Where the Sixties Live Forever:
Wild, Wild Planet
Starring Tony Russel, Lisa Gastoni, and Massimo Serato
Written by Renato Moretti, and Ivan Reiner
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
NOTE - This movie is also known as I Criminali della Galassia.
Yes, it's Wild, Wild Planet! A spectacular retro-future filled with "Laser-Ray Girls, Four-Armed Stranglers, Menacing Mutants, Deadly Doll-Men, Flesh-Fusion Experiments, and Armadas of Spaceships" (from the movie poster.) When I say retro-future, I mean it. All the women have big hair, all the rocketships are pointy and generously finned, and the cars look like they leapt out of The Jetsons. Throw in a nonsensical plot, dirt-cheap sets, and flat acting with dubbed voices, and you get a Really Bad Movie!
Let's begin. We open with the main title, and shots of astronauts working in space on a large, rotating space station. Naturally, it's very cheap. The astronauts are swinging on their strings, and girders used in building the station hang with a suspicious lack of motion. You either get to read the credits or watch the astronauts cavort and swing around on visible strings.
We cut inside a room in the space station, where small slimy blobs sit inside lit and sealed containers. Some pulsate as if they're breathing, and others have tubes running in and out of them. We see a man in a lab coat working on them, with some microscope goggles strapped to his face. The man, a scientist named Dr. Nurmi (Massimo Serato), praises his work. Perhaps he's developing a new variety of hamburger for McDonald's. Everything is good, and Nurmi is sure of himself. We see Nurmi talk about this project with the station's commander, Commander Michael Halstead (Tony Russel). This project is very important for the corporation's CBM division. Okay, CBM is a part of a larger Corporation. They have to be the bad guys. Corporations are always the bad guys. Mike doesn't like this project being on Gamma 1 (the space station), but Nurmi says Mike should be proud that this innovative work is being done there. Another officer, named Ken, seems to approve of the "biomedicine" project as well. Er, isn't the phrase "biomedicine" a bit redundant? Mike informs us that the blobs are, in fact, shrunken human organs, and that he thinks they're gross. Nurmi must be working for McDonald's. Nurmi talks about the virtues of transplants and tissue grafting, saying that they'll "transform mankind," hinting at a super-race. Am I detecting ominous undertones? Mike likes humanity the way it is. He then makes a phone call, using a one-piece telephone with its keypad on the underside. How goofy! The funny thing about the telephone is that is only has nine buttons. In the future, humanity has done away with #, *, and 0! Anyway, Mike offers Nurmi a tour of the station, and says that dinner is scheduled for 19:00. Finally, Mike expected two corporate heads, but Nurmi explains that the other guy, a Mr. Caffin, disappeared without a trace. Mike makes a small joke, and Nurmi reacts badly to it. Then he stares in with an evil gaze at some of his shrunken organ experiments, and notes how many people have disappeared lately. Mwahaha!
We cut to a woman with a beehive hairdo and heavy eye makeup, watching rockets through some binoculars. Here, we have our first example of the rampant prop reuse throughout this movie. You see, the binoculars were used in just the last scene as the microscope goggles used by Nurmi. Anyway, the unidentified woman stares out the window, and we get to see the rockets as they're coming down. It's quite a cheap set, with obviously small rocket models landing with odd whining sounds. The set of surrounding buildings and launch pads must have been built on a tabletop for filming. We see more women with big hair leaving the rocket, all carrying their bags. The woman leaves the window, and heads into the bathroom, where she appears to apply shaving cream to her face.
We get a sudden shot of a bald man in a black hat, dark sunglasses, and a black plastic poncho, joining the woman in the bathroom.
This segues to a dojo, where some people are learning a martial art. The sensei is a red-haired woman (and she's got modestly big hair) named Connie Gomez (Lisa Gastoni), the station's Communication and Code Control Officer.
Enter Nurmi and his tour guide. Nurmi is wearing sunglasses that make him look like an archetypical film producer. He's interested in Connie, noting that she's a "perfect physical specimen." The tour guide notes that she's Mike's girlfriend. I guess there's some intra-military gossip going around. They get introduced, and Connie is excited to meet a corporate head. He says he's a doctor from ChemBioMed (CBM, I guess), and he wants to meet her. Check out his pick-up line:
Nurmi: "I was admiring your physique. The human body is my specialty, my area of exploration. A vital body indicates a vibrant spirit and mind."He asks her to have dinner with him and the commander, and she's happy to go. Nurmi leaves, and another officer named Jake approaches Connie, warning her about what Mike will think.
"Mike will blow his generator."Every one of the officers aboard this station seems to be on a first-name basis with each other. Irritated, Connie flips Jake over, and leaves with an awkward line.
Now it's dinnertime, where people are eating and dancing (or moving, depending on your definition of 'dancing') in the dinner hall. The people are all wearing colourful clothes and all the dishes are brightly coloured plastic things.
Connie and Nurmi were dancing, and they go to the window. She's excited about her upcoming five-week long vacation on Earth. We get a shot of a roughly spherical blue thing in space that is supposed to be a planet. She doesn't actually say it's Earth, but I assume it is because the ladies with the big hair will say they're on Earth later on in the film. Nurmi invites her to a better place for a vacation, the "most perfect" vacation destination in the solar system. Using the term "most perfect" implies that there are shades of perfection, when that simply isn't the case, but never mind. He says the corporation will pay for it, and she will consider it. They go back to their table, where Mike sits with his drink. Connie notes when she sits down that none of the men rise in her presence. She's drunk, and makes no real point with her words:
"I like to be treated as a lady, not as a buddy. Women's equal and full participation in space junk! I'm a woman, and a woman is obviously different from a man."Okay, simmer down. She implies that Mike is a womanizer, and he labels her as drunk. She mocks him, and Jake stands over her despite her telling him to leave. She must be making quite a spectacle of herself if another officer was compelled to stand over her like a nanny. She then accepts Nurmi's offer, and a discussion follows:
Mike: "She's drunk. You [Nurmi] realize-"Good gravy, shut up!
Mike then receives a telegram (!) from another officer. Jake gets to read it aloud. General Fowler is missing. Mike needs to get down to Earth to address this situation, and Nurmi lets him take the corporate shuttle. Connie runs off with Mike. We then get an evil, dramatic close-up of Nurmi, looking so eeeevil!
We cut to a subterranean cavern somewhere. There are men dressed in funny green costumes that make them look completely like Santa's elves! I couldn't believe the costume choices for this movie! The military officers wear the only decent costumes in the movie. Anyway, the elves are sealing large slab-like containers, which are placed on a conveyor belt. This only reinforces my Santa's Workshop view of this scene, which is supposed to be evil.
We then cut to a lame exterior showing the containers on the conveyor. Again, the movie is plagued by its low budget in the form of obviously tiny models. The elves work away, packing three of those men in raincoats we saw earlier into each case. Then we get a shot of rockets taking off, presumably loaded with these containers.
Back on Earth, we see a city, and again the modelwork is really cruddy. Cars are zipping along roads, past buildings that are tiny things. This city was built on a tabletop!
The evil big-haired women have gathered in a hotel room with more of those evil men in raincoats. Everyone present is addressed by one lady with supremely tall hair (indicative of rank perhaps?) The others are ready for their Task of Pure Evil. They are told to study their assignments, who all reside in this city. They must meet with their "quarrums", the term for the evil men in raincoats, and search for their "consignments" in the city.
Next, we're in some kind of bleak bus or subway station, filled with people noodling around. A quarrum walks around, trying to blend in despite his clothing and manner. A big-haired woman meets him, and they set off on their Task of Pure Evil. They buy a ticket from a lady standing at a uniquely designed table, and wander away.
Next, we're in the middle of a small road in the country. A car with fins and a transparent bubble top slowly makes its way down this road. Connie and Mike are inside. He tells her to take the vacation offered to her, to allay suspicions of their less-than-professional relationship. She gets mad at this apparent rejection:
"All right, if that's what you want. I'll just take advantage of that offer from the gentleman in the corporations [sic]. All right?"Many of her lines are awkward, like this one. I'm pretty confident that her voice was also replaced. The Italian actress may be speaking English, but that doesn't strike me as her voice. Trust me, I have an ear for this sort of thing. Anyway, they drive off.
We see a child playing with a chemistry set in his bedroom. Outside, a lady and her quarrum approach, and somehow enter the house. They sneak up on the kid, and the quarrum envelopes the poor kid in his poncho - a scene that is quite disturbing in perhaps the wrong way. The kid struggles briefly out of sight, and when the quarrum steps away, only the kid's clothes are left there, on the floor. The lady picks them up and stuffs them into her bag.
Meanwhile, in a gymnasium, a lone man is inside working out. Another lady-quarrum duo enters and approaches the man:
Lady: "Sir?"Who talks like that? If you're alone and feeling threatened, you don't tell a stranger that you ARE alone! The quarrum then advances on the man, enveloping him. The camera pans down, but we can't see anything through the poncho. The man is gone, and the lady picks up his clothes. The quarrum stands off in the distance by the door, only he's without his sunglasses. Huh?
While the bad guys are continuing their Task of Pure Evil, the good guys are getting together at the United Democracies Space Command "System Headquarters." Everyone is sitting down for a meeting.
Enter two men, Charles and Dr. Anton Fryd. At the head of the table is General Maitland, who seems to also be in charge of the affair. He asks for new information. There are forty-eight new abductions to report in the capital city on that day alone, and by the end of the week, 6000 people will be disappearing per day in the city. Mike, who is also there, is unsure why Space Command is involved in what seems to be a terrestrial affair, and Charles says that any one of them could be kidnapped next like General Fowler. I still don't understand why Space Command is involved, but never mind. There are never any witnesses to the abductions, and there's no pattern to them. Dr. Fryd suggests a special police force be set up in the city, with Mike in charge. This motion is approved. The meeting lasted 75 seconds
We get another bad exterior shot of some buildings in whatever city this is supposed to be. We zoom in on one building in particular, the Proteo Theater. I recognized this building as the distinctive table I saw earlier in the transit station, only with a small sign on front! Prop reuse of the worst kind!
