Starring:

Tony Curtis

Patrick Macnee

Deborah Foreman

Anthony Hickox

Tommy Sledge


Director:

Stanley Sheff


Screenplay:

Bob Greenberg

Some Character Material By:

Tommy Sledge


Year Released:

1989


Genre:

Science Fiction

Comedy

Tributes and Spoofs

Movies For People Who Like Bad Movies


Runtime:

Approximately 85 mins.


Filming Locales:

Los Angeles, California


Other Movies of Interest:

Plan 9 From Outer Space

Cat Women of the Moon

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

Dr. Demento narrates the tale of the Lobster Man From Mars.

Lobster Man From Mars Review


7.5 out of 10
"Is this the end of Mombo?"
In Short

An incredible piece of cult silliness, Lobster Man From Mars is a treat for fans of classic Grade Z science fiction flicks. A modern shrine to the old drive-in masters, this movie will bring heavy snickers and pleasant memories for those who long for the bad old days of bad old movies. Odds are that if the title didn't scare you away from the get-go, you'll probably enjoy yourself.

Synopsis

Movie mogul J.P. Shelldrake (Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot) is a man with a problem. His studio has posted record profits, and the IRS wants to collect its share. Unfortunately, though his studio may be profitable, he doesn't exactly have piles of cash lying around, either. Now the mogul has just six days to try and find some way of getting the taxman off his back, and the surest method of doing that is for his company to lose money fast. To accomplish this task, Shelldrake has to come up with the most awful movie he can find to distribute under the company banner.

As it so happens, into Shelldrake's office that morning walks young Stevie Horowitz (Dean Jacobsen, in his only major role), who is desperately trying to hawk his new opus, Lobster Man From Mars.

Does that sound perfect or what?

In Detail

Lobster Man From Mars.

A title like that practically negates the need for a review. If you see the title and you have the immediate urge to run for the hills to save yourself from the awful drek that surely must await just beyond the opening credits, then this movie will likely not appeal to you in the least and you should stay far, far away. If, in the other hand, you looked at the title and said to yourself, "Lobster Man From Mars? Cool!", then you're certain to enjoy this shrine to the memory of the great old, bad old Grade Z classics of science fiction's golden age.

Lobster Man From Mars actually has quite the pedigree. The great Orson Welles himself came up with the title (no kidding!), and had agreed to produce the picture before his untimely death. (He is remembered in the closing credits.) However, pedigree is probably the last thing on the minds of this film's target audience, save for the repressed giggles of recognition upon hearing the voice of legendary radio schlock jock Dr. Demento as the movie's narrator or discovering that the Martian astrologer is played by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, the man who gave the world "The Monster Mash". Nay, these people came here to see some good old fashioned drek; whether it was born in the grandest corridors of Hollywood legend or the deepest pits of comic pulp makes little difference. Or does it?

There is a common misconception about Grade Z movies held by a vast majority of those who aren't passionate followers of the genre. So many people think that all one needs to do to make one of these pictures is slap together story about aliens with some cheap sets and crappy acting and whammo! Instant flick. However, that simply isn't true. Granted, many a lowbrow filmmaker has tried this very stunt, but the films that result from such carelessness do not possess anything near the same magic, the same cheesy magnetism as a true Grade Z movie does. The film cannot simply be "bad"; rather, it must be artfully bad, awful to such a degree as to be entertaining in its preposterousness. The balancing act is a tight one between going too far over the top and taking oneself too seriously, and not many movie makers - especially since the end of the golden age of the 1950s - have been able to master it. Indeed, it is an almost impossible task to accomplish on purpose; most truly great Grade Z classics happen by accident (Ed Wood really tried to be serious with Plan 9 From Outer Space) rather than by design. And when they do happen, there are certain rules that such films must follow to rightfully take their place in the hallowed halls of superior schlock; again, mere crud on a stick simply won't do. It is only after taking factors such as these into account that one can fully appreciate the brilliance and the true craft behind Lobster Man From Mars. This is also why the film deserves the straight up credit of a positive rating instead of its own stamp of Grade Z, for the art and deliberate care that went into this picture ought to be recognized.

The "picture within a picture" that is Lobster Man From Mars is a brilliant shrine to the classic days of bad movie making, from cheap alien movies to teenagers-save-the-world flicks to smartass private eye films. The great clichés are all lovingly reproduced in such a manner that it is obvious that great care was taken in their selection and placement, along with many of the bad filmmaking conventions that many modern directors might have forgotten to include. Perhaps the average guy behind the camera might have thought to make the string holding up the space bat visible, but how many would have remembered the lousy dubbing? The skeleton effects are straight out of Plan 9 From Outer Space, and the strangely Ancient Greek looking monarchy that is the Martian seat of power is recognizable from any one of a hundred old favorites. The awful young English actor (Anthony Hickox, Storm Catcher) playing the hero, the oddly domestic yet independent blonde girlfriend (Deborah Foreman, Real Genius) who's the true brains behind the outfit, and, of course, the Dreaded Lobster Man (S.D. Nemeth, RoboCop) and his helmet-wearing simian sidekick, Mombo (officially uncredited) are all composites of the best cliché characters that the Grade Z classics have to offer. No detail is missed, and no silly effort spared. To those who don't appreciate the bad old days of genre drek, all of this art and attention to craft will pass right by and indeed seem like little more than cheap silliness, but for those who truly love the classics... this is reverential art done well.

The external story that surrounds the actual Lobster Man From Mars "movie within a movie" is nothing special, but it's reasonably well done all the same. It has just enough of a presence to justify the existence of the real meat of this lobster (the Grade Z style sci fi flick), but doesn't become so overbearing as to detract from the most important aspect of the show. There are some aspects of this part of the film where it does try a bit too hard ( the many plastic toys in the drawer come to mind as a needless gag), in stark contrast to the apparent care taken with the Lobster Man portion of the show; however, these flaws are far from fatal.

In the end, though, whether or not you're going to enjoy Lobster Man From Mars is pretty well a foregone conclusion. If you loved the bad old days of Grade Z science fiction and if shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000 are your idea of fun, then you were probably drawn in by the title alone from the first instant, and you'll probably enjoy yourself immensely. If, on the other hand, the title alone made you cringe, then you should probably just back away slowly and look for something in the "drama" section, and leave Lobster Man From Mars to those of us who can truly appreciate the fine art of a badly made film.



Copyright 2001 Ziggy's Video Realm, All Rights Reserved.

Promotional/still images copyright their original authors.