[April 17, 1962] No Butts! (The film, Journey to the Seventh Planet)

by Gideon Marcus

Those of you deeply in the know are aware that Sid Pink made the Scandinavian answer to Godzilla last year, Reptilicus, and Ib Melchior brought it to the states (where it has had a limited release).  It was, to all accounts, pretty awful. 

The unlikely Danish-American team of Sid Pink and Ib Melchior is back, gracing our drive-ins with the latest American International Pictures extravaganza, Journey to the Seventh Planet.  It is a space exploration flick, as one might guess, and (praising damned faintly) it’s not as bad as it could have been.

The year is 2001, and peace has settled upon our troubled planet.  The United Nations Space Force has dispatched missions as far out as the planet Saturn.  Thus, it is now the turn of Uranus to be probed.  An “international” team of five Northern Europeans is sent out in Explorer Ship #12 with a mission to land on the frozen world.

Once in orbit (and they do a nice job of suggesting that the ship accelerates to the half-way point and decelerates the rest of the way – like a ship should), the crew are put into stasis by a malevolent intelligence based on the planet below.  When they are released, weeks have passed.  The crew, however, are relatively unfazed and proceed with the landing.

The surface of Uranus, at least in the vicinity of the landed vessel, is not at all what they expected.  It is a temperate place with Earth-like forests and a breathable atmosphere.  Very soon, it becomes clear that this is a manufactured setting.  In fact, as the crew think of things they would like to see, they are created out of thin air.  The village the Commander grew up in, complete with his childhood crush, appears before their eyes.

Don’t trust her!

Don’t trust them!

But this paradise is a limited affair – it is encircled by a force field beyond which lies the frozen waste they expected to find.  Exploring this forbidding terrain, the alien projects frightful images of monsters to ward them off.  More than just hallucinations, these projections are as real-seeming as the lovely ladies the crew encountered in the simulated village.

Going eyond the barrier…


Razor-sharp ice crystals.

Uranian vermin

Ultimately, Journey to the Seventh Planet is about fighting fear and temptation to vanquish an implacable foe, one that fights you with your own desires and phobias. 

Don’t trust her!

I told you…

They manage to succeed, but not without casualties of varying kinds.  The film ends on a triumphant though wistful note that I appreciated – it could well have wrapped up with the common “THE END?” scenario.

The monster is made of tripe…

So, what’s right about Journey to the Seventh Planet?  The science is not bad, surprising given it’s a B-movie of AIP provenance.  The producers neatly sidestep the “YOU-ra-nus” vs. “u-RAIN-us” pronunciation conundrum by inventing a new way of describing the planet: “YOU-rah-nus.”  The special effects accompanying the brain-creature’s psychic manifestations, and particularly the stop-motion monster at the film’s midpoint, were nicely done. 

The concept behind the film is a good one.  I found myself genuinely interested in the outcome, and it was nice to see the characters find the strength to overcome obstacles of their own creation.

Well then, what’s wrong with the movie?  It’s about 30% slower-paced than one would hope, for one.  This is not helped by the wooden acting (the dubbers of the Danish actors, who spoke their lines phonetically, were not particularly inspired).  Thus, what could have been a cracking episode of The Twilight Zone ends up being rather dull.

Still, having had a few days to reflect, I can safely say that I enjoyed the flick (not to mention, the popcorn they served at the concession stand was excellent).  2.5 stars.

by Lorelei Marcus

Going to conventions is always a fun experience for a traveler; however it does have its draw backs. Specifically, the many germs that are passed around in the tight space of the dealer halls. These germs can sometimes lead to sickness, and I have contracted a vicious, voice stealing, cold. However, you came to read a review and not hear about my troubles, so I will get on with it. Just expect one somewhat shorter than I usually write.

