Archive for the '60's b-movies' Category

Jul

posted by admin | July 21, 2014 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Guest Review

“We are here to serve humanity.” Thus states one of the hippest title sequences ever done in my opinion, something that sticks with you long after the rest of the film ends up in the Recycle Bin on your mental desktop.

It’s the tail-end of the Groove Era—psychedelics, calf-boots, turtlenecks, and breezy free-form jazz. The United States is run by a beneficent race of humanoid aliens of unknown origin who have striven to end war, hatred, political and social corruption, sexual tension, and obesity. They call themselves The Monitors, and the civilization they are trying to push the country into accepting is the kind of maternalistic, overly-intrusive nanny state envisioned by genial Swedish socialists. As the film’s tagline declares, “If you don’t like air pollution, war, body odor, hard pizza rolls, exercise, hairy musicians, sexy blonds, tooth decay, smiling heroes, population explosion….you’ll love The Monitors.” All is not well in Paradise, however; there are those who rebel against the flaccid, Wonderbread norms of the new society and long for the good ol’ days of promiscuity, liquor, kickbacks, and the Missile Gap.

This is the conflict at the heart of this film, based very loosely on the 1966 novel of the same name by science-fiction author Keith Laumer. I have done both, and I found this to be one of those rare instances where the film is more entertaining than the novel, mainly due to Laumer’s stilted writing style and excessive sobriety. The film’s main problem is that it careens around like an unmedicated bi-polar patient, unable to decide whether it is a witty, stinging commentary on American conservatism or a slapstick Stoogefest.

Directed by Jack Shea and filmed entirely on location in Chicago, the film featured the first screen appearance of Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe, which radically changes the balance of the film from being a Sober Warning of Excessive State Interference to one of Zany, Promiscuous Drunks Trying to Get Away from Daddy’s Rules. Veteran comics Avery Schreiber, Larry Storch, and Keenan Wynn have major roles, and cameos of late-60s contemporary comedians and pop culture figures are frequent.
The film is an odd period piece in several ways, and was a spectacular flop. It was produced on a small budget by camera manufacturers Bell & Howell to showcase a new cinematic camera system they had recently developed, and to draw attention to Chicago as a hip alternative place to shoot movies. They failed on both counts; Bell & Howell stopped producing cinematic equipment within two years, and no-one would film in Chicago for decades after the film’s failure.

From my perspective, the film’s main flaw is that is goes way overboard on the Zany/Madcap Humor. For instance, Larry Storch (of “F-Troop” fame) is always funny, but only in small doses; like watching Lindsay Lohan at a bar, you might get a laugh for the first 10 minutes or so, but after that you just want the bouncer to club her over the head and drag her away. A New York Times review from October of 1969 agrees, defecating on the film by stating “The movie is neither as funny nor as stinging as it was intended to be….The endless wisecracks seem none too wise or witty, or, for that matter, new.” For a film that features a well-known comedy troupe, that’s a major “ouch.”

Overall, the acting is pretty decent. Guy Stockwell (older brother of Dean Stockwell) plays Harry, a kind of generic All-American Guy who nevertheless comes across as likeable; Susan Oliver (who looks good in green as an Orion slavegirl in the Star Trek episode “The Menagerie”) plays Barbara, a chick who never quite makes up her mind about the Monitors, working first as their agent then joining (sort of) the resistance; the sober but likable Shepperd Strudwick plays the leader of the Monitors, Tersh Jeterax, and, when the film comes to its conclusion, leaves the viewer feeling as though they have disappointed Dad; and Sherry Jackson (of the classic biker-B “The Mini-Skirt Mob”) who flounces into Harry’s life as Mona, the girl who helps him escape from the Monitors’ re-education facility and has a great wet-tee scene in a fountain.

