Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952)

50s Republic Studios serial that very much resembles other 50s Republic work like Commander Cody and Radar Men From The Moon.

Firstly, I was not a child of the 50s, I was a child of the 70s, so perhaps I have a different take on old time B&W movie serials than older viewers? My take is this…I turn to Columbia serials for Batman, I turn to Universal serials for Buck Rogers and I turn to Republic serials for this kind of frantic spacey action with spaceships and rocket men flying around the place! So basically, I love Zombies Of The Statosphere! Mainly the first four chapters…

The first few chapters will put a smile on your face. You will not be looking at Leonard Nimoy (and this is coming from a Trekker like me) but rather you will get totally sucked into the style-over-substance look of this production. From the alien costume to the Lydecker miniature flying effects, to the full scale ship model, to the outstanding vintage cars, and the train rooftop fights. This has the works.

I know a few of these old time serials had fights on train rooftops but I found such footage most pleasing in Columbia’s Batman And Robin (1949)…so you might wish to see that as well.

Now onto the bad news. Because the first four chapters put me on such a high, I was not ready for what was to come in chapters five and six when the painfully dated tin-can robot appears! Yes, I know, with the exception of Robby The Robot (Forbidden Planet, The Invisible Boy), 50s robots just looked like this. Even the odd 60s robot looked much like this (see that first season Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode with a robot). But the sight of a walking garbage bin put a damper on what was a knockout start.

On top of this, the extensive underwater footage did not look so good on my faded print of the serial. Maybe you had a better print and could make out what was going on underwater?

In a nutshell, this is well worth watching as the flying effects and general look of the production is outstanding. Lydecker would go on to do more “real-daylight-filmed-flying-scenes” with TV’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964) and Lost In Space (1965). Some viewers (like me) will struggle with things once tin-man enters the scene but he does not get

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