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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.2%
Worth A Look: 9.76%
Average: 9.76%
Pretty Bad: 4.88%
Total Crap63.41%

1 review, 35 user ratings

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War of the Planets
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by David Cornelius

"There's awful, there's gawdawful, and then there's 'War of the Planets.'"
1 stars

2005 has turned out to be a banner year for Bad Movies. In addition to the handful of worse-than-usual theatrical releases we’ve been handed lately, we’ve also seen a parade of worse-than-usual direct-to-video junk. Let’s put it this way: when a movie that has Jerry Springer as the President of the United States is one of your better direct-to-video titles, something’s gone horribly wrong.

Add to this list “War of the Planets,” a homemade schlocker from director/producer/writer/actor/composer/photographer/etc. Mike Conway. The film was produced for a light $27,000 in 2003 under the title “Terrarium;” it sat, like most no-budget films do, in indie limbo for years, with Conway retooling the editing and the special effects, until Lions Gate picked it up this year to be a cheap video quickie, rechristening the work with a more familiar-sounding, more sellable title.

Consider this: Conway thought naming his sci-fi thriller “Terrarium” was a great idea. And sadly, it remains one of his better ones. Ouch.

The film ultimately is a throwback to those wonderful 1950s, where any schmuck with a camera and a few grand could slap together a genre film to sell to the drive-in crowd. These days, when so many B pictures are modestly budgeted and suffer only from their own ridiculousness (or, at least, the casting of Armand Assante), it’s refreshing to see a film reach beyond generic suckiness and dive head-first into complete ineptitude. Pay attention, class, for this is as bad as they come.

The first chunk of the movie - just a few minutes, but it feels like a flippin’ eternity - provides the backstory of a fifteen year mission into deep space, where an Earth-like planet has been discovered, ready for colonization. We meet our heroes, a collection of second-string community theater players and friends-of-the-director making their acting debut; this may not seem like a big deal, considering how many other homemade productions use amateurs, but once you slowly realize that this film has been designed to be actor-centric, you’ll understand why these early scenes are a warning, a flashing neon sign reading “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.”

A seemingly endless series of I-can’t-believe-they-thought-they-could-get-away-with-this special effects shots later (seriously, the CGI is something an eighth grader would whip up on his home computer), we finally get to the story proper. It seems the spaceship has crashed on the distant planet, and the astronauts awaken from their cryo-sleep to find one shipmate dead, and what appears to be the de-helmeted version of Ro-Man from “Robot Monster” stalking their ship.

Let me repeat. “War of the Planets” features, as its alien monster, a dude in a gorilla suit.


Anyway. I want to praise Conway here for doing one thing right. In these early scenes, he realizes that fifteen years of suspended animation would leave the astronauts’ bodies atrophied; as such, for the first half hour of the film, the cast remains essentially trapped by their own selves, unable to escape or fight back. It’s rare that a film of this scale would get its science right, and the idea of a filmmaker using such a gimmick to create claustrophobic terror is commendable.

Or, at least, it would be, if Conway had any storytelling skills. Which he does not. For yet another flippin’ eternity, we’re stuck watching this collection of overactors and underactors spew laughable dialogue and, in between the Space Gorilla attacks, wax philosophic about what personal demons drove them to volunteer for a mission that would separate them from their homes for possibly the rest of their lives. To see a mediocre actor bungle his way through an attempt at heartfelt emotion over the memory of his kidnapped daughter is one thing; to follow it with screams of “Leave him alone, Sasquatch! Come and get me, you hairy bastard!!” is something else entirely.

Mercifully, our valiant heroes manage to escape their cryo-chambers, elude Ro-Man, and work their way outside… where they discover that their ship has been encased in glass, and aliens (which, by the way, look even more ridiculous than the Pajama People from “Signs,” if such a thing were possible) are apparently studying them like creatures in a zoo. Hence, the original, horrible title.

Of course, it only gets sillier and sillier, the plot becoming increasingly nonsensical, the acting increasingly embarrassing (do check out Timothy S. Daley’s portrayal of the rugged captain - his stumbling non-responses to every emotional situation are Bad Movie nirvana). Oh, and there’s an infinite supply of Casio-quality synthesizer music for you, too.

