Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) | Holy spacemen! The futuristic castaway sci-fi crash-lands on Blu-ray

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)

Out on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in the UK comes the colourful, cartoony 1964 sci-fi adventure Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

While following Daniel Defoe’s classic castaway novel, this Boy’s Own adventure transports its hero into outer space. Paul Mantee (fresh from TV’s Cheyenne) is US astronaut Kit Draper, who gets stranded along with his pet monkey Mona (actually Barney, hence the diaper) on the Red Planet after an emergency crash landing. After building his man cave, Kit starts exploring the alien landscape – only to discover he isn’t alone as he first thought…

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)

Penned by genre legend Ib Melchior (Angry Red Planet) and directed by Byron Haskin (who worked with George Pal on War of the Worlds and Conquest of Space), this is an imaginative, though lifeless sci-fi adventure. And… Holy Spaceman! poor Adam West (before he hit the big time with Batman) gets killed off at the start, and only appears again as a mirage (what???)

The first hour is spent with Mantee (looking every inch the fit all-American hero) playing house with his monkey in a vast styrofoam cave (that wouldn’t look out of place in Lost in Space) and taking hot baths with his undies still on (obviously not to shock poor Mona); before he discovers some fast-moving cartoon-drawn space ships (modelled after the martian machines in War of the Worlds) protecting a mining operation manned by humanoid slaves.

Then the ‘non-action’ kickstarts as one of them (Victor Lundin) escapes, gets named Friday, and is taught English by Mantee’s spaceman, before they try to outrun those cartoon ships after their man cave gets blown to bits and they head to the polar ice caps for a final showdown…

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If it weren’t for Mantee’s fine physique and the wildly inventive visual design (which turns Death Valley into a Looney Toons cartoon and looks fantastic on Blu-ray) then I’d say give this one a miss. And while we never see the aliens, I’d suspect that if we did get to peer into those spaceships, it would be Marvin the Martian at the controls.

But then, what did you expect from producer Aubrey Schenck, who gave us the studio bound horror house schlocker The Black Sleep and the rock ‘n’ roll deliquent teenfest Untamed Youth?

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)

Robinson Crusoe on Mars is released in Dual format on 23 November 2015 from Eureka Entertainment.

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About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on November 23, 2015, in Must See, Must-See, Sci-Fi and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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