Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Astronaut John McLaren is piloting the XZ, an atomic moon ship built by Americans, Russians and the British, and sent aloft from a base in Australia. McLaren is supposed to orbit the moon a few times and return, but something goes wrong and he has to jettison his cabin, sending the rocket out in space where it explodes. When he returns to Earth, strange things start happening, apparently due to the explosion: animals begin migrating away from coastlines (and even domestic pets aren't immune from taking off), balls of light appear in the sky, tidal waves go crazy, and scientists figure out that some foreign object out in space is absorbing Earth's magnetism. The culprit is a bunch of asteroids which, because of the XZ explosion, have fused together into one huge mass which is on a collision course with the earth. There's disaster and panic, and with time running out, can McLaren come up with a plan to save our planet? This Italian made B-film uses a lot of stock footage, and the human storylines don't hold the attention all that well—there's the collapse of McLaren's marriage and a tepid romance between the stodgy mathematician Katy and the moderately handsome scientist Peter (both pictured). But the plot has promise and the solution to the apocalypse is interesting. There are moments that cry out for an MST3K treatment, as when it's announced that the entire world's coastal areas can be evacuated in three days and governments can just "requisition what they need" to make that happen. The cast is a mix of Italian and Swiss actors, none of whom were familiar to me but whom were all mostly adequate. Future director Mario Bava did the cinematography. [Streaming]

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