Plenty of sci-fi properties obsess over the planet Mars but there was a time, throughout the early part of the twentieth century, when the planet Venus commanded similar attention. Obviously, this was before robotic observation revealed the 900 °(F) desert under those miles-thick clouds of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. Damn place is hotter than Mercury once you get right down to it. But if you ever are magically transported to the surface, don’t panic: atmospheric pressure will crush you long before you have time to fry or choke on your own melting innards.
Nobody knew this in June, 1957, obviously. Sputnik was four months away from launch. Mariner-2 was five years away and scientists spent the rest of the 60s arguing about its data…i.e., doing their damn jobs. We can forgive 20 Million Miles to Earth its interplanetary ignorance. Especially since that ignorance doubles as the source of some truly batshit excuses for Science. And this is me talking: the from a man who thinks nothing of movies about dinosaurs spontaneously reanimated by atomic explosions. Unfortunately, this film signals a trend toward the same kinds of awful unthinking that kills genre movies to this day. It had all the elements of past successes, but the essential creative sparks that powered, say, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, or even Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, obviously faded as the decade that spawned them wore on.
I name drop those last two because 20 Million Miles to Earth is another collaboration between Columbia pictures and stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, flowing directly from 1955’s It Came from Beneath the Sea. Which also happened to be Harryhausen’s first collaboration with producer Charles H. Schneer, who would go on to produce Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and every other memorable movie with Harryhausen’s name on it until 1981’s Clash of the Titans. Continue reading 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)