Cast & Crew
Zsa Zsa Gabor
In the distant future, astronauts Capt. Neil Patterson, Lt. Larry Turner and Lt. Michael Cruze are assigned to escort Professor Konrad to the outer space way station that he designed years earlier. Although disappointed by their seemingly unimportant mission, the men comply and conduct an uneventful launch into space. As the spaceship nears the station, however, a ray beam, whose origins the men cannot discern, fires repeatedly until it hits and destroys the station. When the beam turns on the ship, Patterson attempts to divert it, but the craft is hit, causing it to spin out of control and crash into an unidentified planet. The men, who are only mildly shaken up, are amazed by the snow-covered mountains surrounding the ship. After a cursory investigation, Konrad declares that they have landed on Venus and, contrary to all earlier hypotheses, the planet supports life. The men descend below the snowline to investigate their surroundings, unaware that they are being watched. The next morning, the men are startled by the appearance of several armed women, who inform them that they are under arrest. The women take the men to a large city, populated entirely by women, many of whom deride the men as they are led to the palace. The men are brought before the masked Queen Yllana and her council, who demand to know why they have come. Patterson describes the destruction of the space station by the strange beam, then requests assistance in repairing their ship. Yllana informs them that her people have monitored earth for many years, enabling them to become familiar with earth forms of communication as well as the planet's extreme violence. Suspicious of the men's explanations and believing they have come to destroy Venus, the queen announces that she and the council will meet to decide their fate. Unknown to Yllana, another member of the court, top scientist Talleah, receives a secret report of the interrogation from her aid, Motiya. Yllana then privately interviews each of the men, but is skeptical of Konrad's assertion that, as no one on earth believed Venus was habitable, they would have no reason to attack the planet. When Turner and Cruze observe that the planet needs the stability of men, Yllana orders them all put to death. Imprisoned in a bare room, the men suspect that the space station may have been destroyed by the Venusians, although Cruze cannot accept that woman are capable of building sophisticated equipment. That evening, Talleah brings the men their dinner as an excuse to talk to them and introduces herself as part of a growing group of women who have become disenchanted by Yllana's cruel leadership. She explains that a decade earlier there were men on their planet who engaged in war with a neighboring planet that very nearly destroyed them. Disgusted by the violence, Yllana led the women in a revolt and all the men except the most intelligent, who are kept on a small prison satellite in space. After Talleah's departure, the men decide to overpower Yllana and the women by seducing them. Later, Yllana grants Patterson an audience to meet her in her private quarters. Although Yllana initially admits the loneliness of leadership, she soon presses to know the real reason for the men's arrival, insisting that the space station was an attack post. Patterson maintains the men's innocence and demands to know why she does not respond to him as a man. Curious about Yllana's mask, Patterson snatches it off to discover that Yllana's face is horribly disfigured by radiation burns that the queen tells him were the result of men's wars. When Patterson recoils in revulsion, Yllana orders him to be removed and immediately put to death. Learning this, Talleah arranges for the men to be smuggled to her laboratory. There she informs them she has learned that Yllana has also ordered the destruction of earth with the beta-disintegrator that destroyed the space station. Talleah and her sympathizers offer to help the men escape if they will assist them in destroying the disintegrator. Narrowly averting capture by Yllana's guards, the group flees outside, where they seek refuge in underground caves. When Konrad realizes the walls of the caves are made of gold, Talleah says the mineral has no value on Venus. The next morning Konrad reports that without food and water, the men will not survive. Patterson devises a plan to have Talleah, Motiya and Kaeel, who have not been linked with their escape, turn them in after which they will receive nourishment and then attempt to destroy the disintegrator. The plan succeeds, and while Talleah organizes more support, Yllana prepares to destroy earth. Yllana takes the men to the beta-disintegrator to observe earth's demise, unaware that Motiya and Kaeel have successfully sabotaged the machine. When the disintegrator fails, Talleah leads an attack, during which Yllana is killed and her supporters overcome. Weeks later, under the auspices of the new queen, Talleah, the men's ship has been repaired. As the women sadly prepare to bid them goodbye, the men receive a message from earth ordering them to remain until a rescue ship comes, even if it takes a year.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
William Beaudine Jr.
