Blu-ray Review: Flight to Mars (1951)

August 15, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Physicist Dr. Lane (John Litel) and his crew of intrepid… well, they sure as shit aren’t astronauts… I don’t know… casual acquaintances mostly, board a stereotypical 1950’s sci-fi flick rocket and begin the first expedition to Mars.
After a pain in the asteroids… involving meteors, the ship is forced to crash land on the angry red planet… so no return trip ya dig?
But all is not lost, as our heroes encounter the entirely human looking inhabitants of Mars (and the award to the most cheap-ass aliens goes to… ) which speak English (also cheap!) thanks to monitoring earth transmissions, and live in a vast, technologically advanced city below the planet’s surface.
Our heroes of course ask their hosts to use their tech to repair their damaged craft, and they totally agree… as long as they can copy the vessel to create a fleet with which the aliens can escape their depleted home world. I’m sure there is no ulterior motive with that whole mess…
Is Flight to Mars talky and cheap? Oh, you bet your arcane as it is! But, it also has plenty of charm, and some retro-cool art design that keeps this flick watchable… so let’s dig a bit deeper!
The Martian city is  a wonder of various techniques (including sets that would be at home in a Flash Gordon serial and some rather choice matte paintings), campy costumes (think leather bomber jackets for space flight, and Prince Valiant/Go-Go Dancer outfits for men and women respectively once upon the Martian surface), and enough dodgy science to make your damn fool head explode!
On the downside, as mentioned above, if you are expecting all manner of crazy-ass aliens you can forget it; and things do get talky here and there where a bit more nonsense would have been welcomed.
Also, for you sci-fi history buffs out there, this here flick is based on the Russian silent film Aelita… though that was a rather lavish affair and this was made for about a buck-0h-five… and if you loved that anecdote, you’ll be pleased as poisoned punch to know that you too can learn even more factoids thanks to the included audio commentary by author/film historian Justin Humphreys, a profile of the film’s producer; Walter Mirisch (who also produced the 1956 sci-fi/horror masterpiece Invasion of the Body Snatchers), a doc from science fiction artist/historian Vincent Di Fate… hell, you even get a full color insert booklet with an essay by author Don Stradley!
If you are lookin’ for an enjoyable piece of golden-age Sci-fi comfort food, Flight to Mars will doubtless satisfy; it’s cheap but not without some fun visuals and a nice sense of adventure!


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