THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE (1967)
(a.k.a. ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH)
Article #781 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-5-2003
Posting Date: 10-2-2003
Directed by Lee Sholem and Harry Hope
Featuring Bobby Van, Ruta Lee, Henry Wilcoxon
When China sets off a doomsday machine to destroy the Earth, a rocketship is sent to Venus manned by four men and three women.
Within the first ten minutes of the movie, I was given two plot points. 1) There was an ominous machine in China that had only seventy-two hours before it went off, and 2) an expedition to Venus was suddenly pushed ahead in time, and three men of the all-man crew were unexpectedly replaced with women. With these two facts, I was quickly able to piece together that almost all the rest of the movie would be about seven people interacting with each other in a spaceship. The special effects are subpar, and the dialogue is hackneyed and hopeless. The movie does have a few small surprises after this point; one of the characters is even more of a jerk than you might expect, a death scene in an airlock is a little nastier than you might have anticipated, and the thoroughly unsatisfying ending comes out of left field, and leaves me suspecting that the reason that the movie ends this way is to save money by sparing the crew from either finding a new location or building a new set for the last scene. You might like this if you’re partial to talky space journey movies; as for me, it reminded me of an eight-hour drive I once took on the interstate through South Dakota, where the monotonous sameness of the scenery almost lulled me into a slumber, which can be pleasant in its own way, but is not to be recommended when you’re the one driving.