Inside the theater, we see another bizarre facet of this movie: Interpretive dance. Unlike the dancing seen in Cat-Women of the Moon or Fire Maidens of Outer Space, this dance is more artsy. All of the players are dressed in brightly coloured butterfly costumes, and all are cavorting around the small, open-air stage. In the centre of all this stands a black butterfly, who wiggles his arms around a little bit. There is no sign of choreography here, just near-random movement, accompanied by a happy-sounding classical piece of music. Around the stage are people, some in military uniform, who just stand there watching this display. It's quite ridiculous. Nurmi and Connie enter the theater to watch this display, and they continue walking. We see 28 seconds of dancing.
Meanwhile, somewhere in or around the city, a red car drops Dr. Fryd off from the meeting. As Fryd leaves the car, we get to see another effect of the low budget: the car doors. The big bubble that the passengers sit in is in two pieces, which are hinged along the top so they act as doors. When we see them being held open, we plainly see the flimsy doors wobble quite a bit, betraying the fact that they are thin plastic. When they are slammed shut, the sound of a real car door slamming shut is clearly dubbed in. I thought that was funny.
Fryd walks through a suburban park, when a lady and her quarrum approach him. The quarrum jumps on Fryd, but Fryd's granddaughter, who happens to be there in plain sight, spots them and cries out. Did the lady or the quarrum not see her while they waited for Fryd? The woman strangles the girl, while the quarrum steps back. Instead of a pile of clothes, a dwarf version of Fryd is left behind, still alive. The lady notes the failure of the quarrum. Fryd crawls away, and the lady kills the quarrum for his failure. The quarrum vanishes, leaving behind his clothes. I guess there exist defective quarrums in every shipment. She should order a new one. She runs off with the quarrum's clothes to her getaway car.
Fryd, hiding in the bushes, spots his dead granddaughter and calls out, but collapses.
Next, we cut to a bland lab/office type setting, the centerpiece of the room being a large glass dome. Technicians in lab coats and military officers are noodling around, pressing buttons and doing the like. The camera follows one woman around for 45 long, pointless seconds, until Mike enters.
Two technicians are laughing at something, and Mike approaches. The technicians have created some kind of holographic image (which they call a "visual synthesis") of Mike inside the glass dome, and they're laughing at it. Mike startles them, and suggests they get back to work.
Some people are watching a television, where a newscaster dubbed noticeably into English is talking about the disappearances and the associated panics throughout the city.
Mike is a busy man. First, an officer informs Mike that Dr. Fryd hasn't shown up at headquarters yet. Second, Charles from the meeting delivers Mike a report about "agents in the unaligned countries". Charles makes a note about the report being "complete". What commanding officer accepts incomplete reports? Is the act of making a report complete a bonus? Third, Mike makes a demand for a hotel and "sky-tel" report. Fourth, a phone call comes in with information about CBM. Fifth, another report comes in saying that twenty more people have gone missing just this morning. Sixth and finally, Mike asks the telephone operator if Connie can be reached. She hasn't been available for some time.
In this scene, we see why. Connie is boarding a rocket. Nurmi waves goodbye, looking particularly slimy. The rocket cheesily takes off.
We cut to a house. A young boy is playing with a ball outside. He sees a lady with quarrum in the trees, staring back at him. They approach, and the kid calls for his mother. Sure enough, she pops up above, and descends some stairs to reach her son. The lady and quarrum are scared off.
Mike is being shown the new security precautions. A network of cameras has been set up in the city, which allows the authorities to see everything. Does this not sound like Big Brother? Mike gets to see some views from various cameras, and they inadvertently see a lady with quarrum walk by the camera. One cop, who really looks like J.R. from Dallas notes how attractive the lady is. Check that, Big Brother with a little perversion at the top.
Charles comes in again, with some evidence.
Charles: "Mike, I think I've uncovered something!"Oh, the humor. Charles starts talking about girls and shipments, but before he can go into detail, Mike gets called away. Dr. Fryd was found, and he's in the hospital. On his way out, Mike gets an urgent call from his sister, Vicki. Via a videophone setup, we see that this woman is in fact the woman we saw in the last scene, who saved her son Jan from the lady and quarrum. She tells Mike that she's sure she saw the kidnappers, and that they tried to take her son. Mike arranges for her to come down to give a detailed description of the evil pair. Mike suspects CBM. Why? Did his dinner with Mr. Nurmi not go well? Perhaps he's jealous that Connie went on a vacation to some place Nurmi told her about. Either way, he has no reason to suspect CBM.
We cut to the hospital. General Maitland reveals the shrunken Fryd. Everyone is horrified, including Mike:
"He's so deformed."A choice word he used there, very not PC. It's Dr. Fryd, as the dwarf had all the proper clothes and identification. He's not dead either. He's in a deep coma. Mike is stunned, but Maitland says there's more, and we head off to see something else. We don't actually see what else Mike is shown. I hate that! ARRRGGHH!!
Instead, we immediately cut to the interior of Connie's rocket. She's seated next to the pilot. A reddish planet comes into view out the window, accompanied by ominous music. The planet is identified as Delphus, and it's the model of the Earth we saw earlier, illuminated differently. Wait just a moment here! Mr. Nurmi said this planet was in our solar system. I don't recall there being an extra planet called Delphus! WTF?! (As an aside, if the topic of mysterious planets interests you, visit this wacky page, written by a genuine conspiracy nutcase. Laughs abound!) Connie looks nervous about this planet.
