Wednesday, October 13, 2010

“Venus... Venus... the planet named after the Goddess of Love.”

A lot of old B Movies I’ve been watching certainly deserve a fair amount of ribbing for bad effects, acting or storytelling, but most of the time it’s of a good natured sort. I don’t usually “hate them” hate them, because with the best cheesy B Movies, there’s at least one or two elements of quality and/or effort involved.

The next film flat out pissed me off. So much so that I almost decided to throw in the towel and quit this entire reviewing project. It was THAT BAD. So instead of doing that, I figured I could try and briefly explain why 1968’s Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women almost did me in.

First, some context. The bulk of the footage is from a 1962 Soviet film called Planeta Bur which features a group of cosmonauts and their robot landing on Venus and fending off various monsters as they explore it. It was dubbed with some new footage of Basil Rathbone dropped in to make 1965’s Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, and then the new footage was replaced with newer footage of Mamie Van Doren as Venusian leader Moana and a group of bored looking clamshell clad women standing around on a rocky shoreline and all new dubbing.

So basically, this movie is thrice recycled. Which is a bad sign. The plot jammed together from this awful collision is something about American astronauts (with suspiciously red stars on their rockets) trying to rescue a downed exploratory rocket on Venus and as they wander around, one of them thinks he hears a woman singing and frequently gets distracted. The search party eventually shoots down the Venusian women’s pterodactyl god Terah (I wish I was making that up) and after some surprisingly boring gyrating, the women conjure up several natural disasters for the astronauts.

It’s godawful.

So the new shots were directed by Peter Bogdanovich (as Derek Thomas) as one of his early gigs and they look like they were filmed in a day or so. The women are attractive, certainly, but all have that zoned-out, bored look, and they really don’t do much of anything. The original Russian footage is actually of a much higher budget and quality than the new stuff, and includes all manner of costumes, a pretty good robot that gets called “John” and moments that are genuinely interesting.

Henry Ney is the writer given the unfortunate task of trying to make this mashup make sense. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. It’s obvious that it’s made from two different piles of footage and the things that tie the two together are so stretched that its painful. As a writer, I really feel for the guy, especially since this is the only thing he’s credited for on IMDB.

Original music by Keith Benjamin and its par for the course. The dubbing is also standard for the Russian parts of the film, but the new footage is completely dubbed over with the excuse that the women are all telepathic. I realize this is probably a workaround for the constant sound of waves crashing against rocks, but it’s still really lazy.

I think what really cheeses me off about this movie is the fact that it was so shamelessly hacked up, repurposed by a new crew that did a bad job of it and still had the gall to call it “their’s.” It’s like a storytelling smash and grab, and it really pisses me off. Sure, showing a Russian Sci-Fi film in the U.S. in 1968 wouldn’t have worked either, but to be totally honest, the original movie looks so much more interesting and better than this bastardized version. And I don’t just feel bad for the original Soviet moviemakers. I feel bad for the American crew and actresses that were hired to try and make this version work. It’s not a matter of stealing ideas, since I think the rights were bought fair & square, but the whole shameless laziness of the whole thing is shameful. But that’s not all. It is painfully clear that the source material is superior and that this edit does nothing but lower it.

Don’t See Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. Just don’t. It’s not worth it. I really want to make it a point to track down Planeta Bur, actually, and while I haven’t seen the Basil Rathbone version, it can’t possibly be as bad as this.

I am not joking or exaggerating when I say it’s terrible. It’s nigh unwatchable. It is mind crushingly boring. It made me out-hate Napoleon Dynamite, which I never thought possible. This is now officially the worst movie I have seen.

Fuck this movie.

No comments: