The Film (3.5/5)
In 2001, a five manned scientist team is sent on a journey to Uranus. Once arriving they discover a mysterious being. The alien can control the surface of the planet and bring to life the visions of the scientists. Little do they know that the alien will do anything to return to Earth with them.
Journey to the Seventh Planet sounds like a pretty average sci-fi adventure on paper, but what’s so surprising is how well made it is with its limited budget. Director Sidney Pink directed one of my favorite bad movies, 1961’s Reptilicus. Reptilicus is famous for being Denmark’s first giant monster movie, but other than that the movie is pretty sloppy and juvenile, so going into Journey I wasn’t expecting much other than cheap sci-fi thrills.
Boy was I wrong. Journey is such a fascinating and odd movie, that one viewing simply won’t do. The story is pretty ambitious. With shades of Solaris (and thanks to the commentary I discovered also, Mars is Heaven), the movie deals with big themes. The humans are being attacked by their sense of nostalgia and trying to escape reality. Like Solaris, all of the characters are visited by visions of their perfect mates, and the dangers of succumbing to them. On another level the movie is beautifully filmed with plenty of psychedelic colors and effects. The movie is dripping with surreal editing and artificial landscapes. The movie also has a melancholy ending with a haunting love song, sung by Otto Brandenburg. I need a CD of the soundtrack.
Acting wise the cast is pretty solid. John Agar (Revenge of the Creature, The Mole People), plays against his usual heroic type and is hilarious as the skirt chasing scientist. Carl Ottosen (Reptilicus) plays the commander with plenty of regret that leads to the movie’s sad ending. Greta Thyssen is seductive and mysterious and helps brings the undoing of the crew.
The movie does have its weak spots. Due to the limited budget the movie had to use stock footage for a lot of the pricier scenes. The issue is most of the footage is poorly edited into the movie. The actual space ship is bare and doesn’t look like it will stick together for long. Most of the creature effects are good, like the stop motion dinosaur (that has Rodan’s roar), but the actual alien is a cheap looking brain. These setbacks keep Journey from being a true classic, but the mature subject matter and good acting make this a fun sci-fi adventure. It’s a fast and fun 71 minutes that surprises with its pretty big ideas.
Kino knocks this title out of the park with this near crystal clear transfer. The movie has DTS-HD master audio with no hisses or pops. The audio levels are well balanced and smooth. As for picture, the movie is in 1080p with a near perfect transfer. The Blues, Reds, and Greens look breathtaking. The only less than stellar elements are the stock footage and some of the actor’s close ups that can get a little fuzzy.
The main extra is an audio commentary by film historian and Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas. Lucas delivers an excellent commentary covering all aspects of the film with never a dull moment. Also included is the theatrical trailer, and trailers for Donovan’s Brain, Magnetic Monster, and Invisible Invaders.
Kino gives us a stunning release of one of the more unusual Sci-Fi movies from the early 60’s. The movie looks and sounds amazing, and the cherry on top is the excellent commentary by Tim Lucas. Highly Recommended.