Jack’s Bad Movies – Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)

IMDB’s description:

Stranded on Mars with only a monkey as a companion, an astronaut must figure out how to find oxygen, water, and food on the lifeless planet.

Has there every been a movie poster that was truthful?

This movie opens in space orbiting Mars. Two astronauts, Mack (Adam West) and Christopher Draper (Paul Mantee) are in orbit with a monkey. Suddenly an asteroid is on an intercept course with them. The thing about space is, it is really big, and so a minor change in course becomes pretty dramatic as you orbit a planet. Anyways, they do a couple of major maneuvers to dodge the asteroid, and they slip into a decaying orbit around Mars. NASA tells them they have to eject.

Christopher aka Kit, hits Mars and is immediately attacked by what I can only describe as a Fire Elemental. He hides in his ship wreckage (like a coward) and then immediately takes off his helmet. After a few minutes he decides Mars’ atmosphere is not breathable.  It can’t be all that bad though, because he spends the rest of the first half of the movie opening his visor to occasionally suck down a little oxygen from tanks and to talk into his recording device.Why he didn’t immediately turn into some bug-eyed mutant like in Total Recall is anyone’s guess.

This movie is basically just a cheap rehash of the critically acclaimed The Martian and the film makers tried to shameless hide this fact by releasing Robinson Crusoe on Mars 51 years before that movie hit theaters.

Kit is low on food, water, but most importantly oxygen. He finds a cave, which looks like a multicolored version of the Fortress of Solitude, and makes a base camp. He figures he knows where Adam West went down, and is probably banking on finding Batman’s utility belt, complete with a Mars Atmosphere Rebreather spray or something. He travels for some time over the bleak Martian landscape, stopped only by occasional bizarre bouts of fire and Fire Elementals, which appear to rule Mars.

Eventually he finds the other pod and runs down a slope to get to it. When he gets near the wreckage, he shouts for Mack, but doesn’t find him. Instead he finds a severed arm with a class ring on one of the fingers. Do astronauts wear class rings into space? Apparently. Then suddenly Mona the Monkey appears. She is wearing a spacesuit, but has no visor. Kit takes the helmet off, saying she obviously doesn’t need it (for reasons that are never explained). and then steals her oxygen tanks. They are puny and worthless though. He returns to the cave.

He notices certain rocks inexplicably burn on Mars, and so with some experimenting he gets some lit and has heat. This is the point where he is going to mimic the explosion Matt Damon has when he makes his water maker in The Martian, and I hung on the edge of my seat as Kit took his air hose from his suit and put it next to his rock and kindling to light. Tragically this movie failed to capture that humorous event, and there was no explosion.

Somehow he decides that if he bakes the rocks in a pressure cooker, he can distill water and also get oxygen (possibly also moonshine), so he does this. He says something like “Mona doesn’t seem to need water, because she disappears for hours at a time but never has any interest in food or water.” At this point I realize that Kit is an idiot. Would you believe it takes him a significant amount of time to realize that Mona has probably found food and water somewhere? Well believe it.

Pressure cook rocks for water and air.

Finally he follows the monkey and discovers a pool of water with a strange type of plant in it that produces Frank hot-dogs. That is what they look like, and he calls them sausages.

Flash forward to four months from the crash, Kit is becoming increasingly more hostile towards Mona for her refusal to speak to him. I’m pretty sure he has forgotten she is a monkey. I mean, he already forgot she required the same resources as he did to survive, so Kit is pretty forgetful. Kit has an audio record he frequently uses (again ala The Martian, so shameless). He finally decides to try and cook one of the sausages, and he and Mona end up having some kind of bad LSD trip. During this manic drug induced episode, Adam West comes to visit him, but refuses to talk to him. Kit notes in his log that the isolation is killing him.

After that, he randomly decides to go for a super long walk with Mona. Then he sees a strange black rock protruding from the gravel. Below it? A humanoid skeleton with a strange bracelet. Now Kit gets super paranoid. All this while the command module for his spaceship has been circling Mars and he has futilely yelled at it to land, now he decides to detonate it. He also removes the grave marker he made for dead Batman.

Literally like an hour after that, his rader (he salvaged a radar and an audio tape / VCR from his wreckage) picks up an object in the sky. He sees a ship land on the horizon. Believing himself to be saved, he races towards it. When he arrives, there are alien ships pointlessly blasting the crap out of the Mars surface. Kit pulls out the world’s worst VHS camcorder and shoots some footage of the event, all the while rocks exploding around him.

Sudden a man appears next to him. Other than his dark hair this man is basically Yor, he wears no shirt, has unusual jewelry, and destruction follows him where-ever he goes. Kit promptly takes him back to his cave. Kit reviews his video and sees a lot of slaves and men in space suits with laser rifles. He names this seemingly deaf mute Friday. Friday has magic oxygen pills that let him survive on Mars without needing a tank (because that is the only obstacle to living in Mars’ atmosphere…).

Kit (right) and dark haired Yor (left).

Eventually Kit and Friday go to Friday’s old village, where everyone seems to have been killed. Then suddenly Friday starts to talk and stuff, and Kit starts teaching him English. Couple months later, Friday says the aliens are overdue to return. And so they do. The bracelets Friday wears somehow can be detected by the ships, and they start bombing the cave. Kit and Friday flee into the underground caverns. Friday says these caverns lead to the polar ice caps, so they go there. Along the way Kit is working on cutting the bands off Friday’s wrist. A few pointless details about Friday, he is actually like 76 years old (Mars years?) and he is much better suited to the Martian atmosphere, because he takes like 1/3 the amount of O2 pills as Kit.

The terrible aliens that rule Mars with an iron fist.

They make it to the ice caps, looking for water, and then find snow and start to freeze. Kit is finally able to free Friday of his shackles, and then the fiery meteor from the beginning of the movie crashes into the polar ice caps and melts the ice. Just after that an Earth ship arrives and Kit identifies himself as Commander Christopher Draper of the US Navy. Of the Navy? I’m pretty sure they took their orders from NASA at the beginning of the film. These people drop a pod. Presumably this is helpful. In case you were wondering the monkey made it through the whole movie as well. Not sure how the three of them are going to fit on that pod though.


3 thoughts on “Jack’s Bad Movies – Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)

  1. ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS is, for the most part, an intelligent and well-made SF movie considering the time in which it was created. Your juvenile attempts at snarky humor are unwarranted and, more to the point, unfunny.

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