A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview
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Doomsday Machine (1967/72)

AKA Escape from Planet Earth

Rating: * Threat: Doomsday device

First Leisure. Written by Stuart James Byrne; Photographed by Stanley Cortez; Special effects by David L. Hewitt & William C. Davies; Edited by Charles Hammon; Music by S & S Sound Services; Produced by Harry Hope & Oscar L. Nichols (executive); Directed by Lee Sholem & Harry Hope. 83 minutes.


Bobby Van (Lt. Danny Clark, communications officer and technician); Grant Williams (Capt. Kurt Mason, navigator); Ruta Lee (Dr. Marian Turner, flight doctor and microbiologist); Mala Powers (Lt. Katie Carlson, computer expert and meteorologist); Denny “Scott” Miller (Col. Don Price, Astra flight commander); Henry Wilcoxon (Dr. Christopher Perry, older space scientist); Lorri Scott (Maj. Georgiana Bronski, Russian cosmonaut and co-pilot of Astra); James Craig (Dr. Hanes, leader of the Astra project); Essie Lin Chia (Chinese-American spy); Casey Kasem (mission control leader); Mike Farrell (Reporter).


This oddball film is a genuine curiosity item. The original footage was shot in 1967 with a respectable cast, but production was suspended due to financial difficulties and the picture remained incomplete. Five years later, additional footage was added to finish the film, but without the participation of any of the initial cast. The result is a truncated film capped with a totally bizarre ending that makes no sense whatsoever. Doomsday Machine is still entertaining in many ways, and film lovers who enjoy “bad” movies will find it a treasure trove.

The picture is set in 1975, which was eight years in the future for the original production but only three years in the future when the picture was released. A beautiful Chinese-American spy infiltrates a secret laboratory facility in Red China. She photographs a new weapon developed by the Chinese Communists. It is set to explode in seventy-two hours. The spy photographs the controlling mechanism of the invention, which is enclosed in a cell and resembles a machine that makes cotton candy. She makes no attempt to disable it, just snaps a picture and leaves. Later, American scientists review these pictures and conclude that the device, if detonated, would set up a chain reaction below the earth's surface which would totally destroy the planet The president is notified that if the Chinese are not prevented from testing this weapon, humanity is doomed.

A manned space voyage to Venus, a project known as Astra, is preparing to be launched. The crew is informed that a military crisis has developed and three members of the mission will be replaced by order of the president. Colonel


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A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
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