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Fire Maidens of Outer Space(1956)
Outrageous epic about a group of astronauts who encounter a lost race of scantily clad women from Atlantis on the thirteenth moon of planet Jupiter. Of course, all the nubile young ladies are starved for male company and the Earthmen eagerly offer to help. But first they have to combat an indestructible hideous monster that has terrorized the lovely maidens. The film's camp highlight comes when the maidens perform an interpretive dance to the music of Alexander Borodin. Anthony Dexter, Susan Shaw, Paul Carpenter star in this camp classic. This is the uncut 80-minute version of the film, originally released at 73 minutes. Story, screenplay and direction by Cy Roth (Combat Squad, Air Strike).
For more about Fire Maidens of Outer Space and the Fire Maidens of Outer Space Blu-ray release, see Fire Maidens of Outer Space Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 31, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 1.5 out of 5.
Starring: Anthony Dexter, Susan Shaw, Paul Carpenter, Harry Fowler, Sydney Tafler
» See full cast & crew
Fire Maidens of Outer Space Blu-ray Review
Plan 13 From Outer Space because 13 is four better than 9.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 31, 2013
DAY. THE OFFICE OF IMPRESARIO CY ROTH. ROTH IS HAVING AN ANIMATED PHONE CONVERSATION.
ROTH: It was a private screening of something in the pipeline. (Pause). Yeah, yeah, it was fantastic, I tell you, the best thing I've seen in years. (Pause) Plan 9 From Outer Space. (Pause) Yeah, yeah, Lumber, Wood, something like that, but I'm telling you, I can do better! Get me Lugosi! (Pause) Dead? Really? I thought he was undead. (ROTH laughs at his own joke). Well, never mind, actors are like cattle, you just need to lead them to the slaughterhouse.
The foregoing scene from the never produced Cy Roth Story is a perhaps fanciful explanation for how Roth, a would be auteur who toiled in the film industry for years but who managed to only eke out three films, came to make one of the most reviled entries in the entire history of cinema, Fire Maidens of Outer Space. This is a film that left even the usually snappy Mystery Science Theater 3000 wits sitting in largely stunned silence, with a rather uncharacteristic paucity of hilarious banter. Fire Maidens of Outer Space is one of the few films that in fact makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like a model of directorial finesse, performing acumen and brilliantly written dialogue.
Can it be mere coincidence that a portentous narrator informs us of a secret collaboration between the United States and Britain that is called Plan 13 and that it involves outer space? Could my obviously tongue in cheek "recreation" of a moment in Cy Roth's nascent career as a movie mogul actually have some semblance of truth? I guess we'll never know, and truth be told, Plan 13 in Fire Maidens of Outer Space is tied to the supposed thirteenth moon of Jupiter, which enterprising scientists have discovered has an atmosphere and an Earth-like appearance. If this is beginning to strain credulity for some of you who are more science minded, in the famous words of some wise man, you ain't see nothin' yet.
Our hero is scientist-astronaut Luther Blair, who flies to London in the opening scenes in order to meet with his British counterparts. The hilarity begins almost immediately with a cardboard sign announcing "London Airport" and then Luther being transported to an observatory where a couple of interesting things happen. Evidently Cy Roth either skimped on the sound equipment or the "observatory" was placed in the middle of a high traffic area, for it's virtually impossible to hear some of the dialogue over the ambient environmental sounds. Eagle eyed viewers will immediately know that the British guy in the scene is a scientist because he puffs importantly on a pipe and, even more of a tell tale sign, when Luther asks him for some launch related data, the guy actually punches keys on an adding machine, and looks at the "total", delivering an authoritative answer that under proper conditions, a flight could reach this moon of Jupiter in three weeks.
The launch goes off with nary a hitch, which means that the quintet of astronauts aboard the ship can continue smoking their cigarettes and, most importantly, not be bothered by even the slightest lack of gravity. In fact, the guys are gathered around what looks like a regular office desk and sit in typical office chairs. Why couldn't NASA have come up with something less cramped when they decided to start exploring outer space?
But, wait, you also get—once the guys arrive on the planet, they almost instantly see a comely young maiden (dressed in a swimsuit and cape, of course) being harassed by some weird mash up of Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Wolf Man. Because Plan 13 has thought of everything, they've equipped the guys with pistols, and so our intrepid heroes fire away at the beast (they must be awfully good aims, as the beast is holding on to the young lady). The bullets don't seem to do much more than merely annoy the beast, but at least he (it?) eventually lets go, at which point the woman comes over and takes an immediate shine to Luther.
Her name is Hestia (Susan Shaw) and she turns out to be one of just a few survivors of the lost city of Atlantis (no, that is not a typo). Yes, folks, Atlantis is alive and well and living on the thirteenth moon of Jupiter. There's only one male left in this gaggle of folks, and he's rather old and decrepit, so is it any wonder that Duessa (Jacqueline Curtis), the leader of the women, imprisons the guys in order to use them for mating purposes? What is a wonder is that the guys want out. I mean, let's face it: if you were confronted by a gaggle of scantily clad women eager to use you for nothing other than sex, would escape be the first thing on your mind? But I digress.
In the meantime, the beast of course goes on a marauding rampage, and there's a bizarre sacrificial ceremony that sees Hestia placed on a flaming altar. But first we need some interpretive dance, don't you agree? In fact twice is in this film, the lovely ladies of Atlantis engage in some spirited and insanely ungainly "choreography" set to the lovely music of Alexander Borodin. It's been a banner year for Alex on Blu-ray, what with the recent Appleseed XIII and now Fire Maidens of Outer Space being released. Borodin was a "part time" composer who actually made his living as a chemist. Too bad he never came up with a formula to keep his tunes from being appropriated by raiders of the public domain.
Fire Maidens of Outer Space Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fire Maidens of Outer Space is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.66:1. This is a fairly decent looking high definition presentation sourced from elements that have their fair share of speckling and slight scratches, but which are in actually pretty good shape overall. Contrast is generally good, if never great, and the image has acceptable fine detail most of the time. There's quite a bit of stock footage sprinkled throughout the film, and a lot of that looks notably more ragged than the bulk of the film.
Fire Maidens of Outer Space Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fire Maidens of Outer Space's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track does what it can with the stems, but there are some issues that simply can't be overcome, like the inadequately mic'd dialogue in the early observatory scene. Generally speaking things come through quite clearly, and there's no egregious damage to report. Borodin's music sounds fine, though a bit shallow, especially in the mid- and high ranges.
Fire Maidens of Outer Space Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No supplements are offered on this Blu-ray disc.
Fire Maidens of Outer Space Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
NIGHT. THE HOME THEATER OF A BLU-RAY REVIEWER AND HIS WIFE. THEY ARE WATCHING FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE.
WIFE (incredulously): Is mission control calling the spaceship on a telephone?
REVIEWER: Yes, it appears so, doesn't it? Can you believe someone actually thought this stuff up and then was able to get the money to make it?
WIFE: What are you going to say about it in your review?
REVIEWER: Heaven only knows. I'll think of something.
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