Friday, June 10, 2022

Space Master X-7


Space Master X-7
Edward Bernds

Space Master X-7 takes a more realistic approach to its science fiction. There are no rubber monsters, flying saucers, or ray guns, instead we get a level of technology that is just slightly above what you would expect from the late 1950s. Space Master X-7 also forgoes the usual professional emotionless scientists and women in distress for far more grounded people who make mistakes and follow their baser desires in spite of their high intelligence. This puts Space Master X-7 next to more science minded films like The Magnetic Monster (1953). This also makes the title a bit of a misnomer as space barely factors into the overall story.

The story shares some similarities to First Man in Space (1961), a space probe to returns the Earth with a mysterious substance that creates a fast-growing rust when it comes in contact with human blood. When the lead scientist’s own infidelity comes back to haunt him, the ‘bloodrust’ is let loose on Earth thanks to a woman unwittingly spreading it as rushes back to Hawaii lest her husband found out about her affair with the scientist.


"Why do people keep asking me to slap them?"

Space Master X-7 starts like a more typical science-fiction film with lots of technical speak, stock footage and space stuff before it veers into an almost noir like tale of toxic love, finally the film takes a third turn into a procedural as the police and scientists attempt to track down the woman before she inadvertently destroys the world through a contagion that she doesn’t know she’s carrying. I often hear complains about 1950s era SF being plodding and dull, Space Master X-7 manages to keep things moving by constantly switching up its story.

This film can’t overcome the one issue that often plagues SF of this era and that is having memorable characters.  Paul Frees is a delight as Dr. Charles T. Pommer because it’s so rare we get a scientist character who also has a dire personal life filled with selfishness and cheating. He has more dimension than 99% of other 1950s SF characters so of course he’s not too long lived in this film. This leaves our other interesting character and flip side to Dr. Pommer, Lyn Thomas as Laura Greeling. Greeling’s entire motivation is get home before her husband finds out she’s been cheating. I do wish the story had stuck with her more and touched on the impact of her accidentally killing a lot of people, but the story opts for a happier if weaker ending.


"They called me mad when I said I could
make a nuclear pot roast."


Space Master X-7 is a decent example of a mature science fiction story in an era where rubber suits and spaceships ruled popular culture.  It’s well thought out and keeps things fresh by always having something different to offer as the story unfolds. A good film for those looking for a change of pace.

Oh yeah, Moe Howard shows up in a distracting cameo as a taxi driver. I have no idea why.

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