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Pulp Culture
Martian 'devil girl' not much of a threat, but look at those gams!

July 6, 2000
By Franklin Harris

To George Lucas' shame, "Star Wars" trilogy still isn't available on DVD. So, unable to watch the assault on the Death Star in glorious digital theater sound, I did the next best thing. I purchased a 1950s, B-grade, sci-fi flick I'd never heard of -- but which is available on DVD -- and watched it instead.

Of all the improbable, never mind impossible, things about "Devil Girl From Mars," a 1954 film from the Island of Shakespeare, one stands out.

''Devil Girl From Mars''
I don't mind the goofy flying saucer or the robot that looks like it was stolen from the set of "Doctor Who." What I don't get is this: If a gorgeous, leggy, leather-clad dominatrix from another planet shows up and says she wants to take you home to help repopulate the place, what man is going to say no?

This seemingly obvious plot hole is hard to forgive, even if the men in question are a few middle-aged, British nitwits and one insufferable, square-jawed American reporter.

We know that the American (Hugh McDermott) is a reporter not because he does any reporting, but because he is just as stiff and wooden as Raymond Burr's reporter character in "Godzilla."

The plot of the movie, which is directed by David MacDonald, concerns a flying saucer that crashes on a rural English countryside. Inside the UFO is a swinging Martian woman (Patricia Laffan) on her way to London to pick up guys. Unfortunately, her UFO has had a flat, or something, so she must wait for it to fix itself before she can get back on the road.

This means she gets to spend about 70 minutes threatening to kill the reporter, his new girlfriend (played by Hazel Court, who has been better) and the other numbskulls trapped in a nearby country inn.

Unfortunately, she never gets around to actually killing them, and therein lies the fatal flaw of "Devil Girl From Mars."

Acting and writing this bad calls for insane amounts of graphic violence. Justice must be served.

Consider the case of the professor, portrayed by Joseph Tomelty.

We know he is a scientist because every five minutes he utters a line that goes something like, "I am a scientist, blah, blah, blah."

Otherwise, he doesn't do anything remotely scientific. He does, however, say several times that, because he is a scientist, he can only believe in that which he can see, presumably making him the only scientist in 1950s Great Britain who doesn't believe in atoms or X-rays.

The alien woman, Nyah, encloses the area surrounding her saucer in an invisible wall, thus preventing the reporter and company from warning anyone in London of the impending hot-date opportunity. Nyah then repeatedly makes dramatic entrances at the nearby inn, frightening the yokels, but, as I said, never killing them. She keeps this up until, finally, the so-called reporter and the so-called scientist come up with a way to defeat her.

Obviously, these Martian gals aren't much of a threat, then.

Also, there is some subplot about a young woman and her escaped-convict-who-is-really-innocent boyfriend.

Oh, and there is an annoying child, but isn't there always.

Come to think of it, apart from the devil girl herself, there is nothing even remotely redeeming about "Devil Girl From Mars."

And why is she called "devil girl," anyway? There are no devils anywhere in this film!

Ironically, the closest thing to a devil girl here is Hazel Court, who would go on to marry the devil in the Roger Corman/Vincent Price epic, "The Masque of the Red Death." And since Ms. Court is involved in the insidious plot to keep guys like me from going off into space with women like Patricia Laffan, it's clear she is the real evil afoot.

"Devil Girl From Mars" left me with a strong desire to be abducted by aliens. Even if the aliens look nothing like Ms. Laffan and subject me to invasive probing, I'll at least be far away from those silly British people and loud-mouthed reporters who never take notes.

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