Fire Maidens of Outer Space (Blu-ray)
The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and its even better sequel, Quatermass II (1957) are among the best sci-fi movies ever made. Though low-budget British productions, both films have extremely intelligent scripts (adapted from Nigel Kneale's television serials) and are still effective, even scary, when seen today.
But those movies were exceptions to the rule. Fifties sci-fi movies emanating from Britain were fairly rare to began with, and those that were made tend to be either dull (Spaceways, Satellite in the Sky) or uniquely bizarre (Devil-Girl from Mars). Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956) is an anomaly among anomalies. Written, produced, and directed by Chicago-born Cy Roth and starring Nebraska native Anthony Dexter, the film deliberately (and pretty accurately) emulates the worst Hollywood-made low-budget sci-fi movies. Specifically, Fire Maidens of Outer Space is basically a British rehash of Cat-Women of the Moon (1953), the admittedly hilarious, naïve turkey starring Sonny Tufts and Marie Windsor. Alas, Fire Maidens of Outer Space isn't as memorably awful as that wondrous film. Though opening scenes are clearly set in England, there's a vague attempt to make the film appear American, and American accents dominate.
However, until now Fire Maidens of Outer Space was one of the most difficult ‘50s sci-fi movies to see. I remember it turning up once or twice on the Sci-Fi channel more than 20 years ago but no where else before or since, and this is its first official home video release. The movie may be among the worst-ever professionally produced science fiction films, but I'm genuinely grateful to Olive Films for making it available, and in glorious high-def to boot.
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