Cave Women on Mars (2008) by Jeffrey Long
Originally posted at: http://bmovieshelf.blogspot.com/2013/09/cave-women-on-mars-2008.html
"Cave Women on Mars" is the third in the currently-eight-movie collection dubbed the Mihmiverse. What is the Mihmiverse, you ask? Well in short, it's a series of micro-budget black and white B-Movies created by Christopher R. Mihm that are made as both parodies and homages to the classic 1950s-era Drive-In B-Movies and thus replicate that style while also poking a bit of fun at it as well. "Cave Women on Mars" was preceded by "The Monster of Phantom Lake" in addition to "It Came From Another World!" and while both of those were pretty damn good for what they are, it's really this third outing that he really finds his groove and manages to knock the ball out of the park and is, in my opinion, the best attempt yet at replicating/parodying that low budget 1950s style.
The main thing that sets this one apart from the previous two is that while those ones took place in the 1950s, this one takes place in the then-Future of 1987 (remember, even though these movies are being made nowadays, the gimmick of all of these is that they are made as if they were filmed and released in the 1950s). Because this is an alternate 1987 then the one we actually got (one as it may have been envisioned back in the 50s), mankind has begun their travel out to the stars and planets of the universe, complete with ridiculously corny spacesuits, totally unrealistic (and cheap-looking!) technology, a completely off-base vision of what Mars 'could be' like, scantily-clad hot warrior babes, and of course one hilariously annoying computer A.I. System, aka the perfect 1950s futuristic sci-fi/fantasy B-Movie adventure!
One of the main leads here is Captain Jackson, who is the shaved-headed son of Professor Jackson from the previous two movies, and in classic campy fashion he's played by the same actor. Josh Craig really gets to shine here as he finally gets to bring something new and different to the table then what he was able to as the overly-annoying Professor Jackson in the other movies. He gets to actually show off some decent acting chops and his portrayal of this character is so widely different (as is his visual look), that if it hadn't been for his very familiar voice, I wouldn't have even caught on that he was the same actor. Now, I know I dogged on his character from the other movies quite a bit in my review for those, but it was still nice to see that actual character again for an aged cameo here (now the Director-in-Charge of Earth's United Space Program – ha!), and it only added to help show the difference in how Josh Craig can easily slip into two totally different characters and make you believe that they're two different characters.
Also joining Captain Jackson in his space crew is only one man, Lieutenant Elliott, played by Mihmiverse newcomer Daniel Sjerven, but like Josh Craig, he has equal screen time (if not more) and he is also a magnificent actor for material such as this, complete with perfect comedic timing that reminded me, on more then one occasion, of B-Movie legend Bruce Campbell in his interactions with the primitive warrior tribeswomen that occupy Mars.
These two new characters are on a classified space mission to Mars, to be the first men to touchdown on the red planet and explore its surface. Again, this is not Mars as we actually know it to be now, but a potential Mars as it may have been envisioned by low budget sci-fi filmmakers of the 50s – which is to say that while some of the planet may be the barren red rocky wasteland we know it as in actuality, quite a lot of it is also covered in thick, dense, jungle and cold, clear lakes. In addition to that, occupying these jungles are some strange alien wildlife and, of course, the titled "Cave Women on Mars," which are actually made up of two warring Amazonian tribes, one an evil brutal slave-driving race and the other a kinder, but still pretty violent and threatening race – in both the women are the dominating gender while men are looked down on as the weak members of the race, and even as outright slaves in some cases. Lieutenant Elliott is the first to come across these Tribes, switching hands from the more evil barbaric Tribe to being a prisoner of the opposite Tribe and being led across the dangerous lands to be brought before their High Priestess. Along the way they face a deadly territorial bear-like monster creature, attacks from two pursing hunters of the enemy tribe, a budding and forbidden love between Elliot and one of his captors, and a prophecy fulfilled that could rock the foundations of history for both planets, Earth and Mars alike.
Captain Jackson has a bit less interesting of a subplot as he merely tries to follow their trail and track his missing crew member down, hoping to eventually save him before anything too drastic happens to him. Ultimately he becomes almost an antagonist himself as, once he manages to catch up to everyone and finds that his subordinate has fallen in love with one of the primitive women and wishes to stay, he tries to force him to return to Earth with him, by almost any means necessary.
One of my main complaints of the two previous movies was that the runtime was a bit too long for the kind of project these movies are, especially since the average movie of that era was just barely an hour in most cases. I was thrilled to see that complaint addressed with this one, as it clocks in at an easy-to-sit through one hour and thirteen minutes, coming in at pretty much the perfect length for this kind of subject matter. There is one scene that goes on just a tad bit too long with tons of extra unneeded exposition, but that's only a very very minor quibble in an otherwise perfect movie. Plus seeing as how in the special features there's an alternate version of that scene that goes on for even longer with even more unneeded exposition, I'm rather happy with the version of the scene we got.
The special effects is another area where this movie surpasses the previous two. Yes, I realize bad special effects are part of the whole schtick here and trust me, they're still hilariously cheesy-bad, but considering what we got for the two other movies (a garbage pale on someone's head and a couple bulging eyeballs), what we got here was mind-blowing in comparison. From the rocket ship and spacesuits, to the matte painting/green-screened Martian surface, even to the cloth vs leather wardrobe of the Cave Women tribes and the large furry suit of the monster-bear thing - out of all three of the Mihmiverse movies I've seen so far, the effort that goes into these has never before been so on-display as it is with this entry (not to dog on the other two, of course, as the high level of effort came across in those as well).
As mentioned in my other two reviews, these self-produced DVD discs are stacked right up with tons of excellent bonus content, which is quite surprising seeing as how these are not only micro-budget, largely fan-funded titles, but the overall price for each DVD is so cheap that it blows my mind we get so much with them. For this title, we have two Blooper Reels (one of which is strictly line flubs and people cracking up in the middle of Takes, and the other encompasses everything else), the above-mentioned alternate version of one of the scenes in the movie (which I'm really happy with the decision made there), a featurette on the special effects of the movie, a Photo Gallery of tons of Behind-the-Scenes photos, a selection of various trailers for both this movie as well as other Mihmiverse titles, and of course the full length Audio Commentary by Christopher R. Mihm and lead actors Josh Craig and Daniel Sjerven. While this go-around is missing the usual introduction to the film by Horror Host Dr. Ivan Cryptosis (which I personally am fine without, but I know there are lots of people out there that love that sort of thing) you certainly still get a good amount of bang for your buck with this.
Before popping the disc in, I really didn't think I'd like this one as much, simply because when it comes to 1950s Drive-In B-Movies I'm much more a fan of the monster movies or the horror ones, and not so much the straight-up sci-fi space adventure kinds, but "Cave Women on Mars" turned out to not only be the most ambitious of the three Mihmiverse movies that I've seen so far but also, by far, my personal favorite in the series yet, making me even more excited now to check out the continuing adventures of Captain Jackson in a couple movies' time.
Seeing as how a lot of the advertising for this guy and his movies come from simple word of mouth from the fans, if you check any of these titles out and enjoy them then be sure to get the word out there on these movies and hopefully we can snag in a few other fans that may not even realize these exist. You can order these on DVD (and even BluRay for the latest couple!) over at his official site which is filled with all sorts of other goodies as well (including a monthly newsletter in addition to a very laid back, yet fun and informative, podcast). Hell, there's even an excellent deal on right now – Buy Three Movies, Get One Free, which seeing as how there's currently eight of these titles, if you do that twice then that is the perfect way to catch up with all of them and in the end save some dough – that's how I did it!
10/10 rooms in the Psych Ward