Fire Maidens from Outer Space
Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), released in the United States as Fire Maidens of Outer Space, is an 80-minute black-and-white science fiction feature film. It was a British production, written, produced and directed by American filmmaker Cy Roth as a collaboration between Cy Roth Productions and Criterion Films, and distributed in the UK by Eros Films and in the USA by Topaz Film Co.. The film stars Anthony Dexter as the lead astronaut, Susan Shaw as a "fire maiden" who befriends him, Paul Carpenter as the expedition captain, and Jacqueline Curtis as the "fire maiden" leader. There were 13 additional "fire maidens". The music score features cues excerpted from the opera Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin.
|Fire Maidens from Outer Space|
US theatrical release poster by Albert Kallis
|Directed by||Cy Roth|
|Produced by||Cy Roth|
|Screenplay by||Cy Roth|
|Story by||Cy Roth|
|Music by||Trevor Duncan|
|Cinematography||Ian D. Struthers|
|Edited by||Lito Carruthers|
|September 6, 1956|
Many film critics have dubbed the film the "worst movie ever made".
The discovery of signs of life on the 13th moon of Jupiter leads to the sending of a crew of five chain-smoking male astronauts, armed with handguns, to investigate. On the moon, they rescue Hestia, a beautiful girl, who is being attacked by a monster. They subsequently discover New Atlantis, a dying civilization, a colony of the original Atlantis. There are only seventeen people left, all women save for a single middle-aged man, Prasus, the girls' "father" (presumably adoptive). Prasus hopes the spacemen will stay and help him destroy the monster, which is a slender, male hominid creature, around six feet tall with dark, pitted skin, impervious to bullets, and described as a "man with the head of a beast".
Duessa, the leader of the women, determines to hold them captive to use as mates. The monster lurks outside the city's walls, but breaks into the city and kills Prasus along with several of the women, including Duessa. It is killed by the earthmen, and the remaining women decide to let them return to earth. Hestia returns with them, and the astronauts promise to send spaceships back with husbands for the rest.
The Monthly Film Bulletin review credits Lito Carruthers as editor, and Scott MacGregor as assistant director. Although MacGregor is credited onscreen as production and art supervisor, John Pellatt receives screen credit as assistant director. The anonymous actor playing the creature wears dark, tight-fitting clothing with clearly visible zippers. Carruthers' contribution to the film has not been confirmed.
- Anthony Dexter as Luther Blair
- Susan Shaw as Hestia
- Paul Carpenter as Capt. Larson
- Jacqueline Curtis as Duessa
- Harry Fowler as Sydney Stanhope
- Sydney Tafler as Dr. Higgins
- Owen Berry as Prasus
- Rodney Diak as Anderson
- Maya Koumani as Fire Maiden
- Richard Walter as The Creature
- Norma Arnould as Fire Maiden
- Sylvia Burrows as Fire Maiden
- Ann Elsden as Fire Maiden
- Marcella Georgius as Fire Maiden
- Corinne Gray as Fire Maiden
Reception and reputation
In a contemporary review, The Monthly Film Bulletin stated that "Even the most dedicated connoisseurs of the artless are likely to find this British attempt at science-fiction something of a strain on their patience."
From retrospective reviews, Halliwell's Film and Video Guide describes the film as "a strong contender for the title of the worst movie ever made, with diaphanously clad English gals [sic] striking embarrassed poses against cardboard sets". In Phil Hardy's book Science Fiction (1984), a review described the film as "a bottom-of-the barrel piece of British Science Fiction", and that "the film's one claim to fame is its extensive use of classical music (mostly Borodin) as background music, a trick that Stanley Kubrick deployed with far more aplomb in 2001 - A Space Odyssey". The DVD Talk website stated Fire Maidens from Outer Space "may be among the worst-ever professionally produced science fiction films"
In November 1992, Fire Maidens of Outer Space was featured as an episode of movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- "Fire Maidens from Outer Space."] Monthly Film Bulletin (London), Volume 23, Issue 264, 1956, p. 104. ISSN 0027-0407.
- "Detail: 'Fire Maidens of Outer Space." American Film Institute 29 November 2015.
- Walker 1999, p. 287.
- Hardy 1984, p. 157.
- "Fire Maidens Of Outer Space." DVD Talk, 13 August 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
- Hardy, Phil. Science Fiction. New York: Morrow, 1984. ISBN 978-1-8541-0382-6.
- Walker, John, ed. Halliwell's Film and Video Guide 2000. London: HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN 978-0-0627-3692-5.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. (Greatly expanded edition) Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.