Fire Maidens from Outer Space
|Fire Maidens from Outer Space|
|Directed by||Cy Roth|
|Produced by||Cy Roth|
|Written by||Cy Roth|
|Cinematography||Ian D. Struthers|
|Editing by||Lito Carruthers|
|Distributed by||Eros Films Ltd. (UK); Topaz Film Corp. (USA)|
|Release dates||September 6, 1956|
|Running time||80 min|
Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), released in the USA as Fire Maidens of Outer Space, is a 78-minute black-and-white science fiction feature film. It was a British production, written, produced and directed by American filmmaker Cy Roth as a collaboration between Cy Roth Productions and Criterion Films, and distributed in the UK by Eros Films and in the USA by Topaz Film Co.. The film stars Anthony Dexter as the lead astronaut, Susan Shaw as a "fire maiden" who befriends him, Paul Carpenter as the expedition captain, and Jacqueline Curtis as the "fire maiden" leader. There were thirteen additional "fire maidens". The music score features cues excerpted from the opera Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin.
The story involves the discovery of signs of life on the 13th moon of Jupiter (which, in real life, wasn't discovered until 1974) and the sending of a crew of five British, chain-smoking male astronauts, armed with handguns, to investigate. On the moon, they rescue Hestia, a beautiful girl, who is being attacked by a monster. They subsequently discover New Atlantis, a dying civilization, a colony of the original Atlantis. There are only seventeen people left, all women save for a single middle-aged man, Prasus, the girls' "father" (presumably adoptive). Prasus hopes the spacemen will stay and help him destroy the monster, "the man with the head of a beast". Duessa, the leader of the women, determines to hold them captive to use as mates. The monster lurks outside the city's walls, but breaks into the city and kills Prasus along with several of the women, including Duessa. It is killed by the earthmen, and the remaining women decide to let them return to earth. Hestia returns with them, and the astronauts promise to send spaceships back to rescue the rest.
The film featured a creature (given no actual name in the film), a male hominid around six feet tall from Jupiter's 13th moon. Described in the movie as a "man with the head of a beast", the creature is slender, with dark, pitted skin and is impervious to bullets. The anonymous actor playing it wears dark, tight-fitting clothing with clearly visible zippers.
Reception and reputation
Halliwell's Film and Video Guide describes the film as "a strong contender for the title of the worst movie ever made, with diaphanously clad English gals [sic] striking embarrassed poses against cardboard sets". Leonard Maltin, in his TV and Video Movie Guide, says that "you haven't lived until you've seen the Fire Maidens dance to 'Stranger in Paradise' by Borodin."
In November 1992, Fire Maidens of Outer Space was featured as an episode of movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- John Walker (ed.) Halliwell's Film and Video Guide 2000, London: HarperCollins, 1999, p.287