1 August 2009 | aventer-1
Communist version of Flash Gordon?
In case you wondered why Roger Corman scrapped the story line of German SF films he bought, watch one in its original form! This film is on par with Tom Baker era Dr. Who shows in most respects. Process shots, models, special effects are all pretty basic. Direction is very slow and the story predictable. Like many TV space operas, our explorers land amongst humanlike aliens, most of whom are enslaved by a mean tyrant. Fortunatly, they speak the explorers language, in this case, German. But instead of Ming the Merciless, its more like Clueless. Our tyrant boasts an army of about 20 guys, no real weapons except handguns, no death rays, no monsters, nada! He isn't even that mean. True, he makes the couple dozen natives of the planet mine some minerals or something with picks and shovels but there are no massacres or real evil deeds. His most violent act is to throw a hissy fit and trash his own bedroom.
Technically, Blakes Seven was way better. The sound effects and some of the background music as well are just oscillators going WWWWOOOOOO at different frequencies. The rocketship going out of control is cleverly suggested by flashing red lights and tilting the camera back and forth. The control room is full of big pilot lights all flashing in unison and signifying nothing. Considering the size of the control room set, the rocketship must be about 600 feet tall. It's never explained how people get in and out of this skyscraper of a space ship.
The entire population of the planet appears to be around 75 people. There are no cities, no factories, they never even show the tyrant's palace from the outside. There is only a little mine, equipped with 19th century style hardware. All the men apparently work in the mine and all the women dance on the leaders lawn all day long for his amusement. What do the people eat? Unlike Flash, the situation of tyrant/slaves/heroic space explorers/etc. is not resolved at the end of the film. You may well ask if there is another reel that somehow didn't get shown.
OK, maybe its unfair to dis a movie like this since the Communist film industry must have had a lot of problems. But if a clunker like this came from American International back in 1965 the critics would have panned it brutally. Its too dull and boring to be a lost gem and not wacky enough to be a cult classic. If I had to see stuff like this when I went to the movies I might have tried to tunnel out of the country too!