Monster Kid Online Magazine #5


The Stooges' next feature is my personal favorite and is probably the best of their horror/sci-fi crossovers. By the time THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT came out in 1962 I was a full-fledged monster kid and the sight of my favorite morons battling monstrous Martians was my idea of something to see. It was probably the closest thing my generation had to what kids of 1948 experienced when they saw Abbott and Costello come face to face with Frankenstein and his friends. I remember being so excited by the commercials that I cut out the newspaper ad and carried it with me all day while waiting to go to the movie. That afternoon the Bowie Theater in Ft. Worth, Texas was packed with more kids than I'd ever seen in it before. They were even sitting on the steps of the small stage in front of the screen. When there was room I ventured to the steps myself and in a bold moment I crawled forward, reached out and touched that magical silver screen with the twenty foot tall Stooges on it.

The movie didn't disappoint the young crowd that day. From the beginning of the animated credits it was clear this was going to be fun. Moe, Larry and Curly Joe played themselves as stars of a TV show called THREE STOOGES SCRAPBOOK. After being evicted by their strict landlady, the boys take a room in a creepy old mansion owned by the eccentric Professor Danforth (Stooges regular Emil Sitka) who is convinced that Martians are trying to steal his new invention. That night after some scary moments, the Stooges find that the hideous "Martian" lurking in the house is really the butler in disguise. These scenes were originally part of the pilot for an unsold TV show actually called THREE STOOGES SCRAPBOOK. The original story ended with the boys unmasking the phony Martian before making it to the TV studio just in time to save their jobs.

The Stooges are even more confused than usual. Is it a tank-copter, a heli-sub or a whatin-hel?


THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT (originally announced as THE MARTIANS AND THE THREE STOOGES) cleverly expands the story to feature length by making the Martians genuine. And what cool Martians they are! After the butler's failed attempt to steal the professor's heli-tank-sub (which also flies though space), the Martian leader announces he is sending agents Ogg and Zogg to take over the mission. The mention of their names strikes such fear in the butler and even the Martian council, that it creates quite a feeling of apprehension. We soon meet Ogg and Zogg for ourselves as they make a startling entrance and mercilessly send their groveling predecessor back to Mars to face his punishment. As a kid I was really fascinated with these two bad guys from space. Their huge alien heads suggested a mutated mixture of Frankenstein's Monster and the Phantom of the Opera (especially the version seen on the Aurora model kit box) and they wore what can only be described as "Dracula capes".

The strange beings from Mars probably designed by producer and comic book artist Norman Maurer.

The villainous pair was pretty frightening and, following in the tradition of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, they were played fairly straight, heightening the fun by making the danger to the lovable comics seem more real. I remember the most vocal reaction from the theater audience to Ogg and Zogg's nastiness was during the climactic in-flight chase when they aimed their ray gun at Disneyland! Luckily, the most magical place on Earth was saved by the heroic Stooges.

The film had other creative touches too. Each of the Martians had a distinct look making them recognizable individuals. And in an uncharacteristically realistic movie for this juvenile type of fare, the Martians did not speak English. Their alien dialogue was accompanied by subtitles translating it into our language. In one Hope and Crosby-ish movie moment, the Stooges learned the invaders' plans by reading the subtitles on the screen below them. And as an in-joke, actors George N. Neise and Rayford Barnes who played Ogg and Zogg, appeared in one scene in human form as a pair of airline pilots who can't believe their eyes when they see the Stooges' strange craft fly past them.

The Martian chairman (Nestor Paiva) was intended to remind viewers of a certain Soviet leader.


Like most of the Three Stooges features, THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT also contained some topical humor. There was even a cold war reference in the form of the Martian leader, played by Nestor Paiva (better known to monster fans as the captain of the Rita in THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON). The blustery white-haired Martian chairman was a parody of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev who once declared to the United States, "We will Bury you." On Mars, after a barrage of American television images appear on his malfunctioning viewscreen, including annoying commercials and scenes of teenagers doing the twist, the leader begins to bang on the desk with his shoe mimicking Khrushchev's famous United Nations tantrum. He decides the Earth isn't worth invading and orders Ogg and Zogg to destroy it instead

The Martians' arsenal incuded stock footage from EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS.

Of course the boys thwart the Martian plans and the two baddies meet a spectacular end in an atomic exposion. During the earlier battle, a blast from the Martian gun was deflected towards Mars, making a direct hit on the leader's headquarters.

After the Stooges and the Earth are safe and sound we are treated to a memorable final view of Mars. In the rubble of their offices the Martian leader and his council dance the twist. "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em!" exclaims the leader in English followed by the subtitle translation into Martian!

THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT is not likely to make anyone forget ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN or GHOST BREAKERS or other more classic horror-comedy films. But it was a heck of a lot of fun for those monster movie and Stooges fans who saw it at the right time and place and the closest thing the team did to Bud and Lou's famous monster meetings. I for one will always remember as one of my favorite childhood experiences at the movies

Spooks, monsters, gorillas, mad scientists and aliens - The Three Stooges met them all. And they kept us laughing while being scared out of their wits. So thanks, Moe, Larry, Curly. Shemp, Joe and Curly Joe for adding so many priceless moments to the collective memories of several generations of Monster Kids!


Count Gamula

It's up to the Stooges to save the Earth. Boy, are we in trouble!


Attention Earthlings! You will buy our movie today! Click on the link to order it on DVD now!

Special thanks to Gary Lassin, Kevin Pentecost, Trent Reeve and Brent Seguine for help with photos for this feature. For more on the Three Stooges visit these websites


Since 1974, the Three Stooges Fan Club has provided exclusive information, rare photos and behind-the-scenes articles about our favorite knuckleheads. Sanctioned by original Stooges Moe & Larry before their deaths, the fan club's newsletter "The Three Stooges Journal" is crammed with interesting interviews, collector info, bios on the supporting players, unpublished photos, reviews, and much more. It costs just $9.00 for 1 year(4 issues) and includes free classified ads to buy/sell/trade Stoogeablia with other collectors worldwide. For a free sample copy, just email your mailing address to:

Three Stooges Fan Club, Inc.
P.O. Box 747
Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437


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