Monday, July 13, 2015

Doomsday Machine

Of course you think you want to see unctuous deejay Casey Kasem, M*A*S*H goody-two-shoes Mike Farrell, obnoxious MAKE ME LAUGH host Bobby Van, HIGH ROLLERS babe Ruta Lee, and one-time Tarzan Denny Miller in a cheap, stupid, boring space movie. DOOMSDAY MACHINE was literally never finished. Production shut down twice, quickie specialist Lee “Roll ‘Em” Sholem shot new footage with different actors after the fact, and the film somehow got released five years after production began. Miller and co-star Mala Powers didn’t even know it was out until they (separately) came across it on television.

Blue sweatshirts double as astronaut wear — a good example of the penny-pinching in Hope’s production. The superfluous prologue and the incomprehensible climax are obviously Sholem’s footage, but don’t blame the hired hand for fumbling an impossible task. Poor Grant Williams, who starred in a genuine science fiction classic, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, is reduced to playing a crude, thuggish rapist, which is at least one note more than almost everyone else gets to play. Somehow, Van scored top billing for his role as the odious comic relief — same as he played in THE NAVY VS. THE NIGHT MONSTERS, which is actually better than this movie. Almost everything is better than this movie. Oral surgery is better than this movie.

Seven astronauts bound for Venus are waylaid on their way to the launch pad by Air Force officers who replace three of the crew with women (“Are you insane?” is one enlightened astronaut’s reaction to — gulp — girls on a spacecraft). Hours after launch, Earth is destroyed by the doomsday device teased in the opening scene of a Chinese lady spy tossing a cat over a wall to distract the guard protecting it.

Oh. So that’s why the women are there. To keep the human race alive. It’s three on three with poor old Henry Wilcoxon (MRS. MINIVER) left out. At least they have sweet Barcaloungers for a little novelty in their race-perpetuating. Not that they get to first base after two of the crew are sucked out the airlock and two others go floating in space in a filmmaking dodge so cynical, it makes Michael Bay look like Frank Capra.


Eric C. Loy said...

This film hurt my brain. It is pretty obvious that there were at least two films going on. Misty and I watched this off of YouTube and I literally stood up at the end of the film and said "What?"
I really want to know how the film was supposed to end.

Grant said...

At least it has the really weird novelty of showing that Chinese scientist getting strangled with her own braids.