Forget Mercury and Venus. Zsa Zsa is the hottest celestial body between Earth and the sun.
This beautiful West German promo poster was made for Zsa Zsa Gabor's 1958 cheeseball sci-fi flick Queen of Outer Space, titled in German In den Krallen der Venus—“in the the claws of Venus.” This is our third entry on the film, though not because it's good. It's because the promo art is excellent, as you can see by looking at the U.S. promos here, and the Italian ones here.
How is the film? As we know, space is a vacuum, which means no one can hear you scream to get back the eighty minutes you lost watching this. Is it so bad it's actually good? Well, maybe. It was meant to be silly, but in the end you'll probably have to supply your own humor.
The poster, by the way, is signed, but we can't unravel the artist's illegible scrawl. We've included it here in case you can. Feel free to let us know who this is, because their work is great. After three years floating around somewhere between Hollywood and the inner planets, Queen of Outer Space premiered in West Germany today in 1961.
I hope your entry vehicle is sufficiently heat and pressure resistant, Captain.
Edit: It takes a village. Our friend Kevin has identified the artist as Ernst Litter, and now that we know who he is we'll return to him a bit later. Thanks, Kevin.
Why so serious, darlings? I'm on my third divorce, and if I can laugh so can you.
The above photo from the mid-1950s shows Hungarian star Zsa Zsa Gabor, whose films included Moulin Rouge, Death of a Scoundrel, Drop Dead Darling, Touch of Evil, and of course, Queen of Outer Space, which we talked about here. What was really funny about Gabor is that she would eventually total seven divorces. It could be a Hollywood record.
Nope. Lana Turner beat her with eight, and Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney both tied her with seven. Gabor, however, also had an anullment. So she ditched eight hubbies. Well, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream, and considering she reached age ninety-nine, maybe she knew more about living than all of us. You see her below from the same shoot, contemplating another marriage proposal.
Zsa Zsa gives Venus va-va-voom in all time sci-fi clunker.
We're back from a spontaneous vacation, and it seems fitting to discuss a movie about the same. We went to Tarifa, but this trip deals with Venus. Once more a cheapie sci-fi flick has brilliant promo posters, as you see above for Queen of Outer Space, which premiered today in 1958 starring Zsa Zsa Gabor, Laurie Mitchell, and Eric Fleming, with a brief appearance from Joi Lansing. Set in the then-distant future of 1985, a group of astronauts are unexpectedly propelled in their rocket millions of miles to a crash landing on our solar system's second planet. This is not the hellhole Venus of scientific reality, but a place with snow, forests, a breathable atmosphere, and intelligent inhabitants—more specifically, babes. In fact, babes in mini skirts and heels, much like Tarifa. And they speak English. And are starved for love because men have been banished from Venus after a revolt by women. Now the world is ruled by a cruel, masked queen. We'll stop there and offer this snippet of dialogue:
“That's incredible. How did she manage to overthrow the men?”
“They didn't take her seriously. [snip] After all, she was only a woman.”
If that gives you an idea the movie is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, you're right. It actually strives to be a sci-fi comedy. In fact, Queen of Outer Space is almost unique in our experience in that it tries to be funny, fails spectacularly on those terms, but is so badly made it's still hilarious. It's the movie equivalent of a stand-up comic slogging his way through a lame routine with no idea he's getting laughs because his fly is open. It's cringingly awful, yet consistently uproarious, as the astronauts come into conflict with the titular space queen while she hides behind her mask and plans to destroy Earth. Actually, we'll give the movie a little credit for humor—there's one instance when this campfest tries to be funny and succeeds. The three astronauts and several horny Venusians are making out in a cave. Someone notices their campfire going out.
One astronaut to another: “Larry, get some more wood, will you?”
Larry: “What do you mean, 'Larry, get some more wood?' What's the matter with, 'Mike, get some more wood?'”
Mike: “This is one time when seniority really pays off. Turner—more wood!”
You're thinking the lines are unintentional, but no—they're deliberately written to be double entendres. Need proof? Look no further than the next line, delivered by a Venusian hottie, between smooches: “We don't really need any more wood.”
So, yes, it's deliberate. Only a muted trumpet going wah wah waaaaah waaah could have made it more clear. Wanna know what accidental looks like? Have a glance here. Whoops. Sadly, because this is the 1950s, none of the Venusians actually get the ole deep space nine, but the wink-wink implications of impending sex are clear, as the astronauts use their sharply honed kissing skills to turn the queen's royal inner circle against her. While her plot to explode Earth was spawned by understandable concerns that men will ruin the galaxy, to that we say, “Stop her! Joi Lansing is down there!” Defeat looms, as does an embarrassing unmasking that reveals— Well, we bet you can guess. Bad doesn't begin to encompass Queen of Outer Space, but as we've always told the Pulp Intl. girlfriends, if you're going to be bad, at least be fun.
The scion in winter.
Two Xmas-themed Paramount publicity stills of American actress Barbara Darrow, who appeared in The Monster Who Challenged the World, Queen of Outer Space, and other b-films. Darrow is second generation Hollywood, the daughter of a silent film actress and a landscape artist. These shots date from 1956.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1995—Mickey Mantle Dies
New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle dies of complications from cancer, after receiving a liver transplant. He was one of the greatest baseball players ever, but he was also an alcoholic and played drunk, hungover, and unprepared. He once said about himself, "Sometimes I think if I had the same body and the same natural ability and someone else's brain, who knows how good a player I might have been."
1943—Philadelphia Experiment Allegedly Takes Place
The U.S. government is believed by some to have attempted to create a cloak of invisibility around the Navy ship USS Eldridge. The top secret event is known as the Philadelphia Experiment and, according to believers, ultimately leads to the accidental teleportation of an entire vessel.
1953—Soviets Detonate Deliverable Nuke
The Soviet Union detonates
a nuclear weapon codenamed Reaktivnyi Dvigatel Stalina, aka Stalin's Jet Engine. In the U.S. the bomb is codenamed Joe 4. It is a small yield fission bomb rather than a multi-stage fusion weapon, but it makes up for its relative weakness by being fully deployable, meaning it can be dropped from a bomber.
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