Pop quiz hotshot...your home planet, devastated by atomic war, is now inhabited by a handful of men and almost no women...what do you do? Answer...you hop in your spacecraft and scour the universe for hot babes in the hopes of abducting them and returning home to repopulate your world of course, and that's pretty much the main gist behind the film Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965), directed by Robert Gaffney, who would later go on to direct photography for part of Stanley Kubrik's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Starring in the film is James Karen (Poltergeist, The Return of the Living Dead), former playmate (June '59) Marilyn Hanold (The Brain That Wouldn't Die), and Lou Cutell (Little Big Man). Also appearing is Nancy Marshall (Asylum of Satan), David Kerman (Murder, Inc.), Robert Reilly (To Save a Child), and Bruce Glover (Diamonds Are Forever, Chinatown) in a dual role as a Martian patrolman and also the space monster named Mull.
As the movie begins we see some Martians, led by the comely Princess Marcuzan (Hanold), along with her bald-headed, smirking, often effeminate brainiac sidekick/scientist named Doctor Nadir (Cutell), cruising about in outer space, headed towards Earth. Once in orbit they perceive various rocket launches by NASA to be missile attacks and proceed to use a force field to destroy them. NASA, unaware of the Martians, decide on a new approach by sending a rocket into space piloted by a human looking robot (one that can feel pain, for some reason), created by Dr. Adam Steele (Karen) and his assistant Karen Grant (Marshall), to eliminate the possibility of human error, I guess. As launch time approaches we get a load of stock footage, and, again, the Martians force the ship down, but the robot manages to eject his capsule, landing somewhere in Puerto Rico. Princess Marcuzan, now realizing the rockets were not missile attacks but manned space missions, orders her crew to land and destroy the pilot for fear he might relate to Earth authorities of their presence, which results in the robot getting blasted and subsequently damaged, turning it into a sort of Frankenstein monster who wanders the area killing at random. From here the Martians decide to enact phase two of their plan, which involves collecting nubile, young female specimens for the purpose of returning them to Mars, because Mars needs women...er, wait, that's a different film. Anyway, a bunch of stuff happens including tons more stock footage (most of it of the military type), some go-go dancing, the procurement of more bikini clad breeding stock, Nadir continuing to act fruity, Adam cruising the streets of San Juan on a Vespa, a couple people get disintegrated, we meet Mull, the mutant Martian monster brought along for the ride, Karen gets abducted, all culminating in a real clash of the titans (sort of) as the discombobulated Frankenstein robot battles the Martian mutant.
While this film was the pits (but in a fun way), I did learn quite a bit including the following...
1. Stock footage and lengthy driving montages are a great way to pad out a film's running time without having to spend a lot of extra dough
2. Dressing a few guys up in phony looking spacesuits hardly instills the belief they're actually Martians.
3. Martian men are bald and sport Vulcan ears.
4. The makers of this film should have gotten their money back from whoever supplied them with those baldheaded wigs and pointy ears for the Martian characters as they look ridiculously phony.
5. Martian princesses, while certainly attractive, are harsh mistresses, especially when it comes to punishment doled out to those who fail in performing their duties.
6. A machete works just as good splitting skulls as it does coconuts.
7. A mutant Martian with excessive body hair and obviously rubber claws doesn't seem all that threatening.
8. When trying to communicate with a Spanish speaking bartender your need to use his telephone by using the word `telephone', he'll most likely give you a beer, but if you use the phrase `el telephono', he'll understand you perfectly.
9. Dr. Nadir seems to enjoy the more heinous aspects of his job just a bit too much.
10. When the military issues a `Code 24' alert, prepare yourself for massive amounts of stock footage.
11. Earthmen are unusually passive when dudes in spacesuits show up and steal their women (in all fairness the spacesuit guys were sporting ray guns, but still, forty unarmed Earthmen against three armed spacemen seems like favorable odds).
12. Conventional weaponry (artillery, rockets, etc.) is useless against a geodesic dome-like spaceship with a metal skirt and spindly landing gear, all seemingly made of aluminum.
13. When obtaining the rights to songs for a film, maximize the expenditure by playing the songs more than once.
14. Unused montage footage can be utilized to provide viewers with something to watch during the closing credits (waste not want not).
As I alluded to earlier, the film's a real dud, but goofy enough to be entertaining. One really funny aspect that sticks in my mind is near the beginning when Adam, Karen, a General, and a pilot are traveling in a Lincoln Continental, all four in the backseat. Now the backseat of a Continental is large, it's obviously not large enough to accommodate the foursome, resulting in the appearance of the General actually sitting on Karen's lap. Another entertaining aspect of the film was the character of Dr. Nadir, played by Lou Cutell. He's made up in a way that makes him look like a bald, evil gremlin, enhanced by his slyly suggestive, effeminate smirks. The performances are generally rotten, as was the dialog, which is steeped with harebrained exposition. The special effects are bargain basement (I thought the creature Mull actually looked halfway decent). I dug inclusion of the song `That's The Way It's Got To Be' by The Poets, even if it had no relevance what so ever to the film. There's probably about a good twenty minutes of stock footage (the film only runs 77 minutes) but what's used seems to have been chosen with some thought, so that was appreciated. All in all the movie is a real dog, but entertaining in an Ed Wood/Plan Nine from Outer Space sort of way, certainly worth a few laughs.
The picture quality on this Dark Sky Films DVD release, presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), looks better than it should (there are some obvious signs of age, but, overall it's quite clean and clear) and the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio comes through exceptionally well. There are some good extras, including a 14-page insert booklet, an original theatrical trailer for the film, a still gallery, and English subtitles. All in all a great release of a rotten, albeit fun, film. Two stars for the film plus an extra star for the DVD release.
By the way, if you're interested in getting a copy of the infinitely groovy tune `That's The Way It's Got To Be', by The Poets, featured in this film, you can find it on disc two of a four CD box set released by Rhino Records entitled Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond. The set itself is pricey, but it's worth it especially if you dig on rare British rock from the mid to late 1960s.