Conway eventually writes himself into a corner with this one - with no way back to Earth, no help possibly coming, and a planet full of hostile Pajama People and Space Gorillas out there, how could this story possibly resolve itself? After spending 82 minutes with this effort, one’s only hope is, obviously, for a slow, violent death to all the major characters, but no, we don’t even get that. What we get instead is perhaps the least satisfying of all possible outcomes, saved only by the fact that the last line of the film is delivered in such a ham-fisted way that it’s impossible not to leave this film giggling. Well, I guess has some redeeming qualities after all.

It’s movies like this that make me wish that “Mystery Science Theater 3000” was still on the air. Oh, what Mike and the Bots could have done with a junker like this. This is 82 minutes of utter lousiness, delivered right to your television set. Either avoid like the plague, or rent it immediately, depending on what kind of evening you prefer.

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originally posted: 11/15/05 07:44:40
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User Comments

6/23/13 krazyklown I thought the movie was good. there were times i got scared. 4 stars
2/11/13 Dale Huckeby Plan 9 has been dethroned. Five guffaws 5 stars
8/19/10 Hubert This is everything I will ever aspire to. 5 stars
9/26/09 Mark G. David Cornelius dosen't understand the core of Indpendent moviemaking. 5 stars
1/26/08 shpxjvg Its so bad...its good! 1 stars
1/11/08 James I think I'll go downstairs and watch it again. 3 stars
7/30/07 JWB This is the most lousiets piece of crap I have seen. 1 stars
4/19/07 Veswik I hate to say it, but I've had more fun choking than I did watching this movie. 1 stars
9/23/06 robby walters sucks, wasted money ,wasted time 1 stars
8/31/06 Ana Olmos this movie was the maximum shit i've ever seen 1 stars
8/20/06 Albert This movie is not worth the DVD it was printed on. I give it -2 Stars horrendous 1 stars
8/08/06 Barbara Very good site! I like it! I just wanted to pass a note to let you know what a great job yo 5 stars
8/07/06 Tom Green Nice site. I had a bit of trouble with loading some of the pages, but maybe that's just bec 1 stars
8/07/06 MR.Bob Regards by Very well job here with that website! Congratulations, I love it very much. I re 1 stars
8/06/06 tom wilson soo bad that my son(11) and just have to mention the title to break into gales of laughter. 1 stars
8/05/06 Jan I really enjoyed looking at your site, I found it very helpful indeed, keep up the good wor 3 stars
7/17/06 Undisclosed Best worst movie. Ever. Watch it now. 5 stars
6/14/06 Erick Shade A good bad movie? MST without the bots. 4 stars
6/11/06 lacanada it was shit 1 stars
5/18/06 Cale Grant This was the worst movie i have ever seen it rated a -7/10 on my bad movie scale. 1 stars
1/23/06 steven Smith This is 82 minutes of crap Let me repeat beyond CRAP 1 stars
12/16/05 bill fikil this movie is crap beyound crap 1 stars
12/15/05 elderberry wine sucked,real bad....bbuster owes me some money for have it on their shelves! 1 stars
12/11/05 Kevin Don't spank your kids if they have been bad. Make them watch this movie!! That will do it. 1 stars
12/08/05 Jon This movie is really, really bad. 1 stars
11/28/05 lava lamp if this was made abouttt 40 years, ok, but, its 2003... pathetic 1 stars
11/28/05 John A. Mac Donald I didn't pay to watch it, so I got what I paid for. 1 stars
11/26/05 Peter Mike Conway will grow from this 3 stars
11/21/05 MagnoliaFan I wasted and hour and a half for this? 1 stars
11/21/05 joey rideout a total waste of and hour. the effects, monters, and captin were all crap. a total waste. 1 stars
11/21/05 David Rosner I did the CGI and I am retarded.. and gay... 3 stars
11/21/05 Mumbly Joe The CGI was the worst I've ever seen 2 stars
11/19/05 Joe Good indie effort - misleading marketing by distributor 4 stars
11/17/05 Mike Conway Now that was a funny review! Yes, MST3000 would be fun to watch, with this. Thanks! 4 stars
11/16/05 mary anthony This was really bad. No plot. I was unable to follow whatever was going on. 2 stars
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  15-Nov-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Nov-2005



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