Friday, April 10, 2015


On the space station Gamma 1, Dr. Nurmi (Massimo Serato) is conducting bizarre experiments with human tissue grafts. Commander Halstead (Tony Russel) is opposed to Nurmi's work which is being done for a large corporation, and when Halstead goes back to Earth to investigate the disappearance of several citizens, he discovers that they are being miniaturized and taken to another planet as guinea pigs for Nurmi's corporation which is out to create a biologically transformed human race, a "designer race." Halstead's efforts to stop this are complicated by his love interest Connie (Lisa Gastoni) who cozies up to Nurmi just to make Halstead jealous. Along the way we encounter a small army of thug clones (all bald, wearing sunglasses and trenchcoats), a band of sexy female robots (Fembot, anyone?), a miniature man with four arms, a futuristic ballet performed by dancers in colorful tights and capes, and the delicious Franco Nero playing a buddy of Halstead's.

Italian director Antonio Margheriti (anglicized as Anthony M. Dawson) covered several genres in the 60s: horror (CASTLE OF BLOOD), fantasy (THE GOLDEN ARROW), and adventure (GIANTS OF ROME), but he's mostly remembered today for his low-budget but colorful science fiction films. This was the first of several set on Gamma 1 (see THE SNOW DEVILS) and while they're not great art, they are fun, mostly because of their colorful costumes, crazy sets—including many miniature models which are fake-looking but charming, and some goofy futuristic cars—and a go-for-broke directorial ethos which seems to be, throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. Russel (an Italian-American born Antonio Russo) comes off as a fairly wooden B-movie George Clooney; Serarto is marginally more interesting as the villain, reminding me of a cross between Rex Harrison and Lost in Space's Dr. Smith (see him at left), but the young and handsome Franco Nero (pictured above right, to the left of Russel) is good enough as eye candy that I'd watch this again. [TCM]

No comments: