Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956)

Fire Maidens

Written and Directed by Cy Roth

Tagline: "Out of This World SHOCK SENSATION!"

Run Time: 80 min

“From the expression on your face, professor, I’d say you’ve found the atmosphere on the thirteenth moon of Jupiter is similar to that of the one on Earth.”
– Captain Larson


I want to state outright that this movie, for lack of a better verb, simply sucks. I know I tinker with a bad-movie review site, and therefore I’m prepared to watch crappy movies several times during the reviewing process: It’s all part of the job. All movies hurt to some degree, but most of the 1950’s sci-fi movies have a redeeming naivety that makes them watchable…or at least forgivable.

On the other hand, take Fire Maidens of Outer Space. (Please!…<rimshot>) This film makes no effort to achieve any degree of plausibility nor respectability. The plot falls loosely under the genre of "Horny Male Astronauts travel to moon/planet run by women." (Granted, the women don’t appear to do anything more than dance around a lot and scream at the obligatory ‘monster’ which scampers around outside their fortress.) See my reviews of Cat Women Of The Moon and Missile To The Moon for a couple of examples of this niche type of film.

In short, a group of American and British astronauts take a casual rocket trip (stock V-2 footage) to Jupiter’s 13th moon. On the moon they discover a group of attractive English-speaking women (surprise!) running around in mini-skirts. An old man, Prasus, who also resides on the amazingly Earth-like moon, explains that he and the women are descendants of the original inhabitants of Atlantis (!). Yes, Prasus notes that the ancient Atlanteans knew their island was sinking, so they built a rocket to carry them this particular Jovian moon. The male astronauts take all this in stride and spend most of their time being sexist pigs and leering at the young beauties before killing "the Beast" (a man in a dark body suit and plastic dime-store "monster" mask) before finally returning to Earth along with one of the women.

As you probably gathered, the plot is utterly ludicrous. Now, I know that science-fiction is fiction, but c’mon, let’s at least keep one foot on the ground: the other word is science, eh? To casually state that the Atlanteans built a rocket and flew to one of Jupiter’s moons is a bit much to swallow. Furthermore, just who is the mother of all these babes? Why does Jupiter’s 13th moon have exactly the same light, temperature, and air as Earth? Why does everybody speak English? Why do I run this website?

As far as characters…what characters? Oh, you mean those people on the screen saying things and doing stuff? I guess that is the minimal definition of a character, but that’s about all you’ll find here: people speaking their lines and doing what they’re supposed to. May I mention the continual use of the "Stranger in Paradise" song throughout the movie? These are the things which drive men mad.

A quick rundown on the cast:

Fire MaidensLead astronaut ‘Luther Blair’ is played by Anthony Dexter who, a mere 5 years earlier, played ‘Rudolph Valentino’ in the 1951 semi-biographical film Valentino. Rumor has it that Dexter beat out over 70,000 other actors for the role of Valentino. Judge for yourself. Dexter appeared in a couple other sci-fi films, namely 12 to the Moon (1960) and The Phantom Planet (1961). He also popped up in a couple episodes of Rawhide…yee haw!

The lovely ‘Hestia’ is played by Susan Shaw. This attractive British blonde appeared in nearly 40 movies during her career and was married to a popular American actor, Bonar Colleano. Unfortunately, Bonar died in an automobile accident in 1958 and Susan Shaw was never the same. Shaw spent the rest of her life struggling with alcoholism before succumbing to liver disease in 1978 at the early age of 49. Susan and Bonar’s son, Mark Colleano, also became an actor and appeared most recently as "Skippy" in the 2004 thriller Control.

Fire MaidensLet’s see, the other Fire Maidens were played by various attractive actresses. Some went on to appear in other movies and TV programs…others didn’t. One of the actresses, Kim Parker, played in both The Man Without A Body (1957) and Fiend Without A Face(1958). That just struck me as kind of funny. Man, I need a life.

Open with tons of stock footage indicating that one of our leading scientists, Luther Blair, is heading over to Great Britain to lend a hand on a super-secret project simply known as "13". The goal of the project? To take men into outer space. Once in, <ahem>, "London" (yeah right), Luther is whisked away to an observatory run by Dr. Higgins. Luther and Higgins light up a couple of smokes and discuss the recent discovery of Jupiter’s 13th moon. Really though, not much is know about it since it’s covered in "terrestrial fog". Sure it is. (Actually the definition of "terrestrial" is "of or relating to the Earth". Nice one, Higgins.)

Mumbo jumbo mumbo jumbo mumbo jumbo. To cut things short, Higgins taps a couple keys on an adding machine (!) and calculates that if they leave next week they can reach the 13th moon with only a 3 week journey.

Fire MaidensNext comes one of the most embarrassingly sleazy scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Higgins buzzes his (top-heavy) secretary who walks across a second story landing, walks down the steps, opens a gate, walks over to Higgins’s desk, and sits down to take some notes…all while the camera follows her every move. After a message is jotted down, the secretary stands up, pushes back the chair, walks back to the stairs, opens the gate, walks up the stairs, and walks across the landing and out of the observatory. Once again, the camera (and the men’s eyes) follows her every move.

"I wonder if the beings on the satellite will look anything like her," Higgins quips to a smirking Luther. The two scientists exchange a manly chuckle and return to work.

Fire MaidensA painfully boring countdown sequence culminates in the launch of V2-rocket stock footage. As the crew of 5 (Luther, Higgins, and 3 other numbskulls whose names I assume we will find out as the movie progresses) sits in an impossibly large control room, they do their best to look ‘tense’. The engines engage with the pull of a pair of levers mounted to a desk….and we’re off! Mission control calls "Expedition 13" for a status report. Note that when I say "call" I mean they literally contact the rocket ship with a phone. (Can I really be seeing this?!)

The journey to Jupiter runs into trouble pretty early as Luther and the others find themselves in the middle of an "meteor storm".

"Turn off the magnetic gyro!" Luther commands. Larson complies by pulling the same two levers that were used to launch the ship. (Now maybe you have an idea of the quality of movie we’re watching here…) Wadded up balls of aluminum foil fly by the camera as the ship races through the deadly storm.

"Emergency power!" Luther commands again. Captain Larson complies by pushing the same two levers that seem to do everything on the ship.

Fire Maidens

The Amazing Incredible Control Levers

"Danger passed…resuming course as planned," the radioman reports as the storm of aluminum balls stop their barrage.

Scenes of people sitting around. Scenes of people sitting around. Scenes of people sitting around. Scenes of people sitting around.

Stock footage of V-2 flying through "space".

Scenes of people sitting around. Scenes of people sitting around.

After many, long, long minutes…the crew receives a strange "ultra-sonic" message from the moon’s surface:

"Calling space ship! Calling space ship! Report name and destination immediately…You are under our Space Control!"

After identifying themselves, the voice orders them to land at a particular set of compass bearings in a field "between two mountain ranges." Uh…OK. The navigator notes that these coordinates are in the middle of nowhere (as opposed to…?)

"The only explanation I can think of is that their gravitational laws and magnetic poles are contrary to ours," notes Captain Larson.

Blah blah blah. After a bit, the rocket sets down on the moon’s very Earth-like surface. (Via footage, <ahem> ‘borrowed’ from King Dinosaur. Imagine…borrowing from a Bert Gordon film…it makes a brave man tremble…)

Surprise! The atmosphere is breathable. Moving right along…

Fire MaidensOutside the ship, we see an off-camera stage hand lower a long wooden ladder down from above the "rocket". I have to wonder just where in the hell they kept a 20-foot ladder, and more troubling, how they got the ladder out of the porthole and into position so they could climb out of the rocket.

A long pan-shot of the moon’s surface reveals a wooded pasture land, much like Wisconsin. The ship’s crew points and gasps at the landscape’s alien beauty. Out of nowhere a couple of large rocks come crashing down at the astronauts’ feet. Why? Who? What? Who knows, friend, who knows. Suddenly the men see a flashing light off in the distance. The signal is quickly recognized as Morse Code (!) and the message is decoded as asking them to come over to the light. (Later in the film, the falling rocks are discovered to have been a "meteorite"! The subject is wisely never discussed again.)

Keeping in line with the film’s predilection for boring scenes, the guys poke around a bit for no discernable purpose. On the way back to the ship they hear an ear piercing scream for help. After a brief discussion the men investigate the source of the cries. It turns out one of the Fire Maidens is being harassed by the "Beast": a gangly guy dressed in a black body-suit and wearing a plastic molded Halloween ‘monster’ mask. (The creators of this film wisely never show the monster up close due to the fits of laughter that the creature would undoubtedly induce in the viewer.) Anyway, back to the, er, action, the men fire a couple of warning shots and the Beast shouts a very human sounding "raaaaaaaaa!!!!" before scurrying off to do whatever the hell it does in its free time.

Fire MaidensThe Maiden-in-distress is none other than a mini-skirt-wearing Hestia (Susan Shaw). Exactly what the hell she’s doing outside the Fire Maiden compound is apparently not important enough to explain to the viewer. She caresses Blair’s face as a token of thanks and walks away with nary a word.

"Biologically speaking the life forms on this planet are unusual to say the least," one of the crew remarks with a leer towards Hestia’s’ posterior. After a short trek through the woods, Hestia enters a gate in a stone wall. Blair and Larson follow her into the walled compound only after telling the 3 other crewmen to wait outside for them. (If you really care about the names of the crew, in addition to Blair and Larson there’s Stanhope, Higgins, and Anderson. You’ll will probably never see an equally colorless, generic set of "characters" in any other film. So forgive me if I simply refer them as "one of the crew".)

Inside the compound, Hestia leads the Blair and Larson into a spacious, tapestry rich room where they meet the Fire Maidens’ ‘father’, and "lone male survivor of Atlantis", Prasus.

"Welcome to New Atlantis," Prasus greets the skeptical Earthlings. It turns out that the Earthlings are not allowed to leave the moon until they kill the Beast. This task seems to please Blair and Larson since it will give them more time to ogle the girls. Oh, and as an extra bonus, Prasus explains that Hestia’s life now belongs to Blair, noting that, "It’s the law of Atlantis." I see. Ooookay.

Fire MaidensPrasus summons his remaining beautiful, mini-skirt clad daughters and refreshments are served. After a moment or two the fact dawns on our 2 heroes that Prasus may be intending for them to mate with his daughters in order to secure a new future for the Atlantean race. (The most obvious questions of all is never brought up: where are all the Atlantean men now and just who is are the parents of these women?)

Drinks are served and the mandatory dance number ensues. A long, long, long, mandatory dance scene.

Oh, and by the way, I woke up today with a huge headache and a slight fever. Just wanted you to feel sorry for me as you read this review.

Anyhoo, Higgins and the others, still standing watch outside the gate, decide to head back to the ship for the night and leave Blair and Larson to their own devices until the next day. Back at the ship they contact mission control and report that phase 1 is still "incomplete". For some reason they decide not to report the fact that they’ve discovered half-naked women running around in the forests, which, when you think about it, would probably be something you would mention.

The next day, I think, maybe not, who knows, Larson and Blair wake up with massive hangovers. Thankfully each one of the men has their respective hotty to help nurse their pounding heads. And, and, you know, this is really a boring movie. Imagine being able to take a movie with such an outlandish premise as this and turning it into a snore fest? Well, they managed it. Truly, I’ve never seen so much sitting in one movie before. Sit sit sit sit, talk talk, sit sit. (Sorry about that. I did mention that I’m getting a cold and my temper is short.)

Fire MaidensAfter waiting awhile, and you get to enjoy damn near every minute of the exciting Waiting Scene…Higgins and the others head back out to see what’s happened to Blair and Larson. The "Beast" keeps an eye on the Earth men’s movements from a convenient stand of trees. Scary.

Back inside the compound, Prasus and Blair have a drink. Oh wait, I get it now. Hestia has switched the drugged drink and ends up drugging her father so that she and Blair can, well, do something. Escape I think. Please, I’m telling you exactly what’s happening on the screen. If you’re confused then that’s really a good sign.

Oh gee, the excitement builds. Higgins and the others reach the compound gate but find it’s sealed. At that moment the monster pops out of the woods and pretty much just stands there and shouts "raaaaaaawwwww!" The men open fire with their pistols but to their surprise find that the bullets have no effect. Higgins then tosses a, er, "gas grenade" at the "Beast". (Look carefully and you’ll see that Higgins actually has nothing in his hand. In fact, he just folds his fingers to make it look like he’s holding something, brings it to his mouth and pulls the "pin" out with his teeth. Look again, and you see he has nothing in his teeth even though he "spits" out the pin onto the ground. Man, I hate this movie.) Anyway, the Beast collapsed onto the ground and we cut to…

Larson and Hestia exchanging googly-eyes and try to figure a way out of New Atlantis. Really, is all this necessary? Can’t they just kill the monster and run away? No no no. They have to explain things as if there was actually a plot involved here. Anyway, Hestia explains that they also can’t escape until Prasus gives them permission because, well, that makes things oh so much more exciting.

Oh yes, Higgins and the others finally burrow their way into the compound after a riveting "Failing to Scale the Electric Wall" scene. Um, things are moving fast now. One of the other Fire Maidens overheard Hestia and Blair planning their escape. I guess that’s a no-no in Atlantis because Hestia is quickly taken captive by a gaggle of irate Fire Maidens and ushered off to be sacrificed.

Fire MaidensIn the sacrifice chamber, we see that Hestia has been bound to a stone pedestal. Behind the structure is a row of flames that symbolize, something. Oh yes, of course. "The Fire Maidens of Outer Space". Why it all makes so much sense now. I’m not sure if the flames are meant to be emanating from Hestia or not. I don’t think anybody did know or really even cared.

Awww, I see. Time for another dance number. Granted, the dances were choreographed in order to display as much T&A as possible as some sort of sop to the viewer. so that’s a plus. After the dance, we learn that Hestia is to be sacrificed at first light. Oh joy. More waiting.

The ceremony is interrupted as Higgins and the others are ushered into the sacrificial chamber, bound tightly with ropes. "We captured them in the garden," explains a proud Fire Maiden. (Their capture was, of course, never shown.)

"Show them the sacrifice! Show them the sacrifice!" chant some of the girls. Sure why not.

By the way, Blair and Larson are being held captive in their bedrooms. Their captivity inevitably leads to more boring scenes showing them trying to discover an exit from their chambers. Boy, let me tell you. Watching Anthony Dexter tap around on a sound stage wall listening for hollow spots is not too exciting. Blah. Blair manages to get out of his room in a most improbably stroke of luck. Yep, he helps Larson escape from his bedroom as well. A quick 2-second search of the palace and Blair finds their guns behind a tapestry.

Did I mention that I hate this movie?

I guess it’s dawn now as we see the sacrifice beginning. Needless to say, the ceremony results in more dancing. Oh look out! The Beast has found a way into the palace (presumably using the hole that Higgins dug under the wall). In yet another Amazing Coincidence, Prasus Just Happens To Be Walking In The Garden, and is ambushed by the Beast. Scratch Prasus.

Let’s see if I can correctly describe the next scene.

Fire MaidensThe Beast breaks into the sacrificial chamber, picks up a Fire Maiden, and kills her by tossing her off to the side. The other Fire Maidens scream and cower against the walls. In come Blair and Larson who open fire on the Beast with their pistols. For no reason whatsoever, except to expedite its demise, the Beast climbs up onto the pedestal as Blair tosses another one of those imaginary gas grenades at its feet. With a loud "rrrraaaaaaa!!!!", the hapless monster jumps behind the dais as an off-camera stage hand turns up the flames for a moment in order to indicate that the creature has been cooked alive.

Blair and Hestia kiss and everybody makes their way back to the ship. Hestia is named Queen of Atlantis, but chooses to go to Earth along with Blair instead. Blah. Once in the rocket, Blair and Hestia embrace as he triumphantly orders the ship to take off.

"Mission accomplished," says Higgin’s with a manly grin to the others as Blair and Hestia embrace and stare into each other’s eyes.

Cue V-2 stock footage and fade to black.

Ouch.

Dennis Grisbeck (Feb 2006)

Afterthoughts

There are movies that are so bad they’re good.

There are movies that are so bad they’re bad.

And then there are movies like Fire Maidens of Outer Space.

So bad they suck, Suck, SUCK!

Fire Maidens is boring, paced like a crippled snail, and lacks any type of plausibility. The characters are two dimensional, sexists, shallow, and completely unlikable. The "Beast" is a contemptuous half-hearted attempt at a "monster".

An absolute piece of trash from the 1950’s. I could NEVER recommend that anybody ever see this snore-fest.

Read more about Fire Maidens of Outer Space at

IMDB

21 comments to Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956)

  • guts3d

    Yes, Prasus notes that the ancient Atlanteans knew their island was sinking, so they built a rocket to carry them this particular Jovian moon…

    Um, why wouldn’t they go somewhere else on Earth? Heck of a lot less traveling, and they are sure that there is food, temperatures close to their home island, and no foreign microbes, predators, etc.

  • john

    Two of the other actors Harry Fowler and Sydney Taffler had long careers. I assume nobody involved expected this junk to ever be shown again. Wrong. It’s outlived the cast and will shine as an example of what not to do for many years to come.

  • I re-watched this recently (the MST3K version) and I’d almost forgotten what a god-awful film this is. I especially love the shot of whats-his-face pulling a non-existent pin out of a gas “grenade” and spitting it to the side, but of course nothing comes out of his mouth because he was probably just holding a rock. Good grief.

  • Fred

    I wonder why a person who uses terms like “sexist pigs” is reviewing 1950’s low budget monster movies. Do the schlock movie community a favor and leave your PC social baggage behind. Maybe you should stick to Woody Allen flicks.

  • Why…hello to you too 🙂

    “…Do the schlock movie community a favor and leave your PC social baggage behind…”

    Nahhh.

  • guts3d

    I avidly watch this site just to get great comedic reviews! Sorry Fred, Dennis has a small but rabid following!

  • Yeah..lol. Like there’s not enough room on the Internet for all these sites

  • guts3d

    I live in constant fear that the internet will get full…

  • Sean

    Personally, I love sexist pigs – preferably roasted during a beach Luau! – But seriously, while there’s a lot that I love in old 50’s sci-fi, the sexism (which includes no openly gay characters) can be pretty horrendous. Making light-hearted fun of these old chestnuts is a way for me to keep fond memories alive without buying into period bullshit. Keep fighting the good fight Dennis. Speaking of which (cough, cough) what movie do you plan to review next?

  • I’m a few days away from posting a new one. It’s Italian, and it’s really, really bad.

  • guts3d

    Yay! Puma Man was italian, and it was my all time favorite review! ( Now the pressure is on! )

  • Robotrollcall

    I have a copy of this film from an episode of MST3K and it makes this movie an hilarious escape. The MST3K guys were at their prime when this was broadcast. If you get a chance to see this version, the scene with the secretary taking notes will have you rolling on the floor! “ge’ez, the Bataan Death March was less painful than this!” as one of the robots exclaims. But you’ll know you’re in for laughs when, during the opening credits, one of the bots signs, “I’m bored already” during the opening credits!

  • guts3d

    I am going to watch this gem again this weekend, I have all my chores pre-done!

  • I enjoy this movie more and more every time I watch it again! I first saw it on Saturday morning TV with my sister, and we would then play “Outer Space” in the backyard for hours – the swing set was our rocket ship and we’d take along some single-serving packs of Cherrioes as our space rations. I really wish they’d make a sequel, something along the lines of a return trip to the 13th Moon! I’m not joking!!

  • Guts3d

    Wow! You are a much tougher person than me! One non-MST3K version viewing of this stinkburger is too much!

  • Guts3d

    Hmmm… methinks it is time to watch the MST3K version of this gem tonight, after the Big Bang Theory, of course!

  • Sean

    Good suggestion – this time too, that long one-take scene with the secretary is sleazy AND hilarious. Best part of the movie? – All those shots of the TWA constellation. Lovely plane!

  • Charles

    Sleazy is right. Jesus. I just watched the MST3k version of this, since you guys posted to this thread. When the old Atlantis Guy said “Hestia’s life now belongs to you” to our hero for absolutely no reason whatsoever, I actually said aloud “Oh, for Christ’s sake” loud enough for my pets to look up and wonder what was wrong.

    So I guess it’s achieved some manner of distinction.

  • Paul Lynn

    Oh Lordy, finally got round to seeing this (original, not MST3), and as you say…boring. I love bad movies, and this was bad, but SO boring. I even ended up fast-forwarding some scenes (especially the dances) and that’s something I almost never do, no matter HOW bad the movie.

  • John Updike

    One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

    Ranks up there with Cat Women, Monster A Go-Go, Nude on the Moon or Creeping Terror, Beast of Yucca Flats.

  • David W Edmunds

    One could say this movie is so bad it’s good – if you see what I mean! Still it didn’t ruin the careers of two of the actors, Harry Fowler & Sydney Tafler who were stalwarts of UK Cinema & TV, especially in the 50’s & 60’s, Harry’s last TV appearance was in 2004.

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