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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WILD, WILD PLANET (1966)

Hack megger Antonio Margheriti (credited as Anthony M. Dawson) made low-budget Sci-Fi in batches. This one, reportedly second of four, will prove enough for most! Released Stateside in ‘67, the distributor must have hoped for a bit of helpful tailwind coming off that new tv series. What was it called? Oh, yes, STAR TREK. Here, Tony Russell (the American ringer in an Italian cast) as Space Station Project Captain, finds his mission threatened by an evil researcher working for ‘The Corporations.’ Turns out they're kidnapping scientists and shrinking them down to the size of dolls (for easy carrying?) when not repurposing extra arms on zombie enforcers. Jeepers! SpaceAge model rockets, still with a whiff of rubber cement about them, pass for F/X here, and the film’s fight director apparently knew one (and only one) Ju-Jitsu move which is used over and over. Best of all are the uniforms & costumes which look like Mom helped out for the High School Musical. (Yes, musical, with a big dance number as part of the plot.) Alas, like too many of these things, it sounds more fun then it actually is, though you do get to see Franco Nero (as a junior officer) just before he leapt from micro-budgeted crap to a small role in John Huston’s macro-budgeted THE BIBLE/’66 and then lead hunk in Joshua Logan’s mega-flop CAMELOT/’67.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: From a year before, Mario Bava shows what a big imagination could make of a small Italian Sci-Fi budget in PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES/’65.

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