Back on Earth, Vicki works with the two laughing technicians from earlier to reconstruct the identities of the lady and quarrum she saw try to kidnap her young son. An image of the woman (created not through special effects, but by getting the actress to put her head inside the glass dome) is inside the dome. That image is fine, but the image of the quarrum needs some tweaking. Vicki notes that the quarrum "looks too nice." I kid you not, the change the technicians make is to illuminate the image from below with a red light! Vicki jumps and declares the new and improved image as being correct.
For the next few scenes, the time of day changes more often than Ed Wood could ever dream of. You'll see what I mean.
It's now the nighttime. A small red saucer-shaped craft flies through the city, only adding to the smile I had plastered on my face from this movie. Inside are Mike, Charles, and another man. Everyone is looking for Nurmi, but he's nowhere to be found. Charles elaborates on his original point: girls. Apparently, a large number of women (and their hair-care products perhaps?) have just arrived on Earth, along with strange shipments. Both came from the planet Delphus, which CBM owns or something. Mike is really starting to suspect CBM now, but Charles notes how that idea is "too way-out." (I assure you, that is a direct quote.) Mike will get proof, and he's determined to take Nurmi down.
Vicki calls through the videophone, and Mike is shown the reconstructions of the lady and the quarrum. Mike orders these images to be shown to everyone in the city. Mike gets another call, informing him that Connie is on leave, spending her vacation on Delphus. Mike is alarmed.
They fly around in a circle above some buildings.
It's still the nighttime. Back at the lab/office place, a cop is watching the city through the television monitors. There, he spots a lady and quarrum in a transit station. The cop gives a vague warning to an undercover operative waiting there, and the agent spends 11 seconds trying to get a description in better detail. Mike and Charles are listening in from their flying saucer, and they head off to intercept the trouble. Mike takes the controls, and flies haphazardly between buildings and over streets for 16 seconds. We are to think he's an admirable renegade of some sort.
Meanwhile, the lady and quarrum are entering a red car and driving off. Before they get away, the undercover cop fires a tracer, which attaches itself to the car and emits copious amounts of reddish smoke. The car is followed by cops.
Suddenly, it's the daytime. We get a shot of the getaway car being driven down an empty road. No buildings or any artificial structures can be seen. Where'd the city go? Have they been driving all night? The quarrum gets rid of the tracer. We see more driving, and they're now being followed by an unmarked white car.
Nighttime. Mike follows the action in his flying saucer.
Daytime. The lady apparently kisses the quarrum while driving, and the quarrum disappears, leaving only his clothes.
Nighttime. Mike buzzes their car in his saucer.
Daytime. The red car drives, but is trapped and forced off the road by the white car.
Nighttime. In an AWFUL effects scene, we see the red car plunge off the edge of the cliff and blow up as it falls to the ground below. The explosion is quite small, and the car involved is on the scale of a Hot-Wheels toy. Yeeessh! I was gripped by sidesplitting laughter at this point. For me, though, the best part is the sound. You see, just after the explosion, we see the toy white car driving away (perhaps with an unseen stick or something). To try and convince us that we really witnessed a large-scale stunt, the sound of a real car driving away is dubbed in as the toy moves away. I thought that was really funny. I'm pretty odd, though. Mike lands in his saucer, next to the flaming wreckage of the car at the base of the cliff. It's a showcase of more tiny modelwork.
Men surround the flaming debris, but nobody is inside the car. One man finds a purse-like bag nearby, the one the quarrum was carrying. He sets about trying to break it open.
Mike and Charles find a pin in the car with a needle attached to it. It exudes a greenish liquid, which Mike sees dripping on the palm of his hand. Not the smartest place to study unidentified chemicals, but never mind. It has a distinctive odour:
Mike: "Smell that."Why the automatic association with Nurmi? Is he the world's only chemist? Is CBM still a division of a larger corporation as was stated in the beginning of the film, or is it a corporation of its own now? I think it's meant to be a corporation all on its own. No matter.
The man finally breaks open the bag, and recoils in horror at what he finds inside. Inside are tiny people, perhaps eight inches tall, being kept alive with tiny machinery. Horrors!
Up on Delphus, a lady with big hair leads Connie to her room. She's led through the quarrum workshop in an ignorantly edited scene, where the elves are packing them up for transport to Earth. She sees them, and looks confused and worried. I'd be freaking out if I were her. She's led on to her room, which is a sparse and very small one. She's left alone, and she looks scared. She turns on some kind of light, but in a weird psychedelic effect shot, the light makes weird patterns as if it's trying to hypnotize her. She quickly switches it off and looks at the unique-looking shower. Feeling a little more comfortable, she takes off her jacket, but is horrified to see the shower dripping blood, or some other red liquid. She closes the shower door, and tries to open the door to her room, but cannot. She's a guest, whether she likes it or not.
Down on Earth, the ladies and quarrums move and work on their Task of Pure Evil.
