"ONE OF THE BEST MOVIES OF THE YEAR!"
~HARRY KNOWLES (AINTITCOOL.COM)
THE (UNOFFICIAL) SEQUEL TO "PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE"
One of the best parodies of the 1950s genre ever made! ~Leonard Maltin
One of the best movies of the year! ~Harry Knowles
DESTINATION MARS is a loving tribute to the great films of the 50s. Funny!!" ~Max Allan Collins
Honestly, I thought it was a masterpiece! I have never seen somebody capture the era and the films so perfectly. You managed to make the movie hilarious without the actors resorting to Carol Burnett-style burlesque. You either found the greatest actors on the planet, or had actors with limited abilities playing it like they're not in on the joke. Well done, and congratulations! -Mick Garris (Director: THE STAND)
"Brilliant!" -24 frames per second
"Funny as hell!" -Film & Video Magazine
"The look and feel of 1950s science-fiction is recaptured and parodied in Destination Mars! Parody may seem like an easy form of humor, but there are more bad parodies than good in recent movie history, which says that doing it well is not so simple after all. That's why I'm impressed with a little low-budget effort called Destination Mars! Tor and Richard Lowry wrote and directed this affectionate spoof of cheesy 1950s science-fiction films, and they've done their homework well...from the main titles to the costume design to the dialogue, it all reeks of those wonderfully awful movies. Only this time the comedy is intentional.If you grew up on films like Amazon Women on the Moon, you're a prime candidate to enjoy Destination Mars...and even if you didn't, I think you'll enjoy being let in on the joke. " ~Leonard Maltin
Destination Mars! was written by Ed Wood
Not really. But sort of. Destination Mars! was written in 1994 while I (Tor) was living in Iowa. I was working on a movie called "Mommy" which was being filmed in Muscatine. The writer of the movie, Max Allan Collins, is a huge fan of the old 1950s sci-fi films. One day he let me borrow a few of the movies; I don't remember which movies he let me borrow. They were the typical 1950s sci-fi fare: teenagers in love, clunky robots/aliens, people running through cornfields, inept strategies devised by the U.S. military to defeat the invaders, etc.. But there were a couple of movies that I watched that really stuck with me: "Bride of the Monster" and "Plan 9 From Outer Space."
The dialogue and acting were unlike anything I had ever seen. I was so intrigued by Ed Wood's "Plan 9 from Outer Space" that I watched it every day for 30 days. It was to the point where I knew "Plan 9..." inside and out. I knew the dialogue almost by heart. And then something happened that would change cinema history forever: I got chicken pox.
For several days I was laid out with chicken pox. So, with nothing to do but hang out in my room, I sat down and began writing a movie script. The name of the script: "Solar Benite" would be a sequel to "Plan 9 From Outer Space." It would have the same characters, the same type of dialogue, but would begin where "Plan 9.." ended. Did I think anyone would ever read the script? No. Did I care? No. I knew the characters so well from "Plan 9 from Outer Space" that I knew I had to bring them back to life. If you watch Destination Mars, you'll notice that every character is modeled after a "Plan 9.." character.
Kyle Nudo as Barney the Cop in Destination Mars! "...funny thing about space...you don't realize how important it is until it's all gone..."
Same characters, same type of dialogue, everything. The main weapon of Destination Mars! is the Atmos 4X Vaporizer; it's the new upgrade to the Solar Benite weapon in "Plan 9 from Outer Space." The Martians are modeled after the Martians in "Plan 9..." but this time they're women. The detective, played by Bobby Harwell, is modeled after Lt. John Harper, Bob and Sue are modeled after Plan 9's main characters: Jeff and Paula. Both of DM's cops, Joe and Barney, are modeled after Larry and Kelton from Plan 9. I've included a visual for everyone:
So you can see there are quite a few similarities. That's the idea. This movie was originally intended to be a authentic sequel to "Plan 9 from Outer Space." I tried to write the movie as if Ed Wood himself were sitting down at the typewriter. The script was written in about 4 days. There were very few changes made from the initial script to the final script. I think Ed Wood must have channeled his spirit into me or something; it was as if the script wrote itself! But now for the hard part. How do you turn this sequel to "Plan 9 from Outer Space" into an actual movie. That's where my brother comes in.
