Horrors of the Red Planet
Mars Probe 1 on a mapmaking expedition crash-lands, the astronauts journey by raft along a canal and through fog into a vast underground cavern. “We hadda go to Mars, we couldn’t go to the Moon like everybody else!”
Leaving the labyrinthine volcanic chambers, they find the Martian desert and an earlier unmanned spacecraft. In the sands, a riddle of stone... “Whatever it is, I’m glad it’s dead.”
“There must be an entire civilization entombed here.” The Wizard of Mars, for so it is called, addresses them, “a composite being... many minds... last city... there have been others here before you... their motive was greed...” The mystery of time. “Our city was plucked out of time—yours is the task, to replace the sphere within the mechanism.”
A direct reflection of Levin’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and Haskin’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars and Juran’s First Men in the Moon, directly reflected in Roddenberry’s Star Trek series and Altman’s Countdown and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (cf. also Medak’s Species II for the interrupted voyage).
TV Guide, “in his dotage, despite his painful arthritis, charismatic actor Carradine lent his considerable talents to many such silly scripts and low-budget independent productions.” Fred Beldin (All Movie Guide), “nothing makes any sense.”
Journey to the Center of Time
“A balance between these two great universal forces, the past and the future, and then...”
The space-time continuum. Resnais’ Je t’aime Je t’aime is roughly contemporaneous.
Five thousand years on, in a trice. Not on the beam-ends of transmitted light-years as a viewer in space, but physically through a “time warp”. This immediately follows a moonlight romance between a lady scientist and a male colleague at the Institute for Temporal Research, he is not interested in this sort of thing, and then...
A rocket vertically poised amid an evident war, that is where things stand, beyond the pale as it were. Dr. Vina presides in the council chambers aboard a starship, “as interested in asking you questions as you are in having yours answered.” Alien colonizers. “This is still Earth. The year is 6968. But yours is a dying world.” The laser weapon of the future must be resisted, the rocket topples over in flames. Back through World War II, the Civil War, Injun fighting, pirates on the main, swordfighting, spear and shield, “two millennia...”
“One million years!”
“B.C.” Two leave the lab, a tremendous saurian appears. “A division of Stanton Industries”. The office romance.
This is comparable, and not only on the point of its abstruseness, to Rod Serling’s “The Odyssey of Flight 33” (dir. Justus Addiss) for The Twilight Zone.
“... the Adam and Eve of a brave new world.”
Gallery of Horror
A divination of cuckoldry down through the ages, as it were.
Women and men together
all in a seaquick temper
tick the cabin clock.
The thief of time then appears, like clockwork, and in permutations dramatically conveyed, each introduced by John Carradine in white tie. The Whistler on the radio is certainly invoked. At the same time Rod Serling’s Night Gallery on television is evidently foreseen. “Say, uh, I’ve got an idea.”
“What’s that, Cushing?” Corman’s The Terror supplies incidental trappings. A tale of witches and burnings, of the secret power behind the throne, return of the cuckold, and again the return, finally Count Alucard and Carfax Abbey. “My family came with the conquering hordes of Attila the Hun,” they were not always in Transylvania, Count Alucard explains. The ending is rather like “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” on The Twilight Zone (dir. Montgomery Pittman).
Excellent score, unattributed. The actors, except Lon Chaney as Dr. Mendell, sound quite like the great doubles at Titanus.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (dir. Charles Barton) is famously recalled as well, at the end.