Cosmos: War of the Planets (1977)

The Italian Poster
Genre: Cheapo Camp Italian Science Fiction

Far, Far in the distant future, where everyone dresses the same with funny red skull caps and the women don’t wear bras under their tops, a strange beam hits the earth from the outer regions of the galaxy.
Captain Alex Hamilton (John Richardson) and his crew are sent to investigate.

Captain Hamilton, who is described by his superiors as arrogant, demonstrates this by punching one of his crew in the face, but he also proves that he will take risks to save another member of his crew when a spacewalk goes badly wrong.

On their journey to the edge of the galaxy, the crew is able to relax by discussing books or making love – not by touch, though, but by transferring thought waves.

They trace the source of the beam to a small planet, which luckily has earth like conditions, so they land and disembark to find themselves in front of a giant Stonehenge monolith.

It isn’t long before they are surrounded by the local inhabitants, who are group of subterranean bald-headed purple people in loin clothes with pointed ears. Through their leader they tell their new visitors that they mean them no harm, but are prisoners themselves of a giant robot which they had previously built.
The robot had wanted the spaceship to come to the planet because it needed to have its circuits repaired before conquering the universe.

Well, what can I say? This is one weird movie. When I was watching it, I thought I’d made a mistake and was watching the director’s other movie, his 1979 Star Odyssey. Then I realized the sets and costumes were all exactly the same.
Directed by Alfonso Brescia,  this is Italian camp science fiction on its lowest budget. God knows how the cast kept a straight face while wearing those costumes, or even acting in this weird shit. The sets look like something from a cheapo 50’s science fiction with some TV sets inserted into the panels.
The subterranean purple people are a bunch of pot-bellied actors in very unflattering loin cloths and you can more or less see the greasy purple make-up dripping off their bodies.

The giant robot looks like one of the toy robots I had when I was a kid in the early 70’s. The special effects are a kin to something from a home movie – actually, I’ve seen BETTER special effects in a home movie. Remember, this was the same year that Star Wars hit the big screen and if you were a British kid, as I was, during this time, you may remember the BBC TV movie quiz show for kids called Screen Test. In the middle of the show they would show a home movie sent in by the young viewers. I remember one young viewer had made his own very impressive version of Star Wars and the special effects in that were superior to this movie. Actually the entire budget for this whole movie was probably equal to the cost of one Star Wars Stormtrooper’s uniform.

But did I like this movie? I have to admit I actually did.

The one thing that stood out for me was the music which was a great example of 70’s electronica with plenty of analogue Korg and Moog synthesisers. The music at times was very experimental, veering off into the Italian equivalent of the experimental German Krautrock electronica of those times. At times there was a thin line between which was the music or the movie’s sound effects. Other times it would try to replicate 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by playing a synthesized version of Strauss. I actually would be happy to have a soundtrack album to this movie if such a beast exists.

With this and the strange visuals, including the costumes, sets, stock footage of solar flares and volcanic eruptions, give this movie a quality similar to a fever dream. If you want to switch your brain off for 89 minutes or if you already have, then watch this movie.

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