The cinematography is remarkably good with many really well-composed shots; director of photography was Vilmos Zsigmond who would go on to shoot classics like Deliverance, The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Black Dahlia. Its amazing to see such talent at work on such a low-budget project, like having Ansel Adams photographing piles of dog crap.
The story progresses pretty much the way you’d expect, with almost no surprises; the resistance (let by a pair of batshit officers played by Storch and Wynne) plans to bomb Monitor HQ, thus rendering the excessively-structured Monitors leaderless and impotent. Although he dislikes Monitor rule, Harry is not quite prepared to go that far and he contacts the mothballed President to help foil them. They do, but Jeterax and the other Monitors are so disappointed by the antics of the Earthmen they have come to save that they withdraw from the planet, like disappointed parents leaving their wayward teens to face the consequences of their actions.

And that is one of the crazy things about the film. Yes, they can be annoyingly overbearing, like impeccably-well-dressed high-tech hall monitors tasked with keeping order in the unruly Human High School and issuing detentions accordingly, but they are so well-meaning and so damned polite about it that you can’t really dislike them. By the end of the film, you find yourself sympathizing with them instead of with the idiotic yahoos who have spent the movie trying to bring them down. Nevertheless, life without booze, sex, corruption, and fast-food would be a serious drag, so you still—paradoxically—are glad to see them go. I don’t know whether the film intended to have that dual effect or whether it was something I brought into it.

In any case, if you’re looking for a groovy, late-60s ride in a sci-fi convertible, with a few laughs and a brace of martinis and miniskirts along for the ride, this is a pretty good film to check out.

roadside attractions

  • Groovy soundtrack
  • Psychedelia
  • Miniskirts
  • Alien Puritanism
  • Cameos by actual, sitting U.S. Senators (well, one at least)
  • More miniskirts
totals

0

blood

BLOOD

Some action, but no gore

1

blood

BREASTS

Monda’s wet-mini foundation scene

0

beast

BEASTS

0 monsters, just anal-retentive aliens

7.0 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer to The Monitors

trailers

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Oct

posted by Doktor | October 11, 2013 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, B-movie Reviews, Review by Doktor, Sci-Fi

Tagline: You’re in Space beyond Space.

Year: 1962 Runtime: 77 min

Director: Sidney W. Pink

Writer: Sidney W. Pink (story), Ib Melchior (script)

Starring: John Agar, Greta Thyssen, Carl Ottosen

Journey to the Seventh Planet starts with a voiceover: “There are no limits to imagination.” That may be true, but there are limits on talent. Journey to the Seventh Planet is less a movie and more one giant plot hole.

Year is 2001. The U.N. is the sole government of the world. Humanity has advanced to a point where “man has learned to live with himself.” Unfortunately this means mingling with the Irish. Without war or famine or anyone of color (smooth move there, Adolf!), man’s only concern is space travel. Specifically making a trip to Uranus.

Note: Uranus is pronounced your-AHN-us. No poo-poo jokes here, kids. This is serious business.

Just as it is in the real world, scientists are the übermensch of this brave new world, none more than the astronaut, or Spacetronaut in the parlance of the kool kids. Five of the top Spacetronauts are sent on this mission: Commander Eric, Captain Don Graham, Karl, Svend and Barry O’Sullivan (ugh!). Science is especially strong in these men. Where a normal person would be nonplussed by the bizarre things they are exposed to, these guys are barely apathetic. That is, until it comes to women. Basically this is a bunch of drunk frat boys on Saturday night.

Of the five, Captain Don, or Happy Harry Hard-on, is the biggest pervert. Not five minutes into the trip he’s spouting, “Boy was she biological. I wish I could have taught her my kind of biology.”  In fact, when they finally make it to Uranus and they find women (FROM EARTH) who couldn’t possibly be there—Space Hallucinations™—, his first thought is to hit on them. In Happy Harry’s defense, when he meets a girl he’s being trying to date (ON EARTH) he asks if she’s real. I mean, Space Hallucinations™ wouldn’t lie about that kind of stuff, would they?

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, much like the movie.

Here’s the thing, Uranus is inhabited by a Space & Time Brain Creature™. I understand what a Space Brain Creature is, but this one is also described as being from Time. That is… I have no explanation, nor does the movie. So, suffice it to say it’s a Space & Time Brain Creature™ and leave it at that.

