WILD, WILD PLANET
was the first installment of the so-called "Gamma I Quadrilogy",
a quartet of mid-1960s shot-in-Italy science fiction adventures
focusing on the heroic crew of a space station in Earth orbit.
Financed with American money, these films are in all other respects
a completely Italian affair —
to include the canned voice dubbing, ridiculous dialog and laughable
special effects. If you enjoy cheesy sci-fi junk like The
Green Slime then this movie is right up your alley.
man in charge of space station Gamma I, Commander Mike Halstead
(Tony Russell), is not a happy camper. His bosses at the United
Democracies Space Command have saddled him with an assignment
he finds personally distasteful: playing host to the snidely arrogant
Mr. Nurmi (Massimo Serato) and his macabre experiments in tissue
regeneration and miniaturized human organs. Halstead's guest is
a big shot with ChemBioMed Division, given carte blanche by the
all-powerful Corporations, so whatever he wants he gets. Nurmi
assures the skeptical Halstead that his project will eventually
result in a superior race of perfect people, but our manly space
hero isn't buying it. "I like the human race the way it
is," he tells Nurmi. "I'm a person, not a collection
of hunks of meat."
being given a tour of the station, Nurmi is introduced to Lt.
Connie Gomez (Lisa Gastroni), shapely communications officer and
resident martial arts expert. Upon watching her lead a judo class
through some exercises, the immediately smitten Nurmi declares
Connie "the perfect specimen" and starts flirting with
her despite being told that she's Halstead's girlfriend. Rather
than dissuade Nurmi, this news only amuses him. You see, Nurmi
isn't really interested in getting into Connie's pants... Not
in that way, it turns out.
making her beau jealous, Connie accepts Nurmi's offer of an all-expenses-paid
vacation on the planet Delphos, where he maintains a top secret
bio-research facility. Meanwhile, Cmdr. Halstead is summoned to
Space Command HQ on Earth due to a bizarre emergency. Inexplicably,
scores of people all over the world are being kidnapped, vanishing
without trace. Every day there are more disappearances, their
number growing at an alarmingly exponential rate. Halstead is
put in charge of a planet-wide dragnet to find the culprits, and
soon suspects that Nurmi is somehow the mastermind behind them.
(After all, the creep has been hitting on his woman... He's just
gotta be evil.) Gradually more information comes to light about
these crimes. The victims are were all seized by teams of attractive
women and identical bald men in sunglasses and black raincoats.
Even crazier, the abductees are being shrunk down to the size
of dolls! (This does make them much more portable, easily packed
in a travel case.) Just as Halstead starts getting to the bottom
of things, Nurmi uses his influence to have him stripped of authority
and confined to quarters. But Halstead's loyal crewmates from
Gamma I (to include a pre-Django
Franco Nero) defy orders and break him out, joining him on an
unauthorized flight to Delphos. Nurmi must be stopped at all costs
— before he can surgically fuse his flesh with Connie's and create
the ultimate male/female biological hybrid!
that any of this matters in the slightest, mind you... Ultimately
this movie doesn't make a damn lick of sense. Why exactly is
Nurmi kidnapping and shrinking hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of people to doll size? What is the point of miniaturizing human
organs to begin with? Why is it that the female minions sent
to Earth by Nurmi look different from one another but their
four-armed, raincoat-clad henchmen are all identical copies
(making them fairly easy to spot)? Does any of this really have
anything to do with his dream of creating a perfect "Bi-Sapien"
race? What qualifies a space station commander to head up a
terrestrial police investigation? Why establish Connie as a
judo champ only to have her act like a shrinking (and shrieking)
violet once captured by the baddies? And why don't public theaters
of the future have seats?*
who cares? Not me. The nonsensical nature of the plot is
a big part of the (unintentional) camp appeal. I never fail to
get a kick out of goofy material like this when it's played totally
straight, and the cheesy special effects only accentuate the absurdity
of it all. Director Antonio Margheriti certainly had a great deal
of experience working with model/miniatures FX during his career,
but there was obviously little he could do (with the money allotted)
to make Wild, Wild Planet's plastic
toy cars and spaceships look even halfway decent. "Laser"
pistols are merely modified blowtorches; supposedly holographic
avatars of the kidnapping suspects' faces are achieved by having
the actors sit in a box with their heads sticking through a hole
in the top.
there's our dastardly heavy, Mr. Nurmi. As played by Serato (a
familiar face from numerous peplum and spaghetti westerns), he's
a rather fun character to watch. Whoever did the English dubbing
for him is perfect, the voice dripping with arrogant condescension.
Urbane and formal, Nurmi nonetheless isn't above shedding his
dignity on the rec room dance floor to do the Galactic Bunny Hop
with Connie. He's completely unflappable until the very end, when
he realizes that his grand scheme has gone to shit, finally letting
loose with one of those over-the-top, scenery-chewing rants: "It
was too good for you! You! You men! Meaningless idiots! Fools!
You could never comprehend! You will NEVER comprehend! It is mine!
Mine! MINE! And it will end with me! All of it! All of YOU!"
subsequent "Gamma I" flicks (The
War of the Planets, War Between the
Planets [AKA Planet on the Prowl], and The
Snow Devils) really could've used a colorful comic
book villain like this.
I'd be remiss not to mention the infamous 'Dance of the Butterfly
Capes', a scene which simply staggers the imagination... with
its stupidity. (Apparently, people in the future will be very
hard up for entertainment.)
is a December 2010 addition to Warner's overpriced but high-quality
'made on demand' DVD-R Archive Collection. The 16x9-enhanced
1.78:1 transfer is in decent overall shape, albeit peppered with
minor dings and nicks (a nasty hair in the gate makes an appearance
at 07:51-59). Colors,
though, are fairly strong. The mono English audio track is quite
are no extras — the U.S. trailer (which can be seen on YouTube)
would've been a nice inclusion — and the disc's menu screen is
blandly generic. 6/02/11