Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Beast in Space (Alfonso Brescia, 1980)

Having mastered the messy art of procreation, and, not to mention, having learned to live with the shrill consequences that come with such an accomplishment, it only makes sense that humanity would set about destroying itself. And what better way to do so than by scouring the galaxy for rare elements that will help speed up the process. Who knows? You might just catch a glimpse of two horses fucking along the way. Two horses?!? Fucking?!? No, not again. You promised there would be no more references to horses having sex on this blog. First of all, I made no such promise. And secondly, as I've stated numerous times in the past, if the film I'm watching features two horses "getting it on," I have to at least mention it. I mean, to not do so would be dishonest. Besides, the other horse movie and this one are actually related in a strange, "this can't be happening" sort of way. You know how the former was called The Beast? Well, this cinematic gem masquerading as an intergalactic lump of esoteric filth is called The Beast in Space (La Bestia Nello Spazio), and while it does boast many of the same ingredients that were present in Walerian Borowczyk's titillating masterpiece, you should always keep in the back of your mind that this film was directed by an Italian man. In other words: Prepare to set your erections on stun. Lacking the rivers of beastly jizz of its equally equine copulating cousin, this Alfonso Brescia (the Italian man) directed epic manages to take us places Pan Borowczk's pervy mind could only dream of going. Yeah, that's right. Change into your most garish-looking bathrobe, pour yourself a tall glass of Uranus milk, and prepare to a have your mind blown like it's never been blown before. Utilizing the "hardcore insert" with the subtle grace of a poorly made sledgehammer, the space adventure, while borrowing heavily (i.e. shamelessly stealing) from a number of different science fiction sources, is able to maintain our interest by employing a cool synthesizer soundtrack, top-notch faun legs (the fur seemed so lifelike), an exhilarating raygun shootout, and, of course, a fight where two combatants swing swords made out of pure energy.
Since the majority of the interesting stuff you just mentioned takes place during the film's final third, does that mean we should bypass everything else? Tough call. I'm gonna say, no. You'll definitely want to watch the entire film, if only to hear the synthesizer-heavy, Wendy Carlos-esque music score by Marcello Giombini (a.k.a. Pluto Kennedy), as it's haunting, lush, mysterious, and beautiful. And you'll no doubt want to see Vassili Karis (Private House of the SS) get in touch with his inner Captain Kirk as Captain Larry Madison, a brawling ladies man. You gotta love a man comfortable enough with his sexuality to wear a black sequin cape in public, and, not to mention, order a bottle of "Uranus milk" without giggling. But that's exactly what Captain Larry does was when he enters a bar in the film's opening scene.
Making eye contact with a blonde woman lounging on a sofa, Captain Larry saunters over to the bar (Uranus milk ain't gonna order itself). While getting his drink, he notices a guy named Juan (Venantino Venantini) is starting to put the moves on the very same woman he spotted when he came in. He's probably thinking to himself: How dare he talk to her. I mean, didn't see me make eye contact with her? The nerve of some people. Anyway, like any sane individual with an inflated sense of self, Captain Larry beats the hell out Juan and a couple of his trade association buddies, and proceeds to sit next to the woman on the sofa. While chatting her up, he soon finds out that her name is Sondra (Sirpa Lane), a woman whose forehead is covered with an inordinate amount of make-up (green, jewel-encrusted lightning bolts).
Sealing the deal, thanks to his innate suaveness, Captain Larry, after thrashing Juan and his pals one more time for good measure, is upstairs performing peripheral cunnilingus on Sondra like a rock star. While the room they're sort of fornicating in gives off a red hue, their bodies are actually bathed in green. It's an excellent precursor to the red green dichotomy that will be the film's focal point later on. This sequence also gives us our first taste of the "hardcore insert" (a pair of breasts are being fondled that clearly do not belong to Sirpa Lane),and our first look at Sondra's dream. Running through the woods on a distant planet in a torn toga, we see Sondra being chased by a bearded man wearing an embroidered vest. After waking abruptly (no wonder, that vest was horrifying), she tells Captain Larry about her dream, and while he does a pretty good job pretending to give a shit (he even nodded a couple of time and threw in an "and then" at one point), he eventually succumbs to post-ejaculation fatigue and falls asleep, leaving Sondra to ponder the exact meaning of her nightmare.
Craving the refreshing smoothness that only a cool glass of Uranus milk can provide, Captain Larry is back at the bar trolling for space pussy. While he manages to find both, he also manages to get in another fight with Juan and his associates. After watching him bag yet another babe and beat the living snot out of Juan (though, it was a little harder this time around since his opponent wasn't drunk), I think it's safe to say that Captain Larry is the greatest fictional space commander the nation of Italy has ever produced.
While drinking, fighting, and fucking are all worthy activities for a mustachioed Italian man in his mid-thirties, a space commander is most at home when he's flying through–you guessed it–space. What I'm trying to say is: Give this man a mission! It just so happens that his superiors have ordered him to the planet Lorigon to retrieve an element called "antalium." The primary ingredient in the production of neutron weapons, the acquisition of antalium is vitally important to the Earth government; so much so, that they have even installed an "antalium detector" on Captain Larry's ship, the MK31.
Donning his grey flight suit and red space cap, Captain Larry is introduced to his crew. First off, he meets Dr. Green (Umberto Ceriani), the ship's doctor (though, he seem to do more anilingusing than actual doctoring during the mission); Frida Henkel (Marina Hedman), radar operator; Erika Grant (Maria D'Alessandro), computer operator; and Lt. Sondra Richardson (Sirpa Lane), the ship's route officer. Wait a minute. That final crew member looks an awful lot like that chick with the forehead make-up who dreams about bearded men in embroidered vests. Holy crap, it is her. The woman he performed second-rate oral sex on is standing right over there. Of course, Captain Larry doesn't react the way I'm reacting, he merely smirks and goes with the flow.
