Saturday, July 26, 2008

After weeks of masterful inactivity (most of it spent watching dreadful Italian SF movies) I have finally got my finger out and done a new cartoon: Hurrah! Don't all rush over to see it at once; the web will get heavy on one side and fall over.

So, back to the thing I'm really interested in at the moment: Bad 1970s Italian SF movies with scantily clad, large-breasted women running around in leather bikinis. I really can't understand why these movies aren't more highly regarded. What's not to like? Take last night's magnum opus ferristance:

Star Crash

Star Crash is a stunning movie (as in the thing they do to cows just before they shoot them). It's a 1978 Italian, jump on the Star Wars band-wagon, entry which has Caroline Munro in a variety of leather bikinis and thigh-high boots, a police robot that looks like a walking dildo, no discernible plot - and so much more: chiefly David Hasselhoff being spectacularly wooden as 'Prince Simon', and Christopher Plummer as his silver caped father, the Emperor of the Known Universe, delivering his lines - Two words - At a - Time. Because - That's the - Way everyone - Talks in - Italian movies - Even if - They are - Talking in - Their own - Language, that or he was doing his William Shatner impression*: You could almost hear his thought processes as he got to grips with the part (probably in the taxi on the way to the studio) "Science Fiction is it? Right, I'll play it like that Captain Kirk fellow. That's what Science Fiction Acting is all about."

What the movie was really all about...**

I think I am glad to say I had no idea what the hell was going on at all. I suspect I missed some of the finer plot points because I was laughing so much (usually at the direction and the dialogue - though some of the special effects are outrageously funny at times). I don't know why I had no idea what was going on in the film; I had no excuse, all the characters did was tell each other what they were doing or just about to do:

"We must go to the Planet of Certain Doom! Calculate a course allowing for solar driftage!"

"I am calculating a course for the Planet of Certain Doom and have entered it into the ship's computer brain. We we'll be at the planet in twenty seven point thirty-twoty seconds of standard Earth time."

"Look! (Points at view screen - I gave up counting the number of times in this movie people pointed at viewscreens and said "LOOK!") We have arrived at the Planet of Certain Doom.".

"Good. We'll park in that canyon over there."

The trouble was no one ever explained WHY they were going to the fucking Planet of Certain Doom in the first place. The whole script boiled down to a seemingly endless repetition of: "Let's go over there and get attacked!" Biff! Bash! Whallop! Help! Whallop! "Aha! You arrived from nowhere just in the nick of time to rescue us! Hurrah! Let's go over there and get attacked." Biff! Bash! Whallop! etc. (But in Italian. Maybe it made more sense in Italian. I doubt it.)

Towards the end of the film, with our central characters acting as bait in the evil count's fiendish trap, one character (who has totally and mysteriously and inexplicably developed the powers to see into the future and telepathically control any machines he comes across - apart from badly animated killer robots) seems to know what is going on because he starts waffling on about 'destiny' a lot. He tells his two companions to be patient as he will explain everything very soon - then almost immediately gets himself severely killed and evaporates! without explaining anything.
At this point the Emperor of the entire Universe, and for all we know a few other places, arrives, walking into the trap as the evil counts hoped he would:

Prince Simon:
Father! We must leave at once.

Stella Star:
Forty-eight seconds left till the explosion. We've got to get out of here.

Prince Simon:
It's true father the count has mined the planet with nuclear charges - we're all about to die!

You know something my boy, I wouldn't be Emperor if I didn't have some powers at my command... (He steps forward slowly and lets his cape settle. He addresses the empty air as if playing Mark Anthony addressing his army.) Imperial Battle Ship! Halt!... The Flow of Time!

Green ray shoots out of golden spaceship hovering off to the right of the planet - and they all escape.

I'm not sure what happened next I was laughing too much but pretty soon Imperial storm-troopers are being fired in golden torpedoes through the huge Gothic windows of the count's battle cruiser (That's what they were there for!) and our heroine gets at least three more costume changes (at least one of them apparently whilst wearing a space suit) before the end of the film. I shall be watching this one again and again.

* As my mate Mike has pointed out both Shatner and Plummer are Canadian, so maybe it's a Canadian SF acting thing. They went to the same class. Somewhere in Manitoba there's an acting teacher - Who talks - Just like - This.
**Though I mainly watch this kind of movie for the explosions - honest!

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