Zontar: The Thing from Venus (TV Movie 1966) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
39 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Low budget Saturday afternoon Sci Fi. fun.
phage73925 February 2002
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."
19 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
"Zontar, I'm Troubled - Maybe That Word Doesn't Even Exist in Your Sphere"
BaronBl00d18 April 2006
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.
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Wow! Warning: 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 about it.

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.
10 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Men are from Earth Zontar's are from Venus
Fireball_and_Belle19 January 2006
Warning: 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.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Delightfully Awful
Hitchcoc1 May 2006
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.
14 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
I was out bird watching for injectapods one day ...and the funniest thing happened!
gsh99924 December 2007
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 assistance.

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
10 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Robotic acting and a lousy script make this a craptastic failure!
MartinHafer1 January 2009
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 Zontar.

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!!
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
First Buchanan film ever viewed.
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.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
"Are you people positive you know what you're doing?"
classicsoncall26 April 2006
Warning: 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.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
scientist tries to get a handle on the invasive Zontar
chermac5811 July 2004
The best part of the movie is knowing it was filmed in Dallas in 1966. Actually, the exterior shots of the scientist's headquarters were filmed at my childhood home in Dallas -- it was quite contemporary for its time. One Sunday morning the producers knocked on the door wanting to use our home, we consented, and 2 days of muddy footprints and dirty coffee mugs later, the actors and filmmakers left. We enjoy watching the familiar scenes shot at White Rock Creek and Casa Linda Shopping Center -- particularly the mass chaos scenes of a running mob. Not a great plot and especially bad props -- Zontar looks like a black plastic bag stuck on a wire that flaps in the air.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
jimbo-387 March 1999
Zontar comes to Earth, hides in cave and communicates with a confused scientist who can't act. Bat like creature then implants mind control devices in people's heads. Good scientist, who can't act either, thwarts Zontar's carefully laid plans. There's actually a scene where one of the characters tells Zontar- "I hate you guts." Incredibly, this is a remake of a 1950's movie of the same name.
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Buchanan's Cheap-O Remake Parade
judex-123 September 2003
Seems like this is a little muddled. AIP-TV needed some truly inexpensive features to pad out a syndication package, and Buchanan ended up with the job. Reports vary, but they apparently used scripts that were "readily available", with the following results:

It Conquered The World - Zontar, The Thing From Venus

Invasion Of The Saucer Men - The Eye Creatures

Pajama Party - Mars Needs Women The She Creature - Creature Of Destruction

The Day The World Ended - In The Year 2889

Pretty mindbending to experience these, when unprepared. I was dozing in and out of "Zontar" the first time, and I woke up thinking I had dreamt most of it.

I'll have to accept the common thought that much was filmed around Dallas, but I have to say that it sure looks like Bronson Canyon much of the time...heh

4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A true Grade-Z psychozen experience
lordzontar9018 April 2001
Badfilm addicts all have that one special piece of drek which is their personal favorite awful movie. For some, it will always be the Godzilla, Gamera, and Starman movies. Others will have that soft spot for The Thing With Two Heads, In The Year 2889, or Creation Of The Humanoids. And naturally, badfilm devotees are devout members of the cult of Ed Wood, for whom viewings of Plan Nine From Outer Space are a religious sacrement. But for myself, my one special badfilm has to be Zontar: The Thing From Venus.

Perhaps it's because this film was one of the movies I grew up with. Zontar was a staple of the local Sunday Morning Movie program on TV which I watched religiously as a kid. Words cannot quite describe the "quality" of this movie. It can only be experienced. Zontar was evidently made in somebody's home, a local high-school, and a shopping mall in a small town situated near a cave by low-budget schlockmeister Larry Buchanan. It's not that Zontar is an exceptionally bad movie made by exceptionally awful no-talent hacks. Simply, the various elements of this movie just happen to combine in just the right way to make Zontar a classic of Grade-Z cinema.

