We’ve been exploring Venus through B films for the last couple months. This month, we are
actually going to get a look at some tangible life from that planet as imagined in Larry Buchanan’s
Zontar, the Thing from Venus. This film is actually a remake of the Roger Corman’s It Conquered
the World (1956), and that title gives away the premise of both films.
Zontar is a made-for-TV movie, and the acting in it is about as good as you’d expect. If you
can get past the halfhearted delivery of lines, you’re left with a mediocre film about a creature from
outer space that promises benevolence but ultimately delivers terror and destruction.
In the film, cynical scientist Keith Ritchie finally gets so disillusioned he decides that a visitor
from outer space that only he can hear must bring hope. No, it doesn’t make logical sense to me,
either, but perhaps mind control is suggested? I mean, mind control happens later in the film to
some characters. I’m really not sure; the middling writing and the second-rate acting tell me so
In First Spaceship on Venus and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, Venusians are humanoid
(and in the latter even enchantingly beautiful), but in Zontar, the sole Venusian that comes to Earth
is hideous. He sends out flying creatures that one of the characters describe as “ugly” and
“obscene looking.” I suppose us simple viewers wouldn’t know Zontar and his flying lobster-like
minions were evil if he wasn’t so disgusting to behold.
What the film Zontar contributes to our understanding of Venus is a theme it has in common
with the last two films we watched – human nature. Venus is a planet that we have historically
regarded as so similar to ours, it must contain life like us. In First Spaceship on Venus, Venusians
have our penchant for destruction. In Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, Venusians have our
beauty. In Zontar, Venusians have our lust for power. Each story of Venus is really a story of
ourselves, but Zontar has the added dimension of taking place on Earth among many people.
Thus, it becomes not only a tale about someone taking power they don’t rightfully deserve; it is
also a story about standing up to that power against difficult odds, which is the kind of thing we all
need to think about doing sometimes.
Watch Zontar, the Thing from Venus, and check out some guy in a filthy looking costume with
wings pretend to try to conquer the world.
Sci-Fi Rewind: Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966)
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Director: Larry Buchanan
Starring: John Agar, Bill Thurman, Colleen Carr, Susan Bjurman, Neil Fletcher, Pat Delaney