At the hospital, Mike and General Maitland are looking around. Mike is led to a dead quarrum under a sheet. The girl with him got away, and Maitland says that the guy who shot the quarrum went mad when he saw him. The quarrum has no papers, no ID, and "no nothing" as Maitland so eloquently puts it. Mike is shown the quarrum, a pasty four-armed mutant lying dead on the table. A military lady in attendance starts going hysterical and screams at the sight of the quarrum, and must be comforted by a few men. The woman's uniform apparently does not include pants. Mike notes that the quarrum is still breathing (the actor couldn't hold his breath?) Maitland says "it's the reaction of a nervous system that continues after death." So, he's not dead then! WTF?!
Mike looks at the quarrum's eyes, and we are told without actually seeing anything that he has cat-eyes. He calls the quarrum a "sickening freak." He's frustrated that the only things they can turn up in this case are "freaks." One doctor there notes that the two extra arms (which appear more like infant arms than adult arms) seem to have been attached with "fusion grafts". Yikes! If that means what I think that means... OUCH!! The doctor is very impressed by the quality of the work, and a quick squeeze of the quarrum's fingertip confirms its quality. Maitland then moves to touch it, but the doctor freaks out:
Doctor: "No, don't touch it!"But you just touched it! Anyhoo, the doctor notes that they'd need the best chemist there is to analyze the quarrum. This person is, of course, Nurmi of CBM. I would think a pathologist would be better suited to study a corpse, not a chemist. Mike heads out to find Nurmi. I got the impression that this scene was supposed to go in right after the comatose Fryd scene, but was moved during editing.
Mike and a detachment of soldiers drive up to an apartment building or a hotel. The setting for this scene isn't really identified. Nurmi is not there, but in his room are some girls. Mike and his men enter, and ask the girls who they are and why they're there. A fight ensues, lasing 1 minute and 12 seconds. It's a rather tame, overly choreographed looking fight between three men and three girls.
Something breaks in the rumble, and two soldiers below rush into the building.
Mike and his men are struggling to beat these women, who may have superhuman strength. Mike makes the following warning, which should be remembered by all future generations:
"Watch out for these gadgets on their chests."He is, of course, referring to the needle/pins filled with green liquid they wear on their clothes, though I'm sure you and your dirty mind are thinking of something else ;-)
Mike happens to jab one of the women with the aforementioned pin, and she disappears rather cheaply into her clothing.
The two soldiers arrive, and are confused at the sight of three men struggling to subdue two girls. Mike gets them to swear to secrecy (I'd be embarrassed too), and gets them to take the girls to General Maitland.
Charles rests next to an oddly shaped shelf, where he sees some books. They contain lists and directories of the kidnapped victims, as well as well-researched files on their behaviour. They spied on their victims for some time before kidnapping them, and Mike figures that only a corporation could have the organization with which to do that. Mike goes through one of the books, and spots the word 'Proteo'. He says it a few times before it clicks: Proteo Theater. He dashes off to the theater, babbling to himself as he goes.
At said theater, we get to see 24 more seconds of awful dancing in silly butterfly costumes with the audience standing around pretending to be entertained by this display. Nurmi is there, watching. One of the evil women enters and meets him. She reports to him that everything is going according to plan, and Nurmi makes a demand for perfection. We see more dancing.
Enter Mike. Nurmi spots him from a distance, and grabs the girl. They run off, and Mike chases them up a staircase.
General Maitland and some men arrive and follow Mike.
Nurmi and the lady hide in a dressing room, while Mike looks around outside. He stumbles into an occupied dressing room, and the women within scream as he sheepishly backs out. In the hallway, we hear the surprise of the ladies in the dressing room when they realize that was Commander Halstead. He must be a playboy or something.
Nurmi stabs the evil woman with her shrinking pin, causing her to shrink down into a pile of clothes. Mike finally finds Nurmi, picking up the lady's clothes and hanging them up with a bunch of other clothes. Nurmi feigns ignorance. Mike is getting angrier, and demands to know where Connie is and what he's done with her. He starts strangling Nurmi, when General Maitland bursts in and breaks up the struggle. He immediately kisses up to Nurmi and takes his side, practically begging Nurmi not to file an official report with the CBM board. Mike is aghast, and Nurmi claims that he's a sponsor of the theater, which 'explains' his presence in the dressing room. Maitland orders Mike to stand aside and let Nurmi go, and Mike is really mad at Maitland:
"Why you... you helium-headed idiot you!"Maitland orders Mike confined to quarters, and he's escorted out. That's one for Nurmi right there. I guess the corporations in this movie, like in real life (viz Halliburton, et al) have a lot of pull with the government.
We cut to some evil doctors working on Connie. They've got her arms tied so that they hang in mid air, and she's in front of a glass screen of some sort. Now would be a good time to try and use that kung fu stuff you were teaching! They force her to drink something, and the doctors note that soon, her "other half" will arrive. To explain, the camera zooms in on a doctored portrait photograph of Connie. Half of the visible face is Connie, but the other half is Nurmi. This has got to be some complicated Freudian disturbance in Mr. Nurmi, right?
Mike is in his apartment, and he's got a personal message he'd like delivered. He hands it to the guard outside his door, and the guard will send it since it's personal. Mike goes back into his room, lies down on his bed, and waits.
Somewhere else, Jake and Ken receive the message, and Jake doesn't get it:
"Connie on mad escapade. Any news, deeply bothered. Regret I never gave her even little party."Ken gets it, but Jake still doesn't. It's a message assembled from all the first letters, "come and bring help". They set off to help their commander.
Mike hears a ship fly by his window. The small red saucer thingy is coming to rescue him, but they hover outside the apartment. Mike signals by opening and closing his blinds, and they move in to the appropriate window. Mike takes a stool, and smashes the window with it so he can get out. Of course, the guard outside the room hears this, and tries to open the door. If I were Mike, I'd just say I dropped a vase or something, but Mike says nothing. This prompts the guards to use a laser pistol to cut the door open. Here, we see more substandard special effects. It's not actually a laser, but a flame that emerges from the gun. It's some kind of propane torch or something equivalent, not a laser. The whole while, I was looking for the tube feeding the gun with propane. The "laser" starts burning through the door.
Mike jumps out his window, grabbing a rope ladder dangling outside. He lifts himself onto the saucer, and they fly away.
The next day, Mike, Jake, and Ken pull up to an electrical substation that serves in this movie as a CBM installation. They know that the key to the mystery lies on Delphus. Jake has arranged a transport rocket to take them to Delphus, though he doesn't explain how. In the meantime, the three guys head into a building. There's some machinery around, but it's very empty. They drove right up and walked right into a CBM building? Is there no security here? The only resistance presented is in the form of a meekish man who catches them. The officers pull their lasers on him, and force him to show them around. Mike spots a path leading into a dark corner of the building:
Mike: "What's up there?"Who wrote this movie, a five-year old?! Who talks like that?! Obviously, they go up there.
We see a sign outside a door in a hallway, saying authorized personnel only. The man warns them about the sign, and says that he doesn't have a key. Mike patronizes the man, and fires his laser at the door, slowly cutting through it. After forcing it open, the men look around. Some of those large cases are along the wall. Mike leans up against it, and hears heartbeat from inside the case. Good gravy, that's a loud heart! Then the man runs past them, warning some elves in a room that "spacemen" are in the building. The three officers follow, and find the elves packing or unpacking quarrums. Thus begins a laser fight sequence lasting about 1 minute and 13 seconds. The lasers have a range of about eighteen inches before the propane-fuelled flame runs out yet we hear screams of elves off camera being hit by the laser. Some death follows. A quarrum nearly gets Jake, and there is some elf tossing. The lights go out, darkening the room only slightly. Mike warns that the quarrums can see in the dark. If they consider that to be darkness, then blindness must be prevalent in the future. Jake is running low on ammo, and gets warned about the quarrum's claws. They fire their guns some more, and escape into an anteroom. The quarrums that survived attach themselves to the door, trying to force it open.
The anteroom is full of files and papers. There is another door in this room, which Ken and Jake try to get open. Mike walks up to what has to be The Mother of All Rolodexes, and looks at some files printed on little cue cards. Mike looks at the cue card with General Fowler's name on it. We then get a shot of Fowler momentarily waking up. He's shrunken, and inside a case marked "20". Then we see an elf pick up the case and carry it away.
Next, it's the evening, and we're at a spaceport of some kind, with rockets and cheap model helicopters. Mike and more men are walking to their Delphus-bound rocket. Closer to the camera, we see a person in a radiation suit pushing a cart with a fire extinguisher on it. Uranium must be the fire suppressant of choice in the future. The rocket takes off, and they're on their way to Delphus, and to the muddied climax of this movie.
We cut to a meeting room on Earth. General Maitland is talking with a man who sounds like Kermit the Frog. This man is with the corporations or something, because Maitland is asking for an inspection of a CBM facility. Kermit is uncooperative, and won't allow an inspection.
Next, we're on the rocket. They land on Delphus, at another spaceport. Why would they allow an unscheduled rocket to land? Since Delphus is at the center of the operation CBM is running, I would think the airspace above it would be very restrictive. Never mind.
Inside a boardroom on Delphus, some CBM bigwigs stand around at a window waiting for Nurmi. One guy says he "doesn't like this at all." Is he referring to the window?
Nurmi arrives, and says a welcome has been prepared for their unexpected guests. They watch it all on television. Mike and his men walk into a cave, when a large box falls over them, one wall at a time, trapping them underneath. Nurmi says he wants them tested.
Some elves surround the box and pump in gas, which knocks out the men inside. We see the suffocation scene for 34 seconds.
Now we're back in the CBM boardroom, complete with CBM bigwigs and Nurmi himself. The light fixture above Nurmi's desk is the showerhead from Connie's room. All of the men have been tested for whatever it is Nurmi is doing, and they all failed. Mike is there as their hostage, but the others are not. They will all be killed soon, and Mike lunges at Nurmi, but is held back by Nurmi's men. Nurmi decides to take Mike on a tour of the facility and explain everything to him, and to us, the patient audience who has been sitting through this. Nurmi is such a movie villain. Mike asks where Connie is, but he'll see her soon enough. He gets dragged along with Nurmi.
We cut to a laboratory. A glass-walled box with a miniature person inside is being wheeled to a tanning bed-like object, and the person is left inside. Nurmi is proud of what is happening here. This miniaturization procedure he is using took twenty years to accomplish, using "method, and reason, and tests. Twenty years of tests!" Yes, science usually requires testing.
The tanning bed is opened, revealing a full-sized man inside. Nurmi says that this is an application of fact, not black magic or witchcraft or anything else. Nurmi then proceeds to yell at a nurse for handling a mini-person with her bare hands, and orders the nurse's supervisor to take her to "rejection." Tough boss. Nurmi wants perfection in all things.
Mike is shown a room filled with rejections:
Nurmi: "This is my private Hell... to remind me of the hell men like you have created."We get to see a make up artist's nightmare: a crowd of people packed into a room, all with odd facial deformities and all staggering around like zombies, lurching towards the window Mike and Nurmi are looking through. Mike is horrified. Nurmi takes Mike away, and into a room filled with mirrored walls. He says that he's out to create a super-race of humans, which can be duplicated endlessly (which agrees with the mirror effects we see in the mirror room). We see this race already taking shape. Its current members are standing around an indoor pool in a drab, concrete-walled hall. In an editing flub, the pool is wavy one moment, and not the next. These people have been engineered, and will populate the universe. I hope Nurmi is planning to make more, because roughly fifty individuals aren't enough to sustain a race. We get a close-up of these perfect people. They all wear similar clothes, and the men stand apart from the girls. It must be a phase. Connie is then wheeled into this large room on a gurney. Nurmi says that she's the "epitome of perfection." She's being readied for a bizarre procedure, the strangeness of which was hinted at by the photo we saw earlier:
"Soon, she will be ready for the great moment, when she and I will become one person, and my flesh will absorb hers, and we will be fused into one person. We will be one, one dual person. That will be the perfect combination of my work. A total fusion, the great moment."Talk about run-on sentences. Mike is led off by Nurmi.
Mike is shown another lab, the one we saw earlier when Connie was being prodded by those doctors. Now in her place is a young boy being readied. We walk through more lab space, and we see a large cylindrical object on the floor, with the heads of two men sticking out. This object is slowly rotating, probably powered by the actors inside. Is this some demented carnival ride? A cylindrical column next to this thing also spins. Mike recognizes these things as tests used in astronaut training. I don't think NASA seats their men on a merry-go-round and sets it spinning very slowly. We see glassware on the table next to Nurmi and Mike, all filled with liquids of various colours. Nurmi mentions experiments and tests. He only wants to help humanity, and somehow this will help the rest of us. Next, he shows Mike some people being held in cylinders with glass doors, ready to be modified or something. General Fowler is in one of these tubes, and he vaguely recognizes Mike and almost says something before being taken off. He appears drugged.
Next stop on the tour: the central computer. Nurmi is proud of it, as he is with everything he touches:
"This is the most complex, and perfect machine ever constructed."This had better be a good computer. What is it? It's a sparse assembly of objects, arcing wires, miscellaneous electrical equipment, and even a plastic egg tray. It's no Cray, I can tell you that.
Fig. 1 - A six-egg plastic eggtray, not unlike the one used in the computer
For the most complex machine ever built, it doesn't even look terribly complicated. No circuit boards (or circuits for that matter.) Dare I say the insides of the viewscreen in Robot Monster look more like a computer? This computer that Nurmi is proud of makes weird, space-age sounds.
A man passes by with a tray filled with detached hands, feet, and other body parts. They're leftovers, and are dumped into the lake which is all around them. Mike too will be in this lake once he's killed, and Nurmi starts getting all metaphysical:
"Does it matter how death takes you? Death is death."I think it does matter, but never mind. Mike is led off by some elves.
We cut to the pool area. There's some eerie music playing, and a Frankenstein-like machine is being lowered from the ceiling.
Mike and the rest of the rocket crew are led back into the mirror room to witness the joining of Connie and Nurmi. Where were they all this time?
Both Connie and Nurmi are on gurneys, which are going to be placed under this machine. Once lowered, the machine will hold two plastic covers which will go over the gurneys. The perfect people watch from the side of the pool, which is filled with red fluid. The plastic covers are badly made, and don't even fit over the gurneys properly.
Mike and his men are helpless. Mike starts whispering orders to the others, preparing them to fight the elves that are watching them. They spring into action, and a fight ensues in the mirror room.
Some CBM people see this, and wake Nurmi up.
Mike confuses the elves in the mirror room, and they're shooting reflections.
Nurmi is mad. He climbs off his gurney and staggers away, fully clothed in what he was wearing before.
Mike and his men enter the pool area, and start fighting the perfect people. Why is that? Aren't these super-humans victims of Nurmi's weird experiments? Have they been brainwashed in some way? We'll never know, these questions are not answered.
Mike and his men (a force of six) battle the super-humans and the elves, and they seem to be gaining the upper hand despite being horribly outnumbered and unarmed. The super-females scream and run away.
Nurmi checks on his computer, and Mike finds him. The computer makes arcs of electricity and weird noises. Mike and Nurmi fight, and in the process, Nurmi accidentally destroys the computer. It blows up. Nurmi screams and goes nuts, accusing Mike and the others of stupidity. The window next to Nurmi suddenly breaks, and red water pours in. Apparently, the lake is above them too. Mike runs, while Nurmi laughs like mad and drowns in the rising water. The place is filling up with water.
