B Movie Challenge: War of the Satellites

A fine good suit is hard to come by. Think about the last great one you had and how nice it felt strutting around like you were The Godfather (or Dolemite at least ). Now I’m not talking about custom-made Phantom Thread jobs. I’m talking about ‘fell off the rack from the truck’ suits. Take Cary Grant’s impeccable indestructible suit in North by Northwest, or better yet, the suits Dick Miller wears throughout his entire film career. In several films of Roger Cormanland, you’ll see veteran actor Miller in a snazzy hot pink suit (Hollywood Blvd. and Piranha to name only a few) which he had in his closet till the day he sadly passed away. As great as the infamous this pink nightmare is, nothing beats the suit Miller wears over and over again in the classy battle beyond the stars of cold war hysteria War of the Satellites

Spurred on by fear the (former) Soviet Union beat us to the night skies with Sputnik, Corman did what he does best and pulled (exploited) from the headlines at bottom dollar bargains! It is hard to imagine just how panic filled the streets during these cooler times (The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!) but it didn’t take the Allied Artists’ producers long to realize they could buy bigger, better suits if they took Corman’s film for a double bill with Attack of the 50ft Woman. Shot for an estimated $80,000, Corman and gang (including curmudgeon Miller, the eternally gorgeous Susan Cabot, and creepy Richard Devon) took ten days (a luxury for Corman productions) and overall put together a swell plotted film, but where it falls short is… it’s short! The story could have been expanded a bit more to be top-billing and if studio boss Steve Broidy would have settled on a few Armaniie (the rip-off brand) suits instead of brand-new tailored ones, this cinematic UFO would have shot to the moon (Zip! Bang! Boom! Alice).

Where the film also runs out of gas is the ticket price the poster can’t deliver. Although the models in the film look exactly as depicted in the one-sheet, it’s hard to buy when they are made out of toilet paper rolls and fishing wire (this is why we’re not allowed to play with other planets)!

The United Nations (or stock footage and a UN sticker in the background) is worried. Several of the United States (‘Murica) manned satellites have been exploding for some unknown reason and doggoneit, we ain’t taken it no more! The UN enlists the help of Devon and his team to find out what’s going on… or they would if it weren’t for his being invaded by Aliens in his own (burnt) skin. His team, led by Miller (suited for the job) and Cabot, notices something’s a little off. Could be the fact their boss can ghost himself into copies (did you ever make a copy of a copy?). Alien Devon is tasked with making sure the human race never makes it into our solar system and leads the next manned satellite (or cardboard wrapping tubing) along with his team. Soon the crew starts dying and it’s up to Miller and Cabot to save our people (oh the humanity of it all). The sky’s the limit in a film with actors’ wardrobes, glued-on government shields, and the best lounge chair furniture you’ve ever seen in a spaceship!

Rocketing your way at a very unfortunate sixty-five minutes, and making a rare appearance of Corman on screen, this was one of three Corman films Miller and Cabot would appear in together (others being Sorority Girl and Carnival Rock). Being it was not part of Corman’s Filmgroup catalog, this film is a rarity for not being public domain, but you can find it streaming on Tubi and Youtube, yet you should search the cosmos for the Shout Factory edition DVD with audio commentary and a retrospective interview by Corman! So buckle up in your reclining Saint Louis contour lounge chair, blow torch some canned finger food, and get ready to be stargazed into the outer limits. Just make sure you pack an extra (space)suit!

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

View all posts by Ian Klink

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