Zontar The Thing From Venus (1966) VHSRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
Zontar The Thing From Venus (1966).rtf
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Zontar The Thing From Venus (1966)
A misguided scientist enables an alien from Venus named Zontar to come to earth in order to help solve man's problems. However, Zontar has other ideas, like disabling the power supply of the entire world and taking possession of important officials with mind control devices.
John Agar ... Dr. Curt Taylor
Susan Bjurman ... Martha Ritchie
Tony Huston ... Keith Ritchie (as Anthony Houston)
Pat Delaney ... Anne Taylor (as Patricia De Laney)
Neil Fletcher ... General Matt Young
Andrew Traister ... Sgt. Magalar
Warren Hammack ... John, Rocket Scientist at Zone 6
Jonathan Ledford ... Zone 6 Gate Guard
Colleen Carr ... Louise, Zone 6
George Edgley ... Mr. Ledford, Newspaper Editor (as George Edglley)
Jeff Alexander ... Rocket Scientist at Zone 6
Carol Gilley ... Alice, Zone 6 Clerk
Bill Thurman ... Sheriff Brad Crenshaw
Bertha Holmes ... Townswoman
This is not the best quality as it was taken directly off an old 16mm film reel. Also the colors are pretty washed out. It is watchable however and actually I found the effect quite enjoyable - reminding me of an old cinema experience. You will probably not find a better copy than this.
I am not sure whether to put this film under 'Sci-Fi', 'Comedy' or 'Horror' ...
'Zontar the Thing from Venus' is the kind of movie that's fun to watch even if it is predictable and outdated.
I recognized the familiar plot right away and later found out it it was a TV remake of 'It Conquered the World'. In this film John Agar played the role Peter Graves did in the earlier film. Poor John Agar, he went from being married to Shirley Temple and co-staring in classic John Ford Westerns ('Fort Apache', 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon') to starring in low budget made for TV B-films like this later in his life.
I had to laugh when Dr. Taylor (the Hero-John Agar) realized his wife was possessed by Zontar's mind control implant. He wasted no time in killing his beloved wife. Presumeably for her own good !. Geesh, would it have hurt to tie her up and TRY at least a little to see if there was a way to cure her? Who knows, maybe if he destroyed Zontar she would have returned to her normal lovable self. Or maybe he was looking for an excuse to get rid of her? (boohahaha) - "But judge, I had to kill her, she was controlled by Zontar a thing from Venus" -LOL.
There were a lot of little reminders in here of a number of other sci-fi films including 'Invaders from Mars' (the neck implants that control even loved ones) and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (humans replaced by aliens). But strangely enough it also reminded me of an old Dick VanDyke show episode. The one where Danny Thomas is an alien trying to conquer the earth and Laura Petrie (Dick's TV wife) is taken over and has a craving for walnuts :^D. I had to wonder if this TV movie and that episode came out about the same time.
There were some really silly lines of dialog to enjoy, like at the end where the narrator says how they learned that "Man is the greatest creature in the Universe"-gosh I hope not. Another funny scene was when the heroes car wouldn't run because all power to machines had been stopped, even a garden hose shouldn't work. Yet in the distance behind them you can see two cars driving by !
I also like the human traitor's outspoken wife and the way she charged into that cave to single-handedly try and destroy Zontar for making a fool out of her man. Evidently all housewives in the 60s kept pistols in the car glove compartment for just such an occasion. Sigourney Weaver has nothing on this lady, Go get um, Girl ! To bad she was ahead of her time and destined to fail by 60s sexist standards.
Oh and the FX when the laser weapon was used were funny too. It looked like a film negative or something flashed on the screen when they used it.
It wasn't a "good" film by any means, yet it was enjoyable at times.
This movie is nothing short of miraculous and is twice as thrilling, entertaining, and stupid as the recent Tom Cruise Burger King commercial WAR OF THE WORLDS, directed by UN Secretary General Kolfi Annan in retaliation for our surviving the War on Terror this long. ZONTAR is by comparison a triumph of the imagination, in that one has to understand that what we are viewing on screen are most likely paradigms for a bigger budgeted film that the likes of Larry Buchanan could never afford. He cannot afford to depict an alien invasion of the Earth so he chose the next best thing -- Film various people talking about it.
The whole film revolves around the home made "high power" radio set constructed by a misunderstood rocket scientist who intercepts the progressive jazz stylings + personal communications from Zontar, a three eyed cave dwelling goon from Venus who has come to the Earth to show us what a real communist revolution & takeover would amount to even without George Soros funding it. People are brainwashed, shot, strangled, and forced to wear inoperative wrist watches. None of the cars work, nobody can bathe or call their friends without the OK of Zontar in his cave, and only a chosen few are allowed amenities of life such as operating handguns and pretty young wives with pert breasts -- Ample reasons why the Soviet Union finally caved in once Russian men got their hands on Hustler Magazine. I mention the pert breasts because Mr. Buchanan appears to have made a career out of casting pretty would-be actresses in his movies based upon how much we would like to watch them remove their sweaters on camera, and once again he fits the bill here. There is something said to leaving it to the imagination.
