Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen
Director: Fred McLeod Wilcox
A starship crew, lead by Commander Adams (Nielsen), head to a colony far out in space where only two survivors remain, Dr Morbius (Walters) and his daughter Altaira (Francis). They have mysteriously survived a monsterous creature that killed off everyone else, with the help of their robot. But there is a dark secret about the monster that stalks them. Will Adams figure it out in time to save them all?
This film is pretty delightful. Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, it’s got a strange electronic score, a robot who can whip up a dress for any occaison, cheesey lines, a girl in miniskirts and a professor that may or may not be all that he seems. At the time of it’s release, it was a pretty cool film, but it has been featured on MST3K and is much enjoyed and laughed over today.
It was one of the earlier sci fi films to take on psychological horror. Where other horror films of the era were taking on metaphors for McCarthyism and women’s rights through 50ft women and giant ants, this film takes on the mind and the subconscious. When Dr Morbius disturbed the remains of a civilisation on the planet who were more advanced than even future humanity, he awoke a power that infected his subconscious mind and made it manifest in the outer world.
I like Anne Francis as Altaira, prancing around innocently in mini skirts and playing with her pet tiger. She’s so sweet and innocent, a kind of forerunner of the 60’s sex kitten and women like Barbarella, but less knowing in this era. She’s fun. Teamed with Robby the robot, who is so 50’s space age in design, they’re the fun half of the film, along with the sets, of course. A great balance to the menace and intellectualism of Dr Morbius.
This is one of those 50’s era science fiction classics that make great viewing. It’s so of it’s time in so many ways, and it’s all so kind of harmless. This isn’t a film about anything else, any other political or social ideas, it’s an escape into another time’s vision of the future. It’s all pretty silly and entertaining to make fun of, but it’s kind of sweet and quaint too.
See It If: a classic old time science fiction film , it’s kind of unintentionally hilarious and wonderful.