Edward Morey Jr.
B. F. Remington
Lester A. Sansom
Sophia Scott Stutz
Queen of Outer Space
The titular character is Yllana (Laurie Mitchell), an imperious masked queen who presides over the planet Venus. Populated entirely by beautiful women (played by beauty pageant contestants), the planet is visited for the first time by a trio of American astronauts led by Captain Patterson (Eric Fleming). As the queen not only nurses a deep hatred of men but thinks they've been sent to undermine her, she decides to destroy Earth in retaliation. Meanwhile the imprisoned Patterson falls for one of the most beautiful residents, Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor), and tries to convince her to lead a rebellion.
A patchwork production in many respects, Queen of Outer Space doesn't just lift from Bernds' previous outer space film; costumes are also noticeably reused from Forbidden Planet (1956), while the central rocket ship is the same one from the earlier Flight to Mars (1951) and originally designed for the Bowery Boys film, Paris Playboys (1954). The giant spiders from World without End which make a reappearance are especially memorable, though as Bernds recalled to interviewer Tom Weaver, "their legs were supposed to be operated by selsyn motors. The mandibles - the jaws of the big spiders - were spring-loaded, and snapped shut by magnets. The jaws worked all right, but the motor-driven legs... sometimes worked, sometimes didn't. The actors had to provide most of the struggle; they put most of the energy into the fights with the spiders."
Unlikely as it may seem, the story for Queen of Outer Space was written by Ben Hecht, the first Academy Award® winner for Original Screenplay with Underworld (1927), under the title Queen of the Universe. Some of his classic screenplays include Gone with the Wind (1939), Some Like It Hot (1959), and His Girl Friday (1940). The ten-page Hecht story was purchased by producer Walter Wanger, a tabloid fixture who had gone to Allied Artists after being released from prison for shooting an agent he believed to be having an affair with his wife. Ultimately Wanger was replaced on the film with producer Ben Schwalb, a longtime B-movie veteran who had just worked on The Disembodied (1957) for Allied Artists one year earlier.
Perhaps the most significant name attached to the film for classic TV and sci-fi fans is the screenwriter tasked with transforming Hecht's story into a script, Charles Beaumont, who was still a newcomer at the time with only two TV credits and an American-translated dubbing script for Concert of Intrigue (1954) under his belt. As Bernds explained, "Hecht's original wasn't a motion picture at all. It was just a satirical look at a planet ruled ineptly by women. There wasn't anything there for Charlie Beaumont to use except the idea of a planet ruled by women, so the screenplay was pretty much an original. But Ben Schwalb decided that it would have a better chance if we lightened it up - spoofed it - so we did." Beaumont would go on in the early '60s to become one of the most admired and groundbreaking writers on The Twilight Zone while also contributing memorable episodes for Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He didn't write another feature film until 1962 when AIP brought him aboard to write Premature Burial and Burn, Witch, Burn, followed by more noteworthy genre credits like The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (also 1962), 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, and The Masque of the Red Death (both 1964). In a tragic turn of events, Beaumont was suffering a mysterious disease which caused rapid mental and physical degeneration; he passed away in 1967 at the age of 38.
Among the cast of Queen of Outer Space, TV fans will certainly recognize the male lead, Eric Fleming, who starred on the hit western Rawhide and also appeared in the odd horror/western hybrid, Curse of the Undead (1959). Like Beaumont, he died tragically at a very young age, 41, when he drowned during the shooting of MGM's High Jungle.
