Friday, May 27, 2022

Double Feature: The Astounding She-Monster & Devil Girl from Mars


The Astounding She-Monster
Ronald V. Ashcroft

A group of criminals kidnaps a woman to ransom and hideout in a cabin. What they don’t count on is a) the owner of the cabin is in the area to investigate a meteor, and b) the meteor was in fact an alien woman who can kill with a touch. Who is this strange creature and what does she want? Apparently, she wants to murder people but is there something more beyond that?

The Astounding She-Monster is a threadbare production possibly most famous for being so low budget that they couldn’t repair a tear in the back of the She-Monster’s body suit, so they simply ran the film backwards to have her walk back into the woods without turning around. The whole production feels similarly drab and cheap.


That reminds me, drag brunch is coming up.

That’s really too bad because the set-up provides for what could have a real potboiler as we have an already tense situation made that much worse by the uncanny. The Astounding She-Monster can never summon much energy with it’s uninteresting look and flat acting. 

Insult to injury comes at the end with a Twilight Zone style ending that only serves to make the alien’s actions that much more nonsensical. Once again we have a movie where the best thing is the poster.

Devil Girl from Mars
David MacDonald

Nyah (Patricia Laffan) is an alien from Mars who has accidentally crashed into an airliner while heading to earth. She’s here to scoop up some men since all the men of Mars died in some kind of gender war. She lands outside an inn in Scotland and deploys her robot bodyguard, Chani to help her find a suitable man to take back to Mars to repopulate the planet.

Devil Girl from Mars is an exercise in minimalism. A few stage bound locations, simple costuming, just a few special effects, and shot with no retakes. It’s also proof that with some skill behind and in front of the camera these limitations can be overcome. Devil Girl from Mars is staidly competent throughout the run of the film. Nyah’s costuming and her robot pal, Chani are the only real indulgences in this production and they are wonderfully designed. Nyah’s costume is pure camp and wouldn’t be out of place at your nearest drag show. Chani is a wonder of fantastical robot design. It’s impractical and stiff but still fun in a gee whiz 1950s kind of way.


"It's a heartless killing machine, stop calling it cute."

Despite the attention-grabbing title, Devil Girl from Mars plays out at a leisurely pace. There are no large-scale action scenes. The majority of the film plays out in a cozy Scottish inn and as a result there is something pleasantly calming about this alien invasion. Sure, Nyah is a menace and has a mean henchbot but there is congeniality between the human characters that takes away any real threat from the villains. Devil Girl from Mars feels like a perfect film to have playing on a rainy Saturday when you are spending time sorting your comic books.

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