‘Death in space’
Doomsday Machine is a 1972 American science fiction film involving seven astronauts on a space mission to Venus when Earth is destroyed. Also known as Escape from Planet Earth (video release title).
Directed by Harry Hope (Swift Justice; Enter Another Dragon), Lee Sholem (Tobor the Great) and [uncredited] Herbert J. Leder (The Candy Man; It!; The Frozen Dead; Pretty Boy Floyd) from a story and screenplay written by Stuart J. Byrne (The Devil’s Backbone aka The Deserter).
Production on the movie began in 1967 under Herbert J. Leder’s direction using the titles Armageddon 1975 and Doomsday Plus Seven. Filming stopped before it was completed (presumably due to funding problems). However, the rights to the footage were eventually purchased and it was completed, albeit without the original cast members, costumes or sets, and released in 1972 as Doomsday Machine.
The film uses stock footage, including real NASA rocket footage, special effects shots from David L. Hewitt’s The Wizard of Mars (1965) and Japanese sci-fi film Gorath (1962).
” …the screenplay is idiotic and seems to have been written by a kindergartener and rewritten by a nursery school student. The acting is inexcusable, and at times sad: Grant Williams, after all, helped make The Incredible Shrinking Man a classic, and Bobby Van and Mala Powers shouldn’t be reduced to fodder such as this. Do I need to add that the direction is atrocious?” AllMovie
“Don’t watch DM as a single entertainment item. Instead, watch it as a frankenfilm, brought back from the dead with a few spare parts. In its 1972 completion, it is a mediocre film that can be confusing if one expects smooth continuity. Bobby Van is as annoying as he usually was, but the ladies are rather nice mid-60s ladies. The film, in its 1967 trajectory, would have been a bit banal, but not too bad.” Classic Sci-Fi Movies
“This flick is real stupid but passably watchable […] it was shot in the late 60’s/early 70’s so there’s some camp pleasure in the ridiculous color schemes that appear on the walls. Also, all the chairs on the spaceship are La-Z-Boys and there’s a cameo appearance by the famous Casey Kasem […] The movie’s retrograde politics plus general silliness make it highly riffable…” d.contextualized:
“It’s a film almost entirely devoid of any redeeming features. The acting – even by the better-known names […] is awful, the pace sluggish, the plot inane and it probably goes without saying that the science is laughable. To add insult to injury it ends just as it’s starting to get interesting – and then oozes to a close via a long static shot of planets and stars before abruptly cutting to “The End.” The EOFFTV Review
“By the time this dud reaches its idiotic climax, which involves a conversation between astronauts and a telepathic voice representing the total population of the planet Venus, Doomsday Machine has managed to make things like the apocalypse, attempted space [email protected], bleeding eyeballs, and even international espionage boring.” Every ’70s Movie
“The special effects are subpar, and the dialogue is hackneyed and hopeless. The movie does have a few small surprises after this point; one of the characters is even more of a jerk than you might expect, a death scene in an airlock is a little nastier than you might have anticipated, and the thoroughly unsatisfying ending comes out of left field.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“This is all right, as far as a ’50s sci-fi movie goes. Unfortunately, this was made in 1972, and by that time there were way more interesting things that people could do with science fiction than this overlong Adam and Eve parable. Anyway, Doomsday Machine isn’t really worth the time to watch, when the entire gist of the movie is summed up in the first twenty minutes, and it just sorta… keeps going.” Films in Boxes
“This is passable low budget space opera; relentlessly talky and fairly predictable. Interaction between the characters follows well-established lines, with the one bad apple putting everyone at risk and the wisecracking joker deciding to make the supreme sacrifice […] But, for all that, it’s reasonable enough until the mishandled ‘ending’.” Mark David Welsh
Plot [contains spoilers]:
A spy (Essie Lin Chia) discovers that the Chinese government has created a doomsday device capable of destroying the Earth and it will be activated in seventy-two hours.
Soon after, Astra – a two-year return mission to Venus by the United States Space Program – has its time of launch speeded up and half of the male flight crew are replaced by women shortly before take-off, including one Russian.
After leaving Earth, the seven crew members of Astra deduce that they have been put together to restart the human race should the Chinese activate their device. Shortly after this, the device goes off and Earth is destroyed.
As Astra continues to Venus, the crew realises that a safe landing on Venus is impossible unless the crew is reduced to three. One of the crew members tries to carnally assault another, at which point she accidentally gets them both blown out of an airlock.
Two more crew members—Danny and Major Bronski—are lost as they head out to repair a fault with the spaceship. However, they notice another spacecraft nearby and head to it.
The second craft proves to be a lost Soviet ship that disappeared piloted by a close friend of the Russian crew member. Though its pilot is dead, Danny and Bronski successfully power up the Soviet ship. Before the two ships can rendezvous, contact with Astra is lost.
A disembodied voice cuts in, claiming to be the collective consciousness of the Venusian population. The voice informs the survivors in the Russian ship that Astra no longer exists, and that no humans (due to their “self-destructive” potential) will be allowed to reach Venus.
The voice gives a cryptic message regarding the prospect of starting fresh life in a “very strange and very great” place, somewhere far “beyond the rim of the universe,” before the ship suddenly blasts off and the movie abruptly ends.
Cast and characters:
Bobby Van … Danny
Ruta Lee … Doctor Marion Turner
Mala Powers … Major Georgianna Bronski
James Craig … Doctor Haines
Grant Williams … Maj. Kurt Mason
Henry Wilcoxon … Doctor Christopher Perry
Lorri Scott … Lt. Katie Carlson
Essie Lin Chia … Girl Spy
Casey Kasem … Mission Control Officer
Scott Miller … Colonel Don Price
Mike Farrell … First Reporter
Mark Bailey … Major / Astronaut
1 hour 22 minutes
Full film free to watch online [1080p HD]: