Everybody knows that space in inhabited with beautiful women, right? Either that or slimy gooey creatures anxious to suck our brains out…those seem to be the go to inhabitants of other planets in movieland. Today we look at one of the most notorious of the beautiful babes in space films, 1958’s “Queen of Outer Space.”
The film begins with a team of astronauts preparing for their next mission. Captain Neil Patterson (Eric Flemming), Lt. Larry Turner (Patrick Waltz), and Lt. Michael Cruze (David Willock) has been assigned to accompany Professor Konrad (Paul Birch) to the space station he designed. While in route, the station is destroyed by a strange beam of light. When the ship falls under attack it ends up crashing on Venus. Now, big surprise here, it turns out that the atmosphere on Venus is breathable! Whoda thunk?
Soon after crashing, the men are captured by a battalion of shapely female warriors who take them back to the palace of the planet’s ruler. Isn’t it wonderful how when people crash on strange planets that they always crash within walking distance of where the ruler of the whole planet lives? At the palace they meet the masked Queen Yllana (Laurie Mitchell) who, of course, thinks our heroes are the first wave of an invasion from Earth. It soon becomes clear that these ladies are the ones who attacked the space station, though the men wonder how women could build such a sophisticated weapon.
Things start to look up for the astronauts when Patterson seems confident in his ability to appeal to the Queen’s romantic desires. But in the course of trying to get cozy, he removes her mask, revealing that she is horribly scarred due to radiation. Infuriated, the Queen orders that the men be executed. The men then manage to escape with the help of Tallelah (Zsa Zsa Gabor), a scientist who has been assembling a group of rebels to defeat the queen. As they escape, each of the men is paired with a short-skirted venusian, except for the poor professor. Now it’s up to this hormonally charged group to stop Yllana before she can destroy the Earth.
“Queen of Outer Space” may be a cheesy B-sci-fi flick, but it is one of the definitive ones. The look and feel of this film has been parodied so many times, many viewers will feel as if they have seen it even if they haven’t. It’s so great that it’s in color! The costumes and sets are both brilliant and cheap all at the same time and have a look that just absolutely pops!
Still, the key elements of the film are bad. The story is weak, and the actors know it all to well since their performances are downright clunky. In the effects department, the ships are all too obviously models, and we even get a rubbery bug-like monster that is literally tossed onto one of the actors by a stagehand.
Of course, the story is silly, but there’s no denying it’s charm. The film is played straight, but there are more than a few tongue-in-cheek moments. Director Edward Bernds cut his teeth directing comedy shorts for Columbia, including some Three Stooges films. His comedic background is allowed to come through in a few scenes. There are even some who suggest that the gross radiation-damaged face makeup worn by Laurie Mitchell has more than a resemblance to the look of a pie in the face of an actor in a Stooges film.
Bottom line: “Queen of Outer Space” is required viewing for the B-movie aficionado! Beyond the gloriously cheesy look of the film, there’s not much which you can defend. That is, other than the fact that it’s just so much darn fun to watch!