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War of the Satellites

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1958). Santa Cruz Productions Ltd/Allied Artists Pictures. Directed by Roger Corman, also executive producer. Written by Lawrence Louis Goldman from a story by Irving Block and Jack Rabin. Cast includes Susan Cabot, Richard Devon and Dick Miller. 66 minutes. Black and white.

Dr Pol Van Ponder (Devon) is the Scientist head of Project Sigma, a United Nations effort to send manned Spaceships into orbit. The latest mission is destroyed by striking a barrier in space, like a huge Force Field englobing the earth. Undaunted and apparently unconcerned with the loss of life so far, Van Ponder plans a final attempt in which he himself will be among the crew. Meanwhile, two teenagers at a local Lover's Lane witness the crash-landing of a small missile-like craft which contains a message from Aliens: that humanity will not be allowed to proceed with space travel owing to its warlike ways, and is in effect under quarantine. The aliens demonstrate their abilities by triggering earthquakes and floods, courtesy of stock footage. Next, while Rockets for the final mission are under construction, they cause Van Ponder to wreck his automobile and replace him with a Doppelganger to sabotage the project from within. His friend Dave Boyer (Miller) realizes "Van Ponder" is now an alien duplicate, but cannot prove this. Three rockets are launched, and dock to form a spherical spacecraft which then proceeds towards the barrier while the alien, who can somehow replicate himself, kills off members of the crew. Boyer finally shoots the original impostor dead, which causes his double to die as well. Using a radiation discharge, the vessel shatters the force field, opening up the space frontier to humanity.

A fairly minor effort capitalizing on the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik One in late 1957, War of the Satellites is of mild interest for the then-uncommon notion of spacecraft docking with each other to form a larger vehicle. Cabot features as the lone female scientist Sybil Carrington, but has little to do. The film was released as a double-bill with Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) [GSt]


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