The "plot" goes something like this: Zontar, a giant three-eyed, bat-winged mutant lobster from Venus, hitches a ride on a satellite to takeover Earth with the aid of ex-high school science nerd Keith Ritchie (Anthony Houston). Only the brave but relentlessly wooden Dr. Curt Taylor (John Agar) stands in its way. Zontar takes over various humans with its injectopods; small creatures who fly with the aid of some guy holding them on the end of a stick. Mrs. science-nerd (Susan Bjurman) whines about the victims losing their personalities, only it swiftly becomes evident that only after being taken over by Zontar do any of the people in this movie even have personalities in the first place.

Zontar begins the takeover by imposing massive Republican-style energy deregulation like they now have in California, which soon shuts down everything --electricity, gas, cars... Everything. This causes the townspeople to run about like brainless sheep through the shopping mall car park. From here, the plot thins. Curt and Keith debate philosophy over the phone. While Keith stays by his plutonium crystal radio-set, Curt barely manages to avoid becoming a Zontar zombie himself, which means he gets to remain the same lovable drone he's always been. Curt then proceeds to solve the problem of Zontar as any true red-blooded American would --by shooting everybody. He goes to Keith's house to have one more debate with his old friend before shooting him. During this, Mrs. science-nerd, having gone to the caves, is killed by Zontar, after which Keith switches sides. Curt shoots some more people, and Keith takes his handy homebuilt plutonium laser and kills both Zontar and himself. Victory for the Earth, however, means the survivors (and audience) must endure a boring monologue by Curt Taylor about the nature of mankind.

Most badfilms were made by directors devoted to their particular conception of "art" (e.g. John Travolta's and Roger Christian's Battlefield Dearth). Some are conscious ripoffs of higher-budget and better quality movies (e.g. Roger Corman's Star Wars knock-off, Battle Beyond The Stars). Zontar manages to surpass the "standards" of this genre by being not only a bad movie in its own right, but also by being itself a direct line-by-line steal of Roger Corman's low-budget schlock classic It Conquered The World (1962). For this alone, Larry Buchanan has to be hailed as a schlockmesiter of the first rank by taking cinematic incest to new dimensions and in the process managing to mutate ICTW, merely a typical piece of drek, into a true Grade-Z psychozen experience.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Someone, anyone, PLEASE make it stop!!!
Coventry13 May 2007
Sitting all the way through "Zontar, The Thing From Venus" can seriously lead to self-mutilation and, in case you have absolutely no experience with zero-budget 60's Sci-Fi at all, maybe even to suicidal tendencies! You could laugh at the overall incompetence of this TV-production, but I don't suppose it was Larry Buchanan's intention to make a terribly dull & irritating remake of Corman's "It Conquered the World", because all the actors and actresses desperately attempt to keep a straight face whilst poorly speaking their inept lines and horrid dialogs. John Agar starred in a whole lot of Sci-Fi films that were produced on a shoestring-budget, but the majority of them were very enjoyable & well-made ("Tarantula", "Revenge of the Creature", "The Brain from Planet Arous") and "Zontar" is simply embarrassing. Even when people die from getting shot, this movie is dull! They're hit, reach for the wound and pull a stupid face approximately 5 seconds later and then they fall down on the ground horribly fake. The "plot" is as follows: oddball scientist Keith Ritchie supposedly communicates with an alien from Venus, and he even helps it find its way to earth, because Keith is convinced that this one alien can prevent the entire human race from destroying themselves. How? I haven't got the slightest clue. Naturally, Zontar turns out to be a mean monster and he sucks the intellect out of people's brains by sending fake bats after them. The special effects and monster designs look as if they were created by a kindergarten class during pottering hour. Zontar itself is a hideous creation, resembling something that emerged from a muck-heap, and his sidekick bats don't even remotely look like bats. The weird dork-scientist who communicates with Zontar is easily the dumbest character I've ever seen in a horror movie (and that even includes Paris Hilton in "House of Wax") and his wife isn't much better. She, imbecile woman that she is, confronts the alien all by herself in his hideout cave and stupidly tells him that she hates his guts. This all may sound funny and cheesy, but it's mostly painful and unendurable to watch. "Zontar, The Thing From Venus" wasted 80 precious minutes of my life and then still it felt like they lasted at least twice as long. Please, don't make the same mistake. Roger Corman's original "It Conquered the World" isn't a very good film neither, but it's an unhinged masterpiece compared to this irredeemably bad excuse for a film.
6 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Liked it when I was a kid...
preppy-34 May 2005
I saw this, like most people, on Saturday afternoon TV when I was a kid. As a kid I thought it was OK. Then I saw "It Conquered the World" which this is a ripoff of. OK--"It..." is hardly a masterpiece but compared to "Zontar" it looks like "Gone With the Wind"!

This is a painfully slow movie with atrocious "special" effects and acting so bad you won't believe it. It's shot on threadbare sets where actors just stand around and talk. Why I liked this as a kid I'll never know. I do remember when I first saw Zontar I was scared (a little). Now, as an adult, I howled! It's a guy in a stupid rubber suit with three obviously fake eyes! Man, my standards must have been LOW when I was little:)

This is probably Larry Buchanan's worst film (although "Mars Needs Women" is definitely down there) and too boring to be bad/good--just BAD. Even the usually competent John Agar can't save this drivel.

Try to see "It..." and avoid this. I give it a 0!
5 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
interesting in retrospect
gpeltz16 February 2010
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 upon.

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!
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Makes Roger Corman seem like Orson Welles:
robertguttman30 April 2015
This ultra-cheesy remake of Roger Corman's notorious 1956 sci-fi epic, "It Conquered the World", is so bad that it makes the original seem like Citizen Kane by comparison. Some bad movies are so bad that they're actually fun to watch. However, this is one bad movie that is so bad that it is simply bad. "Zontar" was supposedly produced on a budget of $20,000, and it certainly looks it.

The one good thing that seeing this film will accomplish is to give the viewer a greater appreciation for the talent of Roger Corman and his company. Yes, Corman also produced his films in a very short space of time, and on an almost non-existent budget. However, Corman had the talent to turn the lemons he was given to work with into lemonade, whereas the producers of this awful tripe were clearly incapable of creating anything but vinegar. Strictly "Grade-Z".
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
ferbs549 January 2014
The memory of Roger Corman's lovable shlock classic "It Conquered the World" (just one of four pictures that Corman came out with in 1956) is pretty fresh with me, since, just four months back, I happened to see this cult item on the big screen. It was playing at NYC's wonderful Film Forum as part of a double feature, paired with 1957's "I Was a Teenage Werewolf." Filmed on the cheap and clocking in at a scant 68 minutes, "It Conquered," I was happy to relearn, yet manages to wholly satisfy by dint of its convincing players, endearingly cheezy special FX and imaginative direction. Well, as it turns out, I should have left well enough alone, but no, I had to go and rent out the picture's wholly UNsatisfying and completely inferior remake, "Zontar, The Thing From Venus." A scene-for-scene rehash of Corman's original, this was a made-for-TV product that was released a full decade after "It Conquered"; a completely unnecessary outing that manages to come up short in every department. Although the names of the characters have been changed, the story elements are wholly similar, and though both films were patently produced on only the scantiest of budgets, the latter, unlike its illustrious forebear, reveals a regrettable lack of talent both in front of and behind the camera.

As in the first film, "Zontar" concerns itself with an alien visitor who uses an Earth scientist as a dupe/cat's-paw in its plans for global conquest. Here, that fool is named Keith Ritchie (lamely portrayed by Tony Huston), a scientist who estranges both his wife (a correspondingly bad performance by Pat Delaney) and his best friend and fellow scientist Curt Taylor (John Agar) as he becomes more and more obsessed with communicating with his new alien buddy via shortwave radio. But after the USA's latest $50 million "laser satellite" is abducted, and after Zontar takes up residence in a nearby cave, causes a global blackout, and commences to send his flying, lobsterlike "injectapods" to take over the minds of various key townspeople, even Keith Ritchie starts to wonder whether or not his alien savior is all it claims to be....

I must say, "Zontar"'s director, Larry Buchanan, is now an impressive 4 for 4 with me; all the pictures that I have seen from this "auteur"--1965's "The Eye Creatures," 1966's "Curse of the Swamp Creature" and 1967's "Mars Needs Women"--have been rock-bottom deplorable, and now, as if to finish off a loosely connected quartet of sci-fi crud..."Zontar"! This last is a genuine labor to sit through, and a true affront to Corman's beloved original. While that 1956 film was surely no exemplar of the cinematic arts, it at least offered some solid acting turns by its three leads (Peter Graves, Beverly Garland and Lee Van Cleef), as well as another ingratiating performance by the always dependable Dick Miller. "Zontar," on the other hand, features some truly subpar thesping (Huston and Delaney are remarkably bad), and while John Agar, old pro that he is, manages to give a decent performance (AND do a few stunts of his own; just look at him vault over those fences, at 45 years of age!), this yet remains the lamest sci-fi film that he has ever appeared in; "Revenge of the Creature" (1955), "Tarantula" (1955), "The Mole People" (1956), "The Brain From Planet Arous" (1958) and "Attack of the Puppet People" (1958) are all in a different class completely, as compared with this Venusian dreck. "Zontar" also offers the viewer special FX of a decidedly amateurish nature (the shots of the laser satellite orbiting above Earth look like the work of a 4th grader), while the Zontar creature itself cannot hold a candle to the original. Indeed, Paul Blaisdell's grimacing "carrot monster" for the Corman film is a by-now iconic image of '50s sci-fi, while the vaguely batlike Zontar (who we never even get a good look at) is fairly forgettable. And as for those "injectapods," the flying lobster things here cannot compete with the cute little bat mites that the original film gave us. To make matters even worse, "Zontar" features a script with an embarrassing amount of hokey lines ("That doesn't surprise me, nor does it dismay me") and terrible, forced humor ("I wonder what effect this power failure has on my wife's big mouth"). And it fails to satisfy on even the most basic levels of filmmaking, such as giving the viewer a decent establishing shot of Zontar's cavern. Simply stated, I cannot see any reason why a viewer would wish to see this film, if he/she could acquire the Corman original instead. It is truly the most needless of remakes. Today, the film comes to us on a DVD from the RetroMedia Entertainment group, on the flip side of which resides Buchanan's "The Eye Creatures." The fact that these two stinkers exist on the same disc results in a DVD whose only suitable function, sorry to say, is skeet....
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Larry Buchanan strikes out again!
Woodyanders10 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mad scientist Keith Ritchie (a dreadfully hammy performance by Tony Huston) helps evil extraterrestrial Zontar come to Earth so it can take over our planet. It's up to the stalwart, practical Dr. Curt Taylor (an admirably game John Agar doing his best with seriously subpar material) to stop the foul alien fiend before it's too late. Poorly directed with characteristic staggering ineptitude by the one and only Larry Buchanan, with plenty of sidesplitting awful dialogue (favorite line: "So, that's what you look like, Zontar! You're slimy -- horrible!"), an excruciatingly lethargic pace, static cinematography by Robert B. Alcott (the endless barrage of drab master shots is sheer torture on the eyes), a painfully drawn-out and meandering narrative, lame and unpersuasive (far from) special effects (the laughably tacky bat-like flying creatures are obviously hanging on wires and the titular unsightly beast looks just plain silly), a hideously slushy and droning stock film library score, and largely horrible and unimpressive acting (Susan Bjurman in particular is simply pitiful as Ritchie's shrill, disapproving wife Martha), this often hilariously horrendous cheapo sci-fi clunker unfolds with a startling lack of style, verve, suspense, and competence. Buchanan regular Bill Thurman has a sizable supporting role as the local sheriff who falls under Zontar's wicked control. To his credit, Buchanan does manage to convey a few effectively eerie shots of empty and desolate streets, but overall this Grade Z dreck sizes up as yet another amusingly atrocious stinker from one of the most notorious schlockmeisters to ever misuse a camera.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Michael_Elliott12 March 2008
Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966)

* (out of 4)

