“Mars Needs Women” (1967)

[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060672/]

[amtap amazon:asin=B00005K3O5]

"Mars Needs Women": Men from the planet Mars (led by former Disney child actor Tommy Kirk) come to Earth to steal genetically-perfect women (including stunningly beautiful scientist Yvonne Craig) with which to rebuild their race. Their strategy leaves a lot to be desired, as they announce to the Earth that they are coming and why, so the Earth is immediately on guard against them.

Description: A military radio station picks up a strange message, saying simply "Mars Needs Women". The extraterrestrial origin of the signal is enough to alert the authorities about the impending incursion. They can't stop the Martians from landing, however, and they fan out, seeking prospective females, with a time limit of only 24 hours. All except the Martian leader (played by Tommy Kirk): in order to infiltrate the military search program, he takes the identity of a reporter, using a hypnotic technique involving the reflections off a turbulent pool of water as a focus. This is where he meets Dr. Marjorie Bolen (Yvonne Craig) who is brought in as expert in genetics to advise the military search. The Martian leader decides that she will be his selection.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew are out, selecting their victims and hypnotizing them and carrying them off to where they will be placed in cryogenic suspension for the trip home. The missing women and the manhunt and accompanies it eventually lead the military to where the Martians have hidden their conquests, where they are joined by the Martian leader and Dr. Bolen. With the authorities closing in, there is no time to transfer the frozen women to their spaceship, but Dr. Bolen volunteers to go along: she realizes the difficulty the Martian race is facing and feels she can help.

Commentary: Grade B and deserving of it. It has all the pretentiousness of a movie trying to be serious yet never comes close to carrying it out. Furthermore, it has all the look of a movie filmed on the cheap, with Martian costumes apparently supplied from the back of some studio's 30's B-movie serial closet, overuse of local scenery (Houston, in this case) and bad editing. Among the cinematic crimes committed here are an idiot plot, overuse of stock footage and stereotypical eye-contact hypnosis. And, if at times the actors appear to be moving strangely, its because the camera was cranked down to three-quarter or even half-speed, increasing the exposure time just as a still camera's shutter speed is increased in duration for low light to compensate for the darker settings, so the actors had to move at slower speeds to match the camera speed.

It is a wonder why "Mystery Science Theater 3000" never featured this one.

However, in the movie's defense, it does have a few good spots, such as the non-violent approach the Martians take (although being able to hypnotize at a glance does help with negating any potential violence) or the scene where Kirk chiding his fellow Martian for using violence to acquire their Earth clothing, telling him that the act would be considered just another scene of youth violence, or commentary about "the environmental naiveté of the Earthmen." Its a considerable difference form the youths of "Teenagers From Outer Space" or the Martians from "Invaders from Mars".

Recommendation: If you have a couple of hours to kill that you won't mind wasting, then watch it.

Addenda:

  • At one point, Tommy Kirk was a prominent star for the Disney production studio as a child actor. Unfortunately, as with most child actors, decent work once they stop being a child was hard to come by.
  • At the time of this release, Yvonne Craig is less than a year from being selected to play her most famous role, BatGirl on the "Batman" TV series.

Trivia:

  • The external shots of the "control center" (the giant mushroom building) are actually of a rotating restaurant at the Huston Airport Marriott Hotel.
  • In what appears to be distinctly feminist take on the movie, there is now a board named "Venus Needs Men!"  where Venus and its Amazonian female inhabitants are one of five planets attempting to conquer the Earth. Other aliens, including the Titanians and the Martians, have mind control abilities: Titanians attach themselves to humans to control them (similar to "The Puppet Masters"  by Robert Heinlein) while Martians are simply telepathic big brains in bubbles (similar to "Invaders from Mars").

One Response to ““Mars Needs Women” (1967)”

  • Darci says:

    It’s probably been at least 30 years since I saw this film, but I did not recall the hypnosis aspect. For a comparison, see 1965’s Frankenstein meets the Spacemonster, where aliens come to Earth for new breeding stock. The abductees, who were struggling against their kidnappers when first seen, seem to be strangely cooperative by the time we see them being put into storage back on the spaceship. I wonder if something similar happened to them in the meantime?
    Thanks,
    Darci

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