BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Dark Sky
RUNNING TIME: 162 min. for the complete program
• Drive-In Intermission Ads
• Theatrical Trailers
“Remember when ‘going to the movies’ meant watching whatever happened to be playing that night?”
Humanoids: Don Megowan, Erica Elliot, Don Dolittle; Planets: Giacamo Rossi-Stuart, Ombretta Colli, Enzi Fiermonte
In space, nobody asks, nobody tells.
Two low-budget sci-fi adventures: first up, War Between the Planets (1965), an English-dubbed Italian production about a space station crew trying to stop a rogue asteroid from destroying planet Earth. Next: Creation of the Humanoids (1962), in which survivors of World War III confront the possibility of being displaced by their own robot servants.
The Integer of the Beast
Ah, War Between the Planets, aka Il Pianeta errante and Planet on the Prowl. No war, just one planet. Imagine Armageddon with no budget and even less script. There’s a certain low-tech charm to the visuals, but the utter randomness of the narrative gets frustrating after a while. Look, the captain’s getting in a fight with his science officer! Will they bond? Oh screw it, he’s dead now. Uh oh, the general’s amorous daughter is coming on board! This should create an uncomfortable situation… or not. Ooh, two astronauts had to switch helmets and now one of them isn’t coming back! Will the confusion of identities lead to further tragedy at Mission Control? Err, no.
I had resigned myself to a laid-back evening of garbage by this point in the program. Imagine my surprise to discover that Creation of the Humanoids is actually a good movie. Well, a good idea for a movie anyway, which is more than I can say for its screenmate.
The Humanoids are blue-skinned, bald robots (makeup courtesy of Universal Studios legend Jack Pierce) designed to interact autonomously with humans. They do most of the work rebuilding civilization, but are relegated to second-class citizenship. Paranoid humans calling themselves the Flesh and Blood Brigade regularly harass Humanoids and conspire to restrict the robots’ civil liberties. They’re not above the occasional terrorist bombing if it keeps the ‘Clickers’ from getting too uppity. Is this starting to sound familiar?
The Northwest chapter of the Xenia Onatopp fan club
Meet our ‘hero’, The Cragis (Megowan)—so called, apparently, because he’s the last in his family line. By day, he’s a doctor working to extend the human lifespan. By night, a uniformed lieutenant in the Brigade; and a timely reminder that all social classes breed bullies.
The whole thing is very talky, and could pass for a filmed stage play. Unlike Planets, the talk is actually about something. Check it out.
Tea for 2: Judgement Day
The content on this disc is arranged to play out as a complete ‘60s drive-in-style double feature, complete with coming attractions and ads for the concessions stand. In a clever move, the trailers actually advertise other genre films in the Dark Sky catalog, such as The Flesh Eaters (my review HERE). The vintage materials show plenty of wear and tear (which adds to the fun), but the features themselves are solid 16:9 transfers— War Between the Planets honestly looks better than it deserves, and the Dark Sky crew should be commended for their impartiality.
A ‘hidden’ setup menu allows the viewer to select which film to watch (both movies are chapter-encoded) but I recommend going with the default ‘play’ option and watching the entire presentation in one go, getting Planets out of the way first. The trailers are not individually searchable.