Mutiny in Outer Space (1965)

Why is it that we’ll remember the “bad” science fiction films and forget the, well, they’re not exactly “good,” but the better-made ones? Why do we nostalgically pour our celluloid vinegars over the likes of The Astounding She-Monster, Cat-Women of the Moon, and Fire Maidens from Outer Space, yet forget an imaginative and well-made flick from the Woolner Brothers, like Mutiny in Outer Space?

Maybe it’s because I forever have Mutiny in Outer Space jammed in my mental VCR as result of enjoying it as part of a childhood, Saturday afternoon UHF-TV double bill with Space Probe Taurus (1965) — and that both starred my childhood crush, Lydia Limpit, the sidekick to Batman’s nemesis, The Bookworm: the heart-weeping Francine York.

As for the rest who forgot — or never heard of — this humans-battle-aliens-in-space romp: you know the brothers Lawrence and Bernard oeuvre better than you realize. Like most of the Corman-quickie styled filmmakers of the time, the Woolner’s started out as Drive-In theater owners, and then began financing low-budget B-studios to fill their screens. Of course, the Woolner’s hedged the smart bet and backed the never-lost-a-dime-on-a-movie (well, except for 1974’s Cockfighter) Corman on the films Swamp Women and the teen-juvie romp, Teenage Doll. Junk cinema fans will remember the brothers’ third film, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, the best; Italian horror hounds remember Larry and Bernie best for giving U.S. popcorn noshers Antonio Margheriti’s Castle of Blood, the Christopher Lee-starring Castle of the Living Dead, and, the big kahuna of giallo, Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace (all 1964). And in the grand tradition of remembering the bad: there’s the film (IMO) that slides in nicely after Fire Maidens from Outer Space in the annals of awful, MST3k-styled sci-fi from the ’50s (and ’60s): The Human Duplicators (1965), a film that gets its wistful positraction from the fact the film’s android-making villain is portrayed by future Bond villain Richard “Jaws” Kiel. If not for ol’ Jaws. . . .

And that brings us to the Woolner’s second foray into the sci-fi genre (their third and last was Antonio Margheriti’s Bond knock off, Operation Goldman, aka Lightning Bolt in the U.S.), which they filmed in six days for $90,000 in March of 1964. Released as an undercard to The Human Duplicators, MiOS was also directed by Hugo Grimaldi. After MiOS, Grimaldi’s only other writing credit is Gigantis, the Fire Monster; he also supervised the U.S. dubs on First Spaceship on Venus, aka Germany’s Der schweigende Stern, and Giorgio Ferroni’s pseudo-Giallo, Mill of the Stone Woman.

While a quickie undercard production, screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce did his research and developed a sci-fi smart script (forgetting, of course, that he cheapjacked the sci-fi classics that are The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Time Machine with the later, not-so-classic The Cosmic Man and Beyond the Time Barrier*, respectively; he also wrote and produced the $140,000 The Human Duplicators) based on the (now inaccurate) science of the time and had his astronauts, while battling an alien fungus (and keeping the romance to a minimum), deal with the prolonged effects of travel and life in space. In addition, leads Dolores Faith (debuted in 1961’s The Phantom Planet and starred in The Human Duplicators), Richard Garland (really steps it up from his past work in 1957’s Attack of the Crab Monster), Francine York (who would later tickle our hormones in Ted V. Mikel’s The Doll Squad), and Harold Lloyd, Jr. (Frankenstein’s Daughter) are, for a B-Movie quickie, very good in their roles.

Now, before you think that’s (furry) octopus tentacles on the one-sheet, it’s actually plant tendrils, in a tale that foreshadows what we’d see in 1968 with the Antonio Margheriti-influenced The Green Slime — which had blood-drinking asteroid slime instead of plants. And the plants, here, don’t transmutate into sentient — and very goofy — red-eyed tentacled humanoids.

We’re not Italian plant-based monsters from the Moon. We’re Asian green slime monsters!