A similarly inexplicable plot point is the weightlessness the Spacetronauts experience—ONLY—when they establish orbit around Uranus.  While weightless they are more susceptible to the Space & Time Brain Creature’s™ mental powers. Not that it matters, all it does is hypnotize the Spacetronauts for a couple minutes. During this timeout it admonishes them for their folly and lays out his evil plans to destroy them. Or not.

Thing is, the Space & Time Brain Creature™ can’t make up it’s mind about the humans. One minute it’s going to destroy them, the next minute it needs them. What could it possibly need the humans for? To escape Uranus. Why? It needs to take over one of their bodies. At which point it can escape in their ship.

Something else I failed to mention in my haste, it can create matter. Anything. Case in point, when the ship lands, the Spacetronauts see a lush, verdant forest outside their ship. When they investigate, they find that there is a breathable atmosphere. As Commander Eric reminisces about home, the village he grew up in magically appears in the distance. There they find the first of the Space Hallucinations™ that gets Capt. Happy Harry all tumescent.

Assuming you’re not a wet rutabaga, you’re probably asking yourself, “Uhm, why does the Space & Time Brain Creature™ need the humans again? Can’t he just make a spaceship? And a body to possess?” To which I would answer, I dunno.

Putting that aside, as the Spacetronauts are exploring they find the edge of the force-field bubble the Space and Time Brain Creature™ has made for them. Commander Eric knows that the answers lie on the other side, so high-ho it’s off they go. The Space & Time Brain Creature™ starts blubbering on about how it knows the humans are coming through to kill it. It loves it some exposition.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “aren’t they just going through to get some answers? Isn’t it their mission to explore Uranus?” And you’d be right in wondering about that. I would even go further to remind that the Space & Time Brain Creature™ telepathy. Moreover, it’s been using it’s telepathy to search the Spacetronauts minds. That is how it’s been creating the forest, the village, and the people. Sufficiently confused?

I can only raise my shoulders, dumbfounded, and smile in answer.

Let’s move past that bit. Get to the good stuff. When the Spacetronauts finally see the Space & Time Brain Creature™, and it’s wavy-blue mental-radiation-hypnosis-thing, Commander Eric, the heretofore level-headed leader, decides they have to kill the Space & Time Brain Creature™. If they don’t they won’t be able take off.

Sigh…

I know. I said move on to the good stuff and all I’ve done is present more greasy whale vomit. This time you’re asking yourself, what the hell does a wavy-blue mental-radiation-hypnosis-thing have to do with taking off? Also, is another of the Space & Time Brain Creature’s™ powers clairvoyancy?  I throw up my hands in frustration and answer, “Everything?” and “Yes?”

Like I wrote earlier, this isn’t a movie, it’s a plot hole.

Now that the Space & Time Brain Creature™  knows they Spacetronauts are out to kill it, it has to protect itself. Given all it’s powers why is it a problem to destroy the humans? It can make monsters, women, a town, forests, whatever. It doesn’t even have to do that. It could simply wait until the Spacetronauts are walking around in the forest or town, which they do without space suits, and make the atmosphere disappear. Problem solved. But it doesn’t. I can only assume the filmmakers were under the impression that by this point in the film you would either be knuckle deep into seventh base or passed out in a puddle of your own brain sauce. Either way you wouldn’t be paying attention to what’s going on.

I guess I’ll just power on blindly, too.

Laser burlets won’t kill the Space & Time Brain Creature™. I don’t know how they know this, they never really tried, but moving hastily along— The only way to destroy Space & Time Brain Creature™ is with a special acetylene torch gun. That they have to make. From scratch. Luckily there’s a blacksmith’s shop in town with all the necessary tools and materials. Zip, boom, bah, they build it. Tuckered from all the work, they decide to call it a night and leave the ONLY MEANS TO KILL the Space & Time Brain Creature™ in the blacksmith’s shop. Of course, the Space & Time Brain Creature™ uses the Space Hallucinations™ to sucker young Karl in order to steal the gun and replace it with a fake. This further begs logic in that, why does the Space & Time Brain Creature™ need to steal the gun? Because the fake won’t work? Because the Space & Time Brain Creature™ can make the gun disappear? Come on, Pink and Melchior. You’re killing me here. Did you sneeze out mouthfuls of Alpha-Bits on a page and call the mess a script?

