Zontar, the Thing From Venus/The Eye…
John Ashley, Cynth…
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Starring John Agar, Anthony Houston, Susan Bjurman, Pat DeLaney, Neil Fletcher & Bill Thurman. Written & Directed by Larry Buchanan.
Mention that name where 2 or more film buffs are gathered and a fight is only minutes away. Some say he is a totally creative genius who could stretch a dollar to lengths even Roger Corman never dreamed of. Others say “Get serious!” and insist he is a talentless hack.
Well I happen to like his movies and think even his colour remakes of AIP black and whites from the 1950’s show innovations not explored in the original. Like, take ZONTAR, THING FROM VENUS (1966) — please! — his ‘unofficial’ remake of IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. John Agar is great in the Peter Graves role and Tony Houston is… okay, he is no Lee Van Cleef (jinkies, when that guy just squinted a smart person ran for the hills!) but he justice to the role of a scientist blinded by false promises of an artificially created better world.
Susan Bjurman is great in the role of Houston’s wife. Remember in the original film when Beverly Garland delivered the classic line “I hate your living guts for what you’ve done to my husband and my world!”? She was all about concentrated anger. Ms. Bjurman spits out the same line through tears of anger, desperation and sadness. Both women convey honest emotion but I tend to think Ms. Bjurman’s reaction is a little more
sincere considering the situation.
Zontar himself (itself?) is just so totally original; scaly with three eyes and bat wings and launching “control devices” that look like winged
lobsters. Both he (it?) and “Beulah” from the original are fear inspiring because they are so totally alien from our own species. It is, like, just so totally highly unlikely we could ever co-exist.
I missed the ubiquitous Bronson Canyon that was in the climax of the original but Tony Houston brandishing a homemade laser gun (such an improvement over Lee Van Cleef’s blowtorch) is a great study of a man whose dreams have been, quite literally, murdered. Put this film and THE EYE CREATURES together and you have a whole Saturday afternoon of fun in your own living room drive-in. — Notes by Countess Zarina Suspiriorum.
What Critics Say:
“For me, the name ‘Larry Buchanan’ will always suggest one film in particular: ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS… It was listed in TV GUIDE for a Saturday afternoon, and once I read the title, I knew I needed to see it… I’m sure you’re all questioning my sanity. I’ve actually had some good things to say about a Larry Buchanan film!” — THE BAD MOVIE REPORT
“The badly needed remake of Roger Corman’s IT CONQUERED THE WORLD! With flying bats and a turncoat Earth scientist doing his bidding, the world is Zontar’s oyster!” — ROTTEN TOMATOES.com
“If you can ever find this film, and you feel the need to see a truly stupid picture that you want to laugh at, by all means this is the one…a film that truly captured it all.” — EPINIONS.com
“El cierre es digno de una pelicula clase z.” — CINEFANIA.com
“Isn’t quite so bad as its cult reputation would lead you to believe… it later inspired memorable parodies on SCTV and THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, as well as Boston’s underground ZONTAR, THE MAGAZINE FROM VENUS.” — TVGUIDE.com
“This deliciously campy sci-film has developed a minor cult following. It chronicles the exploits of a Venusian bat-creature who tries to take over the Earth by invading the mind of a hapless victim.” — Sandra Brennan, ALL MOVIE GUIDE