At first, the film began as Space Station X (after Space Station SS X-7, the rotating station of the film), then the more sensational Invasion from the Moon (since the plants came from an ice cave on the Moon), but since Grimaldi and Pierce pinched from 1954’s The Caine Mutiny (since the station’s commander cracks under pressure), why not? Voila (or is that “ecco” in Italian), the film hit theaters as Mutiny in Outer Space. And there’s no doubt to the pinching of two of the ’50s biggest alien-versus-human romps: The Thing (1951) and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). But there’s an even bigger, obscure pinch: the overly talky, dry and boring Space Master X-7 (1958). That Ed Woodian romp of the Plan 9 variety concerns itself with a fungus unleashed from an Earth-returned space probe — only that alien is metallic “space rust” and not a plant. Or slime. And it gets loose on jet liner — as it would multiple times, some 60 years later in more than a few flicks from The Asylum (that I don’t feel like looking up). Oh, and you know what: the commander in the Kubrick-inspiring Conquest of Space (1955), which, itself, probably pinched from The Caine Mutiny, cracks under the pressure and jeopardizes the station, as well.

But still . . . with all of those plot pinches (and stock footage-set pinches, which we will get into), which I hadn’t a clue of when I was a UHF-weaned kid, Mutiny in Outer Space is still pretty good and a lot of fun.

In the future-verse of 1990: Two astronauts collect geological samples from an ice cave on the moon. Shortly after returning to the station, one of them collapses. It’s discovered he has a fever-inducing welt on his leg that spreads into a fungus across his body — a fungus from the ice caves.

The upside to this Moon romp is that, unlike the other interstellar-matriarchal fails of the ’50s and ’60s that we’ve discussed this week (and during our January 2021 tribute week to those films, such as 1953’s Project Moonbase) Mutiny in Outer Space puts several strong women to the forefront: the two leads with the most screen time being Lt. Connie Engstrom (Pamela Curran; Elvis’s Girl Happy) as the station’s communications chief, and Dr. Faith Montaine as a civilian biochemist who oversees science operations.

Yeah . . . we still have the horny male astronauts, and the ubiquitous flirting, and a scene in the station’s bio-lab with an astronaut flirting with his buddy’s girl; and her fretting about hairdo-fixing for her astro-hunk’s return. (Could you imagine Ripley gaga for Dallas or a Bret-Lambert hook up?) Of course, while these girls are smart and resourceful, they (an absolutely, sci-fi ’50s plot-point must) go all damsel-in-distress hysterical when the plants-hit-the-fan. Oh, and there’s the meteor shower that hits-the-fan. And the shower results in an ice-core splitting open. Now the furry plant tendrils (that would have looked great in color instead of washy-wash black and white) are everywhere. And the station’s commander cracks. And since guns were outlawed in space, the only thing to fight with is good ol’ he-man brawn and hormone-fueled ingenuity. The final solution has to do with creating a shield to cut off the solar heat that feeds the plants. Oy!

See, I told you. It may be pinchy n’ cheap, but wow . . . Mutiny in Outer Space just keep the Murphy Law-antics comin’ at ya, and at a decent pace helped by tight edits and seamless integration of its stock footage.

What ultimately stopped Mutiny in Outer Space from achieving classic status: While the top-billed The Human Duplicators was shot in color — as result of the budget in producing the station and plant effects and sets — there were no funds left to shoot in color. Thus, we ended up with a film that has the feel of ’50s space flick (the same folly that befell the equally well-done Space Station Taurus, also released in 1965), when it was actually in production around the same time Stanley Kubrick began pre-production in 1965 on his sci-if game changer: 2001: A Space Odyssey — issued a mere three years later, in 1968. In the end, the Woolner’s boondoggled it, didn’t they? The $140,000 (IMO) wasted on The Human Duplicators should have been budgeted for MiOS, so as to make one solid, indie studio, A-styled picture to be remembered, instead of two forgotten flicks . . . flicks that lead a guy like me to spend a whole day writing a review that, maybe, a dozen people, if I’m lucky, will ultimately end up reading.

And so goes the life of a digital movie critic. Well, at least I got to use “tendrils” in a sentence. I believe that’s a first for my reviews.

