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Mutiny in Outer Space

Entry updated 2 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1965). Hugo Grimaldi Film Productions. Directed by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C Pierce (uncredited). Written by Arthur C Pierce. Cast includes Carl Crow, Pamela Curran, James Dobson, Dolores Faith, Richard Garland, Glenn Langan and William Leslie. 82 minutes. Black and white.

Astronauts Gordon Towers (Leslie) and Dan Webber (Crow), returning from the Moon with samples from newly discovered "ice caves", stop at Space Station X-7 (see Space Stations), where Webber collapses upon arrival. Dr Hoffman (Dobson) and biochemist Faith Montaine (Faith) find that he has been infected by a strange fungus which soon kills him, leaving a grotesque, monstrous corpse. Towers, Hoffman, and Montaine urge the captain of the space station, Frank Cromwell (Garland), to take immediate action to spray the station with fungicide and quarantine the station, but the captain, increasingly deranged due to "space raptures", insists that nothing is wrong and instead allows the fungus to spread throughout the inside and outside of the station. When Connie Engstrom (Curran), a crew member secretly in love with Cromwell, is finally convinced of his insanity, she and other crew members are able to subdue Cromwell, but Earth authorities are preparing to destroy the station as a threat to Earth. Hoffman, accidentally contaminated by the fungus due to damage caused by a meteor strike, theorizes that the fungus can be killed by extreme cold. Towers then reduces the temperature of the station to kill the fungus inside, and General Knowland (Langan) on Earth orders the creation of an "ice crystal cloud" in space to reduce the temperature of the station hull and kill the fungus outside. With the fungus destroyed, it is finally safe to send a relief ship to rescue the space station crew.

All things considered, this is a surprisingly good film which deals with the legitimate threat of Alien organisms infesting a space station in a manner that is far more realistic, and far less hysterical, than a later film with a similar plot, The Green Slime (1968; vt Gamma 3: Cosmic War Japan). In this case, the menace takes the form of ever-expanding and deadly plant growths, not ambulatory, humanoid Monsters. It is also interesting that the efforts to deal with the problem are complicated by a commander who has been deranged by long exposure to the unusual conditions of space. This is not to say that the film is without flaws, including the fact that the alien fungus, said to be vulnerable to extreme cold, somehow manages to grow and thrive outside of the station in the vacuum of space. [GW]


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