Former Mr. Shriley Temple & John Wayne "Yes Man" John Agar actually looks credible as the rocket scientist hero of the film, who proves his dedication to mankind by first riding a bicycle on camera while wearing a suit, and then shooting his wife. So much for the pert breasts. Agar is famous for having been married to a former child mega star and appearing in a host of atrocious B horror/sci fi hybrids but here he actually manages to get some acting in, and by golly if he isn't more convincing than Mr. Cruise in the film mentioned above. I can believe John Agar would indeed be very concerned about a global takeover by a malevolent being from Venus bent on world supremacy, but I could not believe for one second that Tom Cruise was actually a mechanic from New Jersey and fathered children. I could see him having a cat, but not a job.
Back to ZONTAR though, what impressed me the most about this film was that the cast looked like they were totally committed to the project, and the main action consisted of a series of increasingly hysterical discussion scenes set in and around these Naugahyde and wood paneled 1960's track homes that people apparently allowed them to film inside of. Some of the conversations were sweeping in their epic scope of pitting mankind against the cruel, impartial and uncaring Cosmos, and nobody delivered a line that was meant to be anything less than movingly emotional or terrifyingly profound -- They talk like the Superfriends. Viewers who obsess over minutia like the phoney looking monster, the bizarre flying stuffed owl and amusing sight of John Agar riding a bicycle are missing the point of the film, which is that for questions on the mysteries of the Universe we would best be advised to look inward, lest we mistakenly gaze into the sun and be blinded. This movie was not just a low budget ripoff, but a warning, and I don't think it was heeded for one second. We are still doomed.
9/10 for making people think about it, even if what they think isn't very much.
Badfilm addicts all have that one special piece of drek which is their personal favorite awful movie. For some, it will always be the Godzilla, Gamera, and Starman movies. Others will have that soft spot for The Thing With Two Heads, In The Year 2889, or Creation Of The Humanoids. And naturally, badfilm devotees are devout members of the cult of Ed Wood, for whom viewings of Plan Nine From Outer Space are a religious sacrement. But for myself, my one special badfilm has to be Zontar: The Thing From Venus.
Perhaps it's because this film was one of the movies I grew up with. Zontar was a staple of the local Sunday Morning Movie program on TV which I watched religiously as a kid. Words cannot quite describe the "quality" of this movie. It can only be experienced. Zontar was evidently made in somebody's home, a local high-school, and a shopping mall in a small town situated near a cave by low-budget schlockmeister Larry Buchanan. It's not that Zontar is an exceptionally bad movie made by exceptionally awful no-talent hacks. Simply, the various elements of this movie just happen to combine in just the right way to make Zontar a classic of Grade-Z cinema.
The "plot" goes something like this: Zontar, a giant three-eyed, bat-winged mutant lobster from Venus, hitches a ride on a satellite to takeover Earth with the aid of ex-high school science nerd Keith Ritchie (Anthony Houston). Only the brave but relentlessly wooden Dr. Curt Taylor (John Agar) stands in its way. Zontar takes over various humans with its injectopods; small creatures who fly with the aid of some guy holding them on the end of a stick. Mrs. science-nerd (Susan Bjurman) whines about the victims losing their personalities, only it swiftly becomes evident that only after being taken over by Zontar do any of the people in this movie even have personalities in the first place.
Zontar begins the takeover by imposing massive Republican-style energy deregulation like they now have in California, which soon shuts down everything --electricity, gas, cars... Everything. This causes the townspeople to run about like brainless sheep through the shopping mall car park. From here, the plot thins. Curt and Keith debate philosophy over the phone. While Keith stays by his plutonium crystal radio-set, Curt barely manages to avoid becoming a Zontar zombie himself, which means he gets to remain the same lovable drone he's always been. Curt then proceeds to solve the problem of Zontar as any true red-blooded American would --by shooting everybody. He goes to Keith's house to have one more debate with his old friend before shooting him. During this, Mrs. science-nerd, having gone to the caves, is killed by Zontar, after which Keith switches sides. Curt shoots some more people, and Keith takes his handy homebuilt plutonium laser and kills both Zontar and himself. Victory for the Earth, however, means the survivors (and audience) must endure a boring monologue by Curt Taylor about the nature of mankind.
