Once more the B Monster turns to a cult-film constituency consisting of writers, publishers, editors and filmmakers, to determine just who are the top rocket riders on film. All were asked to submit their top five. Some went above and beyond.

Tom Weaver
Writer (Fangoria; Starlog; Universal Horrors; Mutants, Monsters and Heavenly Creatures)

• Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers)
• Lloyd Bridges (Rocketship X-M)
• Guy Williams (Lost in Space)
• Paul Mantee (Robinson Crusoe on Mars)
• Commando Cody (played in Radar Men From the Moon by George Wallace, in Zombies of the Stratosphere and the TV show by Judd Holdren, and in all the good parts by stuntman Dave Sharpe.)

Honorable mention: Darren McGavin (Mission Mars) -- not because of what he does in the movie but what he did behind-the-scenes. Elaborate space helmets were made for McGavin and Nick Adams, based on their hat sizes. McGavin tried to get his helmet on but he couldn't; the thing didn't fit, and it hurt to wear it. Furious, he slammed it down on the floor and shattered it into a hundred pieces. A long period of dead silence was followed by an early lunch, as the moviemakers hustled to a local motorcycle shop and bought ordinary motorcycle helmets for the movie's spacemen.

Fred Olen Ray
Director (
Dinosaur Island; Attack of the 60 ft. Centerfold; Invisible Mom)

• Richard Jaeckel (The Green Slime)
• John Saxon (Queen of Blood)
• John Agar (Women of the Prehistoric Planet)
• Gerald Mohr (Angry Red Planet)
• Marshall Thompson (It! The Terror from Beyond Space)

Gary Svehla
Editor/publisher (
Midnight Marquee magazine)

• Richard Wordsworth (The Quatermass Experiment/Creeping Unknown)
• Marshall Thompson (It! The Terror from Beyond Space)
• John Agar (Journey to the 7th Planet)
• Lloyd Bridges (Rocketship X-M)
• Leslie Nielsen (Forbidden Planet)

Steve Conley
Editor/publisher (
Astounding Space Thrills)

• Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon)
• Leslie Nielsen (Commander J.J. Adams: Forbidden Planet)
• Harrison Ford (Han Solo: Star Wars)
• George Wallace (Commander Cody: Radar Men From the Moon)
• William Shatner (Captain Kirk: Star Trek)

Bill Warren
Writer (
Keep Watching the Skies; Set Visits; contributing editor to Maltin's Video Guide)

I'm sticking to the 1950s, otherwise I'd include William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Harrison Ford, etc.

• Leslie Nielsen (Forbidden Planet)
• Warner Anderson (Destination Moon)
Sonny Tufts (Cat-Women of the Moon)
Donna Martell (Project Moon Base)
• Jeff Morrow (This Island Earth)
• Tobor the Great (Tobor the Great)
• William Hopper (20 Million Miles to Earth)
Richard Derr (When Worlds Collide)

I think a special case should be made for Brian Donlevy as Quatermass; he didn't get off the ground, but he was certainly the guiding force behind the rocket project in The Quatermass Experiment/Creeping Unknown

Bryan Senn
Writer (
Golden Horrors: An Illustrated Critical Filmography of Terror Cinema; Fantastic Cinema Subject Guide; Drums of Terror: Voodoo in the Cinema)

• Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes) -- Though I'm violently opposed to the man's politics, nobody can shout "It's a madhouse!" and MEAN IT like ol' Chuck.

• Keir Dullea
(2001, A Space Odyssey) -- Cool as a cucumber under pressure: "Open the pod bay doors, Hal."

• Dennis Quaid (Enemy Mine) -- I named a cat 'Zamese' after the alien baby raised by Randy in this under-rated sci-fi entry.

• Marshall Thompson (It! The Terror from Beyond Space) A square-jawed underdog who can look both appropriately heroic and suitably terrified (the expression on his face when he first looks behind that spaceship grate is priceless!)

• Bruce Dern (Silent Running) -- The ULTIMATE space-ecologist!

