Somewhere, there is a fist-pumping Hollywood suit. Just as the star-studded movie about an astronaut stranded on Mars is released, NASA drops breaking news that there might be life on this distant planet. That’s better than paid advertising.
Not that the highly-anticipated film, based on a best-selling book, needed more buzz. The real question is — are we now going to see a deluge of new Martian movies? Don’t be surprised; Hollywood has a long-standing relationship with our neighboring planet. These films are some of the most amazing and most forgettable sci-fi stories to ever come out of Tinseltown.
Here are six of the best and worst Martian movies that graced the silver screen.
#6. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964): This film might rival Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) as the worst science-fiction movie ever. Yes. Ever. They share so much in common — bad sets, laughable acting and dreadful story. In this bomb, the Martians decide to kidnap Santa Claus to cheer up their children. That tells you all you need to know about the plot. The film was brilliantly lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000. This movie has to be ranked the worst Mars movie of all time.
#5. Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964): The trailer proclaims the film is “scientifically authentic.” Well, it might be if science was written by Hollywood screenwriters. Mostly, it’s boring with cheesy special effects. When the aliens finally show up, you wish you could leave with them. A much better take on this story is Enemy Mine (1985). This trip to Mars is a complete disaster — and has well-earned a place at the bottom of watchable Mars movies.
#4. The Last Days on Mars (2013): There could be a battle for which contemporary Mars feature deserves a spot on the list of the worst of the worst. The easy pick would be John Carter (2012), Disney’s disastrous take on the Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan) novels of a Civil War veteran’s many adventures on Mars. But, at least the Disney dud had cool special effects. In this film, a Martian virus turns a research crew into maniac killers. Seriously, I was rooting for the virus.
#3. The War of the Worlds (1953): No, we aren’t talking about the mediocre and melodramatic 2005 remake with Tom Cruise. We’re talking the awesome Cold War interpretation of the H.G. Wells novel where the tripods trample Los Angeles. This film has to be on the list of great Mars movies.
#2. Ghosts of Mars (2001): It didn’t do that great at the box office, costing almost twice as much as the film made in ticket sales. Still, there is something compelling about this creepy story of a police space unit dispatched to a distant Martian mining settlement. Things don’t go well. Let’s just say it is not Mayberry. And, yes, all the critics were wrong. This is fun Martian sci-fi that should not be missed.
#1. The Angry Red Planet (1959): The 1950s were the halcyon days of great Martian sci-fi with memorable B-movies like Invaders from Mars (1953) But, the best of the best has to be this film made in “cineMagic” in ten days for $200,000. Yes, everything, from the misogynistic acting to the drooling spider-bat monster, is super hokey. Still, this movie has the “so bad it is great” feel to it. Not putting this film on the must-see Martian movie list would just be a crime against humanity.
After watching these six movies, you will know that all the people that want to go to Mars and stay there may be on to something, or at least smart enough to get far away from Hollywood.