It’s reported Mutiny in Outer Space is an Italian-American co-production, which is incorrect. The film was produced, in full, with an all U.S. cast, at Producers Studios on Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles (the studio has hosted everything, from the 1944 film noir Double Indemnity to 1976’s Assault on Precinct 13). Remembering the Woolner’s worked with Antonio Margheriti on Castle of Blood and Lightning Bolt: there’s your “Italian connection,” which is result of the Woolner’s clipping footage (and possibly costumes, but more likely just astronaut footage; the numerical-letter uniform designations give it away) from Margheriti’s 1960 space romp, Assignment: Outer Space. And if the sets are familiar, that’s because they’re from another 1965 production on the Producers Studios sound stages: Space Probe Taurus. (We could easily do a B&S tribute week to all of the Drive-In and UHF-TV ditties produced at the studio.)

Don’t believe me? Compare the trailers for yourself. Both films even have romance-in-the-botany lab scenes, complete with the male astronauts making dumb plant jokes in a dorky-flirt that’d give Ross Geller pause:

You can watch a nice rip of Mutiny in Outer Space on You Tube. If I had the money and influence of J.J. Abrams, I’d do for MiOS what he did for Phantasm: restore it — in color, natch. It’s a classic. Oh, and since we’re talking about them: You can watch Assignment: Outer Space on You Tube and Space Probe Taurus on You Tube, and compare. Yep, we also found a (muddy) copy of Space Master X-7 on and The Human Duplicators on Daily Motion.

* While junk, I’ll always have a warmed-up VCR for Beyond the Time Barrier as result of its UHF-TV double-billing with Creation of the Humanoids, itself a precursor to Blade Runner in the same way Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires foreshadows Alien.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)

Talk about firing on all cylinders. Kaijū Daisensō (The Giant Monster War) is the sixth film in the Godzilla series and it has everything you want in a kaiju film, as the mysterious Planet X is investigated by astronauts Kazuo and Glenn (Nick Adams*, so Americans have a familiar face). They meet the Xiliens and their leader the Controller just in time for Monster Zero — King Ghidorah –to attack. The Controller offers to give humanity the cure for cancer if they loan Godzilla and Rodan to them to take care of Monster Zero.

Glenn and Fuji are convinced that the Xiliens have a sinister agenda but can’t prove it. The alien race comes to Earth and fly a sleeping Godzilla and Rodan to their planet where they defeat Monster Zero. The astronauts get a tape that has the cancer information on it, but instead contains an ultimatum that informs all of Earth that Planet X now has control of Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah.

One of the alien women is in love with Glenn and tells him the secrets of Planet X. It turns out that a certain noise sends the Xiliens into waves of pain, which allows humanity to defeat them and keep Godzilla and Rodan behind. All ends well, except for Glenn and Fuji having to go back to Planet X to become ambassadors.

This was the first film where Henry G. Saperstein became involved in the actual making of the films, providing half of the film’s backing. This is also the first film where Godzilla plays to the audience, doing a victory dance. This is a subject of much debate amongst the filmmakers and fans of these movies.

*Unlike other Americans who did thee films, Adams was genuinely interested in how the special effects worked and was kind to the cast, befriending many of them.

The Sex Killer (1965)

This is the definition of scuzz: Barry Mahon did not put his name on this movie.

Tony works in a mannequin factory and can’t connect with anyone, despite people trying to include him. Instead, he spies on sunbathing women with binoculars until he’s finally motivated enough to murder them, which the stuttery black and white camera of Mahon documents without any viscera, just an oddball not from this dimension detachment.

Of course, once he takes home the heads of one of the mannequins that he’s made, Tony feels a bit better about life. I mean, he’s still a killer and a necrophile. But isn’t it nice that he finally has someone who can understand him?

Made a year before other NYC-based scumtastic murder films like Anton Holden’s Aroused, eight years before Shaun Costello’s Forced Entry and more than a decade ahead of William Lustig’s Maniac — which also has plenty of mannequin-related mania — this movie has no aspirations of being art, yet succeeds in spite of itself. While Mahon can barely focus his camera at times, he somehow made something captivatingly creepy.

The weirdest thing is there’s barely any upsetting violence and no graphic sexual content, but the whole thing feels like the grossest, greasiest, sweatiest nightmare movie. And that, my friends, is the magic of Barry Mahon. You write him off and then he smacks you right in the face with something memorable.

Hot Skin, Cold Cash (1965)

Look, Barry Mahon needs 63 minutes of your time. That’s all he needs to tell you the story of Shelly (Victoria Astor, who was only in this and Mahon’s Naked Moonshine), a prostitute in Times Square who has lost her child to protective services and her husband to prison. How anyone would find that titiilating instead of harrowing is something lost in the time difference between 1965 and today.

Allen Joseph, who plays the priest in this, was a New York actor who wrote his own plays. He also shows up in Mahon’s The Wonderful Land of Oz as the Tin Man and would go on to lots of character acting work, such as playing Mr. X in Eraserhead. He’s also in There Is No 13The Return of Count YorgaThe Eyes of Laura Mars and was Uncle Bert in Saturday the 14th.

Everybody is out to use Shelly, even the lawyer that she hires to help get her husband out of jail. The poster promises that “What her husband didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him!” but the truth is, this is a complete downer of a movie that I have no how anyone found it erotic at all. So much of Mahon’s work is like that to me, as his New York films are missing the joy of the nudist camp movies, just dark trips with legal eagles that have 1960’s flash art tattoo sleeves that are jarring when they appear.

Censored (1965)

This movie is carny hucksterism on the most high functioning of levels, as Barry Mahon basically made fake scenes that he claimed were censored, then brought out a fake expert named Sid Berry to continually ask us what we think and how dare these things be censored when, in truth, by 2021 standards the things that are censored are the most innocuous of activities.

If you’ve seen one nudist camp movie, friend, you’ve seen them all. Well, get ready to watch them with a studious man talking over them, which really takes any potential of eroticism and throws it out the window along with the slide whistle Mahon always seems to employ as a soundtrack for said scenes.

For some reason, this movie also has a scene where Judy Adler (Confessions of a Bad Girl) gets her leg sawed off with no gore and a female German soldier tortures another woman. I guess maybe Barry was trying to push the envelope or maybe Bob Cresse had stopped by the set that day.

People then tried to censor this movie and Barry responded, “You already tried! Didn’t you see the film?” Because the best workers understand that if you fake it until you make it and never let up on the con, you finally make the untruth completely true.

It’s kind of crazy that the made-up censored scenes made for this movie — combined with the crazed editing and education picture narration — are way more entertaining than the real things Barry shot for his legit — or illegal as the case may be — exploitation films.

International Smorgas-Broad (1965)

Man, after a week of solid Barry Mahon movies, my eyes actually hurt. At some point, these movies were the absolute height of sin, but as seen through the haze of 2021, they could mostly play on basic cable during the day. Certainly, there is nothing in here — other than some nudity — that would shock you more than the average episode of Law and Order: SVU.

Bernie Allen, who was the comedy partner of Martha Raye for a decade and was given his stage name by Rocky Marciano — plays Bernie the chef, who spends most of the movie dreaming of the women in the film and striking out when he tries to speak with them in reality. He also spends some time imagining food from around the world, which means more women.

Gigi Darlene, who was the love statue in, well, The Love Statue, is “The German Bombshell Gigi,” while Darlene Bennett (Olga’s Girls) and her twin sister Dawn, Juliet “Aunt Peg*” Anderson, Dolores Carlos (Savages from Hell) and Louise Down, who wrote She-Devils on Wheels and Blood Feast, also show up.

I’d like to report that this movie is scandalous, but in truth, 56 years after it was made, it’s all rather boring. But in its day of camera clubs, smokers and secret showings, I’m sure that people thought they were going to hell for watching it.

*Aunt Peg became an adult movie superstar and didn’t make her first fully explicit dirty movie until she was 40. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old.

Confessions of a Bad Girl (1965)

How many Barry Mahon movies can you watch in one week? How about twenty-five or so?

Judy Adler (Satan’s Bed) plays Judith, a new girl in town who goes from the camera clubs and cheesecake photos to the big time of adult films and loses her innocence along the way. She’s probably one of the best actresses I’ve seen in one of Mahon’s films — not the highest of bars, but credit where credit is due — and her story is actually pretty gripping.

This being Barry Mahon, much of this film’s 63 minutes is given over to another kind of gripping, but you expected that. Actually, the majority of this movie is pretty PG-13.