When I sent the script to my brother he flipped. He's into the old 1950s sci-fi films and especially Ed Wood. So he understood the script. He called me and informed me that we could shoot the whole thing on film for around 15,000. Which I believed because Rico had shot a feature in 16mm for around 7,000.
Rico started inquiring about the rights involved in making this an official sequel to "Plan 9 from Outer Space." Not easy...or cheap. $100,000 bucks. That's right. 100,000 smackers just to declare that this movie is a sequel to "Plan 9 from Outer Space" We couldn't believe it. So...change of plans. This movie would now be billed as a spoof of all those great 1950s sci-fi films...but the script would be exactly the same.
Rico decided that it would be interesting to have all the great actors and actresses from the 1950s sci-fi films be in Destination Mars!. So he set out to find out which ones are alive and available. The first person he approached was Conrad Brooks.
Conrad Brooks and PaulMarco
Conroad was going to play Joe the cop; Rico then talked to Carl Anthony about playing alongside Conrad. Done. Signed. Rico had two of the actors from Plan 9 ready to go. Now he needed to find a woman to play the lead role.
Who better to play a female lead role in a 1950s style movie then Ann Robinson? That's right, the "War of the Worlds" legend herself.
She still looked great, was still acting, and was definitely interested in being on our Destination Mars! team.
She was signed and ready to go. Now....who's going to play the male lead. How about Kenneth Tobey? Rico managed to get a script to Kenneth...but that's as far as it went. Kenneth felt the movie would be a spoof on the 1950s films, films that made him a star; so he passed. Anyway, Rico finally got a few more of the old time actors and had all the signed releases. Now...we needed money. That should be a breeze with all this legendary actors signed up...
Five years later we still had squat. Nothing. Nobody would invest in a movie where the average age was 70. So we abandoned the project. That is until I had a brainstorm. I would sell my car, a 1994 Jaguar, to pay for the movie. We would shoot it on mini-dv for 5,000 bucks with a no-name cast. It was brilliant. I talked to Rico and he said sure. Let's shoot this thing for 5 grand.
At the time I was living in Oregon playing pool. I wasn't a bad player, used to make enough to survive; won a few tourneys. But I was ready for a change. So I sold my Jag and sent Rico 4,500 bucks. I then went out and bought a 1979 Toyota Corolla, threw all my stuff into it and drove down to L.A.. It was a perfect plan. Rico's friend, Chris Patton, had his own mini-dv camera and lights, and his other friend, Brian Best, had a empty warehouse where we could shoot. I arrived in May of 1999 and within two weeks we were auditioning.
The wardrobe designer, Jose Rivera, created all the costumes for around $1,000 dollars. Incredible. He used an Egyptian style for the Martian women and it worked great. It helped make the movie. Our prop-maker, Robert Tovar, created every prop in the movie. Robert is one of the most talented prop-makers working today. He worked as a bank teller during the day and a prop-maker at night. He also created alot of the ships that we used for Monarch of the Moon and The Wicksboro Incident.
Now, with little money, and not alot of time (actors were about to go on vacation) Rico and I had to build the sets from scratch. Which meant drywall from Home Depot, as many old props as we could find around the warehouse, rigging lights, finding carpet and paint for the walls. Everything. It was chaos as we would shoot scenes until late at night then tear down and build a whole new set.
The exteriors were filmed mainly at Griffith Park. We were quite lucky in that we were only caught twice filming in parks. The first time we were told to leave
Forced to leave Balboa Park
Balboa Park. The next time was at some park (can't remember the name. They filmed the opening to M.A.S.H. there). Rico told them we were filming a scene for a birthday party. It was at the end of a long day of filming and we were hoping they wouldn't confiscate our tapes. They didn't.
We survived the film-making process of D.M.. But now for the hard part. I was responsible for creating the hundreds of special effects in D.M.. But there was one problem...I had never used a computer before.
Coming Soon... Post-Production
Here is the official trailer to "Destination Mars!"