I asked Melchior how he first came to be interested in science fiction:
“Actually I was born in Denmark and never heard of science fiction until I got over here in 1938. And then I met Sturgeon, Heinlein, Hubbard – L. Ron Hubbard – in New York and they got me interested. Then I started reading it and I found that good science fiction is really fantastic. A lot of science fiction predicts what is actually going to happen and that made me very interested.”
The Angry Red Planet uses a unique special effect called “Cinemagic,” which resembles solarization in still photography. The images of Mars in the film are a deep red with areas that resemble a negative. Melchior explained that before using the effect, he had to come up with a way to make it plausible to the audience:
“I don’t like to do something that doesn’t make sense. And it wouldn’t make sense to have Mars like that. I mean, why? But it was the remembrance of a woman whose mind was damaged and this is the way she saw it. Then it makes sense. And that’s how I used it. Whenever she’s thinking and talking, it’s in Cinemagic.”
Mark and I were also treated to a tour of Melchior’s home, including his office, which houses some sci-fi treasures such as original props from The Angry Red Planet and The Time Travelers.
You would be hard-pressed to name someone who has led a more fascinating life than Ib Melchior. In fact you might say his time in Hollywood is among the least interesting of his experiences.
In addition to writing science fiction films, he is the writer of eight novels, and several non-fiction works, including a biography of his father, opera singer and actor Lauritz Melchior, entitled Lauritz Melchior: The Golden Years of Bayreuth. He also collaborated with his wife, designer Cleo Baldon on two books — Reflections on the Pool: California Designs for Swimming and Steps & Stairways.
In 1975, his short story The Racer was produced by Roger Corman as Death Race 2000. It was remade in 2008 as Death Race, starring Jason Statham with direction by Paul W.S. Anderson.
In 1982, he wrote the play Hour of Vengeance, based on the Viking story of Amleth, which is also the source work for William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The play was awarded the Hamlet Award for best playwriting by the Shakespeare Society of America.
Melchior’s autobiography Case By Case: A US Army Counterintelligence Agent in World War II (1993) documents his time spent in Europe as a staff sergeant with the US Counterintelligence Corps.
If you want to learn more about this truly intrepid man, I recommend Ib Melchior: Man of Imagination by Robert Skotak, an excellent biography.