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Pluto, Schmuto: Revisit a Time When Mars Was All the Rage With These Streaming Classics

Pluto, Schmuto: Revisit a Time When Mars Was All the Rage With These Streaming Classics: Total Recall

Total Recall

It’s a big weekend for Mars anniversaries — as big as they ever get, really — with Saturday marking the 32nd year since the launch of the Soviet Union’s Mars 5 probe, and the 29th anniversary of Viking 1’s famous photo of Cydonia, an area of the faraway planet which apparently contains debris that resembles a human face. (Coincidence or… massive coincidence? You be the judge.) With this in mind, it’s obviously time to celebrate the second smallest planet in the Solar System with the following streaming suggestions.

THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959)
The fate of the crew of first manned mission to Mars ends up in doubt in this classic B-movie famed as much for its shortened production schedule and innovative cost-saving approach to special effects (Mixing hand-drawn animation with live-action shots) as its plot. If nothing else, the movie’s educational enough to teach us that producers believed that Mars was full of carnivorous planets back then. (Available on Netflix)


MY FAVORITE MARTIAN (1963)
Years before Bill Bixby told the world that we wouldn’t like him when he was angry, he starred as Tim in this long-lived 1960s sitcom about a reporter who uncovers a crashed spaceship and decides to tell the world that its pilot is actually his visiting uncle. Suddenly Modern Family feels a little dull, somehow… (Available on Hulu)


DOCTOR WHO: PYRAMIDS OF MARS (1975)
It’s no surprise that the beloved British sci-fi series visited the Red Planet during its original run (It’s returned in the rebooted version of the show as well), with this 1970s story arc from the popular Tom Baker era serving as one of the series’ high points. Again, don’t expect too much scientific accuracy — or sets that don’t wobble every now and then. (Available on Netflix)


TOTAL RECALL (1990)
When Arnold Schwarzenegger tells you to get your ass to Mars, you listen. Even when the version of Mars being offered is a mishmash of high concept special effects and ridiculous action sequences that might break your brain if you think about them too much. (That’s what you get for adapting a Philip K. Dick story, after all.) (Available on Netflix)


THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER GOES TO MARS (1998)
Quick: What makes The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars of interest to science fiction fans? It’s not that the plot is especially complicated or much-loved, nor that audiences had been waiting years to see a toaster make it to the fourth planet from the sun. No, it’s that this movie features the last role of DeForrest Kelley, a.k.a., Bones from Star Trek. He died as he lived: in fictional space. (Available on Netflix)


Lifequest-Mars-Vudu

LIFEQUEST MARS: THE SEARCH FOR LIFE (2003)
In case Total Recall and The Angry Red Planet didn’t fill you with facts and belief, here’s a documentary speculating on what the first manned trip to Mars would actually be like, and the many (many) hardships involved in making it there in one piece. (Available on Hulu)


COSMONAUT VLADIMIR KOMAROV: THE SOYUZ CONSPIRACY (2010)
Komarov, a close friend of Yuri Gagarin, died when his spacecraft came plummeting to Earth in 1967 — but since his death, a conspiracy theory has arisen claiming that that was always going to be the case, and that he was never supposed to survive his mission. This documentary makes that case, and might make you even more glad that you were never a cosmonaut. (Available on Hulu)


INTERPLANETARY (2008)
Life on Mars, as David Bowie would put it, turns out to be relatively dull in this thriller — well, until an unstoppable Martian creature and group of strangers show up and try to kill everyone in sight. That always brightens the day up. (Available on Hulu)


WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH (2012)
A sequel to HG Wells’ original novel about martians attacking the Earth, this animated movie moves the action to 1914 New York, where a steampunk aesthetic has taken hold just in time for the second wave of martians to arrive, and this time, they’re not going to catch a cold if they can help it. (Available on Netflix)


THE LAST DAYS ON MARS (2013)
What’s that, you say? Mars is all well and good, but you want some zombies? Luckily, this film is here to deliver, with Liev Schreiber leading the cast against a biological agent that turns humans into fast-moving shambling undead. As if the prospect of real Mars wasn’t bad enough… Let’s just keep sending unmanned machines there until we know it’s safe, okay…? (Available on Netflix)

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