A signal is received from an American space rocket returning from Mars - the only problem is, the rocket was thought to be lost months ago. Does this mean that the crew could still be alive? The spacecraft lands, but only two astronauts are found surviving: Iris the scientist, who is well but suffering from amnesia, and the captain who has been infected with a green organism that is eating him alive. What could have happened to the mission to Mars?
This standard, flashback filled, low budget science fiction adventure was written by the director Ib Melchior and the co-producer Sid Pink, one of a number of projects this team came up with. It follows the familiar, by this time over-familiar, story of the expedition into space and dresses it up with space monsters and numerous disasters (one character even reads an "Amazing Stories"-style magazine during the flight). The theme of these films seems to be, "Stay at home or you're in big trouble!"
Our crew are the rugged captain, the lady scientist, the intellectual professor with a goatee and the wisecracking engineer who takes care of all the physical stuff. We're supposed to believe there's a budding romance between the lady scientist and the captain, but the way he advances on her would be grounds for a sexual harrassment case these days ("You're the only scientist I've met with lovely long red hair", he leers at one point).
Anyway, never mind the sexual politics, it's Mars you're interested in, which here is filmed in a process called "Cinemagic", meaning the picture is drenched in a migraine-inducing orange tint for that alien landscape effect. The red planet is teeming with life, including a selection of monsters which emerge from the jungle: a tentacled man-eating plant, a huge amoeba and, best of all, the giant rat-bat-spider-crab which looks as if its designer couldn't make up his mind what to build. Once we leave Mars for the present, to save the captain, it gets less interesting, but this passes the time for fans of the genre. Music by Paul Dunlap includes a theremin.