If the smirking space commander seems like the kind of guy who's used to having things go is way, that's probably because he is–you know, one of those guys. However, his trademark confidence appears to crack somewhat when he's in outer space. I guess his massive ego is no match for the vast emptiness of space. Either way, Captain Larry is not his usual self after they embark. It doesn't help that Juan shows up. Yeah, that's right, Captain Larry's nemesis from the space station bar circuit is apparently interested in acquiring antalium as well. Commanding two, or maybe just one (the other could have been a hologram), flying saucers, Juan fires a mild laser blast at the MK31 causing them to temporarily spin out of control.
Detaching a small landing craft from the ship's main module, Captian Larry assembles an away team, after deeming the planet's external environment to be acceptable for human consumption, and head out in search of antalium. A run-in with a giant robot puts a damper on their mission early on, but, as Captain Larry states, "We're here to search for antalium, and, by god, we're gonna find some." In other words, nothing, not even a giant robot, is going stop them from completing their mission.
You'll notice that Captain Larry and the members of his away team have changed their clothes. Gone are the grey jumpsuits with red caps, they're now wearing what look like green wetsuits. Well, Erika, Frieda, Sondra and Peter's bodies are sheathed green, Captain Larry, being the captain and all, gets to wear a reddish orange wetsuit. While I don't mean to imply that Captain Larry's wearing of a reddish orange outfit, as supposed to a green one, made him appear cooler than his underlings; if anything, he looked like the semi-reluctant spokesman for a new line of carrot juice-based energy drinks geared toward the leather daddy community. What I was trying to say was that this yet another attempt on Captain Larry's part to stand out from the crowd.
At any rate, after making their way though an underground passageway, the team come upon a strange-looking forest. We're all thinking it, and Sondra tries to point out what we're thinking right from the get-go, but Captain Larry dismisses her assertion that the the lay of the land is eerily similar to the forest that is at the centre of her recurring dream. While most alien landscapes that appear in science fiction movies look like they were filmed on a sound stage or in the arid wastelands located just outside Los Angeles, the birch tree forests of The Beast in Space were genuinely alien in appearance. As everyone knows, the trunk's of most trees are light brown in colour, but birch trees sport white trunks. This gives them a distinct advantage in the weirdness department. Add some smoke effects and some grainy stock footage of two horses having sex, and you have got yourself a convincing alien world on your hands.
Even though we have seen brief flashes of Sondra's dream throughout the film, the horse intercourse scene is the film's most direct allusion to the original The Beast (the film has had more in common with Star Trek: The Original Series, than Walerian Borowcyk's steamy art-house classic up until this point). Staring at the filly fucking with a trance-like intensity, the away team ponder their pounding for what seemed like an eternity. While Erika and Frieda self-massage a couple of their key erogenous zones, Sondra, Captain Larry and Peter merely stand there with their mouths on the cusp of being agape.
Previously dismissive of her woolgathering hypothesis, Captain Larry starts to wonder if there isn't something to Sondra's assertion that everything that is taking place is has already occurred in her dream when they happen upon a castle. Entering the massive structure, the team try to stick together, but ultimately, they become divided. You could blame the pleasing shape of Frieda's bum when encased in green space pants, or could just call it case of bad luck, but they end up lost in what looks the set of Barbarella. Waking up in a pillow-laden harem, Juan and Onaf (Claudo Undari), the mysterious man in the embroidered robe, treat the crew to a hardy feast. Removed of their space suits, Sondra is in white, Frieda is in blue and Erika is in pink, Onaf tells his guests that he's eight hundred years old. It's true, he doesn't look a day over forty, but the reason for his longevity has nothing to do with exercise or eating right. He's under the control of Zocor, a super-computer that lives off, you guessed it, anatalium.
Did you say that Sondra was wearing white? Yeah, I did. Interesting, she is clearly wearing white in her dream. I wonder if... I'm sorry to cut you off, but Sirpa Lane is currently standing in a birch forest in a white toga. And that could only mean one thing? That's right, it's time to get Sirpa moving. Is she about to be chased through the woods by something large and hairy with a charred toadstool swinging between its legs? Does Taija Rae look sexy in blue stockings? In other words, of course she's about to be chased through the woods; that's her modus operandi. Though, I wouldn't compare its member to a "charred toadstool," that's for sure, as it was definitely more conventionally cock-like in appearance than the phallus from The Beast
A giant faun with a massive erection chases Sondra through the smoky underbrush as Marcello Giombini's brilliant synth score percolates in the background. A wily veteran when it comes to running away from creatures with bulky junk, Sirpa Lane displays a churlish elan while trying to avoid the faun's thick tool. You would think that Captain Larry, Peter, Erika, and Frieda might help Sondra out ("hey, stop chasing her, you hirsute motherscratcher!"), but they're too busy fornicating in the woods to give a shit. Well, they're sort of fornicating. You see, while it was obvious that Umberto Ceriani's face was all up in Marina Hedman's ass crack business, the rest of their fornicating was realized via "hardcore inserts."
With its thrilling ship-to-ship space battles, monster cocks (i.e. a dildo that has spent way too long sitting in the window of an abandoned sex shop), red-eyed robots, dream sequences that revolve around birch trees, grainy horse porn, peripheral anilingus, close-up shots of hairy faun legs, and Uranus milk, The Beast in Space seems to have it all. The key words there being "seems." What this flick needs a laser pistol shootout and a fight with electronic swords. And you know what? Just as I was beginning to lose hope that these two things wouldn't be included, they're both sprung upon us with a playful zeal. While they appear briefly during the cave exploration sequence and also show up as waiters in the harem scene, Zocor's Golden Men, so-called because they have gold skin, don't really make the presence felt until their instructed to stop the visitors from messing with their master's supply of anatalium.
You haven't lived until you have seen Maria D'Alessandro mow down Golden Men with a raygun. Zapping them with a passive grace, D'Alessandro's Greta calmly dispatches the members of this robotic army of Edgar Winter look-alikes, while, at the same time, looking fabulous. In closing, if you want to reenact the birch tree forest scene from The Beast in Space with me, meet me outside the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research on any given Tuesday at around 10pm, I'll be the one wielding the giant dildo

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  1. I recently watched this movie myself. The thing's phallus was way undersized for any self-resepecting saytr.

  2. I can't pick out my favorite part of this review. You crack me up, Yummers.

    So, I have to ask: Are you watching Mad Men for Jessica Paré? :D I have a love-hate relationship with that show. I complain about it bitterly, but yet, I still watch.

    "Zou Bissou Bissou"...

    My other half is really into that Game of Thrones show.

  3. @Nine-Fingered Menace: I would agree with you, but I don't want to sound like I know what I'm talking about. ;)

    @Karim Amir: Glad you likey. :)

    I watch Mad Men for the clothes, the production design, and the attention to detail. That being said, I do love me some Jessica Paré. So, yeah, Zou Bissou Bissou, indeed.

    Your love-hate relationship with Mad Men sounds like me with AMC's The Walking Dead; the show's so irritating (especially this past season), yet I continue to watch.

    Every time I turn on Game of Thrones someone is being brutally murdered. :D

  4. Yeah, there's a lot of blood spilled on Game of Thrones.

    Yummers, I don't think I've met anyone who doesn't have a love-hate relationship with The Walking Dead. All my friends complain about it...and yet they all keep watching. I seem to watch the AMC shows no one else watches: The Killing, Rubicon.

    My cat's namesake was an answer on Jeopardy! tonight. Glad someone answered it correctly.

  5. The reason we keep watching TWD is that we all hope that it will eventually get better. But alas, it never does. :D

    I'm vaguely familiar with The Killing, and I can totally see you being a fan of it. As for Rubicon... I have no idea what that is. ;)

    Your cat's name is Red State, Blue State? ;)

  6. Those latex space uniforms are good but it looks like the designer dreamed about candy/skittles through their colours. Should have stuck to black, red or silver?