Sunday, 7 June 2015
The Beast in Space [La Bestia nella Spazio] (1980, Alfonso Brescia)
Where to start...? In 1974, outre cinematic mentalist Walerian Borowczyk made the compendium film Immoral Tales. A year later he expanded a story intended for that film ('The True Story of the Beast of Gevaudan') into the full length art-porn blockbuster The Beast an exploitative exploration of lust and animal instinct, starring Finnish actress Sirpa Lane. These are good movies, but they are merely past prologue to our main feature here. Five years after The Beast played to it's shocked audiences, Italian z-list filmmaker Alfonso Brescia concocted an unofficial remake with added flying saucers, laser battles and lightsabres entitled (what else?) The Beast in Space. How could i resist?
We begin in an extremely sleazy and downmarket space disco (imagine the Star Wars cantina filmed for no pence in the worst glitterball dive you can imagine, but worse), as space hero Captain Larry Madison swaggers in for some space booze and bar fights, and to pick up the tacky but up for it Lt Sondra Richardson (Sirpa Lane) after a brawl with space trader Juan Cordosa - a downmarket and low-rent Spanish / Italian Han Solo. Madison charms Sondra with his tales of voyages to distant planets, including the red hot desert asteroid Rutilus, which he describes with the charming metaphor 'Have you ever seen a Mandrill's arse?'. Evocative dialogue, yes?
Anyway, the thrust of the matter (as it were) is that Captain Madison's space federation colleagues need the vital mineral Antalium for their neutronic rockets, and Antalium is found only on the planet Lorigon, a world where 'no man has been thought to set foot'. Though it transpires than Juan Cordosa's Mercantile Association have already been there and found some Antalium. The space quest is launched, and our heroes and heroines of this sub-Blake's 7 crew (including a guy who is the spitting double of Richard Harris as King Arthur in Camelot, distractingly) blast off for the strange world, despite Sondra's strange and prescient dreams of being chased through a woodland idyll by a huge faun-like beast with a serious case of priapism: this guy puts the satyr into satyriasis.
So their strange adventure on Lorigon begins, where the alien atmosphere begins to have a strange effect which includes visions of copulating horses (via terribly spliced-in footage of a totally different film grain), which makes our astronauts feels funny. 'I feel a strange torpor inside of me!' cries an astronautette as she starts getting randy and touching herself up through her spacesuit. 'This situation is getting critical!' cries Captain Larry. He's not wrong.
Our space heroes encounter Onaph, the leader of the planet, who seems strangely (over) familiar to Lt Sondra. He gives a banquet for our spacemen, which is a dupe to get them all in the mood for an orgy, for beneath his bejewelled robe Onaph is indeed the horny Mr Tumnus of Sondra's dreams. This all leads to the re-enaction of her recurring dream, wherein she is chased through a Bacchanalian glade in diaphanous gown by a very urgent and attentive Pan Man. If this had been written by Terry Nation, i bet any money the planet would be called Sexos or Nymphomanios.
Our heroes must recover the Antalium from the planet's supercomputer Zocor (represented by a badly shot clockwork robot) and his Golden Men, robotic guardians wearing Jimmy Savile wigs and wielding pound shop lightsabres. It's amazing.
As Juan Cordosa and Captain Madison approach Zocor to destroy it and take the mineral, Cordosa comes out with the immortal line 'Quick, undress - it may have gay transistors you can distract!' but sadly Larry is resolute in his determination to keep his spacesuit on. 'Everything's about to explode!' he cries, before they scarper with the mineral wealth and the planet explodes.
He's right, you know. After watching that, it feels like everything is.