Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956)
In the mutual interests of peace and security for all mankind the two great nations of the United States and Great Britain have been working on a secret project designated Plan 13…. An expedition into OUTER SPACE….
Biologically speaking the forms of life on this planet are unusual to say the least….
On a positive note, the 13th Cinema Wasteland show was terrific fun with a The Hills Have Eyes (1977) reunion, several other guests, venders and films over the weekend. As usual, I stocked up for Halloween with several DVDs and Blu-rays, including this low-budget British peculiarity from director Cyril Roth, who made all of 3 films from 1953-1956 (IMDb). Sometimes I am just blown away by the selection of fantasy films now available for the home video enthusiast. It just boggles my mind that Olive Films would release the notoriously inept (by Medved, IMDb: 2.0/10.0, and Halliwell standards) Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956).
Actually, the film isn’t awful —in the sense that it isn’t unwatchable (try dragging me to a Tom Hanks film), and I have long disagreed with Harry and Michael Medved’s selections and opinions in the popular Golden Turkey Awards (1980, Berkley). There are a lot of films worse than Fire Maidens.
I like the special effects, which includes a few competent matte paintings of the fog covered 13th moon of Jupiter, some creative use of V2 rocket stock footage and a superimposed encounter with asteroids. Just don’t expect Forbidden Planet (1956). Fire Maidens reminds me of Universal-International’s The Mole People (1956) and I can’t help but think one might have influenced the other. The two films have several similarities: an expedition stumbling upon a mysterious isolated Lazarus culture (Sumerian vs. Minoan —oops I mean New Atlantian), menacing mutant anthropoid monsters, sappy love story subplots, scantily-dressed maidens, gun toting Eisenhower-era WASPs and ridiculous sets.
Fire Maidens is by no means a lost classic. The film has been around on VHS as a Sinister Cinema release, and was lampooned by the MST3000 crew in 1992. The film is slow and I grew tired of Borodin’s Gliding Dance of the Maidens (aka “Stranger in Paradise”), from the Polovtsian Dances (1890), which drones in the background throughout the later part of the film. The monster is nothing special and stumbles around growling (Rarrrrrr!!!!) like a parody of the Frankenstein monster. It reminds me a tiny bit of the Ebonite Interrogator of the Outer Limits Nightmare Episode (1963). The Fire Maidens monster was designed by artist Roy Ashton (The Reptile, 1966).
I dropped $20 on this DVD, supporting a vender, and would only recommend it to the staunchest completists (aka masochists). I wouldn’t bother with the Blu-ray print.
And remember “All characters in space are fictitious.”