Movies and Film

Like Going on a Day Trip… – Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)

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Spaceship Explorer 12 is sent out to explore Uranus and check out the source of a radiation signal, and while there, search for possible life which seems highly doubtful.  As they get near the planet and are about to land a strange presence hypnotizes them.  Waking, and realizing some time has passed, they decide to land upon the planet which surprisingly looks quite habitable.  To some of the members, it bears a striking resemblance to somewhere they have been previously, just where that is though, they have no idea.  Soon they notice that everything they are seeing has been pulled from their thoughts, whether trees, situations or even women.  Having found a barrier earlier, they now know that they must return and pass through it to get to the bottom of just what is going on and to take care of it, however they can.

Journey to the Seventh Planet turned out to be a surprisingly nice little science-fiction thriller that relies more on suspense and tension to move the story forward than special effects.  Obviously shot on a budget, $75000 to be exact, the film’s effects, of what there were, were surprisingly decent.  The laser guns were terrible, but by using pre-existing footage of rocket flights and other things, they managed to make the movie look a lot better than it would have otherwise.  Also by craftily having the landscape resemble people and places pulled from the astronaut’s minds in place of alien strangeness, they were able to use everyday things as the set, like Earth and humans.

Directed and produced by Sidney Pink, he definitely made the budget stretch and gets his money’s worth.  The bulk of the funds seemed to go towards the cast which was well deserved as they did a good job with the material.  Also written by Pink and Ib Melchior, the story while not wholly original, was actually entertaining with decent dialogue for the actors to work with.  And while the cast was good at portraying the roles they were given, none of them really stood out from the pack.  John Agar as the captain of the ship had the meatiest role and was the star of the film, but they could have swapped him out with almost any of the other actors and they would have done the job just as well.

The creature of course was quite laughable, being a giant brain with a single, hypnotic eyeball.  There have been worse creatures and this was by no means a feat of innovation in creature mechanics or rubber suits, but all in all, it was okay.  The creature did look much better when it was wearing the memories of the crew members in the forms of beautiful women, played by Greta Thyssen, Ann Smyrner and Mimi Heinrich.  Women or giant brain thing?  Not hard to choose which most would prefer.
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The strangest thing of all was not even in the main part of the film, but in the end credits with a song called Journey to the Seventh Planet, sung like an old Andy Williams tune by Otto Brandenburg.  It was not terrible by any means, but just seemed so out of place in a science fiction film of all things, it would have fit better in a drama or some sort of made-for-TV movie.

Should you watch this film?  If you like science-fiction, you will be entertained by it.  It has a decent score, good script and directing and some amusing, yet limited, creature effects and though it might not be the best action-packed epic you will ever see, it all spells for a lazy Saturday afternoon that will provide you with some good old-fashioned, campy fun.

3.75 out of 5

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