Back at the pool, there's some residual fighting going on. The good guys carry Connie off, but she's dazed and semi-conscious. We get shots of destruction and drowning elves. Why is this place suddenly self-destructing and flooding with red water? Is it because of the computer? So many questions!
Mike and his men pile into the cylinders we saw earlier. The lake above them will fill the whole place up with water, and we see some shots of walls giving way and people being swept aside in massive floods of water. These too are done with small models. These shots are interspersed with more ridiculous shots of real, wet people screaming and being sprayed with hoses or with water clearly thrown from a bucket off-camera.
There's no room for Mike in the occupied cylinders, and Jake won't leave him alone. They use some oxygen tanks they happen to find on the wall to breathe. They jump into the pool. Water floods the room, and there are some explosions. Connie is scared, but safe in her cylinder with Ken. There are more explosions, both inside the facility and above ground, just under the surface of the lake. We get to see approximately 57 seconds of this.
The facility is destroyed, and the cylinders pop up on the surface of the lake, bobbing up and down. There are a few more explosions. Mike and Jake too swim up to the surface, and everyone slowly leaves their cylinders. Two rockets come to help them, and everybody is happy, including General Fowler.
Now for this movie's denouement or whatever the term is. Mike, Jake, and Ken are hanging out at the pool, admiring the view (particularly Mike, who stares for quite a while at a bikini-clad woman walking by). Ken is reading a report by General Maitland, which damns Mike's insubordinate actions and says that he's unfit to be a commander in the space force. Just then, General Fowler and his wife walk by, and the three officers salute him. Jake is the youngest officer, and probably included in the movie as a target for swooning on the part of teenage girls. He's wrapped up like a mummy, while the older Ken and Mike go bare-chested. Anyway, Fowler is feeling a lot better and is glad to be up and about. He leaves, and Mike makes a pun. Connie and Fryd arrive, and Fryd walks right underneath the rather high bar. Everyone laughs, but Fryd isn't laughing:
"You know, it's not humorous. It's extraordinary! Simply extraordinary!"I'm glad to see he's adjusting to his radically altered stature. Everyone laughs, and Ken and Jake leave Mike and Connie alone. Mike callously asks her if she enjoyed her vacation, and she tells us how much she hates him. He then kisses her and the embracing pair are the last thing we see.
The credits are filled with Italian names. Soon after they begin, the music ends, and we hear 54.5 seconds of pure silence with the credits.
Indeed, Wild, Wild Planet is an Italian movie, the first in a quadrilogy. All of the films are about the adventures of Mike, Connie, Jake, and Ken. You see, Italians can build fast cars and cook good food, but the Science Fiction Film must have been beyond the reach of Italian filmmakers. Not only was this movie bad, but the Italian-made Ator, the Invincible and its sequels of the 1980's and 90's are all really bad. For Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, the Ator sequel The Blade Master is more commonly known as Cave Dwellers.
The writing was really awkward in this movie. Many of the lines sounded off, or clunky, or stiff, or just plain uncomfortable and cringe-inducing. Some of the actors and actresses were not speaking English, but most of them were. I got the impression that many of these actors (Connie, for instance) were dubbed out anyway, perhaps to eliminate an accent. The only non-Italian I know of who was in this movie was Tony Russel, who played Mike. He was one of many American actors working in Europe during the 1960's. In fact, Mr. Russel turned down a role in another Italian movie that Clint Eastwood later took. It was for the movie A Fistful of Dollars. Bad career move. Actually, Tony Russel's acting wasn't so bad. It was perhaps a little wooden. Lisa Gastoni was awful. The characters of Ken and Jake were unnecessary and interchangeable. Massimo Serato as Mr. Nurmi wasn't bad, but I have a bias towards the bad guy. He was slimy and evil.
This movie had an interesting look for the future, a perpetual mod look pervading everything and mixed with a dash of The Jetsons. From the three-wheeled bubble cars to the finned and sharply pointed rockets, and from the big hair to the colourful clothes, everything smacked of the early and mid 1960's. Right now, the prevailing view of the future is one started by the movie Alien, a grungy, industrial future with pipes and smoke and darkness. That's why I think Wild, Wild Planet is a refreshing change, more like Star Trek in its idealistic outlook.
What was with the butterfly dancing? Yikes, I hope theater isn't like that in the future! What a joke that was! Even the costumes were inappropriate. They appeared to be made of a heavy fabric, nothing light and silky that one would associate with butterflies. Lots of running and erratic twirling to music. The music, I feel, also overpowered the scene with loudness.
The effects were far too ambitious given the microbudget this movie had, and the editing was Ed Wood-esque. I wonder how much money this movie made when it was released in the United States.
I think this movie is obscure and hard to find, and that's why I think I am lucky to have a copy of it. In the many years I've been surveying cable television for bad movies, I've only seen this movie on once. I've heard that AMC and TCM run this movie sometimes, but due to Canada's godawful government, I can't get those channels.
Enough whining. If you like bald mutants dressed in garbage bags, small men dressed as elves, or cruddy dancers dressed as butterflies, you should spend some time on the Wild, Wild Planet.
May 28, 2004
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