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  Journey to the Seventh Planet Take A Look At Uranus
Year: 1961
Director: Sidney Pink
Stars: John Agar, Carl Ottosen, Ove Sprogøe, Louis Miehe-Renard, Peter Monch, Greta Thyssen, Anne Smyrner, Mimi Heinrich, Anne Birgit Garde, Ulla Moritz, Bente Juel
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 2001, and humanity has not only conquered the propensity for war and conflict that blighted it for millennia, but it has conquered the stars as well, with spaceships a regular sight in the skies. One such ship is being sent to investigate the planet Uranus, an all-male crew led by Commander Eric (Carl Otteson) and including Captain Don Graham (John Agar) who can't stop thinking about the ladies he is leaving behind on this trip across the Solar System. But what they do not know is that their hope for finding life on the icy surface of the alien world may just come true - only in a far different and more dangerous manner than what they expected, or indeed needed.

Journey to the Seventh Planet was a low budget science fiction effort which hailed from the minds of Sidney Pink and Ib Melchior, one of a few European-American co-productions they arranged that were distributed by American International, and in this case forced to be spruced up by them as well when the Danish special effects team’s endeavours proved to be embarrassingly substandard even by the quality of the usual release by that studio. Additions were mostly of the monsters variety, where animator Jim Danforth, for instance, was hired to create a rat-dinosaur hybrid sporting one large eye in its forehead, all for a Ghostbusters-esque Mr Stay Puft hallucination made real.

What the astronauts discover on Uranus is a giant space brain that has the power to control their minds and make them see what they were wanted to see for its nefarious schemes. Uranus, it should be noted, was pronounced Yoor-ah-nus, thereby neatly sidestepping any danger of any kind of unfortunate double entendre whatsoever, and not placing any sort of rude phrase in the mind of the viewer. Seriously, you won't even notice it. You’ll be reading this utterly baffled, wondering whatever could this passage be referring to? Anyway, yeah, giant space brain, its main source of subterfuge appeared to be enthusiastic nostalgia to malevolently pick out of its victims' memories.

This meant recreations of their past homes, and more importantly for bored dads taking their kids along for a matinee showing, a selection of Danish beauties for the astronauts to get caught up in, led by Greta Thyssen (best known for her work with the latter day Three Stooges). This suits Don right down to the ground, as he is, as American parlance would have it, an unrepentant horndog who spends his waking hours mulling over the women he can snare back on Planet Earth, to the point of distraction. He comes across like one of those sex addicts we started hearing about in the nineties, so they got that element of predicting the future correct, if little else, as the rest is your accustomed parade of vintage science fiction getting most of it wrong thanks to over-optimism and seeing the years to come through the prism of the present.

Note the date on the letter with the mission details that Agar reads: September 10th, 2001, and this just after the narrator has informed us world peace has now been achieved; the irony is more melancholy than amusing. But there were occasional chuckles to be had with what was a fairly trippy movie, as it would have been when the plot delved into the inner reaches of the mind for its dramatic potential, fulfilled or otherwise. It was a familiar tale, Ray Bradbury had more or less gifted them this narrative with his opening section of The Martian Chronicles, and thereafter every sci-fi television show worth its salt, including Star Trek of course, would have an episode where some incredible alien force was making the characters see what it wanted them to see, regardless of the peril they were in. Even the wildly variable effects were part of how weird this was, which added a patina of entertainment value you imagine was not entirely intentional. Music by Ronald Stein, and dig that lovely space ballad.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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