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Space Probe Taurus

Entry updated 24 June 2020. Tagged: Film.

Film (1965; vt Space Monster; vt First Woman into Space). American International. Directed by Leonard Katzman. Cast includes Baynes Barron, Russ Bender, James Brown, Robert Legionaire and Francine York. Written by Leonard Katzman. 81 minutes. Black and white.

The mission of a Spaceship, Faith 1, ends disastrously, as deadly gas penetrates its hull, killing all but one crewman, and the survivor (Legionaire) urges Earth Control to destroy his own spaceship because it may be "infectious." Undaunted, Earth then launches another ship, Hope 1, with a mission to travel to the planet Taurus in hopes of finding that it can support life; its crew includes a female Scientist, Lisa Wayne (York), despite the opposition of captain Hank Stevens (Brown). After passing by Earth's space platform (see Space Stations), the explorers encounter an unidentified spaceship; when two men board the craft, they are attacked by a repulsive Alien, requiring the men to shoot it, and Stevens then decides to destroy the spaceship as a hazard. A Computer malfunction then causes the ship to dangerously accelerate, forcing the captain to turn off the ship's computers and land on an unknown planet to complete repairs. Settling at the bottom of an ocean, the spaceship is surrounded by gigantic crabs, but the ship's Force Field keeps them at bay. The seemingly self-centred John Andros (Barron) then agrees to don a diving suit to swim to the shore and take samples, but he is attacked by a humanoid sea Monster and, after returning to the spaceship, dies from his wounds. But his findings show that the planet has breathable air, potable water, and soil that can support plant life, meaning that Earth's quest for a suitable planet for human life has finally succeeded. On their way back to Earth, Stevens announces that they have named the new planet Andros, after their dead crewmate.

This odd, incohesive film seems assembled from bits and pieces of other sf films vaguely recalled by writer-director Katzman. To immediately signal its scientific illiteracy, the film's prologue announces that, since humans have ventured as far as Saturn (see Outer Planets) and found no suitable homes, the next logical step is to send a spaceship to another galaxy, which nonetheless manages to remain in instantaneous radio contact with Earth. The introductory crisis involving a dangerous gas is completely forgotten, as is the spaceship's first meeting with a humanoid alien in space who resembles the highly evolved human of the Outer Limits episode "The Sixth Finger" (1963); the decision to kill the alien is ultimately and bizarrely justified because the alien is "ugly" and hence could never get along with humans. The unusual step of landing the spaceship underwater is explained when one realizes that it enabled the director to film a tiny spaceship within an aquarium next to ordinary crabs and present this as a threatening encounter with giant crabs, while the other monster within the alien ocean strongly recalls The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Pronouncing such a planet, filled with deadly creatures in its ocean and possibly on land as well, a wonderful new habitat for the human race seems just as logical as the rest of the film. [GW]


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