Thursday, January 6, 2011

Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Starring Russian dudes, a robot, and Mamie Van Doren

"I never thought I'd see your ugly face again!"

It's the future! 1998! Ok, that's the past, but it sounded pretty way-out in 1968, when this hodge-podge was slapped together. Two astronauts - plus an overweight robot cleverly named "Robot John" - blast off into space for the first manned exploration of Venus. After many life-draining minutes of generic "space travel" footage, they crash-land at their destination and get out to wander around. They find the planet overrun with 4-foot Godzillas, which are thankfully easy to swat away.  Much worse then the creatures, however, is the brutal Venusian atmosphere, which is quickly draining the life out of our space explorers.

Back on Earth, NASA (or whoever) are closely monitoring the astronauts' movements. When they lose radio contact after the crash, they fear the worst and send another crew to Venus to find out what happened and, if possible, to rescue the first team.

Well, ok.

So those guys show up. They search around for the first guys, but their radio signal keeps getting jammed with what sounds like the mythical 'siren song'. And then they spot a chintzy looking Pterodactyl puppet, which they kill.

Turns out, there's a telepathic, Pterodactyl-worshipping cult of sea-shell bra and silver Capris-wearing blondes - led by Mamie Ven Doren - on the planet. And they're pissed about the indiscriminate murder of their rubbery bird-god.

So, while the dopey astronauts stumble around on the rocks, the ladies use their all-blonde brains to conjure up a volcano to swallow the fuckers up.

Will the first group of space-travelers meet up with the second and get off of this crazy planet before they get swallowed up with the lava? And will they make peace with the foxy natives?

If you can stay awake long enough, you will get the answers to these burning questions.

Shoddily produced by Roger Corman, 95% of the footage in Voyage is from a 50's era Russian sci-fi fantasy called Planeta Burg. The film was re-edited and reconstructed to achieve Corman's flimsy alternative narrative, and the Bogdanovich-shot footage of Mamie and her glamorous pals was clumsily inserted into the mix to sell off the whole ugly mess as a brand new adventure. Unfortunately, the bits with the sexy Venusians amount to about three minutes of (silent) footage, and the rest is just a slow and bewildering slog through Soviet space madness. Even in an era when films were indiscriminately re-titled and re-purposed for maximum profits, Voyage is still one of the biggest rip-offs of the cinematic 60's. That same year, Bogdanovich used the same cut and paste approach with the vastly superior Targets, so at least Voyage was good practice, but for unsuspecting viewers expecting a shlocky, Queen of Outer Space-type romp with Mamie vamping it up as a sultry space vixen, you are in for a major disappointment.

1 comment:

  1. This is actually a recut version of VOYAGE TO THE PREHISTORIC PLANET, with the Bogdanovich shot furry bra stuff shoved in there. PREHISTORIC PLANET used a ton of PLANETA BURG as stock footage. So, I think it may be more accurate to say that 90 or 95% of PREHISTORIC WOMEN consists of footage from PREHISTORIC PLANET, which consists of a bunch of PLANETA BURG footage, if you follow. I haven't done a side by side comparison though, so maybe I'm just a little confused here (well, more confused than usual).


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