Incredibly bad science fiction film has an alien attaching itself to a scientist in hopes of taking over the world. Will it or will John Agar save the day? This thing has a pretty big cult following but I can't see why. The film is just downright bad without any of the laughs that usually come from these types of films. Poor acting, poor special effects and just an overall poor movie. I'm sure some kids enjoyed this when they watched it on television back in the day but nothing in it holds up today. This film belong in Uranus, not Venus.
4 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Dallas Strikes Again
pv7198913 June 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I say this because I live near Dallas. A Dallas attorney got together with producer/director Larry Buchanan to remake a bunch of Grade B flicks. Incredibly, each film was budgeted at $25-35,000! That Buchanan somehow managed to lure the likes of John Ford-veteran John Agar and veteran stage and screen star Les Tremayne to some of this movies shows how far one's acting career can really fall when alcohol takes over.

This movie was filmed in and around Dallas, especially near the Casa Linda shopping center (thankfully torn down).

The basic plot, lifted almost line-for-line from Roger Corman's schlock classic "It Conquered the World," involves a naive scientist (Anthony Houston) who plots with Zontar, a walking, bat-like, three-eyed lobster, to

bring "peace" to mankind. Zontar hitches a ride on an Earth satellite and takes up residence in a cave that looks suspiciously like a soundstage. He immediately turns off the world's power and turns several key citizens into zombies by using insect-like bats to implant electrodes in their necks. Ironically, the electrodes seem to give the people some personality.

John Agar plays the lead scientist trying to stop the takeover, but he's mostly bluster and wooden acting. By this time, Agar had taken so heavily to booze that his marriage to Shirley Temple and his career in Hollywood had long since evaporated. At times, you'll swear he was drinking on the set, judging by his performance.

The whole problem with the invasion is that it doesn't present a real foe. In "It Conquered the World" Corman mad it a sly satire of the Cold War and Red Scare. "Zontar" can't find anything to real latch onto. It doesn't even bother mentioning Vietnam.

The camera work in poor. Night looked like day because they had little money for portable lighting. The sound quality is poor and, in many scenes, the dialogue is hard to discern.

Anthony Houston shows some flair, but he mostly looks like someone trying to make the most of a bad role and parlay it into a real acting career. In "It Conquered the World," I thought Russ Bender's part as the general was so wooden, it was laughable, though I did feel pity because his character was bashed on the head with a monkey wrench, shoved headfirst out of a jeep and shot twice. In "Zontar," Neil Fletcher is even worse. While Agar had a problem with booze, Fletcher's general looks like he's on the sauce during the film. His face is red, he seems to be sweating a lot, his speech is slurred and slow at times. Then again, it could have been that his uniform was two sizes too small for his massive bulk.

I thought the movie would ultimately be good for a laugh, but I couldn't find time to laugh. I was too busy picking out all the blunders and mistakes. The entrance to Zontar's cave, for example, is actually the entrance to a storm drain. In "It Conquered the World" the soldiers were much better, led by Corman vets Jonathan Haze and Dick Miller, who played their parts with comedic effectiveness. In "Zontar," we get three dopey-looking National Guardsmen who mostly look lost. When the enter the cave and see Zontar, they fire a couple of shots. Then, the first soldier stands there so Zontar can walk up to him and kill him. His buddies take off and, apparently, never tell anybody. During this time, Buchanan starts using some shaky camera work (a la "Blair Witch Project"), possibly to make the viewers wake up.

When Anthony Houston's character finally comes to his senses and decides to help Agar, he pulls out this plutonium-powered laser crystal. It's supposedly the same crystal he used to send messages to Zontar on Venus. But, in the end *****Spoiler alert ***** he confesses he may have to use it at close range on Zontar. I guess shooting from a distance would have been the coward's way out, especially since he would have had to answer for all the death and property damage he caused.

The final indignity is Agar's endless, mind-numbing speech about the nature of mankind. Peter Graves made a similar speech in Corman's original and that was tough to take. But Agar, his speech sounding slightly slurred from alcohol, is enough to make you reach for the remote or "accidentally" take over the end of "Zontar."

