Cult Movies: Devil Girl From Mars delivers fun 1950s sci-fi silliness despite its no-budget looks

Ralph explains why this 70 year old British alien invader flick transcends its cheesy trimmings

Patricia Laffan steals the show as black leather clad alien invader Nyah in Devil Girl From Mars
Patricia Laffan steals the show as black leather clad alien invader Nyah

GIVEN that it’s now 70 years old, I suppose Devil Girl From Mars deserves to be cut a little slack. That’s easier said than done, though, when you’re talking about one of the cheapest looking sci-fi films ever made in England.

The term ‘B-movie’ barely applies here, with the standards reached probably qualifying it for a letter considerably further down the alphabet. However, as is often the case with films like this, there is still much to enjoy despite the poverty row backdrop.

When a plane explodes - or a pretty shoddy looking model of one at any rate - and stories of meteor showers and possible UFO sightings abound, local newspaper reporter Michael Carter (Hugh McDermott) and a professor called Arnold Hennessy (Joseph Tomelty) find themselves in the wilds of Scotland investigating it all.

Finding themselves lost, they take sanctuary in a tiny pub called The Bonny Charlie nestled deep in the unforgiving highlands. Joining them are pub owners the Jamiesons (John Laurie and Sophie Stewart), their young nephew Tommy (Anthony Richmond) and a barmaid called Doris (played by future genre star Adrienne Corri).

Also along for the ride are a general dogsbody called David (James Edmond) and a model, Ellen Prestwick (played by the glamourous Hazel Court) who’s hiding away from her stressful life in 1950s London.

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Poster for Devil Girl From Mars
Devil Girl From Mars (1954)

This scene of bog standard sit-com dullness is shattered when a flying saucer appears directly behind the hostelry and spits forth the startling figure of Nyah (Patricia Laffan), a black leather-clad alien who’s come directly from Mars but has missed her primary target of London by some considerable distance.

Upon descending in the wilds of Scotland, the first thing she does - possibly due to being hacked off at having landed so far off course - is to zap the gormless David to death with her ray-gun and throw a force field around the area, leaving everyone within trapped and at her mercy.

The UFO itself is pretty cool in a 1950s ‘made for £20′ kind of way, but the real joy here is delivered by the utterly ridiculous figure of Nyah. A cold-hearted Amazonian dressed as some kind of weird dominatrix, she’s a remarkable creation, who swiftly informs her prisoners that women rule her planet and that she needs to add some males to the genetic mix in order for it to survive.

Devil Girl From Mars
The 1954 sci-fi is still worth a watch despite its obvious lack of production value

Quite how she imagines the motley selection of poorly-fed post-war specimens she’s rounded up in The Bonnie Charlie are going to do this is anyone’s guess, mind you.

The whole film feels like one of those creaky old 1940′s serials that they used to show on Saturday morning kids TV, and while it never quite stoops to a Plan 9 From Outer Space level of awfulness, it’s still fairly atrocious.

The direction from David MacDonald is utterly artless, the dialogue is seriously cheesy and those special effects rather less than special, but with the nasty Nyah lording it up centre stage in her shiny black outfit, Devil Girl From Mars has still got ‘cult classic’ written all over it.