Mission Mars (1968)

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Mission Mars (1968)

Post  BoG on Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:22 pm

MISSION MARS - not to be confused with the much later Mission to Mars in the year 2000.
"No Time for Tears..." is the song sung over the credits. No time? But, I think there is time.
You may well be cryin' by the end of this sci-fi picture about a space trip to the red planet.
Or, maybe there will be laughter...

This one is a bit obscure. There were a few of these types of space mission pictures made around the same time. The most famous is 2001 (also 1968). Another was Countdown, also 1968, and there are definite parallels to the plot, though Countdown was about the mission to our moon. Mission Mars is about a trip to... Mars. But, where Countdown strove for authenticity, this one is just loopy. Others have described this as a fifties-styled low budget sci-fi trip into outer space that got made a decade too late. There's something to that, but it's beyond even that easy description; it's just plain awful, in almost every way.

It's dull. The first half-hour depicts the astronauts (played by Darren McGavin and Nick Adams) in the days before they lift off, mostly relating to their wives. The lift-off is interminable; there's a lot of stock footage of NASA technicians. The FX are nearly non-existent; the depiction of the red planet reminds me of the 'inflatable-ball-planets' in Green Slime (also 1968 Exclamation - hey, what is this?). Halfway there, the heroes spot two dead Russian cosmonauts floating in space in seated positions (diecast resin dolls maybe?). A 3rd astronaut accompanies McGavin & Adams; I could almost see 'Mr. Expendable' written on his spacesuit (not really spacesuits, btw). Once on Mars, instead of encountering space maidens or giant monsters as they would in the fifties, the astronauts run into a one-eyed mechanism/creature on a stalk (you can see an artistic depiction on the posters), as well as a circular contraption that swallows stuff.

Yeah, it didn't make much sense to me either. I can't even dismiss this as an acid-trip version of a journey to Mars; it's just plain ridiculous. The big thing that everyone notices are the helmets. These aren't spacesuit helmets that the astronauts wear but motorcycle helmets. There's no effort to try and cover up this useless head gear - the area under the chin and even the back of the neck is all exposed to the lethal atmosphere of Mars - yet there is a tube running to the back of the helmet from a backpack, as if air is being pumped to the astronaut. I guess someone thought it 'looked' cool? I was amused that McGavin provided brief narration, nearly identical to his narration of the famous Kolchak TV show; he even says "Item:.." at one point. Very Happy Adams died of a drug overdose just before the film's release. Sad
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