Larry Buchanan also butchered a few other films including "She Creature" (as "Creature of Destruction") and "Invasion of the Saucer Men" (as "Eye Creatures" -- sweater- and sneaker-wearing eye creatures, at that).

Roger Corman is the King of the B's, but Larry Buchanan is King of the Z's.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Venus.FM now available on subscription radio ....
mobile719 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS ------------------------------- I have a lot of respect for John Agar who was a real decent "B" movie actor but even he couldn't save this stinker. Instead of seeing a decent SciFi flick I saw a history lesson as I warped back to a typical 1960s house, ice bucket (for the bar), plastic furniture, open shelving and all. Shudder.

In a nutshell, Zontar (the Venetian alien) hops a ride on one of our satellites back to earth. Even though he/it claims that Venus is incredibly advanced, I guess all of the Venus-to-Earth gondolas were unavailable. Even funnier is the fact that we spent 50 million dollars to send up a satellite only to call it back to earth to check on its systems. Taxpayers revolt!!! Zontar, who is communicating with a Frankie Valle look-alike via hyperspace hypnotism, is out to take over Earth and to "save us from ourselves," and give us perfection. Zontar lands our satellite in a cave. All power stops. Cars, faucets, radios, watches, iPods – just like "War of the Worlds." We next see scores of people running every which way in a small Opie-like town, but not John Agar, our hero (again, think "War of the Worlds – remix), who fights against the human traffic to see what's up. Zontar, sends out little bat-birds (a.k.a. Injectapods, the ORIGINAL 'iPods') that sting humans in the back of the neck and take over their emotions. There's only one bat-bird per human, so if the bat-bird fails then that human must be killed via more traditional and human methods – a handgun. Anyway, it's up to John Agar to save humanity, and it's up to you to see how he does it. Or does he? Booohahahahaha. The real hero of the movie was the misguided human's wife who goes after Zontar with a pistol.

Blooper: There was supposed to be no power anywhere but when the lady scientist woke up from a nap she asked the others if there was any coffee. When they indicated that it was gone, she was going to make some. Sigh. She didn't reach the kitchen. It's amazing how much one can scream through strangulation.

Motto of the story: Perfection can only be obtained from within ourselves, and it comes from learning, which is why many filmmakers learned to make better Scifi movies after seeing this one.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
"Hey loook! I see a funny boyd!"
wbswetnam27 March 2012
Zontar the Thing from Venus is another low-budget Z-grade flick directed by Larry Buchanan. The basic premise of the movie is that Zontar (a "thing" from Venus) has been in touch with Keith, a scientist on Earth, and Zontar has convinced Keith that he will come to Earth and make everything all right. No more wars, fighting, crime, bad movies... etc. all of the world will live in peace and harmony once Zontar arrives, Keith believes. Keith has built a sort of closet-sized radio for listening in to the aliens, and it is through this device that Zontar communicates with him. Keith is just the 5th columnist that Zontar needs for his real plans... to take over the Earth. Keith only discovers a little too late, of course, that he was duped.

