Men Are From Mars, and Mars Needs Women!

Mars Needs Women

If the title “Mars Needs Moms” sounds familiar, its because the title is a direct reference to the B-movie schlock “Mars Needs Women.” I wish I could say this movie is pure cheese like “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” but the truth is some serious thought went into making this movie – which is exactly the problem.

You can’t help but suppress a laugh when scientists translate a message from Mars, which simply reads “Mars Needs Women.” From there, it plays out pretty much like you expect. To replenish their infertile race, Mars requests Earth’s aid in finding suitable volunteers. A brazen American general flatly refuses (something about protecting America’s precious bodily fluids . . . wait that was another movie), and the Martians set about covertly abducting women. Along the way, the Martian leader falls in love with a beautiful scientist (Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl in the 60’s Batman TV series), but the authorities are closing in fast.

Though it pains me to say it, this movie is far ahead of its time. Craig’s character is an expert in genetics and often references DNA as well as modern sci-fi troupes like cryogenics (called sleep-freeze here). There’s even footage of an F-14 prototype scouring the skies for alien threats some twenty years before “Top Gun.” The movie even succeeds in making a compelling case for life on Mars using photographs of the planet taken at the time.

The problem is the movie isn’t as campy as its title – a fact the filmmakers seem blatantly aware of. Near the movie’s finale, the film seems visibly agonizing over its role. Is it a pulp sci-fi flick, a cheesy movie-of-the-week, a tragic tale of star-crossed love? The film honestly can’t make up its mind in the last twenty minutes, so it tacks on unsupported implications which make no sense and then calls it a day, leaving the audience looking as baffled as Yvonne Craig.

Honestly, I wish I could say I had as much fun watching this film as I did “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” But while Ed Wood’s classic film fails in every possible way and triumphs as a movie so bad it’s good, “Mars Needs Women” comes eerily close to being a good movie, only to fail in the end. The result is slightly depressing, making the movie only really enjoyable with beers, buddies and bad commentary.

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