MASTERS OF VENUS
Spunky ’60s space serial
released OUT NOW! 1962 | PG | dVd Director ernest Morris Cast Norman Wooland, Mandy Harper, robin stewart, robin Hunter
Bless the BFI! Here’s another British sci-fi obscurity resurrected, and while it’s not spellbinding, it’s as welcome as toast with jam on a cold winter’s night.
A black and white Children’s Film Foundation serial told in eight parts of 15 minutes each, it bears interesting comparison with the more slam-bang American serials that had their heyday two decades before.
It’s certainly a good deal milder: in a story light on real threat, a pair of children accidentally end up on a rocketship to… guess where. There they uncover a plot to poison everyone back on Earth, and run to and fro chased by six-fingered Venusians wearing a variety of fetching headgear (and what on occasion appear to be see-through rain macs).
This is essentially the Famous Five in space – with an antiprejudice message in there too. Episode titles such as “Kill On Sight”, “Attack!” and “The Killer Virus” promise rather more excitement than is delivered. But while several episodes are a bland runaround, the final one is genuinely suspenseful, conjuring up an unusual situation that can’t be resolved in obvious fashion.
Also separating it from those Yankee serials are the good manners and plummy voices of the cast – including the off-screen announcer who at the end of each instalment intones things like, “What are Votan and Kallas planning for Pat?” You can be assured it’s not that nasty, and you can be assured that this DVD will keep you away from the real, nasty world for a couple of hours.
Extras Just a short essay, on the sleeve.
While this new transfer is generally good quality, “tramline scratching” (vertical lines) is almost always present.
Like toast with jam on a cold winter’s night
Frank’s first dogging session wasn’t what he expected.