Monday, October 12, 2015


I'll tell you right off the bat that this Italian B-movie, released to ride the Star Wars wave and full of allusions to 2001, is one of those films that is so bad, it's almost good. But tastes vary wildly with this kind of film, so viewer beware. Astronaut Alex Hamiton (John Richardson) is on an expedition, headed up by an old military guy and a supercomputer named Wiz, to an uncharted planet from where a strange signal—which sounds exactly like Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (also used in ROLLERBALL two years earlier)—has been emanating. Along the way, one man is sent on a spacewalk to repair a part and nearly dies (see 2001). On the planet, Hamilton and his crew find a sort of Stonehenge structure (a little like the monolith in 2001) which is a portal to another place (see STARGATE, which of course was made many years after this film), and are menaced by a giant killer robot. They find a race of sliver-green men dressed in very skimpy loincloths who are now being controlled by the very robots they built. One of them, Etor, hooks up with Hamilton's crew. The robot wants the earthlings to fix something (you can tell I was nodding off and not caring enough to backtrack) and they do, after which they destroy the robot and take off back to Earth with Etor. But the robot may not have had its last word yet.

That's as much plot as I could figure out from this scraggly, poorly edited, disjointed movie which is nevertheless fun to watch. The good things: John Richardson is handsome and generally stoic as the hero—though sometimes seeming as confused by plot twists as we are; Etor (Aldo Canti, pictured above) is studly though sadly we see very little of him or the rest of his nearly-naked, pointy-eared pals; there's a scene of a couple rather chastely using an Orgasmatron-like machine (see SLEEPER); the chintzy but charming sets, with lots of colored lights and big buttons, which look like a couple of sci-fi geeks built in their basement. The bad things: the roaming plot; the terrible editing; people constantly screaming; listless acting from everyone except Richardson. It's in the public domain, and the Alpha Video print I saw was badly pan-and-scanned and in dreadful shape. If it ever turned up in a clean widescreen print, I'd watch it again, but that seems unlikely. A good "bad movie night" pick. [DVD]

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