The film is inept, inconsistent and illogical. For example, Keith claims that Zontar has made all mechanical and electrical devices to be inoperable. Yet, guns still work and so do bicycles, both of which are clearly mechanical devices. Also, the sirens are wailing as people run around town in a tizzy - don't sirens need electricity to work? Oh well I guess Zontar overlooked some devices. Also, the military personnel assigned to protect Zone 6 - there's only 10 soldiers? Why would the military put a high-ranking general in command of a measly 10 privates??? And what was the point of flashing the image of a bikini model in the middle of the film? I had pretty low expectations when I sat down to watch this cinematic mess, and Zontar the Thing from Venus was exactly what I expected it to be - horrible and inane. Still it's slightly better than Manos the Hands of Fate and Monster A-Go-Go.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Larry Buchanan's most famous title
kevin olzak29 July 2010
1966's "Zontar the Thing from Venus" was perhaps the most famous title in the career of ultra-low budget writer-producer-director Larry Buchanan (1923-2004). Along with Al Adamson, Buchanan was among the most famous of cinema's notorious directors, both of whom helped actor Tommy Kirk rush into retirement. Adamson has received some posthumous praise as a real hustler, spending years putting various features together, and getting them released to drive-ins with his own distribution outfit, Independent-International. Personally, I prefer Buchanan, whose best known titles for his Azalea company never saw any drive-in play, 8 features released directly to television as part of a package deal for American International Pictures. Each one starred actors under contract to AIP- John Ashley in 1965's "The Eye Creatures," Les Tremayne and Aron Kincaid in 1967's "Creature of Destruction," Paul Petersen, Charla Doherty, and Quinn O'Hara in "In the Year 2889" (also '67), Tommy Kirk in "Mars Needs Women" ('67) and "It's Alive!" (1969), and John Agar in "Zontar the Thing from Venus," "Curse of the Swamp Creature" (both 1966), and "Hell Raiders" (1968). I discovered each of them during the 1970's usually at 3:00AM, the only reasonably decent time for such mind numbing viewing. I am not ashamed to admit that I love these films, except perhaps "Hell Raiders," which obviously doesn't fit the sci-fi pattern, being a war picture (naturally, it too is a remake, of "Suicide Battalion," a 1958 AIP release). Of course, "The Eye Creatures" was a remake of 1957's "Invasion of the Saucer Men," "Creature of Destruction" was a remake of 1956's "The She-Creature," "In the Year 2889" was a remake of Corman's sci fi debut, 1955's "Day the World Ended," while "Zontar" was a remake of another early Corman, "It Conquered the World" (1956). A total of 5 remakes and 3 originals that weren't exactly unique, as "Curse of the Swamp Creature," scripted by "Zontar" actor Anthony Houston, was typical mad scientist stuff (an unconfirmed remake of AIP's 1956 "Voodoo Woman," with Tom Conway and Marla English), "It's Alive!" was based on an uncredited Richard Matheson story, and "Mars Needs Women" could be regarded as something of a more serious remake/sequel to 1964's "Pajama Party," which also cast Tommy Kirk as a Martian sent to Earth for a possible invasion. "Hell Raiders" remains a real oddity, shot silent like the others, with the sounds of gunfire hilariously dubbed in throughout, not much fun, and not a lost film, as it has turned up on Encore's Action channel, as did "In the Year 2889." I would recommend watching the original titles followed by their remakes, it made for interesting viewing, at least for me. In "Zontar," much of the dialogue is unchanged, but the actors go through their paces with little conviction, and it may be wondered how AIP were so delighted with Buchanan that they ended up doing 8 pictures in all. My favorite line has one of the soldiers telling how he "saw a funny lookin' boid," in the role essayed by Jonathan Haze in the original. Susan Bjurman replaces Sally Fraser as John Agar's wife, while blonde Patricia Delaney replaces Beverly Garland, and would star in the Marla English role in "Creature of Destruction." All filmed in or around Dallas Texas with local talent, at least Larry Buchanan proved to be more than a one-hit wonder; he later hit paydirt with theatrical successes such as 1970's "A Bullet for Pretty Boy" (starring Fabian) and 1976's "Goodbye Norma Jean" (starring Misty Rowe as a young Marilyn Monroe). Other Texas filmmakers of note include S. F. Brownrigg, who directed "Don't Look in the Basement" (1973), "Don't Open the Door" (1975),and "Keep My Grave Open" (1976), also Larry N. Stouffer, director of 1973's cult classic "Horror High" aka "Twisted Brain." "Zontar" made three appearances on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater- Sept 7 1968 (followed by 1958's "War of the Satellites"), Apr 18 1970 (following 1952's "Battle Zone"), and Nov 27 1971 (following 1967's "Mission Mars").
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Venus invasion took place in Dallas, Texas!
Rich-21418 August 1999
This was part of a group of six films Executive Produced by Dallas attorney Edwin Tobolowsky. This one, produced for less than $30,000 (no kidding) was filmed in and around Dallas' own Casa Linda shopping center in 1966. Fun for film students to study and for people who love to hate "cheapie" movies.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews