The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963)

The Day Mars Invaded Earth 
Directed by Maury Dexter
Written by Harry Spalding
!963/USA
Associated Producers
First viewing/YouTube

 

Dr. David Fielding: It’s not every day we make a successful landing on Mars.

This was a solid little sci-fi story but the execution could have been improved.

Dr. David Fielding is the heart of the U.S. Mars program.  It has managed to land a probe on the planet, which transmitted for only six minutes.  Amid his busy day, Spencer begins to feel and act peculiar.  He goes to California for the weekend to reunite with his wife, who is becoming estranged from him, and two children.  Things are tense at first but soon the whole family must pull together to combat similar strange attacks and eventually sightings of doppelgängers.

It’s a nifty plot, a bit reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode, and the acting is pretty good. The ending is quite satisfying.  On the other hand, the whole thing is subject to a shaking, swaying camera.  I’m sure that at least some of this was meant to indicate the presence of aliens or something but it was very off-putting as was the jerky editing.  It was nice to see Marie Windsor – still Queen of the Bs in 1963!

Trailer – spoilers

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! (1963)

Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! (Kutabare akutô-domo – Tantei jimusho 23)
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
Written by Iwao Yamakazi from a book by Haruhiko Oyabu
1963/Japan
Nikkatsu
First viewing/Amazon Instant

 

“Why make a movie about something one understands completely? I make movies about things I do not understand, but wish to.” – Seijun Suzuki

Director Seijun Suzuki’s gonzo style of filmmaking is really beginning to grow on me.

In this one, private detective Hideo Tajima (Jo Shishido) volunteers to infiltrate a gang of black marketeers.  He must be constantly on his guard as the gang boss suspects a spy. Tajima will need all his wit and gun power to bring the gang to justice.

How could I pass up a movie with a title like this one? Shishido, who had plastic surgery to give himself chipmunk cheeks (!), is weird and super-cool at the same time.  He also proves himself to be a fair singer and dancer in one scene where he joins an ex-girlfriend’s nightclub act to avoid detection.  The whole thing is accompanied by an infectious jazz score.  The violence felt less real to me than in previous outings and I really enjoyed the film.

Clip

Diary of a Madman (1963)

Diary of a Madman
Directed by Reginald Le Borg
Written by Robert E. Kent from a story by Guy de Mauspassant
1963/USA
Robert E. Kent Productions
First viewing/YouTube

 

Title Card: “… the vulture has eaten the pigeon; the wolf has eaten the lamb; the lion has devoured the sharp-tongued buffalo; man has killed the lion with an arrow, with spear, with gun-powder; but the *”Horla”* will make of man what man has made of the horse and of the ox; His chattel, His slave, and His food, but the mere power of His will. Woe to us!”… Guy de Maupassant

This film with its invisible Horla definitely does not live up to the hype on the poster.

Magistrate Simon Cordier (Vincent Price) is well-known for his compassion and fairness.  Unfortunately, he rejects the pleas of a prisoner, who happens to be possessed by a murderous Horla, to escape the guillotine.  The Horla leaves the prisoner’s corpse for the magistrate’s body.  The magistrate is left to be his unwilling but helpless instrument of death.

Price is always good but this horror films suffers from a distinct lack of scares.  If you were to look at it as a psychological study, which I did not, it would probably fare better.