Saturday, August 9, 2008

Frankly Speaking: Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster(1965)

When the average person, horror movie fan or not, hears the word "Frankenstein", I would presume they would envision a mad doctor, or perhaps the monster created by the infamous mad doctor himself. Universal Studios and Hammer Studios have produced some truly marvelous Frankenstein films, and while all obviously varied in some way or another they all, still, featured a mad scientist named Frankenstein, a well stocked laboratory, and of course the often truly horrendous looking monster, which was made of sewn together body parts and re-animated through electricity.
One film went "off the beaten path" regarding the concept of the Frankenstein monster, and did so in what is widely considered bizarre fashion: Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster, a 79 minute, black and white sci-fi movie released in American theaters in September, 1965 by Allied Artists Pictures. The film had only a two week run in theaters, arguably the most memorable thing about this low budget shlocker, among those individuals, like myself, who are quite enamored with these kinds of films.

The film's story:
American rockets are being mysteriously blasted to bits after exiting Earth's atmosphere and entering the planet's orbit. In response, a pair of scientists, with the blessing of the military and NASA, put their latest creation, an android named Frank Saunders(played by Robert Reilly), into another rocket, which is sent into space to investigate the lost rockets. Unbeknownst to NASA an alien ship, from Mars, and orbiting the Earth, has been destroying the NASA manned rockets, and they do the same to Saunder's rocket, which is obliterated. The android manages to bail out and survive, the aliens landing nearby. A pair of the aliens attack Saunders with their weapons and the resulting blast grotesquely scorches off half of the android's face, also damaging Saunder's brain. The android immediately begins a wandering, almost drunkardly walkabout, killing numerous locals, who are understandably terrified at his disfigured appearance. Meanwhile, the aliens, led by a female, Princess Marcuzan(Marilyn Hanold), and a bald, pointy-eared accomplice (appropriately) named Doctor Nadir(Lou Cutell), order their crew to begin collecting human females for breeding purposes, as an atomic war has killed all the females on the red planet. In the last half-hour of this low-budget affair we are treated to an all out military assault on the alien's spaceship and a brief but intense battle between the disfigured android Frank Saunders and the alien's pet, a hulking monster called Mull.

This film has achieved turkey status in the 2007 and 2008 DVD And Video Guides, understandable as it is a typical low-budget affair, with a storyline that is shaky at best, laughably poor special effects and acting that is, for the most part, absolutely atrocious. Still, IMO some turkeys can be enjoyed, even when it's not Thanksgiving. There are some interesting scenes in this movie, to be sure, the damaged android looks fairly grisly, and the battle between the android, Frank Saunders, and the space monster inside the alien ship at the climax is not altogether bad. This film is now officially available on DVD at The DVD presents this film in it's original aspect ratio of 1:85.1 and mono audio, and includes scene selection and a trailer. The Dark Sky Films DVD looks better than several DVD-Rs I've bought of this wonky old feature, hands down.

The film has also appeared on the market under titles like Mars Invades Puerto Rico, Mars Attacks Puerto Rico, and Operation San Juan.

The Dark Sky Films DVD of this movie:

The official trailer for the film: