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Low budget Saturday afternoon Sci Fi. fun. A scientist communicates with the bizarre Zontar believing that he (it) will be beneficial to mankind! Zontar lands on Earth and hides in a cave with the intent to control the populace with parasitic batlike sentries that detach from his body and attach themselves to victims. Sure it's cheap, but the dialog is fun, and Zontar's costume is not to be missed! If you are looking for a high class production you are missing the fun! This is what makes these movies such treasures! This is Larry Buchanan's remake of "It Conquered the World"(there was no first version of Zontar) Larry also remade "Invasion of the Saucer People" as "The Eye Creatures."
Dreadful remake of a B picture called It Conquered the World made by Roger Corman and starring Beverly Garland. This version has the king of Z's Larry Buchanan directing and a tired looking John Agar starring. Agar is in fact the only cast member that might be accused of being or having been a thespian. He also looks like he is just able to keep his composure every time he says the word Zontar or looks at a lobster-like bat alien "flying" around. Just like in the It Conquered the World, a man has contacted an alien from Venus who uses the human as a means to secure knowledge so that it can come to Earth and begin to control it. Much of the plot is the same as Buchanan had agreed to remake some of the old AIP films(like he did with The Eye Creatures - a blatant remake of Invasion of the Saucermen). I like the old, cheesy Corman film. It had heart amidst no budget, and it had talent in Corman and Garland. I even learned to like the absurd triangle, down-to-the-ground Venusian. But this film doesn't have any of that same magic. Buchanan isn't the worst director in the world, but he just isn't very good either. This movie is so cheap that nothing looks like any real care or money went into it. That is patently obvious when you see the horrid acting by all concerned except Agar who is just reasonable at best. Tony Huston as Keith Ritchie, the man responsible for bringing Zontar to our planet, is easily the worst. Nothing he says has any conviction to it whatsoever. Susan Bjurman plays his wife and is just as awful. How about the scene where she she says she didn't want to marry a monster. I was crying from laughter - not the kind of laughs that were meant to be intentional. Buchanan DOES try for laughs here and there with some soldiers, but the humour is real lame and tired material. Special effects? I mentioned the most dazzling already -- alien "bats" that look like flying lobsters and unconvincingly land on the back of necks. The other primary special effect is the alien itself, and I will be completely honest when I say that I much prefer the alien from It Conquered the World for its comparative creativity and realism. If you have seen that film, then you know just how bad it must be in this one. This film stinks to be sure but is full of great laughs in a not-in-good way. Just listen to the dialog, "This will take a second" says Huston, Agar, with as stoic a face as possible, returns and says, "I have a second." Most of the dialog is filled with similar creative juices.
I guess when John Agar came to Hollywood, they thought he was going to be the next Cary Grant. So what does he end up doing: cheap monster movies. He was adequate as the doctor in "Tarantula." In this one, he must be embarrassed. He is so stiff and must act opposite dreadful people. The mad scientist who makes contact with Zontar is about as emotive and unappealing as one can get. His wife is even worse. Don't try to think about the believability of all this because it absolutely defies even the most primitive logic. Who are these people and why are they so important? How do you get Venus on an old time radio? They even refer to it as a "set." Zontar is, himself, just an ugly bat guy. Of course, fortunately, the scientist just happens to own a "ruby plutonium laser gun" which is the one thing that can kill Zontar. If he's that nutty about the good intentions of the alien, why does he have this? Did he build it? Don't ask. I did love the arguments between the guy and his wife, but that's because it's the most dreadful acting one has ever seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is nothing short of miraculous and is twice as thrilling,
entertaining, and stupid as the recent Tom Cruise Burger King
commercial WAR OF THE WORLDS, directed by UN Secretary General Kolfi
Annan in retaliation for our surviving the War on Terror this long.
ZONTAR is by comparison a triumph of the imagination, in that one has
to understand that what we are viewing on screen are most likely
paradigms for a bigger budgeted film that the likes of Larry Buchanan
could never afford. He cannot afford to depict an alien invasion of the
Earth so he chose the next best thing -- Film various people talking
The whole film revolves around the home made "high power" radio set constructed by a misunderstood rocket scientist who intercepts the progressive jazz stylings + personal communications from Zontar, a three eyed cave dwelling goon from Venus who has come to the Earth to show us what a real communist revolution & takeover would amount to even without George Soros funding it. People are brainwashed, shot, strangled, and forced to wear inoperative wrist watches. None of the cars work, nobody can bathe or call their friends without the OK of Zontar in his cave, and only a chosen few are allowed amenities of life such as operating handguns and pretty young wives with pert breasts -- Ample reasons why the Soviet Union finally caved in once Russian men got their hands on Hustler Magazine. I mention the pert breasts because Mr. Buchanan appears to have made a career out of casting pretty would-be actresses in his movies based upon how much we would like to watch them remove their sweaters on camera, and once again he fits the bill here. There is something said to leaving it to the imagination.
Former Mr. Shriley Temple & John Wayne "Yes Man" John Agar actually looks credible as the rocket scientist hero of the film, who proves his dedication to mankind by first riding a bicycle on camera while wearing a suit, and then shooting his wife. So much for the pert breasts. Agar is famous for having been married to a former child mega star and appearing in a host of atrocious B horror/sci fi hybrids but here he actually manages to get some acting in, and by golly if he isn't more convincing than Mr. Cruise in the film mentioned above. I can believe John Agar would indeed be very concerned about a global takeover by a malevolent being from Venus bent on world supremacy, but I could not believe for one second that Tom Cruise was actually a mechanic from New Jersey and fathered children. I could see him having a cat, but not a job.
Back to ZONTAR though, what impressed me the most about this film was that the cast looked like they were totally committed to the project, and the main action consisted of a series of increasingly hysterical discussion scenes set in and around these Naugahyde and wood paneled 1960's track homes that people apparently allowed them to film inside of. Some of the conversations were sweeping in their epic scope of pitting mankind against the cruel, impartial and uncaring Cosmos, and nobody delivered a line that was meant to be anything less than movingly emotional or terrifyingly profound -- They talk like the Superfriends. Viewers who obsess over minutia like the phoney looking monster, the bizarre flying stuffed owl and amusing sight of John Agar riding a bicycle are missing the point of the film, which is that for questions on the mysteries of the Universe we would best be advised to look inward, lest we mistakenly gaze into the sun and be blinded. This movie was not just a low budget ripoff, but a warning, and I don't think it was heeded for one second. We are still doomed.
9/10 for making people think about it, even if what they think isn't very much.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Zontar the Thing from Venus' is the kind of movie that's fun to watch
even if it is predictable and outdated.
I recognized the familiar plot right away and later found out it it was a TV remake of 'It Conquered the World'. In this film John Agar played the role Peter Graves did in the earlier film. Poor John Agar, he went from being married to Shirley Temple and co-staring in classic John Ford Westerns ('Fort Apache', 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon') to starring in low budget made for TV B-films like this later in his life.
I had to laugh when Dr. Taylor (the Hero-John Agar) realized his wife was possessed by Zontar's mind control implant. He wasted no time in killing his beloved wife. Presumeably for her own good !. Geesh, would it have hurt to tie her up and TRY at least a little to see if there was a way to cure her? Who knows, maybe if he destroyed Zontar she would have returned to her normal lovable self. Or maybe he was looking for an excuse to get rid of her? (boohahaha) - "But judge, I had to kill her, she was controlled by Zontar a thing from Venus" -LOL.
There were a lot of little reminders in here of a number of other sci-fi films including 'Invaders from Mars' (the neck implants that control even loved ones) and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (humans replaced by aliens). But strangely enough it also reminded me of an old Dick VanDyke show episode. The one where Danny Thomas is an alien trying to conquer the earth and Laura Petrie (Dick's TV wife) is taken over and has a craving for walnuts :^D. I had to wonder if this TV movie and that episode came out about the same time.
There were some really silly lines of dialog to enjoy, like at the end where the narrator says how they learned that "Man is the greatest creature in the Universe"-gosh I hope not. Another funny scene was when the heroes car wouldn't run because all power to machines had been stopped, even a garden hose shouldn't work. Yet in the distance behind them you can see two cars driving by !
I also like the human traitor's outspoken wife and the way she charged into that cave to single-handedly try and destroy Zontar for making a fool out of her man. Evidently all housewives in the 60s kept pistols in the car glove compartment for just such an occasion. Sigourney Weaver has nothing on this lady, Go get um, Girl ! To bad she was ahead of her time and destined to fail by 60s sexist standards.
Oh and the FX when the laser weapon was used were funny too. It looked like a film negative or something flashed on the screen when they used it.
It wasn't a "good" film by any means, yet it was enjoyable at times.
Zontar, The Thing From Venus, hijacks a US satellite and flies it down
to Earth. He sends out bat creatures to bite important people which
places them under Zontar's control. He also causes all cars to stop
running and the electricity to go out. All part of Zontar's evil scheme
to claim Earth for Venus and cover himself in glory. If such an
original storyline does not compel you to watch this movie, there is
something seriously wrong with you and you should seek psychological
I fail to see how John Agar was not nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Zontar. Agar's body of work in sci-fi movies is a monumental achievement in the history of cinema. Like many of history's great masters and works of art, Agar and achievements like Zontar are overlooked for centuries before they are appreciated. I think it will be many centuries before Zontar, The Thing From Venus is fully appreciated. 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Interplanetary hitchhiker Zontar sets his sights on Earth,
communicating with scientist Keith Ritchie (Tony Houston) via a home
made radio set up that's actually more impressive looking than all the
room size computer equipment at the "Installation". Houston resembles
Jerry Seinfeld with a hard edge, so watching the film today makes his
performance doubly amusing. I just love hearing the pseudo scientific
explanations offered for all the mumbo jumbo in these grade 'Z' sci-fi
flicks, and "Zontar" doesn't let you down. Starting with a brief
mention of hyperspace hypnotism, the film is on it's way with tales of
injector pods and biological implants.
The film is at it's most surreal though when John Agar trades in his cavalry mount for a bicycle, tooling around town in a business suit. His character is Dr. Curt Taylor, who gives it his all in trying to prevent Zontar's domination of earth, eight people at a time. But do you think he really had to kill his wife when she became a Zontar zombie? Gee, maybe he could have figured something else out before the picture ended.
It's amazing how sequestered every small town is in these types of flicks, the outside world is never heard from so it can lend a hand. At least The General (Neil Fletcher) makes mention of a Communist conspiracy to remind today's viewer of what was on a lot of people's minds back in the '50's and '60's. Can you believe that was so long ago?
Give Zontar credit though. He combines vacation plans with thoughts of global domination, preferring a locale noted for it's hot springs, with a bit of spelunking thrown in as well in the underground caves. Seems to me though he could have been more consistent with turning mechanical devices on and off at will. I guess he just didn't see that sting gun with the plutonium ruby crystal coming - too bad.
Hey, don't blink. Right in the middle of all the fun is a quick flash of a woman in a bikini for no apparent reason. It's one of the endearing scenes that make Zontar a blast, even if you don't believe in hyperspace hypnotism.
This of course was the first movie i saw by the infamous Z-Grade Master Larry Buchanan. I saw It Conquered The World (1956) the monster was kinda stupid looking in the original but it was made like that for Venus gravity reasons, i still enjoyed the original being a B-Movie Buff myself & it was by Roger Corman one of the most well known Producers & Directors of Sci-Fi & Horror Cinema. Well I read about Buchanan's Version on the net saw screen caps & all I thought the monster in this remake looks better so i asked for it for my Birthday in September of 2001 i got it & watched it. I knew John Agar from other Sci-Fi & Horror Flicks he was really good in this one the other acting was alright not as good as him though of course i still really enjoyed it. As we all know Susan Bjurman of course was no Beverly Garland at the role & not as beautiful as Garland, but she was good at the acting part. Tony Houston was good but he was no Lee Van Cleef. Pat Delaney was as good as Sally Fraser & as beautiful i thought. The original was better in some ways & Buchanan's version was better in other ways. So overall I really liked it.
OK, so you get over the low budget cheesy production values. This was
1965, cold war and the Ruskies had everyone nervous. And then along
came Zontar...The thing is, I can relate to the basic horrors of the
film. Fears of being cut off, and isolated. OK, at one point the
General even points to the Commies as the culprits. The process for
take over had validity, our social patterns are fragile and subject to
sabotage. A few key figures at a time, Military, Scientific and
Political, and control may be possible, such are the implications. The
thoughts of killing a loved one is heavy ground for a Z movie to tread
Mind controlling parasites were much more convincingly portrayed in later films like, "The Puppet Masters", and the whole "body snatcher" concept was already ten years old. The movie still conveyed the creature, not so much as an alien, but rather as a terrorist planing a plot to blow up the President. Tapping this, gives this cheesy production, subliminal bite. The writing was better then I expected. The dialog was for the most part concise, with the nonsense mixed with the sublime. ( I saw a funny boid. Indeed !)
Now then, go ahead and laugh at the funny looking monster, if only they had CGI, they cudda been a contenda!
Zontar is a being from Venus who has been communicating with
Keith--telling him about the pending invasion of the Earth. However,
instead of trying to stop him, Keith aids Zontar with promises that
he'll make the Earth a paradise for all. The invasion involves turning
off all human machines as well as injecting key officials with little
pins in the back of their necks--making them slaves to the will of
I am a "bad movie junkie"--I love watching grade-z horror and sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s, so it's natural I'd watch ZONTAR. However, even for a bad movie, this one is really, really bad--B-A-D, bad!! Most of the reason for this is that it was apparently directed by a monkey, as it got the absolute worst performances from everyone. Rarely will you hear and see more robotic acting--with many "actors" clearly having difficulty reading their cue cards!! Keith, the idiot who works for Zontar and is the key actor is particularly inept. His delivery is just bizarre--like he's reading and has no idea what the context is--with no emotion or conviction. The General ain't much better--as, once again, he's clearly reading from a script and it's badly dubbed over his actions on several occasions. It's sad when perhaps the best acting is done by John Agar--the uncrowned King of Bad Films. He overacts and yells some of his lines, but at least he had emotion and energy--some things that few others in the film showed. The only other emotional actor is Keith's wife, who seems to think she's playing Ophelia from "Hamlet"--as she makes little soliloquies and behaves as if she's stark raving mad! As for the rest of the film, the plot has been done better many other times (especially in INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and an episode of "SCTV"), the sets are cheap, the "monsters" look like stuffed owls and the entire project has the look of a film made for YouTube by 12 year-olds! The only reason to watch this film is if you LIKE bad movies and want to laugh and marvel at the total ineptness of the film. Also, try watching Peter Graves in IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. ZONTAR is a remake of this earlier film, but it, too, is pretty silly stuff--and you have to see the monster to believe it!!
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