Before I stroke out let me finish this. Despite stealing their special gun, the Spacetronauts manage to kill the Space & Time Brain Creature™. They freeze it with liquid oxygen. Frozen, their laser burlets work. Phew. Done. Thank Christ!

Or am I?

Sadly, I’m not. Nor were Pink and Melchior. Once the Spacetronauts finally kill the Space & Time Brain Creature™ the world around them starts falling apart, cracking and erupting like an uranusquake-volcano. At the ship they come across Gretta, Commander Eric’s girl—whom he’s been eschewing the whole film. Suddenly Commander Eric changes his mind, decides she’s real, and brings her with them. WHAT? Seriously? Before they break out of the atmosphere, she disappears.

I can’t take it anymore. I give up.

roadside attractions

  • Marvel at the life-like matte paintings and 1/10 scale rocket ship!
  • Feel the deep camaraderie bordering on bromance between the five courageous Spacetronauts!
  • Learn what it means to serve, to love, and what chronometer means through dialogue and context!
  • Fight to maintain your sanity while being hypnotized by the telepathic Space & Time Brain Creature™!
  • Listen as the Space & Time Brain Creature™ pontificates like a proper arse!
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

There’s not much, but when Giant Space Spider gets squished, it’s like the condiments at a NYC hotdog cart are all squeezed out simultaneously.

3

blood

BREASTS

There were some scantily clad Space Hallucinations, which is as close as you get in 1962.

9

beast

BEASTS

Cyclopean Rat Monster, Giant Space Spider, and Space & Time Brain Creature™.

5.666 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer for “Journey to the Seventh Planet”

trailers

dripper
Oct

posted by The Goon | October 9, 2013 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, Drama, Reviews by the Goon, Suspense, screeners

Night Tide
1961 – PG – Kino Lorber

Tales about mermaids are often thought to be full of wonder and whimsy and giving credit to the music that plays during the intro to Night Tide, it’s understandable why you would think that. But don’t let the score fool you. This is a ghostly tale, about secrets, lies and murder. It will lure you in with a false sense of safety and will play on your innocence. Before you know it, you’re neck deep in panic, wondering if something foul is waiting for you. It’s a smooth, unemphatic transition, like night and day. You don’t notice until it’s too late.

A pre-cocaine fueled Dennis Hopper stars in a tale about mermaids and murder. Murmaider, if you will. Hopper plays Johnny, a sailor on shore leave. This brings him to a small Californian coastal town, where he walks a pier and finds himself inside a cool jazz bar. The local patrons in this scene are actually quite believable as what you would think of as “regulars.” Each person is distinctive, emoting a different mood. Like they are all actually there for different reasons and could tell you their story and you’d believe it. However, they all are moving their head in the same pattern to the music that it’ll make your neck hurt. That is until Johnny notices a striking young woman. He finally gathers the courage to go talk to her, but before he can make casual chit chat, the young woman is scared off by a slightly older looking woman, garbed in black, speaking in a foreign tongue. Like the drunk frat dude when the bar’s closing, Johnny dashes off to hound her. Just cause it’s time to quit it, doesn’t mean you can’t hit it, bro.

It’s interesting to look at a scenario like that in pretext. Although they exchanged about three lines of dialogue, this was considered charming or romantic, especially in the silver age of cinema. A young man would approach you at the bar, ask you your name, tell you that you are beautiful, buy you a drink and give you a kiss, sealing the deal. You were a couple after that. People saw this as romantic and I can see why. A man, tingling head to toe in fear with rejection, shakes his feathers and approaches that stunning girl and asks her name. Nobody does that now, unless it’s through social media. Otherwise it’s considered “creepy.”

night_tide_2Well, we got off track! Johnny walks her home, above the carousel, learning her name is Mora. The next day over breakfast, they seem to be fond of one another and to be honest, the chemistry here is really believable. Telling him she works at the carnival’s sideshow attraction, she invites him to a show where we are introduced to Sam Murdock, an old British Navy Captain. Johnny thinks something may be strange about him, so Mora tells him that she was rescued by him at a young age and adopted. This was back in the day when you could just pick up a random child and claim them as yours willy-nilly. Later that evening while Mora is dancing (either that or the worst wave impression ever), she spots that woman in black and faints. Things sure are getting weird.