Most badfilms were made by directors devoted to their particular conception of "art" (e.g. John Travolta's and Roger Christian's Battlefield Dearth). Some are conscious ripoffs of higher-budget and better quality movies (e.g. Roger Corman's Star Wars knock-off, Battle Beyond The Stars). Zontar manages to surpass the "standards" of this genre by being not only a bad movie in its own right, but also by being itself a direct line-by-line steal of Roger Corman's low-budget schlock classic It Conquered The World (1962). For this alone, Larry Buchanan has to be hailed as a schlockmesiter of the first rank by taking cinematic incest to new dimensions and in the process managing to mutate ICTW, merely a typical piece of drek, into a true Grade-Z psychozen experience.
I say this because I live near Dallas. A Dallas attorney got together with producer/director Larry Buchanan to remake a bunch of Grade B flicks. Incredibly, each film was budgeted at $25-35,000! That Buchanan somehow managed to lure the likes of John Ford-veteran John Agar and veteran stage and screen star Les Tremayne to some of this movies shows how far one's acting career can really fall when alcohol takes over.
This movie was filmed in and around Dallas, especially near the Casa Linda shopping center (thankfully torn down).
The basic plot, lifted almost line-for-line from Roger Corman's schlock classic "It Conquered the World," involves a naive scientist (Anthony Houston) who plots with Zontar, a walking, bat-like, three-eyed lobster, to
bring "peace" to mankind. Zontar hitches a ride on an Earth satellite and takes up residence in a cave that looks suspiciously like a soundstage. He immediately turns off the world's power and turns several key citizens into zombies by using insect-like bats to implant electrodes in their necks. Ironically, the electrodes seem to give the people some personality.
John Agar plays the lead scientist trying to stop the takeover, but he's mostly bluster and wooden acting. By this time, Agar had taken so heavily to booze that his marriage to Shirley Temple and his career in Hollywood had long since evaporated. At times, you'll swear he was drinking on the set, judging by his performance.
The whole problem with the invasion is that it doesn't present a real foe. In "It Conquered the World" Corman mad it a sly satire of the Cold War and Red Scare. "Zontar" can't find anything to real latch onto. It doesn't even bother mentioning Vietnam.
The camera work in poor. Night looked like day because they had little money for portable lighting. The sound quality is poor and, in many scenes, the dialogue is hard to discern.
Anthony Houston shows some flair, but he mostly looks like someone trying to make the most of a bad role and parlay it into a real acting career. In "It Conquered the World," I thought Russ Bender's part as the general was so wooden, it was laughable, though I did feel pity because his character was bashed on the head with a monkey wrench, shoved headfirst out of a jeep and shot twice. In "Zontar," Neil Fletcher is even worse. While Agar had a problem with booze, Fletcher's general looks like he's on the sauce during the film. His face is red, he seems to be sweating a lot, his speech is slurred and slow at times. Then again, it could have been that his uniform was two sizes too small for his massive bulk.
I thought the movie would ultimately be good for a laugh, but I couldn't find time to laugh. I was too busy picking out all the blunders and mistakes. The entrance to Zontar's cave, for example, is actually the entrance to a storm drain. In "It Conquered the World" the soldiers were much better, led by Corman vets Jonathan Haze and Dick Miller, who played their parts with comedic effectiveness. In "Zontar," we get three dopey-looking National Guardsmen who mostly look lost. When the enter the cave and see Zontar, they fire a couple of shots. Then, the first soldier stands there so Zontar can walk up to him and kill him. His buddies take off and, apparently, never tell anybody. During this time, Buchanan starts using some shaky camera work (a la "Blair Witch Project"), possibly to make the viewers wake up.
When Anthony Houston's character finally comes to his senses and decides to help Agar, he pulls out this plutonium-powered laser crystal. It's supposedly the same crystal he used to send messages to Zontar on Venus. But, in the end *****Spoiler alert ***** he confesses he may have to use it at close range on Zontar. I guess shooting from a distance would have been the coward's way out, especially since he would have had to answer for all the death and property damage he caused.
The final indignity is Agar's endless, mind-numbing speech about the nature of mankind. Peter Graves made a similar speech in Corman's original and that was tough to take. But Agar, his speech sounding slightly slurred from alcohol, is enough to make you reach for the remote or "accidentally" take over the end of "Zontar."
Larry Buchanan also butchered a few other films including "She Creature" (as "Creature of Destruction") and "Invasion of the Saucer Men" (as "Eye Creatures" -- sweater- and sneaker-wearing eye creatures, at that).
Roger Corman is the King of the B's, but Larry Buchanan is King of the Z's.
* This remake of Roger Corman's low budget It Conquered the World (1956) was one of a series of films shot in 16mm and color and was used to pad out one of American International's television syndication packages.