War of the Planets (1966 Italy)

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War of the Planets (1966 Italy)

Post  BoG on Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:14 pm

2nd film in the Antonio Margheriti quadrilogy, after Will, Wild Planet and preceding War Between the Planets (1966)
Arrow Arrow http://www.1000misspenthours.com/reviews/reviewsn-z/waroftheplanets1965.htm Idea
EL SANTO wrote:In 1965, MGM entered into partnership with the Italian Mercury Film International to produce a series of science fiction movies for television release. The idea was for something along the lines of a “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” for the 60’s, and the tenor of the production had much more in common with that of a TV show than it did with that of a regular film. The scripts were to be connected, and major economies were to be realized by sharing sets, props, costumes, and cast members among the four movies. (Actually, in the case of the actors, it might be better to say that the Gamma 1 series employed two parallel casts, although several of the supporting players appear in three or four entries apiece.) The shooting schedule was almost insanely cramped (again in the manner of a television series), with just three months allocated to the whole tetralogy. All things considered, Antonio Margheriti (generally credited in the English-language versions of his films as Anthony M. Dawson) was the natural man to direct the series; not only did he have a number of sci-fi movies under his belt by 1965, he had brought in his first film as a director, Assignment Outer Space, in a mere twenty days, for an impressively low total cost of $30,000. Between Margheriti’s instinctive efficiency, the inherently low overhead incurred by shooting in Italy, and the numerous economy measures built into the production by the studio’s careful planning, the folks at Mercury were able to surprise their American partners with a package of films that looked slick enough to release in theaters, and MGM decided to do just that. Mercury, too, knew a good thing when they saw it, and followed suit. The first of the bunch, The Wild, Wild Planet, may not have been an enormous success, but it is nevertheless an iconic example of a subgenre that is all too often ignored. The first two sequels, alas, are rather less effective, relying on stock science fiction scenarios which were showing their age in a most unflattering manner by the mid-1960’s. The series would regain its footing with the final entry, however, countering a remarkable lack of technical accomplishment with one of the daffiest premises ever put forward with a straight face.
The old 50’s commonplace that gets dusted off for War of the Planets is that of the body-stealing alien hive-mind. It’s New Year’s Eve, and most people’s attention is on other things when Captain Jack Dubois (Carlo Giustini, returning as a different character from the one he had played in The Wild, Wild Planet) reports for his shift as the officer of the watch at the headquarters of the United Democracies Space Command. He never assumes his post, however, for no sooner has his driver dropped him off at the base than he is set upon by what looks like a cloud of glowing, green steam and evidently possessed. Meanwhile, the officer whom Dubois was supposed to be relieving is hearing reports of strange goings on in the vicinity of Space Station Delta 2. The station staff have been seeing odd green lights blinking out in space, communications between headquarters and Delta 2 are hampered by unusual interference, and the Geiger counters aboard the station are giving readings that ought to be impossible. The captain dismisses the lights and the accompanying interference as the effects of “space aurora,” and attributes the Geiger readings to equipment malfunction. Then he and his staff settle in to observe the festivities aboard Space Station Gamma 1, where Commander Mike Halstead (Tony Russel, reprising his Wild, Wild Planet role) is pulling out all the stops to commemorate the new year with, among other things, a ludicrous display of zero-g acrobatics. Gamma 1 is overrun with guests of the crew, and such an orgy of go-go dancing, micro-miniskirts, drinking, and party streamers would not be seen again until The X from Outer Space.
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