richard Gaines and John Litel all appeared as judges on the Perry Mason television series.
- Director Lesley Selander is known mostly for low-budget westerns with more than 100 to his credit. He did manage to direct one other genre film, Sky Dragon (1949), the last of the Monogram Charlie Chan films.
Availability: Flight to Mars was released by Image Entertainment as part of the Wade Williams Collection, both as an individual DVD and in the Mission Mars Collection. Both are out-of-print and selling for an average of $30. However, shop around and I think you can find a better price.