Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Beast In Space (aka La Bestia Nello Spazio)

Beast Reality

The Beast In Space (aka La Bestia Nello Spazio)
XXX Version
Italy 1980
Directed by Alfonso Brescia
Severin Region 1 DVD

Wow... where to begin with this quite fantastically terrible but genuinely strange movie from Italy? Just jump in I suppose. The Beast In Space, it seems to me, is a film trying to fulfil the jumping on of two simultaneous bandwagons... both fairly unsuccessfully, I would say.

On the one hand you have the ‘star’ of Walerian Borowzwyk’s notorious movie The Beast (reviewed here in its original form as part of that director’s Immoral Tales), Sirpa Lane, who is obviously going to have to get raped by a beast character in a forest at some point in the movie to be able to fulfil that  specific target of making this movie. And on the other hand you have a post-Star Wars cinematic culture with an audience looking for where the next ray gun blast is going to be coming from and a whole bunch of studios the world over clamouring to give them just that... without any concern for budgetary requirements or, frankly, even a good script.

This film starts off with a man with a dodgy approximation of Han Solo’s original Star Wars costume, complete with a pseudo Star Trekish badge, chatting up a sexy star gal in a very low budget attempt at a ‘space bar’... think Moon Zero Two (reviewed here) but with less room and even cheaper sets. The gal is Sondra Richardson, as played by the aforementioned Sirpa Lane, while the guy is called... well due to my terrible memory and the IMDB being completely rubbish, I can’t tell you the name of the character or the actor in this case... so I’ll just refer to him as Dodgy Han Solo from this point on.

Then, the other main male protagonist of the movie, Captain Larry Madison as played by Vassili Karis, enters the bar and takes over, knocking out Dodgy Han Solo and falling back on the old, honourable hero’s code of sexy space gal philandering as embodied by the rules of male sexual politics... ‘I saw her first.’ Both the good Captain and Sondra then have a bizarrely Bavaesquely lit love scene with their bodies bathed in reds and greens at the same time. That being said though... it's really not Bava doing the lighting and the cinematographer here forgot about how easy it is for green colouring to kill off flesh tones. So not a scintillating sequence, it has to be said.

Once the two have spent themselves and fallen asleep after their energetically edited love-in, she wakes up in fright with fragments of the same, recurring nightmare in her head... a nightmare which has been plaguing her for a long time... that of running through a forest and being accosted by a big beast in a manner more than vaguely reminiscent of the Borowszyk films I mentioned earlier. That’s convenient then. She tells her dream to the Captain but he doesn’t think much of it... in fact, he sleeps with two different women in the first quarter of an hour of the movie, so he obviously couldn't care less. Young ladies seem to be throwing themselves at Captain Larry, it would seem.

When the Captain is given an important mission by his boss, to find a rare metal which can be weaponised or some such malarkey, he finds that Sondra Richardson is now a member of his spaceship’s crew. When we visit his starship bridge for the first time the gulf between wanting to be a bit of competition for the kind of box office returns which Star Wars got and actually managing anything more spectacular than the movie equivalent of cellotaping a bit of tracing paper to a torch to make a quick light sabre... seems to be glaringly well illustrated. Everyone on the bridge is wearing white costumes with red shapes and strange, soft helmets which really make them all look like a very low grade version of Mario Bava’s Planet Of The Vampires crossed with Gerry Anderson’s Space 1999.

Meanwhile, while I was not admiring the decor and costumes in this fabulous, sprawling space saga... an important plot point comes to light. It seems the Dodgy Han Solo trader who the Captain beat up twice in two scenes in the bar, has a sample of the rare metal on him and so the Captain needs to find him again. Meanwhile, sexy space Sondra is still having dreams of forest pursuit and non-consensual ravishment. As their vessel drifts in space, in a desperate bid to find the planet where the rare metal element makes its home, they come across Dodgy Han in his spaceship, who takes pot shots at them and cripples their craft. They drift and slow down as the Captain’s body is physically jolted by the ship losing speed... which is strange because nobody else on the crew seems affected by the sudden drop in velocity in any shape or form... they all just look a bit bored. One wonders if everybody was just told they were shooting a close up of the Captain at this point and then they did a long take instead... and then just not bother to correct any of it in editing. That’s my most hopeful guess, anyway.

Never mind... the crew are in trouble because the ship is caught in the gravitational pull of a planet and the, presumably, equivalent of a Scotty type of character from Star Trek, tells the Captain in no uncertain terms and in not completely different words, this movie’s version of “The ship cannae take the strain”.

