From the man who brought us The Angry Red Planet (1959) and Reptilicus (1961, see our review) comes Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)! Alright, so perhaps you may have only heard of Sidney Pink’s The Angry Red Planet, but if you know the joy of that movie, you can appreciate Journey to the Seventh Planet all the more.
Imagine, if you a will, a world obsessed with traveling to the stars. It is the early 1960’s and the Space Race is heating up. Already, the atomic era is heating up the screen with giant bugs and the hazards of nuclear power. An alternative to those monster movies for Sci-Fi fans was journeying to other planets. What would be the perils of setting foot on a new world? What new and exciting life would we meet? The better question, especially for these films, was what would the women be like? Journey to the Seventh Planet is the tale of the Explorer 12, a five astronaut team that will explore Uranus (pronounced here YOUR-ANN-US). They have a ten day window to do so or they will not have enough fuel and supplies to make it back.
In this era of Sci-Fi movies, astronaut teams are pretty stereotypical. There is always the young brash Lieutenant, a grizzled Commanding officer, a rookie on his first assignment, and someone with an accent. The one thing missing here is a doctor character. Any other time, there is a wise doctor. The crew of the Explorer 12 is about to land on Uranus when they are all “mind abducted”. A super intelligence on the planet’s surface probes their thoughts and prepares a world to their liking. The only reason seems to be to control them. If you are a fan of Star Trek, think of the pilot episode with Jeffery Hunter, titled “The Cage”.
Speaking of Star Trek, after about 10 minutes, in this 77 minute epic, you have to wonder who prepared the crew of the Explorer 12 and set their protocols. The crew arrives on Uranus to find a Dutch style village in the heart of a forest with breathable air. Without running any tests, the entire crew walks out and starts exploring. If you are a fan of Star Trek, the red alert noise will go off in your head and you’ll scream about running tests and the use of an away team. Say nothing of meeting gorgeous beauties who are all too ready to cow-tow to your every desire. We know that if it is too good to be true, then it is.
Thankfully, with a little bit of questioning, the crew of the Explorer 12 finds that their Dutch forest has boundaries and the real planet’s surface is right outside the wall. The craziness really starts to unravel as the crew navigates the perils of an ice forest to discover what I can only describe as a brain with a giant eyeball. The film is packed with 1960’s Sci-Fi “wonders” and action, but where it falls short is in the love story. Commander Eric (Carl Ottosen) meets a woman from his past, Greta (Greta Thyssen). She, though a figment of his imagination and essentially controlled by the super intelligence, helps in unraveling what is happening to his crew. Her fate is tied to the planet, but there really isn’t enough story or acting to make this any sort of a real payoff for the audience. This is odd because they have a love theme which plays over the opening credits (see below).
The love theme for Journey to the Seventh Planet:
Despite my grumblings and siting Federation regulations on exploring strange new worlds, I really enjoyed the film. Our brash young space explorer was played by John Agar, who is better known for co-starring with John Wayne in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). It was fun to see him in something different. Kino Lorber released a great transfer of the film and if you have tried to find any of these rare Sci-Fi gems, you’ll know that picture quality, let alone special features, are usually nonexistent. Here we have film historians’ commentary and multiple trailers. This is still a fun movie, a “so bad, its good” movie that reminds you of a time when the sky was the limit for the imagination.
Order Journey to the Seventh Planet from Kino Lorber here!
Kino Lorber has the following coming up for Sci-Fi/ Fantasy releases coming on Blu-ray this spring/ summer:
Solarbabies – May 10th
The People That Time Forgot (1977) – May 24th
The Magnetic Monster – June 14th
Gold – June 14th
Blu-ray and DVD Release for April 5th, 2016
Action / Adventure / Mystery
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne Supremacy
Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli
The Gallant Hours (1960)
Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun
The Purple Plain (1954)
Shadows in an Empty Room (1977) aka Blazing Magnum
Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key (1972)
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere
Lupin the 3rd: Jigen’s Gravestone Blu Ray
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Part 2 Collection
Parasyte – Maxim Collection 1
Yet the Town Moves
Science Fiction / Fantasy / Superhero
Journey to the Seventh Planet
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (see review)
Doctor Who: Complete Series 9
The Expanse: Season 1