Uncovering Curiosities: David MacDonald’s DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS
There’s something incredibly heart-warming about old science fiction movies. An earnestness runs through them; they’re played so po-faced and so straight that you’d almost believe you were watching something of real nutritional cinematic value. Director David MacDonald’s Devil Girl From Mars is such a film. This 1954 British B-movie takes itself so seriously that you have to wonder if the cast ever realised how ludicrous the film really is.
Devil Girl From Mars sees a disparate group coming together to stave off an alien attack, with the action taking place in a quiet country inn deep in the Highlands of Scotland. The characters include the old couple who run the inn along with their grandson, a young barmaid, a visiting model, an escaped convict, an astronomer and a reporter converging just as a Martian flying saucer lands in the mountainous wilds. The saucer contains Nyah, the film’s titular mini-skirt rocking Devil Girl. The reason for her mission is simple – to find men to help increase the declining Martian population. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it! Nyah’s mission hit a snag following a spaceship malfunction – she meant to land in London where there’s a bountiful supply of men – but that won’t stop her trying to achieve her goal.
This British film (based on a stage play), comes across as knock-off of the American science fiction films of the era. It has that Ed Wood style, with stilted over-explanatory dialogue and cheapie effects (the robot must be seen to be believed). That’s not a negative, it’s just how these films are appreciated in the 21st Century. We live in a post-Star Wars era, which embraces science fiction, and we often forget that science fiction movies were once shunned by the mainstream. It wasn’t a popular genre, it was niche – something for ‘the kids’.
Devil Girl From Mars is an enjoyable enough B-movie romp. It might not be the best of the worst, but it does have enough ray-gun charm to make it a solid time-passer. It’s not quite bad enough (good enough?) to be in the same rank as something like Plan 9 From Outer Space, but it will have enough kitsch quality to please fans of the genre.