Why the heck anyone would want to watch Fire Maidens of Outer Space is beyond me. But then again, I just finished watching it. Old sci-fi can be great and insightful into its time period when it’s good. But if you’re going to be bad, sci-fi is the worst genre to be in. Fire Maidens of Outer Space is as bad as anything you can imagine.
A team of American and British astronauts head to the thirteenth moon of Jupiter in man’s endless search for English-speakers on other planets. It’s meant to be a friendly mission but what’s the first thing they do upon coming across a damsel in distress? Shoot a brooding spaceman dressed in a black wetsuit, of course. Dang, Imperialist tendencies. From there the team encounters a colony called New Atlantis whose population is comprised of several beautiful women and one old man. My guess is writer-director Cy Roth got the idea for the movie from a dirty dream or fantasy. These ladies worship the fire and proceed to dance whenever they’re not serving the astronauts and trying to convince them to break their wedding vows.
Granted, special effects were rather limited back in 1956 but it’s still funny to see the past’s ideas about the future. There’s no Cadillac-sized computers or blinking red buttons in Fire Maidens. Instead the complicated planet-hopping spacecraft appears to be controlled by two levers that do more than a Billy Mays infomercial invention. The rocket lands just as it was launched, except with the film moving backwards. While it’s a little bit funny to laugh at these faux creative measures, the lack of imagination in this film makes it one boring waste of celluloid.
I thought there might have been some subliminal message behind it all depending on when the film was made, but then that theory went down the tubes when I saw Fire Maidens is from 1956. It would have had relevance if it were made just as WWII was ending. The messed up message would have essentially confirmed to women that their husbands were on their way home and ready to take over the household again. But if that were the case, Roth was more than a decade too late.
It can be fun to look back at old low-budget films. They are a reminder of ideas and ideals from the past and something to laugh at when the attitude hasn’t kept with the times. Other times it can be painful to see something that never had relevancy, ideas or quality to begin with. And if Fire Maidens of Outer Space is one of the latter, it could send you to the emergency room.
Fire Maidens of Outer Space Gallery