The Wild, Wild Planet (1966)


I am unapologetic over my love of bad movies.  Not the bad movies I often complain about where it is 90 minutes of people walking around a forest, driving or just doing nothing, but bad movies that were attempting to be good ones.  Antonio Margheriti is one of my favorite directors for such movies and his Gamma One series is one of my favorite science fiction sagas.  Sure, it is filled with models that look like toys, hilarious line readings - especially when using futuristic slang - and ridiculous plots.  Those are only some of the things that make these movies great. 

Commander Michael Halstead (Tony Russell) is being forced to accommodate a corporate scientist named Dr. Nurmi (Massimo Serato) on Gamma One.  Nurmi is working on skin grafts and genetics in order to build the perfect human being.  He is also cutting in on Halstead's kind-of girlfriend Lt. Connie Gomez (Lisa Gastoni), who he invites to his base on Delphis for her upcoming leave.  

Halstead is not pleased, but he's got bigger problems.  Important people on Earth are disappearing, and the roster of missing persons is growing.  He is appointed to look into it and soon finds out that the suspects are a number of beautiful women accompanied by strange bald men with sunglasses and long black trenchcoats.  It turns out they are shrinking their victims to transport to Delphis so that Nurmi may work on his experiments and, despite government and corporate interference, Halstead must stop Nurmi, whose obsession with Connie is more than mere attraction. 

The thing I like so much about the Gamma One films is that there is a lot of attention on world building.  It may seem laughable hearing someone use phrases like, "He's gone out of orbit!" or, "You helium head!" but it's supposed to be how people speak at the time.  Combine that with bubble cars, frequent use of rockets and a general matter-of-fact attitude toward space travel and one gets a feel for how things are.  The United Earth Democracies is in some ways presented as a paradise, but in this entry it seems more like the world of Rollerball with the corporations having some level of control over the government and military itself. 

Tony Russell seems to be enjoying himself as does everyone else.  Franco Nero is here as one of his right-hand men, Lt. Jake, and Massimo Serato is perfect as Dr. Nurmi.  Connie, despite being introduced as a strong character, is absent or comatose most of the movie and serves as an object to be rescued or won, which is unfortunate.  As always there are some slow spots, particularly as Nurmi takes longer to explain his evil plan than Blofeld does, but this is one of those movies to sit back and enjoy even if it doesn't quite achieve what it was going for. 

The Wild, Wild Planet (1966)
Time: 93 minutes
Starring: Tony Russell, Massimo Serato, Lisa Gastoni
Director: Antonio Margheriti

 

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