The Wizard of Mars aka Horrors of the Red Planet – USA, 1965

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The Wizard of Mars is a 1965 science fiction feature film takeoff of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz co-written and directed by stage magician David L. Hewitt (Monsters Crash the Pyjama Party).

The title character is portrayed by John Carradine, who gives a lengthy monologue as a projection near the end of the film.

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Four astronauts — Steve (Roger Gentry), “Doc” (Vic McGee), Charlie (Jerry Rannow), and of course, Dorothy (Eve Bernhardt) — dream they are struck by a storm and encounter the Horrors of the Red Planet, and eventually follow a “Golden Road” to the Ancient City where they encounter the title character, who is the collective consciousness of all Martians.

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David L. Hewitt had previously co-written the screenplay of The Time Travelers and had turned a 33-minute-long Monsters Crash the Pajama Party into part of an interactive stage show. Hewitt met a group of vending machine operators who wanted to produce films with Hewitt convincing them that science fiction had potential.

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Their company American General Pictures’ first full-length film The Wizard of Mars was made using an optical printer for special effects and was filmed for $33,000 in Great Basin National Park and Fallon, Nevada. The mask of the title character was made by Don Post and reused in Space Probe Taurus.

In 1988, it was misleadingly released in the USA on VHS as Alien Massacre.

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Reviews:

” … my all-time favorite kitschy movie about space travel. This one has all the little extras that separate a true bad movie classic from the mere pretenders. One of those extras would be incredibly cheap special effects, some of them cadged right from the old Soviet sci-fi flick Planet of Storms, which is a lot of fun for people like me who’ve seen those same bits of footage show up in countless other bad movies.” Edward Wozniak, Balladeer’s Blog

“The film never lets the visuals or characters do the storytelling, it is always done through emotionally deprived dialogue or excessive exposition that serves no purpose. The surface of Mars is described as barren and devoid of life, which clearly it isn’t, as there is running water and a variety of trees and plant-life covering the surface.” Dane Worrallo, More Than Numbers?

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“Light on action, heavy on conversation, Hewitt films require patience and tolerance from the viewer. But viewers in the right mood will enjoy the combination of dream trippy atmosphere and boyish naivety.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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Buy Claws & Saucers Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Choice dialogue:

“Isn’t there any place on this planet that isn’t a death trap?”

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Cartel (1965) The Wizard of Mars 2

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