DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (1954)
StudioCanal Blu ray. Out Now
Here’s a hokey slice of British B movie sci fi on StudioCanal’s Cult Classics label.
A plane is blown up before the chunky title credit comes up accompanied by Edward Astley’s bombastic score.
With reports of a meteor shower and a possible UFO, reporter Michael Carter (Hugh McDermott), of The Daily Messenger and Professor Arnold Hennessy (Joseph Tomelty) are in the wilds of Scotland investigating. They get lost, because the Prof may be clever, but apparently can’t read a map, and they end up at a remote pub called The Bonnie Charlie in the wintery highlands.
Also there are the owners the Jamieson’s (Sophie Stewart and John Laurie) with their young nephew Tommy (Anthony Richmond). There is barmaid Doris (a young Adrienne Corri, who I didn’t immediately recognise) who is trying to hide her boyfriend Robert Justin (Peter Reynolds). He is pretending to be one Albert Simpson, as he is a convicted murderer who has escaped from prison. Add to these, handyman David (James Edmond) and model Ellen Prestwick (the always fabulous looking Hazel Court), hiding away at this hostelry as she is running away from her life in London.
It’s all very quaint and cosy as they sit down to share scotch broth and have a drink or two from the bar.
It’s not long however before a flying saucer lands behind the pub (a quite cool model complete with a spinning section). Out pops the imposing alien Nyah (Patricia Laffan) who kills poor old David with her disintegrator ray gun and throws a force field around the area, trapping everyone there.
She has arrived from Mars, but apparently like the Professor isn’t so great with directions as she was planning to land in London. She reveals that women rule her home planet, and has come to Earth to replenish their supply of much needed men – if she had landed where she was supposed to she might have had a better pool to choose from!
A sort of distaff version of DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, she also has a robot companion – though unlike the stylish Gort, this a tall, boxy affair, that would look more at home in a 40s serial starring Bela Lugosi. It does get to zap a few things, in a demonstration of power.
The script by James Eastwood is corny, and was apparently based on a play, though there is no evidence it was ever produced – the use of the limited location does give the film the air of a theatrical outing. Laffan tries her best, clad in her striking leather (or is it rubber?) dominatrix outfit, to be frightening and this is often tagged with the description of being campy, which it certainly is. A low budgeter, that can’t hope to compete with the bigger productions from across the pond, it’s still quite fun despite starting out a bit like a soap opera. The black and white photography by Jack Cox looks splendid on this Blu Ray
It should be noted that there are early reports of problems with the audio being out of sync – which I can confirm after trying it on two different players. StudioCanal have been made aware of the issue and are looking into it.
Kim Newman, in the suitably chatty but affectionate commentary he shares with Barry Forshaw, calls the film, with tongue in cheek I suspect, an “astonishing piece of cinema”.
Interview with novelist and critic Kim Newman
Audio Commentary with Kim Newman and writer & journalist Barry Forshaw