The Wizard of Mars
|The Wizard of Mars|
|Directed by||David L. Hewitt|
|Produced by||David L. Hewitt
Gary R. Heacock
|Written by||Armando Busick (story)
David L. Hewitt
|Music by||Frank A. Coe|
|Editing by||Tom Graeff|
|Distributed by||American General Pictures Inc.|
|Running time||85 minutes|
The Wizard of Mars is a 1965 low budget science fiction film takeoff of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz co-written and directed by stage magician David L. Hewitt. The title character is portrayed by John Carradine, who gives a lengthy monologue as a projection near the end of the film. The film centers on four astronauts—Steve (Roger Gentry), "Doc" (Vic McGee), Charlie (Jerry Rannow), and of course, Dorothy (Eve Bernhardt), shown aboard ship wearing Silver Shoes—who dream they are struck by a storm and encounter the Horrors of the Red Planet (one of the film's video retitlings), and eventually follow a "Golden Road" to the Ancient City where they encounter the title character, who is the collective consciousness of all Martians.
David L. Hewitt had previously co-written the screenplay of The Time Travelers and had turned a 33-minute-long Monsters Crash the Pajama Party into part of an interactive stage show. Hewitt met a group of vending machine operators who wanted to produce films with Hewitt convincing them that science fiction had potential. Their company American General Pictures' first full-length film The Wizard of Mars was made using an optical printer for special effects and was filmed for $33,000 in Great Basin National Park and Fallon, Nevada. The mask of the title character was made by Don Post and reused in Space Probe Taurus. Jerry Rannow claims the producer of the film still owes him $500.
The film was first acquired for television viewing with the film cut to 78 minutes. Hewitt reacquired the work for a stage show presentation with a variety of special effects used on the audience.
In the early 1980s, the film was released on videotape under its original title, by NTA Home Video (an imprint of Republic Pictures). It was released as Horrors of the Red Planet in 1988 by Genesis Home Video and later by Burbank Video and Star Classics Home Video. The latter two editions topped the cast list (as given on the cover) with Lon Chaney, Jr., who did not appear in this film but did appear in Hewitt's Doctor Terror's Gallery of Horrors with Carradine, Gentry, and McGee. Also in the early 1980s, Regal Video Inc. released both of these films in identical packaging under the title Alien Massacre. Both films were retitled on-screen, which left Carradine's screen credit "John Carradine as" just before the title, incomplete.
- p. 90 Ray, Fred Olen The New Poverty Row: Independent Film Makers as Distributors 1991 McFarland
- Rannow, Jerry Surviving Hollywood: Your Ticket to Success 2002 Allworth Press, pp. 65–66
- 9.91 Ray