The one name attached to the film that ensured its immortality in the camp pantheon is its female star, Zsa Zsa Gabor. One of Beverly Hills' most famous residents, the Hungarian-born actress first arrived in the United States in 1941 and appeared in such films as Moulin Rouge (1952). She became a major celebrity for decades, thanks in large part to her nine husbands and opulent lifestyle. Though she appeared in numerous cameos over the following decades, her leading parts were minimal after this film. Bernds and Schwalb had much difficulty with her during production, with the former recalling her jealousy over the younger female cast members receiving attention on the set; furthermore, "she didn't have her lines prepared, she had a kind of giddy attitude toward things... Well, she was very difficult all through the picture. Ben went to the hospital with ulcers halfway through the picture. I was left to cope with her alone, and she damn near gave me ulcers! It always bothered me that here on this planet Venus, she was the only one who spoke with a foreign accent." As many of the film's fans will doubtless argue, this factor is just one of the many charms that still make it a compulsively watchable example of space age kitsch par excellence.
Producer: Ben Schwalb
Director: Edward Bernds
Screenplay: Charles Beaumont (screenplay); Ben Hecht (story)
Cinematography: William P. Whitley
Art Direction: David Milton
Music: Marlin Skiles
Film Editing: William Austin
Cast: Zsa Zsa Gabor (Talleah), Eric Fleming (Capt. Neal Patterson), Dave Willock (Lt. Mike Cruze), Laurie Mitchell (Queen Yllana), Lisa Davis (Motiya), Paul Birch (Prof. Konrad), Patrick Waltz (Lt. Larry Turner), Barbara Darrow (Kaeel), Marilyn Buferd (Odeena)
by Nathaniel Thompson
Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers by Tom Weaver. McFarland, 1988.
Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes by Tom Weaver. McFarland, 2000.
Keep Watching the Skies: Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, Vol. II by Tom Weaver. McFarland, 1982.
Queen of Outer Space
Cult Camp Classics 1: Sci-Fi Thrillers - A Triple Dose of Lunacy on DVD
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is remembered as a hopeless groaner, a late fifties schlock epic from the wonder men who brought you The Brain from Planet Arous and Teenage Monster. The creative Nathan Juran directs, working under the name Nathan Hertz: he apparently did that as a way of working non-Union, as well as avoiding future association with the picture. The special effects are pitiful sub- Bert I. Gordon mattes and superimpositions, with the actors frequently talking about unseen 'incredible' things happening off-screen, but Juran's direction is a model of no-budget elegance (yep!) and the actors keep the silly drama cooking no matter how ludicrous the dialogue: "Now you pulled a boner tonight and you know it." "What do you want me to do, put salt on her tail?"
'Statuesque' Allison Hayes (The Unearthly) is Nancy Archer, a spoiled heiress living in a desert palace furnished with cheap junk and ratty carpets. Contact with a bald giant wearing a tunic off the 'Medieval' rack at Western Costume turns her into the colossal babe promised by the title, seen on the sexy poster (used on Warner's cover) and memorialized in a song by The Tubes: "All she did / To get her kicks / Was step on all the men." What we see most of the time is a floppy, pasty-white giant hand prop; Allison finally appears in a queen-sized canvas bikini, crudely matted into scenes or tearing balsa-wood rafters off of buildings.
An overheated love triangle brings the picture to life. Worthless hubby Harry (William Hudson) shacks up with toothy gold digger Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers) and gets his comeuppance when wifey Nancy comes to town. A baffled sheriff and goofy deputy keep the 'clueless lawmen' scenes interesting, and the movie is short and sweet. Revival screenings usually generate enough laughter to bring the house down. Marquette, Juran and writer Mark Hanna surely engineered the film as an intentionally funny, tongue-in-cheek background diversion for make-out sessions at the drive-in.
With Attack of the 50 Foot Woman Warners breaks into the fertile fringe of the Allied Artists library, which should in theory have many attractive titles to offer, even with the erosion of independent titles back to careless rights holders and Public-Domain limbo. The B&W transfer is attractive and happily formatted enhanced widescreen, flattering Juran's clean compositions. Friendly Tom Weaver interviews actress Yvette Vickers on a feature-length commentary. Vickers has become one of the fave 50s fantasy girls for the cult monster movie set.
