When a routine space mission goes terribly wrong, a crew of astronauts crashlands on Venus. Much to their surprise, they discover the planet to be inhabited by luscious looking women. Of the hostile kind, that is.
(Some mild spoilers may follow…)
Boy, does this movie raise questions, or what? For starters, there’s the questionable decision to have Hungarian Hollywood diva Zsa Zsa Gabor cast in the role of a Venusian space maiden. Amongst an all-American cast, she gets to utter her lines with that recognisable Eastern-European accent of hers, making her sound like a fish out of water amongst her fellow cast-members, not to mention making everything she has to say sound twice as ridiculous. Then there’s the (to this date still unresolved) issue of whether or not this film was ever intended as a parody on sci-fi movies in general. Some sources claim director Edward Bernds once stating that his intentions were to make a straight-up sci-fi adventure. If so, then clearly he wasn’t in on the joke Charles Beaumont put down on the paper that served as the screenplay for this movie. Regardless, given the era the film was made in, nowadays it can only be viewed for laughs. The whole thing is just too silly for words, really.
So, the plot in a nutshell (and to be honest, there’s not a lot going on outside that nutshell)… Four astronauts crashland their spacecraft on Venus. Upon being captured, they soon learn that their male presence is much hated by the female population on the planet, lead by the masked Queen Yllana. Why? Because in a not too distant past, men were responsible for a nuclear war on Venus. So the females revolted and banished all men to a nearby prison colony. Good riddance. However, not all women of Venus are big fans of Queen Yllana. Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor), for example, has a handful of followers who oppose the Queens ideology. And like the Vaya Con Dios song goes (“What’s a man without a woman?”, and vice versa), Talleah realizes that these four men are her means to overthrow Queen Yllana’s reign. So the first chance they get, they all start doing the smoochie-lovin’ business (of course, what else, because that’s what men & women were born to do). Meanwhile, Queen Yllana plots to vaporize earth (because she’s convinced we earthlings have a plan of attack) and execute our male astronauts. Except for maybe Capt. Neal Patterson (Eric Fleming), because she got the hots for him. Yes, that makes our strong, evil Queen Yllana in fact nothing more than a clichéd excuse for an unstable female specimen of our species. Sad but true.
There’s just something fishy about the way Charles Beaumont & Ben Hecht conceived the screenplay. We start out seemingly with women being the dominant force in the story, but it doesn’t take too long before the balance swings the other way. In a very un-subtle manner, I might add. It starts with blatant verbal remarks of some of our male protagonists, supporting the idea that women simply can’t be capable of building and running an advanced technological civilization on their own. Especially Lt. Larry Turner (Patrick Waltz) isn’t afraid to point out the inferiority of females, often referring to them as a mere “bunch of dames” or replying with denigrating comments like “How can a doll as cute as that be such a pain in the neck?”. Furthermore, Turner has a girlfriend back home that loves him dearly. Yet he’s the first guy that jumps at the occasion to do the smoochie with a Venusian maiden, making him nothing more than a cheating bastard. And this guy is one of the four heroes of the movie who will ultimately save the day at the end? And the fun doesn’t stop there. At one point our crew concocts a plan to persuade Queen Yllana to spare their lives. So what’s the plan? Capt. Patterson has to give her “the old romance bit,” you know, “give her that old black magic”. When Patterson looks surpised because of this suggestion, Turner goes “Of course! She’s a woman, isn’t she?”. What a genius plan! Everybody knows a man’s charming capacities are infallible, right? Goes to show how male chauvanism was ever so dominant in good old Tinseltown during the ’50s.
Aside from writer Beaumont clearly having fun with penning down some of the dialogues (“Perhaps this is a civilization that exists without sex?” – “You call that civilization?”), there are more aspects of this movie that are great sources of laughter. Frankly put, everything about it is plain ridiculous. Incompetent special effects (miniature spacecrafts, a very rubber-looking spider creature) are to be expected, silly sound effects included. The femaliens’ fashionable wardrobes are worthy of some giggles too, especially the ‘scary’ masks Queen Yllana & her staff are wearing (and just wait for the surprise when she takes it off). But perhaps best of all, are the indoor sets. There are only a handful of them and they all look like some pieces of cardboard glued together. The one set that eats the cake, without a doubt, is Queen Yllana’s weapon of mass destruction: the Beta Disintegrator. As if a bunch of toddlers were allowed to rig together a kindergarten play-set.
So yes, for all the wrong reasons ‘Queen Of Outer Space‘ has rightfully become a camp classic over the years. And with its running time under 80 minutes, it’s not likely to bore anyone to death. So by all means, give it a watch, preferably in the company of like-minded movie fans and with a cold beer to enhance the ridiculousness.
Trailer on YouTube.
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