I pretty much agree with everything my father said about the movie, itself. The acting was very dull, the sets were somewhat interesting, and the effects weren’t half bad. The story itself was much too long, and the ways they decided to fill time were incredibly uncreative. For example, we have many scenes of the spacemen walking around for 5 minutes. However, to draw these scenes out, the men aren’t just walking around, they’re shuffling around slower than a snail! I have certainly seen better science fiction movies.

However, there was one part that I liked very very much. Towards the middle of the movie, the spacemen go out of their terrestrial clearing and encounter the being that is creating the Earth-like habitat that they were living in. They shoot at it, and in defense it creates a rat-like one eyed monster. They did this with shots of claymation that could compete with Harryhausen’s!

I’m giving this movie 2 stars. Not bad, but I’m not going to remember it in a week. Anyway, I’m going to leave now and get some needed rest. I hope you enjoyed this review.

This is the Young Traveler, signing off.

20 thoughts on “[April 17, 1962] No Butts! (The film, Journey to the Seventh Planet)”

  1. Boy Shirley Temple’s first husband John Agar sure fell far! Three films with John Wayne. After the divorce right in the dumper. He became the in-demand actor for Z-films.
    Man Sid Pink and Ib Melchior have less class than Ed Wood with this rip off of Queen of Outer Space and Fire Maidens from Outer Space. It is beyond understanding why SF films have gone on such a bad slide since Forbidden Planet.

  2. Thank you both for the reviews, and best wishes for the Young Traveller’s cold.
    There are so many failed books which would have made excellent short stories.

  3. Howdy Traveler.

    I saw “Reptilicus” and I don’t think it was released — I think it escaped. Terrible movie. The critter effects certainly weren’t anywhere on par with O’Brien or Harryhausen — how can something coming out almost 30 years after the mighty KONG be so much worse? You didn’t miss much; I expect AIP will try to defray some costs by releasing it for Saturday afternoon television viewing soon.

    Agreed that this one’s better, but also with Miss Lorelei that it’s way, way too slow-paced. In these days of rock and roll, doo-wop, Motown, this new surf music out of your hometown, the kids like things to happen a little faster.

    Suggest Traveler Jr. gargle with very warm, very salty water. Been the standard in our family since long before we had all these wonder drugs. Mom swears by Cepacol throat lozinges, while Dad’s a firm believer in hot toddies (which aren’t suitable for the Young Traveler, but perhaps yourself if The Amazing Colossal Germ gets you too).

      1. PS I forgot to say that the theme song to “7th Planet” is likely to stick in my memory into the next millennium.

    1. “Reptilicus” was better than The Giant Claw (whew! what an unmitigated mess of junk!) … however Ib Melchior didn’t seem to learn a thing from Beast from 20,000 fathoms or Gorgo or Godzilla or The Giant Behemoth …

  4. Slower pacing is fairly common in European films. Day-to-day life has a slower pace than that in go-go America, and it’s reflected in their films. That isn’t always going to translate well. (Some of this sounds like padding, though.) But if the original film is short enough, there’s only so much AIP can cut and still have something long enough to sell to the theaters.

    And for the Young Traveler, I suggest hot lemon, not too sweet. In fact, just barely enough sugar to make it palatable. If the convention infection gets you or the Mrs., add a dollop of whisk(e)y to the mix.

  5. Best wishes for a full and swift recovery.

    This film is OK.  The theme seems to be similar to what the rumors from the other side of the Iron Curtain say about a novel called “Solaris” by Polish author Stanislaw Lem.  I wonder if somebody in Denmark was familiar with the book, published just last year.  A little Russian SF gets translated and published here in the West, but I suppose this one will remain obscure.

  6. Haven’t seen this one, but the “unexpected earth-like alien setting” with even a spaceman’s “childhood crush” inexplicably appearing sounds that it also may have been somewhat, ah, “inspired” by Ray Bradbury’s short “Mars is Heaven.”  I suppose no one would take seriously a title like “Uranus is Heaven,” though (for several reasons).

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