The fifth submission in the June review writing contest: by Andreas O. Stoehr.
DIRECTED BY: Antonio Margheriti
FEATURING: Tony Russel, Lisa Gastoni, Massimo Serato, Franco Nero
PLOT: In 2015, the space police fight to stop an organ-miniaturizing mad scientist from
building a utopian community.
WHY IT DESERVES TO MAKE THE LIST: Although the synopsis might make it sound like a typical space opera, Wild, Wild Planet is anything but. Everything about the film simultaneously screams “bad!” and “weird!” The dubbed dialogue, for example, is as laughable as any Toho monster movie, with a mix of technobabble and would-be ‘60s clichés like “That’s the wildest, most way-out I’ve ever heard!” The grandstanding villain, Nurmi, constantly repeats his ill-conceived master plan, and his kidnappings are carried out by beautiful women teamed with bald, four-armed mutants. This is 1960s Italian sci-fi at its wildest and most way-out.
COMMENTS: I’m not sure why Margheriti (who was credited as “Anthony Dawson”) hasn’t become more of a cult figure, though being name-checked in Inglourious Basterds might raise his status among film geeks. Wild, Wild Planet displays much of the same untalented passion you might expect from Ed Wood or Coleman Francis, and with the screenplay so awkwardly translated into English, it feels even more delirious.
The film’s futuristic aesthetic, which was already outdated in 1965, involves bad model cities and psychedelic dresses; it’s like “The Jetsons” meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers by way of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” TVs advertise “Computo-dolls,” and the only remaining form of art has performers dressed as butterflies prancing around in a circle. When the mutant henchmen attack, they do so by suggestively enclosing victims in their trench coats; one scientist escapes in the midst of this process, and ends up as a comatose midget. It may be ridiculous, it may be cheap, but it sure ain’t predictable.
Who, after all, could guess that the climax would take place on a resort planet amidst an exploding river of blood (that looks suspiciously like cranberry juice)? With its bizarre interior design and enough hilarious non sequiturs to rival Plan 9, Wild, Wild Planet is a weird, weird movie.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“The Wild, Wild Planet has a colourful bizarreness to it… But despite throwing up such an outre and colourful plot, the way Antonio Margheriti allows it all to transpire on screen is really rather pedestrian and dull. This rather wild skew of ideas ends up as a rather murky plot.”–Richard Scheib, Moria: Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review