Thursday, January 12, 2006


Occasionally the boys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 manage to turn up a film so transcendently bad that even their stellar riffing can't make it interesting. One such film is 1956's 'Fire Maidens of Outer Space'.

You'd think that a film with a title like 'Fire Maidens of Outer Space' would be sort of fun. You'd think that a film with nubile 50s lovelies running about in very short skirts would at least hold some interest. You'd think that a film about sturdy American men in rockets discovering the lost city of Atlantis on another planet would provide some opportunities for action. But you'd be wrong.

So what exactly was the problem with 'Fire Maidens of Outer Space'? Actually there were five elements which contributed to its overall craptacularity:

The Sitting

To be fair, there was more than just sitting. There was also standing. Long, long shots of people sitting, or standing, in small clusters. Sometimes the shots were static. Sometimes the camera would slowly pan across them, then pause, and slowly pan back again. Sometimes they had dialogue and sometimes they didn't, although the script was so mind-bogglingly inane that it didn't really make any difference whether they were speaking or not.

The Music

When Alexander Borodin composed his Polovtsian Dances in 1869, he could not have suspected that they would be developed into the hit 1953 musical 'Kismet', nor that one of these reworked dances, now entitled 'Stranger in Paradise', would go on to become a well-loved popular song. Nor, in his wildest dreams, would he ever have imagined that it would be played about seven thousand freakin' times at completely inappropriate moments in a bad film about treacherous, sex-starved hussies on the thirteenth moon of Jupiter.

This is why Borodin didn't go insane.

The Dancing

The Fire Maidens were all obviously cast from Miss Clara Fenway's School of Beauty, Deportment & Dance, just off the interstate outside Boise, Idaho. They had a few dance scenes (usually to 'Stranger in Paradise') where, slightly out of step with each other, they would do their darndest to pad this unholy mess of a film out to the required 80 minutes. What a bunch of troopers.

The Walking

See: The Sitting. Only with motion.

The Completely Lame-Arsed Monster

As usual, it's a man in a suit. Or, to be more specific, a man in a black skivvy and dress pants, wearing the cheapest latex mask he could find. Bullets do not harm him, but as he never does anything more threatening than stand on the periphery of scenes going "Gaaaarrgg!" or occasionally man-handle a blonde, there's not all that much need to shoot him anyway.

Of course this being the 1950s they do shoot him, at every opportunity, but you get the impression that they're just going through the motions.


Blogger MC Etcher said...

In a few years, you'll b e able to publish all these as an MST3K review book. I don't know that one exists yet!

2:09 AM  

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