Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)

With Journey to the Seventh Planet, we are in the far flung past of 2001 where everything is just peachy now that the United Nations runs the world. So now that this socialist paradise has finally been forced upon us, what do they squander all our precious resources on? A manned mission to explore Uranus!

Studiously avoiding all the rectal humor such a movie inevitably provides (everyone seems to conscientiously pronounce the seventh planet as You-Ron-Us), the idea that we would need to send a spaceship out there to check for life is only slightly less ridiculous than the idea that we would send a crew made up of ugly Scandinavians and an aging John Agar who doesn’t seem to really believe that he got tricked into appearing in this.

An invasion by a fearsome alien presence occurs during the trip, though it manifests itself as a lame yellowish light effect and baritone voice over. The alien delivers the typical pre-match interview where it goes on about how it’s going to control minds and read minds and probe minds and I was pretty sure that if the alien hadn’t used its power to render the crew unconscious, that his trite threats what have accomplished the same end.

As they land on the planet after regaining consciousness, we see the landscape changing from the cold barren stuff they expected to a forest that looks remarkably like it was in Denmark where the movie was shot.

In fact, one of the characters says that it’s just like the forest where he grew up! But this forest isn’t exactly like the one where he grew up because they quickly discover that it’s all fake! The trees and bushes don’t have any roots, apple trees appear where there weren’t any before, and there’s a mysterious barrier that surrounds the forest.

With all this suspicious and unexplained activity going on all around them, these guys do the only thing any of us would do in such questionable circumstances. No, they didn’t go back to the ship and fly home to get some back up. They built a fire in the fake forest and sat around it listening to the commander reminisce about where he grew up.

As he described his house and the windmill nearby it, these things appeared behind him. Further investigation revealed it to be exactly like where he had grown up and it doesn’t take long for everyone to figure out that something on the planet is reading their minds and making their deepest desires reality.

The crew investigates what lies beyond the barrier which allows us to see what space suits will look like in 2001. Basically you’ve got blue jump suits, yellow helmets with bulky Plexiglas fronts, and red gloves with yellow gauntlets. I got the idea looking at this mishmash of colors that someone in the Danish costume shop must have been under the mistaken impression that this movie was going to be shot in black and white.

Going beyond the barrier in their ugly suits, the crew find a cave and encounter a hideous one-eyed dinosaur. And by hideous, I’m referring to the artistry behind it, not its scare effect on the audience.

After shooting it in the eye, they escape and one of the guys explains how sorry he is because whatever alien is using their thoughts against them took advantage of his unnatural fear of rats and created that monstrosity. That’s great, except that thing was a freaking dinosaur, not a big rat!

It turns out that the alien behind all this inconsistent mind control (sometimes he gives you pretty women, sometimes he gives you tinted stock footage of the giant spider from Earth Vs. The Spider) is a rather large green brain with an eye in the center of it that lives in the cave the crew just explored.

The brain eventually lets us in on its grand scheme for world domination. It’s going to go back to Earth by possessing one of the astronaut’s bodies. Then once it’s on Earth it’s going to, you know, dominate us and stuff. Somehow.

Don and the rest of the crew come up with an even dumber plan to destroy the creature that involves going to the fake village and using the fake blacksmith’s shop there to help them build a really big acetylene torch to roast this thing. For a creature that can probe man’s deepest thoughts, it doesn’t seem to be paying too close attention to what everyone is up to.

Even though they somehow manage to make their torch without interference from the brain, they decide that the final battle can wait until morning, so they all go off to get some rest and leave one guy on guard duty! A war of intense stupidity between man and space brain ensues.

The idea of an alien intelligence using our memories, wishes, and fears against is nothing new (see Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles), but boy was this executed badly. Aside from the cheap sets and nonexistent acting, the brain’s intermittent use of its powers defied logic and seemed to wax and wane whenever the plot demanded it.

As worthless as all this was, the viewer is “rewarded” for sitting through this movie with a theme song over the end credits sung by a Scandinavia lounge singer about the “Journey to the Seventh Planet” while a poorly animated spaceship flies past junior high level artwork of the various planets in the solar system.

With this movie and Reptilicus, director Sid Pink cements his status as the preeminent director of embarrassing Danish monster movies starring Carl Ottosen.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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