No matter. The ship stabilises and they land on the nearest planet. Two of the crew are left behind to fix the ship while the rest of the crew don some bizarre, fetishistic, rubbery green jumpsuits... apart from the Captain who wears an orange one... to explore the planet. Very quickly they are chased back to the ship by a giant robot but, because the crew are able to ascertain that they have, by chance, crash landed on the very same planet that has a quantity of the rare metal they are looking for, they soon resume their explorations of the planet without the robot showing up at this point... presumably the crew of visiting space travellers aren't all that memorable.

So the crew go out with their special devices which they are using to look for the rare metal which... are... pretty much... just undisguised metal detectors that they kind of half point up instead of down at the ground.

Really? Was the budget that tight or was this some kind of aesthetic choice?

Anyway, as I said, the crew go out and soon come across the rapey forest of Sondra’s dreams. It’s here that this already decidedly dodgy movie takes on a bizarre turn as the crew suddenly stumble on something in the forest which looks suspiciously like non-matching insert footage. Okay... we should expect this, given the budgetary constraints but... extended non-matching insert footage of two horses mating? Which goes on for ages? And which somehow affects the women in the crew so much that they are visibly aroused by the sight and start touching themselves through their green, rubbery fetish wear? I certainly didn’t see this coming but the crew seem to take it in their stride as there’s definitely lots of horse watching going on in this scene... whether you want it to or not. The film plunges new depths but... well, it can only get better right? Wrong...

After lots more inadequate exposition involving the crew running around some kind of so-called space castle, before being captured with a force field, they regain consciousness to meet their 'host'... a big tall man who explains that the whole planet is run by a giant computer and various other things in a story that’s far too dull for me to remember, let alone transcribe for you here. They also find Dodgy Han Solo guy blending in and, after a while, he switches allegiances and joins the Captain to try and escape the planet. Not before everyone starts having hard core sex in the banqueting hall, though... because they are being mentally controlled by the aforementioned super computer.... I think.

Meanwhile, Sondra runs off in her forest, pursued by their host who promptly fulfills her personal dream prophecy by having his legs magically transform into big horses legs and his penis magically transforms into a giant horse's cock. He chases and rapes her and there then follows a series of hardcore sex scenes with everybody occuring at about the same time that this film stops trying to make any sense whatsoever. I had no idea what was going on at this point and all I could do was Whatsapp screenshots of the giant faun guy’s magically transforming, giant cock for the perusal of my lady friend.

By this point, everyone is just having human puppet sex... not to mention giant faun guy sex... and it’s up to Dodgy Han Solo to pull out his packet of convenient antidote pills... I’m sure it somehow explained how he has these but I really couldn’t make head or tail of it, and he gives them to the Captain and the crew... who leave Sondra with the faun to distract the computer from their escape plans. This is followed by lots of laser gun shoot outs and even... oh yeah... a terrible light sabre fight... err... I mean laser sword fight, obviously.

Here we find out the ‘golden men’ who serve their host are in fact robots and so Captain Larry and Dodgy Han Solo go to sabotage the main computer... which sounds really a lot like the one in Godard’s Alphaville.  They do so without employing Han’s very politically correct advice which he gives to the Captain... “Undress. It may have gay transistors that you can distract!”

Meanwhile, a giant robot manifestation of the computer is now raping Sondra... presumably with his giant robo-cock but, thankfully, at least that particular phallic representation is left off screen in even this Triple X edition of the movie (not to be confused with Severin’s slightly tamer, unrated edition, which seems more readily available and is similar to the one Shameless put out over here). Either way, this girl’s not having much luck by the end of this thing but, at least when our heroes blow up the planet and escape with the rare metal, she manages to escape with them through the power of trick photography... so that’s okay then.

The Beast In Space is a film I’ve wanted to see for a long time and I understand that the original negative used for the Region 1 DVD release of this movie by the label was bought at a bankruptcy auction in Rome. I don’t know who was bankrupt but... if you churn out films like this then I’m not surprised. The score is pretty interesting but not that appropriate to a lot of the movie... and the music really is the only serviceable thing about it I reckon. Bad performances, not so special effects and a scattering of, really, very lame hardcore sex... this movie just didn’t match my expectations of it other than in the music (which I already had on CD) and the fact that it is, at least, fairly bizarre a lot of the time. Can I say I enjoyed it? Really not so much. It gets quite dull in places. Would I recommend it? Absolutely... to anyone interested in all the weird and wonderful ways the cinematic art manifests itself... purely because, although you might not have as much fun with it as you might expect, it really does have to be seen to be believed. So there you have it... and that’s all I’ve got to say about this one. You are duly but playfully warned.

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