Friday, February 25, 2011

Sci-Fried Theater: THE BEAST IN SPACE (1980)

To quote the 80s band New Edition: “Peer pressure, you don’t have to follow their lead” (don’t ask how I know that).  Since my amazing review of STAR ODYSSEY (1979), I’ve had two friends tell me/taunt me that I should see Alfonso Brescia’s follow-up THE BEAST IN SPACE (1980).  Oh, damn it all to hell, I have a copy sitting right here.  Thanks Tom and Mark!

Captain of the Space Fleet Larry Madison (Vassili Karis) discovers a smuggler named Juan (Venantino Venantini) is in possession of the element Anatalium after they get into a bar fight over sexy Sondra (Sirpa Lane).  After Larry and Sondra get it on, she wakes him after having a recurring nightmare where she is being chased in the woods.  Damn chicks.  The Space Fleet determines this rare commodity came from the planet Lorigon. Naturally, Larry (haha, Larry) is picked to lead a mission into this area of unexplored deep space and, of course, Sondra is one of his staff in a crew comprised of 4 guys and 3 girls in the goofiest outfits imaginable.  Damn, 4 guys and 3 girls? Isn’t that a Joe D’Amato series?  Anyway, by my calculations, someone is going to lose out on this set-up in the sex department.

Almost at Lorigon, the MK31 ship is attacked by enterprising Juan and his men before the crew safely lands on the desolate planet.  Larry leads a group of 2 guys and the 3 girls on an exploratory mission and they quickly encounter a Big Azz Robot.  They run back into their ship but then decide they must brave their new environment, which looks suspiciously like the Italian countryside. Along the way they find themselves in a forest – exactly like the setting of Sondra’s nightmare – and encounter two horses copulating.  For some odd reason this causes everyone to stop (“Look at that!”) and the women all to get horny and touch themselves. The film then continues with no one mentioning the incident afterwards.  Uh, too much vino that day, Mr. Bradley?

The group eventually makes their way to the castle of Onaph, the sole human living on this planet.  He explains that the Anatalium decreases aging and that the planet and its precious resource are controlled by a super computer named Zocor that is protected by Golden Men (oh no, not those guys again!).  Anyway, he invites everyone, including shady Juan, to a big feast that turns into a running time hogging 25-minute orgy that ends with Onaph revealing himself to be half-man, half-hoofed animal that promptly rapes Sondra just like in her dream.  Everyone gets in on the sex action except poor Juan, but he saves his former foes by slipping them some pills to block Onaph’s hypnotic hold. The crew steals the Anatalium and battles the Golden Men before destroying Zocor.  Oh, and Sondra is raped by the Big Azz Robot for some reason.  WTF?

Brescia appears to have totally gone of his rocker this time. Instead of sampling STAR WARS (1977), this is an out-of-this-world sci-fi coupling of Disney’s THE BLACK HOLE (1979) and Walerian Borowczyk’s interspecies sex epic THE BEAST (aka LA BETE; 1975). Hey, you can’t blame him for not being creative.  All the stuff with Onaph and his “castle” is straight up Dr. Hans Reinhardt.  Hell, the guy playing Onaph even looks like an Italian Maximilian Schell. And Brescia isn’t subtle about ripping off THE BEAST either as female lead Lane was the object of desire in Borowczyk’s flick.  The sleaze factor has been significantly upped from his previous sci-fi outings as this film features tons of nudity in it. I’ll take that any day over the “comedic” styling of ODYSSEY’s robots of doom Tiki and Tili. At the same time, Brescia makes the nudity flat out boring.  That is quite a feat.

Regardless of upping the exploitation factor, Brescia still manages to deliver an incompetently made film.  Hey, you really didn’t think the guy was going to become a master in the year between this and STAR ODYSSEY did you? Tons of the same sets are used and I chuckled when the damn gold painted dudes in Lady Gaga wigs popped up again.  Brescia even reuses some of the same miniature effects shots in this film.  The fight scenes are still just as clumsy and there is quite possibly cinema’s worst thrown punch with a reaction caught on film (special thanks to Mr. Tinta for telling me to keep an eye out for it; see below).  Severin DVD should be commended for making this film look as well as they did.  They actually released two versions – an unrated one and a XXX one that has penetration inserts.  For the first time in my life, I’m glad I DIDN’T see the XXX version as the penetration into my brain was painful enough.  This frame grab about sums it up:

Nope, not even close!

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