BACKGROUND: According to Producer/Director Sidney Pink's book "So You Want To Make Movies". Sid's plot for JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET evolved from his idea of a powerful being that could utilize it's brain at full capacity. He then chose to set this alien mental giant on one of the least known planets in our solar system, Uranus. In Sid's own words: "A completely developed brain that is the last vestige of a super society could well have existed on such a planet. The brain's ability to sustain itself in the heated bowels of the planet's core was also within the realm of possibility." This film was shot in Denmark, and it was Sid's second directorial effort that came on the heels of REPTILICUS. The budget was a minuscule $75,000 and the Danish studio was so small that the scene of the Uranian, ice crystal forest was confined to a 32' X 18' set space. According to Sid, the director's cut contained an original, electronic, musical score by Danish composer Axel, and special effects (stop motion animation) by a non-mainstream artist, Bent Barfod. For better or for worse, AIP heavily re-edited this film and we are only left with intriguing stills of the original monsters. Apparently, the musical score and special effects were too avant-garde for the taste of Sam Arkoff. Sid Pink stated that Arkoff and AIP didn't understand or appreciate the exotic look and sound of his film. As a result AIP deleted the unconventional looking effects and the exotic music, and substituted a more familiar American look and feel to the picture. Ignoring Sid's protests, AIP inserted new effects sequences (stock effect scenes from earlier AIP features and one original scene of a stop motion animated monster by Jim Danforth) and replaced most of the music score with "canned music". Without reviewing the original footage themselves, many critics have simply parroted the AIP argument that the original effects were terrible and had to be replaced. More likely, AIP simply didn't want a novel, foreign looking film to scare away conservative American patrons. THE PLOT: In the year 2001, a UN spaceship with five astronauts is sent to investigate strange radioactive emissions that have originated from Uranus (the seventh planet of our solar system). The crew consists of Eric the Commander (Carl Ottosen), Capt. Don Graham (John Agar), Karl (Peter Monch), Barry O'Sullivan (Ove Sprogoe), and Svend (Louis Miehe-Renard). While in orbit above Uranus, a swirling golden light paralyzes the he crew in mid-motion. A malevolent voice intones "Come,, that I may learn and judge... I shall drain your minds and possess you". This alien mind probe would have passed unnoticed by the crew except that a fresh apple from what seemed like a moment ago has shriveled up and decayed. Although the commander knows that the inexplicable blackout that they experienced might have lasted for days, he orders an immediate landing on the planet's surface. As their ship sets down on the landing zone, the frozen landscape ripples and transforms into a lush vegetated area. When the crew disembarks, they are dumbfounded to find themselves in an earthlike forest. Even more strange is that the forest seems virtually identical to the one near Svend's home. Closer examination reveals that the trees and shrubs are rootless. Buildings and beautiful women materialize to further distract and confuse the men. Later, a force field is discovered around the outer border of the forest,. In order to discover who or what is manipulated their minds and manufacturing people and places of their dreams and desires, the commander realizes that they must penetrate the force field and seek out the source of the pulsing radiation. When they pass through the force field, the true surface of Uranus is finally revealed. This is a bizarre world of ice crystal forests with razor sharp edges, pits of frozen ammonia (quick snow), and strange swirling gases. The hostile entity that they seek is located deep in a cavern that is warmed by geothermal gases. Can the astronauts survive the attacks of monsters that are dredged up from their darkest nightmares and still manage to defeat the alien before they fall under it's total control? WHAT WORKS: Set design & costumes: The control room of the spaceship Explorer 12 is nice and roomy with an upper deck and elevator. Plenty of gauges on the wall, well labeled air lock controls, and a large multi-colored panel made the ship interior interesting and attractive. The forest set contained a dense under story and was unusually well detailed with flowers, and fruiting trees. The force field is discovered under a thick mat of moss. The ice crystal forest set was a remarkable Bava-esque design of stark expressionist "trees" , swirling mists, and various colored lighting. The alien's cave displayed more of stylistic sensibility of design. The table-top, miniature set of the landing site was extremely well done. The rippling transition between frozen landscape to forest and back again are some of the best effects scenes. The jumpsuit styled uniforms sported a distinctive blue and white UN space agency logo and appeared realistic for an interplanetary flight. The space suits where electric blue with striking yellow belts, boot inlays, and helmets. The suits gave the impression that they were made of some kind of advanced material that was lightweight but well insulated against the cold. Music: Ib Glindemann's lush instrumental score over the opening sequences can pleasantly linger in the mind well after the film is over. Capeheart and Tableporter's lounge music over the final credits help maintain the dreamy feel of the film through the last frame. Although AIP replaced the original electronic score with stock musical cues (largely from "The Day the World Ended") from Ronald Stein, it worked prettywell for this film. The colorful, impressionistic title sequences of the spaceship passing by Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were created by Bent Barfod and are quite lovely to behold. Once again, the overall dreamlike quality of the film is strongly enhanced by these sequences. John Agar: Despite chasing everything in a skirt, John Agar's character loosened things up and his charm helped spark the film. John delivers the film's best line to crewmate Barry: "Paradise Uranus, complete with rats, several Eves, and even your apples". Ann Smyrner: Smyrner was a striking nordic beauty who possessed both talent and intelligence. She made Ingrid an unforgettable character who was by far the most real and independent creation on the planet. Primary Concept: The concept of an entity that can fully utilize it's brain at full capacity with nearly unlimited mental power has seldom been explored in cinema. In this case, the powerful alien brain doesn't merely create illusion, but is able to transform matter into other forms. Obviously, the astronauts are not breathing illusionary oxygen in the manufactured forest, nor do they build an imaginary acetylene torch (the alien does replace the torch that was fabricated in the blacksmith shop with an illusionary one though). One has to wonder if Mr. Pink's script that was copyrighted in 1960 was somewhat borrowed by Gene Roddenberry's Talosians in "The Cage" (mind probes, illusions of pleasure and pain) and "Savage Curtain" (earthlike zone on an inhospitable planet with past characters brought to life). WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Dubbing: The dubbing of the foreign cast members speaking phonetically is delivered in a most stilted fashion. This problem is a serious detraction. Greta Thyssen: Apparently, Greta plays herself here. That means we have a prima donna scene stealer who thinks she is a "star". Sid Pink commented on how Greta was something of special effect herself. Her sex pot attributes were largely phony. Sid stated that "she was intentionally almost bald under the wig, allowing her to pull up her cheeks and creating those sexy almond eyes. Her boobs were mostly cotton and her fabulous rear was built into her costume. Worst line of film: After walking though a woods with luxuriant plant growth, Don says "Has anyone seen anything alive?" Hello Don, plants are alive. FINAL WORD: For some reason, this film often gets short shift from the critics who dismiss it too hastily. Perhaps, this is largely due to some bad mouthing from Ib Melchoir (who's screenplay was heavily revised by Sid Pink) as well as the AIP business decision to Americanize the non-mainstream special effects. Through the combination of some surprisingly imaginative sets, the sublime use of color and music , the concept of though control and illusion, as well as some early- sixties cheese, make JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET a fun and compelling film to view. Unlike many of the more technical cut and dry science fiction films out there, this one can seep into the viewer's subconscious and lodge itself into a kind of alpha dream state.
Journey to the Seventh Planet
Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Horror / Sci-Fi
Journey to the Seventh Planet
Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Horror / Sci-Fi
Earth sends a five-man team to explore the frozen planet Uranus, only to find a temperate forest and sultry women from their past on it, courtesy of an alien brain with evil designs.
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April 8, 2019