Speaking of weird, Johnny learns from local girl Ellen that Mora’s ex-boyfriends have all died mysteriously. Even more mysterious, he spots the woman in black and follows her all the way to Captain Murdock’s place, who seems to be trying to replace his blood with booze. Before passing out drunk and snoring like Tom Arnold inhaling a bowl of hospital Jell-O, he warns Johnny that he is in grave danger as long as he is with Mora. Upon confronting Mora, she tells him that she is of Siren descent and will kill when the moon is full. Women, huh? Always trying to kill you during the cycle of the moon… I’m just gonna stop there. Johnny ignores this hogwash, but soon has a nightmare that she turns into an octopus and tries strangling him.

I bet you never thought you would see Dennis Hopper wrestle a Muppet octopus.

He awakes from this nightmare to find her standing under the pier, calling his name, standing in the way of the crashing waves as if she is trying to drown herself. She’s not tied to the pier, mind you, because most sane people get out of the way of that sort of thing simply by moving their legs and removing them from that particular danger.

night_tide_3The next morning, having slept on Mora’s floor to ensure her safety, Johnny goes to get those kinks in his back worked out by a masseuse. Things get “steamy” while Johnny’s butch, hairy masseuse, Bruno, works on his shoulders. There is nothing wrong with a man giving another man a massage, but it’s the exchange of dialogue once Captain Murdock pops his head in to say, “Hi” that makes this scene a bit awkward. The masseuse asks the Captain if he wants him to, “pound him later,” to which the Captain replies, “Now why would I forgo a pleasure like that?” The movie immediately brushes this dialogue off its’ shoulders and the Captain further feeds Johnny’s fear about Mora. Now, I have no problems with sexual orientation, but it seems out of context in this scene… even for the Sixties. Once again, I feel like I derailed this review. Let’s get it back on track, shall we?

It’s finally the full moon and Mora invites Johnny along for some scuba diving, which he doesn’t think is a good idea, but she manages to coax him into it. It almost proves to be fatal, as Mora removes his breathing gear and swims off. He makes it back onto the boat, but doesn’t see Mora come back up for air. Devastated as the days go by, believing that maybe she really is a mermaid, Johnny finally revisits the carnival when reading her name in the newspaper. Everything draws to a close when he visits Mora’s attraction, but not without a few ghastly twists and turns that, to be honest, you will not see coming.

Night Tide is a suspenseful voyage of perplexity, thick with atmosphere and dread. Dread that builds up like a violin string being pulled tensely, but will not break. I have to admit, it is strange at first to see Dennis Hopper not playing such an oddball character, but he does take this role seriously (but there is still that goofiness we love him for) and his attraction to Mora seems genuine. The two play off of each other so well, you could actually believe they are a new couple, still learning about each other, but in love. Not only that, but it’s a refined film to look at, with almost a perfect gray scale in every scene and objects pop out at you with such depth. Kino Lorber restored this from the original 35mm print and boy, does it show.

Night Tide
Go on leave from your job, rent a seedy hotel room, shack up with a mermaid on a full moon and grab your copy of Night Tide from Kino. Well you don’t have to do any of that, besides watch the movie, but if you’re gonna do it, you may as well go all out.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Non-hopped up Hopper.
  • MURMAIDER!
  • It’s Jazz, baby.
  • Mouth watering Mora.
  • Captain Cryptic.
  • Woman in black.
  • Nautical nightmares.
  • Masseuse innuendo.
  • Scuba sabotage.
  • Scooby Doo ending.
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

Octopus wrestling and gun play, but no ooze.

