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Film / The Angry Red Planet

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This film literally has you seeing red!

With a budget of $200,000 to make the film and given only nine to ten days to shoot the film, director Ib Melchior gives us The Angry Red Planet, a 1959 science fiction film that necessitated the use of CineMagic technique. The CineMagic technique, used for all scenes of the Martian surface, involved the usage of hand drawn animation used in conjunction with live-action footage to create an alien atmosphere that was revolutionary for the time.


  • Apathetic Citizens: Both Sam Jacobs and Theodore Gillett stand there as Tom O’Bannion rescues Iris Ryan from some living tentacle plant. Only when Tom gets Iris away from the thing does Jacobs use his weapon against the being.note 
  • Art Shift: Producer Norman Maurer attempted this by having the surface of Mars footage turn directly into hand-drawn animation from live-action, or at least to simulate that through the use of CineMagic technique, which enables hand-drawn backgrounds to look as real or as unreal as the live-action footage. The Mars scenes also shifts from Technicolor to a red hue.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: As with most sci-fi movies of the period, the crew brings along .45 caliber pistols. Colonel O'Bannion carries his around in hand, finger firmly on the trigger.
  • Attack of the 40-Foot Whatever: The batratspidercrab (and maybe monkey).
  • Being Watched: Gillette voices this after they return to the rocket on their first survey of Mars.
  • Behind the Black/Epic Fail: Four astronauts that are trained scientists fail to notice the rat-bat-spider-crab-monkey monster standing in the midst of an otherwise empty plain.
  • Blood from the Mouth: After waking up from fainting, Iris finds Theodore sitting at the table with blood on his lips, dying from either cardio arrest, stress or the shock of losing Sam.
  • Cassandra Truth: Iris sees a creature appear outside the rocket’s porthole and when she tells the guys what she saw, Thomas O’Bannion and Theodore Gillett look out, seeing nothing.
  • Close on Title: The main title doesn't appear until the closing credits.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Everything bad that happens to the astronauts (and the only reason they were finally let go) was because of the Martians toying with them to send a message to Earth: never come back to Mars... or ELSE...
  • Chess: Gettell’s seen playing by himself when he and the other three scientists are on their seventeenth day in space.
  • Death World: Space explorers land on Mars but instead of intelligent life, they're constantly attacked by monsters.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: on Mars!
  • Flashback: Most of the movie takes place during the events of the mission, cutting back to the present day.
  • Fainting: Iris does this when she sees the alien face through the porthole earlier the second time.
  • Flashback Effect: Scene ripples from present time to flashback.
  • Hartman Hips: Dr. Iris Ryan
  • Go for the Eyes: Sam shoots his weapon at the monster’s eyes in order to rescue Theodore from being crushed between two rocks where he’s hiding from the creature even after it spotted him.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Gillette notes that the alien plant that attacked Iris didn’t attack them when they passed it earlier.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The alien creature is essentially a blend of a bat, rat, spider, crab and possibly monkey.
  • Posthumous Characters: Professor Theodore Gettell and Chief Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs are only seen in a newsreel and in flashback.
  • Product Placement: Sam Jacobs’ seen reading ‘Super Fantastic Science Fiction Stories,’ a fictional magazine possibly based on American pulp science fiction magazine Super Science Stories published by Popular Publication from 1940 to 1943 and again from 1949 to 1951.
  • Shout-Out: Tom calls the alien monster King Kong’s big brother.
  • Sea Monster: Tom, Theo, Iris and Sam encounter one when rowing to the other side of the lake on Mars. Though subverted when the creature gets on land to follow the four back to their ship.
  • Some Sort of Force Field: Spoken word for word by Tom when they try to leave Mars on the second day, explaining some sort of power is holding them right there.
  • Space Suits Are SCUBA Gear: As was normal for B-Movie props of the era, the "spacesuits" were nothing more than surplus Air Force pilot gear.
  • Stay Here: What Thomas tells Sam when there’s a loud noise above deck of the rocket as he goes investigate. It was the sound of Iris dropping a box full of test tubes when she tripped over Sam’s clothes.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Iris Ryan is not only the lone female astronaut — she’s the only female main character.
  • That's No Moon: The four astronauts somehow mistake the forty-foot bat-rat-spider-monkey's legs for trees.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Dr. Iris Ryan when we first see her on her hospital bed being questions after coming back from the mission.
  • Time-Passes Montage: About a full minute from the astronauts’ seventeenth day in space to the twenty-ninth day and then from there to the forty-seventh day of flight.
  • Title Drop: Occurs during a conversation between Ryan and Tom while en route to Mars.