The Giant Behemoth is an English co-production that apparently started as something akin to a Quatermass picture, about an invisible radioactive blob or the like. When the producer demanded a garden variety monster, director Eugene Lourie apparently instructed writers Robert Abel and Alan Adler to repackage his original The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, copying whole scenes and situations. The structure and script are almost a verbatim clone, right down to the dotty paleontologist (this time amusing actor Jack MacGowran of The Fearless Vampire Killers) excited to be chasing down a living paleosaurus. Sam Fuller's "Sgt. Rock" Gene Evans joins forces with the unflappable Quatermass TV actor (among 101 other impressive roles) Andre Morell to head a low-key scientific pursuit of a radioactive monster that's killing fish and roasting unlucky fishermen with its radioactivity.
A great many indifferent effects including a mismatched, static monster hand puppet (see footnote #1), finally give way to a couple of good minutes of animation by Pete Peterson, directed by the great Willis O'Brien. Camera tilts and clever foreground props are used to make the Behemoth appropriately Giant, and expressive night lighting helps to hide the fact that the model dino isn't particularly dynamic. When the Behemoth 'projects' radioactivity, Jack Rabin superimposes optical effects used the previous year on Kronos to represent the waves of deadly energy.
The Giant Behemoth may be a fairly generic monster movie but in its time we sought it out for these stop-motion animation sequences. On TV we'd see what time the show came on and tune in about 70 minutes later to catch "the good stuff." I'm glad that it's included in this first set. The transfer is fine, even though it shows every flub and flaw in the original elements, including the many shots repeated or optically repositioned.
The commentary is by effects masters Dennis Muren and Phil Tippet, and it's not very much fun. They offer enthusiastic observations about the stop-motion monster: "Look, there are unwanted glass reflections all over this shot." One of them (Muren?) also recounts how he came into personal possession of the animation models for the film. Otherwise, their comments are annoyingly condescending and ignorant. They complain about every aspect of the film except the few animated scenes. They can't be bothered with any of the film's good actors, dissing the great Jack MacGowran as a hammy jerk. They harp on the film's measured pace and often admired documentary style as incompetent. One would never think that films like The Giant Behemoth were what inspired them to enter the movie business.
The inclusion of Queen of Outer Space makes this Sci-Fi set a full Allied Artists show. Color and CinemaScope distinguish the picture but it's strictly a Camp offering. Never really an out-and-out spoof and lacking both in wit and purpose, the picture recycles props and costumes from the rental racks and repeats the flat Formica and painted plastic look of AA's earlier World Without End. The subject matter scrapes the bottom of creativity for 50s junk Sci-Fi. A crew of American bachelors crash-lands on Venus, there to meet up with a race of Amazon lovelies.
As in the earlier Cat-Women of the Moon and Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, the girlie-girls struggle to maintain their poise while prancing about in high heels and mini-skirts; one Venusian (Lisa Davis) wears Altaira's costume from Forbidden Planet, the be-jeweled one Robby whips up for her. The script is just rubbish, with the space jocks making inane small talk about their voluptuous captors while the girls point ray guns at them and say things like "Botchino!" The Babe Factor was actually better in World Without End, with the Vargas- inspired sexy costumes.
Zsa Zsa Gabor is front and center wearing the picture's only really pretty gowns, posing and preening and sleepwalking through her role with an incongruous smile on her face. Reviewers have always made fun of Gabor's Hungarian accent but watching her stiff, untouchable manner is both amusing and stultifying. We can imagine John Huston killing himself to get a decent performance from her in Moulin Rouge.
