Journey to the 7th Planet

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The other day I had to explain to someone what the phrase “the carrot and the stick” meant. (Just to be safe maybe I should so so again: the idea is that if you want to motivate a beast of burden you hang the carrot in front of it so that it’s reaching for a reward and if that doesn’t work you stand behind it with a stick ready to punish it. One way or another it’s going to start moving.) Anyway, the pairing of a carrot and a stick is interesting, because on some level they are opposites, but they both serve the same purpose.

This movie is a cheap-o early 60’s sci-fi movie about astronauts who land on Uranus (the next planet we have to explore because we will have conquered Jupiter and Saturn by the year 2001). Almost as soon as they arrive they have to go toe to toe with a giant brain that wants them to carry it back to Earth so he can conquer a more pleasant planet. To convince the astronauts to do his bidding he offers them hallucinations of women they have loved in their past life and when that fails he threatens them with “rat monsters” (which are clearly claymation dinosaurs that were probably repurposed from a dinosaur movie.)

That pairing – women and monsters – is interesting to me, because it represents kind of a yin-yang of a certain breed of sexist science fiction. It seems to suggest that women are alien creatures that come from the same well spring of lies and terror that our nightmares come from, even though they might look more appealing or smell better. The carrot might seem like a better option than the stick, but it’s still a trick to get you to pull the cart.

Overall this movie is the sort of claptrap that’s only fit for Mystery Science Theater showings, but I still like to watch this sort of Z-grade movie from time to time because they can sometimes be revealing about how our society has changed or how it’s stayed the same. This movie is a time capsule in a lot of ways because it’s the sort of utopian movie that imagines a world where nationalism is dead and we all live in harmony under U.N. supervision, but it isn’t so utopian that it can imagine a world where a woman would ever join the boys on a mission to space.

All cultural commentary aside, however, this movie looks terrible, makes little sense, is full of wooden acting, and manages to feel super long even though it’s only eighty minutes, so it is definitely only for people who really get a kick out of astronaut helmets that look like repainted welding masks.

Winner: The Cat

Journey to the Seventh Planet on IMDB