[THE WILD, WILD PLANET - (1965) - Widescreen presentation - directed by Anthony Dawson (real name - Antonio Margheriti)] Hey kids, it's time for a rerun of a late 60's Saturday morning campy cult 'classic' sci-fi flick. Only this go-around, there's no goofy host, no cartoons sandwiched between movie segments, no commercials for Wonder Bread ("Fortified with vitamins and iron and guaranteed to build strong bones and healthy teeth") or sickeningly-sweet cereals ("Can't get enough of those 'Sugar Crisps'..."). AND it's in widescreen AND vibrant Technicolor AND hasn't been edited with a tilesaw - so I ask you, what else could you want? A good movie? Jeez, some folks are almost impossible to please...
If you're even vaguely familiar with science fiction flix from the 50's and 60's, you know most of them are bad beyond belief, though there were a hefty handful that were truly impressive, enjoyable and still hold up well today. But we're not currently addressing those; we're acknowledging the pervading bulk of the clunkers here, and glorifying a few others. Some were entirely without merit of any sort, some so irredeemably bad we're ashamed of ourselves afterwards, and some sooo bad they're actually good on a 'guilty pleasure' scale in sore need of calibration. And then there's a short list of transcendent films that have somehow elevated themselves (with our assistance, of course) to dizzying new heights of enjoyable entertainment we can be (almost) proud of. Well, this flick isn't one of those either, but it is nonetheless deserving of mention among the annals of cheerfully cheesy psychedelic sci-fi cinema. Maybe 'cause there aren't many entries in this category, maybe 'cause I have a genetic weakness for 60's psych in all its incarnations, maybe even 'cause it actually has merits of its own. Then again, to some, maybe not, but I believe that most blossoming freaks who were growing up in the 60's will look upon this one with frivolous, fetish-like fondness. The only others who might find it rewarding are the MST3K crowd, but it's so much more than a flick to make fun of, it's a film to have fun with. But no one who doesn't fall into the aforementioned columns A or B should be watching these films at all - ever.
At Gamma One, a space research facility, bizarre experiments are undertaken - tissue grafts, transplants, shrunken organs, flesh-fusions, mutations and the quest for the Perfect Man and Woman ("I'm satisfied with them the way they are", decries one newly-arrived Commander, who looks like he doesn't get much 'tang - you decide which type I'm referring to). The Commander gets a facility tour from the overtly clichéd power-crazed scientist prevalent in 100 flix like these, so we know he's up to no damned good, but there's a slew of scantily clad babes with skyscraper hairdos and exaggerated eye makeup who are martial art masters garbed in silk nighties, so it's worth sticking around for. The women toss each other around exposing all the bits we're keen to see - besides, it's much cleaner than mud or jello-wrestling. The head honcho here is Eurobabe Lisa Gastoni ('Come Play With Me' - read my review), a stellar slice of space splendor who the mad doctor has the hots for. And his plans for her are lovingly heinous indeed. The rest of the plot's in the product details in Amazon's listing, so there's no need to rehash.
Now there's a cornucopia of kitschy cosmic camp looming large here - everything's awash in Bava-esque colors, great miniature sets of this futuristic space metropolis that are hokey but admirably well-crafted and imaginative, bald four-armed androids dressed in black with wrap-around shades, futuristic cars, astronauts dangling from visible wires as they spacewalk, shrunken 'people' in suitcases and fancy fish tanks, laser-ray girls in garish cloaks who dance for no apparent reason, a cool dungeon of failed experiments comprised of zombie-like mutations, insane dialogue to laugh at and more weird women to drink in - and drinking while watching's not a bad idea either. Remember, in space no one can hear you scream. Or laugh out loud. Revel in the well-intentioned astro-absurdities on display and Anthony Dawson's skilled camera eye and you'll have a blast as I did. Any attempt to reconcile the foolhardiness is foolish times ten. Approached properly, by the time the film's exciting ending arrives you'll be converted by the head trip experiments on 'The Wild, Wild Planet'.
Think of this as a 60's updated take on 'The Queen of Outer Space' meets Bava's 'Planet of the Vampires', throw in a jigger of 'Alphaville' and viola, you have a mod martini of psilocybin-infused psychedelic sci-fi. In fact, watching all four of these flicks back to back might be just the jolt you need to come down from the bad acid of all that CGI crap you've been ingesting lately...give it some thought.