That's all there is to Queen of Outer Space; the story isn't worth an episode of Space Patrol and some of the sets are just pathetic. Zsa Zsa is the whole show, and the enjoyment factor is entirely dependent on having friends around to help jeer and make off-color remarks. It's from a story by Ben Hecht, probably something he dashed off in two hours. (see footnote #2).
Nevertheless, the hotly desired Queen of Outer Space is the definition of 'Camp' and a good choice to launch the Sci-Fi Cult box. The excellent transfer restores color not seen since the show was new, even if the full width of the CinemaScope screen doesn't add much to the film's luster. What does perk up the proceedings is an engaging commentary track, with Tom Weaver this time serving as host to Laurie Mitchell, the real 'Queen' in the plot. Zsa Zsa didn't have to worry about sharing the screen with a younger beauty, as Mitchell at all times wears a mask or performs under an ugly, disfigured makeup job. Ms. Mitchell (Some Like It Hot, Missile to the Moon) offers her comments and memories as Weaver goes over what is known about the making of the film. At one point he interrupts the proceedings to present his special guest with a new decorative 'Venusian' mask, to take with her to fan convention signings.
For more information about , visit Warner Video. To order Cult Camp Classics I, go to TCM Shopping.
by Glenn Erickson
Footnote #1. I've heard that Mr. Kellison told the Cascade Studios gang of effects men that the hand puppet was built rigged with clever string-activated toggles that made the mouth open and close, etc. But the producer broke it while chasing his secretary around the office, and that's why it doesn't move. The story sounds fishy, but it's too cute not to repeat.
Also, have no fear, The Giant Behemoth is
full length and includes the Thames ferry scene accidentally omitted from an old VHS release.
Footnote #2. Two notes on Queen of Outer Space: Back at UCLA, the brand-new film archive was presented with nine 35mm Color & CinemaScope prints of the title, I think by Ben Hecht's widow when she cleaned out her garage. Such a haul was considered useful to the archive because the extra copies could be traded with other archives. The only problem was that every print had faded to two tones of purplish-pink. UCLA serialized the film during student-film screenings week one quarter; even in ten-minute doses we all grew plenty sick of it, really fast.
Queen of Outer Space is also the source of one of Randy Cook's more printable jokes from back in the UCLA dorms: At one point Zsa Zsa shows her captives a pitiful boxy thing that she calls 'The Beta Disintegrator' or some-such thing. Randy offered that there should be two more similar structures, to allow Zsa could explain them as well. The second one could be some other kind of Beta machine. The third controls the other two -- it's the Master Beta machine!
Cult Camp Classics 1: Sci-Fi Thrillers - A Triple Dose of Lunacy on DVD
Why don't you girls knock off all this Gestapo stuff and try to be a little friendly.- Lt. Larry Turner
If I see any of those little green men, I'll faint. The sound of my body falling will wake you up.- Lt. Larry Turner
Nah, I wouldn't worry. The fire ought to keep 'em away.- Capt. Neal Patterson
Perhaps this is a civilization that exists without sex.- Prof. Konrad
You call that civilization?- Lt. Larry Turner
Frankly, no.- Prof. Konrad
I'm going to allow myself the exquisite pleasure of watching you while I obliterate the Earth.- Queen Yllana
I know you men are anxious to return home, but you must endure your privations and hardships.- Base Commander
Costumes worn by the ship's officers and Motiya are re-used or copied from Forbidden Planet (1956).
Many of the models, sets, and special effects are taken from "World Without End."
The working title of the film was Queen of the Universe. The opening and closing cast credits vary slightly in order. The film is set in the then future time of 1985. A January 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that Guy Prescott was added to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Actress Colleen Drake's name was misspelled in the credits as "Coleen." A January Daily Variety news item included Brandy Bryan in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. A modern source indicates that although Ben Hecht is credited with the story for Queen of Outer Space, it is likely he had very little, if anything, to do with the production. The same source indicates that the sequence of the spaceship careening out of control is stock footage from the 1956 Allied Artist production World Without End (see below).