King Of The Rocket Men (1949/Republic/12 Chapters/Cheezy Flicks DVD)
C Sound: C Extras: D Chapters: D
production company is named Cheezy Flicks Entertainment. That signals one of two things: either this
is going to be an ultra-hip, nod-nod wink-wink presentation of a relatively
stale Saturday afternoon serial or it is going to be so
is not good.
cover of the DVD comes this whopping pronouncement: “No Serial Thrill like it before!” Huh?
This is definitely not a sentence you can diagram and, let’s face it,
folks, the only audience for this stink bomb is the one that knows what
diagramming a sentence is (read SSI’ers).
Most folks who attended screenings of serials come from the Greatest
Generation and there aren’t many of them left.
The next gen, the boomers, were treated to these same serials as
retreads during the early era of television, when original programming was
virtually non-existent. Still, not every
kid would sit in front of the box and watch 12 successive episodes of anything
as repetitive and un-thrilling as the largely uninspired King of the Rocket Men.
King Of the Rocket Men (1949) does appear to be cleaned
up digitally; no perceivable scratching or myriad hairs-in-the-gate. However, one episode has a glaring glitch
that no one bothered to address, namely an old edit. Evidently, the original film had snapped and
someone went back, got another copy and stitched it back together. Unfortunately, the edits overlap, so a minute
or so of a scene is repeated immediately after where the break occurred. I would guess all this happened before Cheezy
Flicks even dreamed of purchasing the distribution rights and, once they got
it, they didn’t care enough to do anything about it. Fair enough, it’s their dime, though our
editor told us it seems to be in public domain.
that’s right: it’s yours, too.
hardly even deserves a brief synopsis.
It is the stuff of the average serial.
More fisticuffs break out than a Saturday Evening Smackdown, with
similar wearisome predictability. Our
hero, Jeff King, dons a rocket suit (which consists of helmet attached to a
motorcycle jacket with dials vaguely reminiscent of a 1st generation Maytag
washer, which say “Up, Down, Fast, and Slow,” instead of “Start, Wash, Rinse,
and Dry”). This, coupled with the
“Atomic Decimator” that appears barely capable of annihilating a block and a
half of already razed streets in Secaucus,
provides the only vague hints of futuristic thrills. The evil nemesis is “Doctor Vulcan,” who
attempts to steal the secrets of “Science Associates” for his own nefarious
10 supplies a complete recap of the 9 previous episodes using flashbacks, an
old serial trick to keep production budgets down and frustrate the bejezus out
8 year old fans who were as hip to this old dodge as they were to crappy
Cracker Jack prizes. The final episode
is hysterically awful, with what appears to be really bad stock footage from
some previous bargain basement serial.
Casually, a tiny model of a generic city stands in for the total
decimation of New York.
somewhere was living out a particular nasty fantasy.
upside, some of this can be played for laughs.
Not a lot, but some. I wearied of
the “so bad its good” mood rather more quickly than a fellow viewer.
extras include commercials for concession stand wonders and ancient cartoons,
none of which have been digital treated and all of which are in horrendous
condition. The original trailer is also
- Don Wentworth