You can also look for Dawn Bennett (The Singles), Anna Karol (Censored), Byron Mabe (he directed The Acid Eaters), June Roberts (Death of a Nymphette) and Marlene Starr (Bad Girls Go to Hell).

The self-loathing — maybe I’m projecting — of Mahon is on full display here, as the world of adult entertainment is presented as not always the brightest or sweetest place in the world. Well, you know what they say. No one tunes in to a movie that is all about being nice.

The Beast That Killed Women (1965)

Everything was going so well at the nudist camp. People were playing volleyball and shuffleboard and running and doing all manner of things that happen in a nudie-cutie movie and then, well, a dark stranger intrudes and starts killing women. And that’s when the typical Barry Mahon gets weird.

This is the kind of movie where the evil ape that is the titular The Beast That Killed Women gets shot with ten minutes left and we’re supposed to hang around and wait for the credits.

Barry always rounds up a better-looking cast than many of his contemporaries and this time he has Judy Adler (who starred in another good Mahon movie, Confessions of a Bad Girl), Janet Banzet (who shows up in the Sylvester Stallone softcore movie The Party at Kitty and Stud’s), Darlene Bennett (Nudes On Tiger Reef), Dolores Carlos (Diary of a Nudist), Gigi Darlene (The Love Statue), Louise Downe (who would write She-Devils On Wheels), Marlene Eck (Crazy Wild and Crazy), Christy Foushee (Blood Feast), Marlene Starr (Bad Girls Go to Hell), Sandra Sinclair (Blaze Starr Goes Nudist), June Roberts (All Men Are Apes!) and Joni Roberts (The Girl with the Magic Box).

The ironic thing is one of the women who stayed clothed in this movie, Juliet Anderson, went on to become one of the most iconic adult stars of all time, Aunt Peg. She didn’t start acting in those films until she was 39. She also discovered Nina Hartley, another seemingly ageless actress.

As for the beast that is killing women, if you guessed that Barry is in that suit, you’ve seen as many of his movies as I have.

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)

I hate when people make lists of the worst movies ever made, because stuff like this always ends up on it.

Whether you see it as this title or as Duel of the Space MonstersFrankenstein Meets the Space Men, Mars Attacks Puerto Rico, Mars Invades Puerto Rico or Operation San Juan, you’re going to see something that is absolutely ridiculous. But why else do you watch movies?

Also: there is no Frankenstein in this movie.

Martian Princess Marcuzan (Marilyn Hanold, the June 1959 Playboy Playmate of the Month who is also in In Like Flint and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die) is in this, the last female survivor of an atomic war who has brought Dr. Nadir (an amazing Lou Cutell, who was Amazing Larry in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) with her to screw with Earth.

Oh yeah and abduct women in bikinis. And drive around a lot. And deal with an android astronaut named Colonel Frank Saunders whose face gets all burned up and he ends up fighting a mutant named Mull to the death.

Look, 65% of this movie is stock footage and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So much of this just hits me in the right places. Sure, if it got made today, it would be on digital video, the stock footage would be watermarked and I would hate every single minute of it. But I love what this is.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Love Statue (1965)

Five years before David Durston* would make one of the greatest drug freakout movies of all time, I Drink Your Blood — the movie where I learned that “Satan was an acid head” — he used the name Richard Kent to make this LSD-laced film.

Greenwich Village painter Tyler Westin is in love with a cabaret dancer named Lisa, who treats him like dirt. But then a lounge singer named Mashiko (Choko Tsukuba, who was in Kaitei Kara Kita Onna as a fishwoman before producing all of the Piranha movies!) turns him on to LSD and he comes back to his place to find his ladylove dead and soon believes that drugs can bring one of his sculptures to life to make love to him (played by Gigi Darlene, Frenchy from White Slaves of Chinatown).

Charitably, this movie is a mess, but hey — it has a great poster and lots of weird trivia behind it, like how Durston took LSD under a doctor’s supervision to ensure that this movie was accurate and that it was originally called The Love Drug but couldn’t be advertised under that title.

You can download this from the Internet Archive.

*He also used the stage name Spencer Logan when he made the Jamie Gillis and Zebedy Colt-starring Manhole and the Michael Hardwick film Boy ‘Napped.