Jim Clatterbaugh
Editor/publisher (Monsters From the Vault magazine)

• Michael Rennie (Klaatu: The Day the Earth Stood Still)
• Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon)
• Richard Wordsworth (Victor Carroon: The Quatermass Experiment/Creeping Unknown)
• Jonathan Harris (Dr. Zachary Smith: Lost in Space)
• Leslie Nielsen (Commander J.J. Adams: Forbidden Planet)
• Honorable Mention: Richard Crane (Rocky Jones)
Ian Spelling
Writer (Starlog; The Inside Trek & Science Fiction)

Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers)
• William Shatner (Captain Kirk: Star Trek)
• Stephen Boyd ("Innerspace"ship pilot: Fantastic Voyage)
• George Takei (Ship commander: Star Trek 6)
• Al Hodge (Captain Video)
Chris Gore
Editor/publisher (Film Threat)

Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers)
• Marvin Martian (Warner Bros. cartoon character)
• O.J. Simpson (Capricorn One)
• Leslie Nielsen (Forbidden Planet)
• Han Solo (Star Wars)
Dave McDonnell
Editor (Starlog)

• Daffy Duck (Duck Dodgers in the 24 th 1/2 Century) -- Aided by Porky, forever daffy in pursuit of the elusive shaving cream atom.
• Gort (The Day the Earth Stood Still) -- Driving Mr. Klaatu -- and a true fashion plate he is, too.
• Buster Crabbe (Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers) -- Always Flash Gordon in our memories. Defeated Ming, conquered universe.
• Marvin Martian
(Warner Bros. cartoon character) -- If he wasn't on this list, he was gonna destroy Earth by golly.
George Jetson (The Jetsons) -- The future Dagwood Bumstead with that nifty foldable desktop spaceship.

Charles Kilgore
Editor/publisher (Ecco magazine)
Eric Fleming -- Gil Favor of television's Rawhide was not only on hand for the Conquest of Space (1955), but also faced the dough-faced Queen Of Outer Space (1958). Significantly, his movie debut was as an engineer in a 1944 training film on B-29 flight procedures. Fleming's knowledge of flying didn't prevent him from drowning in Peru during the shooting of a made-for-TV movie.

Anatoli Solenitsyn -- Russian actor Solenitsyn portrayed Dr. Satorious in Andrei Tarkovsky's creepy Solaris (1972), which imagined a living planet that materializes human thought. So just what is Dr. Satorious doing with that dwarf in his lab?

Mickey Hays -- The "Aurora Spaceman" in the 1986 low-budget science fiction film The Aurora Encounter was portrayed by Hays, a young actor with progeria, the disease which causes premature aging. Alas, this deft stroke of casting is all that is of interest in Encounter, which substitutes genteel sentiments for a well-written script. With this his only film role, Hays died of old age six years later. He was 20 years old.

Henry Hite -- Hired because of his height and apparent disregard for self-embarrassment, real-life tall guy Henry Hite portrayed a hitchhiking space alien in Bill Rebane's stupefying sci-fi failure Terror At Halfday (1965). How bad is it? Suffice it to say that Herschell Gordon Lewis was brought in to "fix" the results, resulting in what is often considered Lewis' least watchable picture, Monster A-Go Go.

Colonel Bleep -- Okay, he's a cartoon character, but Colonel Bleep has the distinction of being the first color cartoon created for television broadcast -- in 1957! And what a weird program it was. Bleep, who resembles Reddy Kilowatt with a glass helmet, is joined in his outer space adventures by his friends Squeak and Scratch (a little boy puppet in cowboy clothes and a caveman, respectively). Already you can tell that something strange is going on here. And despite its low budget, Colonel Bleep's creators added several memorable touches that helped attract attention. The cartoon's unseen narrator frequently shifts into "over the top" mode (remember the Hindenburg crash broadcast?) to heighten the excitement, and the animation's odd minimalism is offset by impressive graphic design that suggests the future as seen through the eyes of the 1950s. Very cool!

"Terror awaits in the mists of outer space!"
Assignment-Outer Space

"As blood-chilling as being buried alive!"

"Please keep the climax a secret!"

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