ROCKET ATTACK U.S.A. (1961)
Article 3042 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-5-2009
Posting Date: 12-12-2009
Directed by Barry Mahon
Featuring Monica Davis, John McKay, Phillip St. George
What it is: Cold War Sputnik Nuclear Attack Paranoia
Spies are sent to the Soviet Union to find out whether Sputnik is transmitting critical information to the communists. They not only find that such is the case, but that a nuclear attack on New York is being planned.
The first three-quarters of this movie is thrill-an-hour spy stuff (since this sequence only takes forty-five minutes, I’m assuming the thrill would have occurred during the next fifteen minutes had it continued). The rest of the movie shows the aftermath of the result of the spy mission. I’ve dealt with director Barry Mahon before; he gave us BLOOD OF THE ZOMBIE and THE BEAST THAT KILLED WOMEN, both of which are awful and both of which are better than this one. It’s something of an update of INVASION U.S.A. with Sputnik and nuclear paranoia thrown into the mix; it’s a compendium of stock footage and extremely static and poorly-acted new footage that falls flat for practically every second of its running time. Still, even with a loser like this one, I do find a couple of things to admire. The Russians actually speak Russian, and they don’t use subtitles, which is a novel idea for the time. Furthermore, the final part of the movie spends some time with the lives of ordinary people in New York who don’t know what is about to happen, and it gives it an unexpected human touch. If the static direction wasn’t so deadly, these ideas might have given the movie a bit of a lift; unfortunately, as it is, they’re just good ideas poorly used. You’re better off with INVASION U.S.A., which has better acting and a certain amount of energy.