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Daniel Wiltshire has been a fan of movies for as long as he can remember, but it was the prime-time movie theme weeks on local independent TV stations – while growing up in the ’80’s – that first amped his interest in classic sci-fi, horror, and suspense pictures. “In any given week there’d be a roster of alien invasion movies, monster movies, Hitchcock movies…seemingly anything. When you’re that young, there are no old movies. Everything is new, and I was easily hooked.” Some examples of the beginning of what would grow into an ever broadening spectrum of movie interests, are his memories of seeing two wildly dissimilar pictures; CITIZEN KANE (“I watched it because I thought the beginning was spooky.”) and the 1976 killer earthworm movie, SQUIRM (“The main thing I remember were these worms coming out of a shower head. I haven’t seen it in 25 years, but it’s still a pretty vivid image.”)
Daniel explains, “It often takes a few years for me to re-watch even some of my favorite films, because I’m always on the hunt for titles I haven’t seen before. I’m always looking for my next favorite movie. Aided by my personal “drug of choice”, Turner Classic Movies, I’ve learned that the more movies I see, the more I realize how little I’ve seen.”
Daniel has a background in cartooning, and works in video production as an animator / After Effects artist. Lost Highway welcomes Daniel to our desolate roadway and now we bring Daniel’s review of “The Wild Wild Planet”…
THE WILD WILD PLANET is one of those late-night movies that I stumbled upon a couple of years ago and immediately thought to myself, “What the…?!” Shot in Italy, and released in 1965, it has made the rounds for decades as a sort of late-night movie staple. Part swingin’ 60’s time capsule, and part unintentionally goofball science fiction, the WILD WILD PLANET is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen.
In the distant future, manly space-cop Mike Halstead is uncomfortable with all these newfangled technological marvels being developed by Dr. Nurmi, the top hot-shot chemist at uber-corporation Chem Bio Med. Human organs being cultivated in laboratories for transplantation just isn’t “natural”, says the man flying around in a space ship and holstering a laser pistol. But really, it’s not just the organ transplant thing that sparks his distrust. Dr. Nurmi has also been putting some smooth dance moves on his main squeeze, Lieutenant Connie Gomez, and he doesn’t like that one bit.
Meanwhile, Mike and his team at Space Command are trying to solve the disappearance of thousands of prominent citizens. What he doesn’t know is that the mysterious kidnappers – A claque of attractive, tall-haired women, each paired with a mute, genetically modified mutant – are shrinking down their victims to a sixth their normal size and transporting them via briefcase for experimentation. Everything does not go flawlessly though, for midway through their shrinky-dinking of a Space Command professor, the abductors are interrupted by his shrieking granddaughter, so they flee, leaving behind their victim, merely half his normal size. And by “half his normal size”, I mean…a dwarf actor with the doctor’s haircut and mustache. Genius!
The kidnappings continue. There are witnesses to some of the abductions, but strangely, no one seems to ever be in much of a hurry to actually…describe the kidnappers. Sometimes the key to good police work is to just state the obvious: “Bald guy. Sunglasses. Black hat. Giant rubber trenchcoat!?” Really, it’s not that difficult. Nevertheless, the police manage to stumble upon two of the kidnappers, and a space-car chase ensues where they quickly crash their car in a terribly unconvincing miniature model fireball.
Rummaging through the wreckage, the police retrieve a briefcase containing some of the shrunken kidnapping victims. Mike and his team now have the clues he needs to solve the conspiracy. A conspiracy originating from an experimental lab on space station Delphus, which, coincidentally enough, is the same place his girlfriend went for her vacation for some reason or other.
It should come as no surprise that Mike was correct all along to be suspicious of Dr. Nurmi. The whole plot leads back to the mad scientist’s secret base where Mike and his team uncover Nurmi’s plans to create a race of perfect supermen, (Yeah, that always goes well.) as well as a superfluous plan to genetically fuse himself with Connie into one perfect he/she “bi-sapian”(!). The guy is truly off his nut. It should be remembered that the number one clue to realizing someone’s a mad scientist is to note if their most common exclamation is “You FOOL!”, as in “You FOOL! You dare thwart my plans?!” or “You FOOL! These eggs are much too runny!” It’s a giant red flag.
Anyway, after an interrupted transplant procedure, a hall of mirrors fake out, a judo fight melee between space-cops and mad-scientist lackeys, it all culminates in a flood of liquified human remains that looks like frothy, un-refrigerated, strawberry Jell-O. The loopy plot, coupled with the candy-colored Jetson’s-style sets, and cityscapes straight out of a 60’s sci-fi pulp magazine, THE WILD WILD PLANET manages to be a strangely memorable movie. Not particularly good mind you, but memorable.
3 out of 10
Check out the trailer for The Wild Wild Planet