4

blood

BREASTS

Nothing bare, but you can oogle at Mora’s cleavage.

8

beast

BEASTS

Mermaids, a Muppet and a murderer!

4.6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie!”

trailers

dripper
May

posted by Tiger Sixon | May 6, 2012 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, Review by Tiger Sixon, Sci-Fi

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Evil Brian From Outer Space - Starman

Take three episodes of The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, one episode of Dragnet, the first twenty minutes of a Star Trek episode, toss them in a blender, add a dash of LSD, and hit MIX. The end result would give you some kinda idea about what the hell Evil Brain From Outer Space is like. Maybe.

Similar to Devil’s Dynamite, Evil Brain From Outer Space is edited from several different films, in this case the Japanese series, Super Giant. As a result, the WTF Factor is off the chart. According to Professor Wikipedia, Evil Brian From Outer Space was allegedly edited from nearly three hours of footage, down to a sparse 78 minutes. The final product is a Spirograph of tights, masks, aliens, mutants, robots, evil plans, secret lairs, and child sidekicks.

Evil Brain From Outer Space - Mutant

And the cherry on top? It is also dubbed, giving us such classic lines like “The news is excellent!” and “You must always use them!”

Our hero, Starman, is sent to Earth, in a ballet costume, by some kinda ‘robo-council’ to find the titular brain. I think. There is some kinda brain in a jar, who is pulling the strings of crime, giving orders to different groups of baddies. The brain, as the title suggests, is indeed from outer space. And apparently evil. So, Starman, with his antenna headgear and stuffed undies, comes to save the day. I think. Speaking of undies, Starman and his leotard-clad foes feature, uh, ‘well defined’ areas south of the equator. In some cases, there is very little left to the imagination, and makes me glad this weren’t in 3D.

Evil Brain From Outer Space features just about every cliché villain you can name: One-legged man? Check. Evil scientist? Check. Guy with a hook? Check. Doctor with a scar? Check. Crazy-wheelchair-bound-doctor-who-is-faking-it-and-has-an-eagle-on-his-shoulder? CHECK. Let’s not forget the sub-plot of a pair of kids trying to locate the bad guys, so they can…um. Locate them, I guess, as Starman does all of the actual work, what with the punching, the kicking, and the prancing.

Evil Brain From Outer Space - Starman

If you have the time, and an open jar of moonshine, give Evil Brain From Outer Space a gander. This concoction of random scenes, wacky characters, and ballet costumes makes for quite the interesting spectacle. Just keep yer eyes above the belt.


Tiger Sixon is forced to watch B-movies from the comfort of a secret government base in Death Valley. He looks nothing at all like Daniel J. Hogan (@danieljhogan) who draws the comic Clattertron.

roadside attractions

  • Ballet Costumes
  • Leotards
  • Tights
  • Prancing
  • Brain theft
  • A brain in a jar
  • Model boats
  • An eyeball belt
  • Negative flash frames
  • Visible junk
  • A one-legged man
  • A man with a hook
  • A man with an eagle on his shoulder
  • Secret passages
  • Secret lairs
  • Mutants
  • Aliens
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

While there is plenty of fighting, it is pretty PG.

0

blood

BREASTS

This is a fairly kid-friendly film, so the ladies keep the tops on.

10

beast

BEASTS

Evil Brain From Outer Space features some of the most bizarre monsters I have seen, save for the time I went shopping on Black Friday.

5.0 OVERALL
dripper
Nov

posted by admin | November 21, 2009 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Guest Review

Daniel WiltshireDaniel 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”…

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.

Wild Wild PlanetMeanwhile, 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.Wild Wild Planet

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.


- Judo fighting, female kidnappers
- Low speed bubble-car chases
- Stay-Fresh Mutant storage lockers
- 1 Billy Barty-ized Professor
- 3 Obi-Wan Kenobi-style vanishings
- 2 “helium head” put-downs
- 2 space-cops driven to hysterics
- Butterfly inspired interpretive dance
- Human “scraps” wheeled around on a TV tray

3 out of 10

Check out the trailer for The Wild Wild Planet

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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>