“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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