Mission Stardust (1968)

Mission Stardust (1968)‘Well, I suppose you two will unscrew your heads and go hide in the closet.’

Perry Rhodan and his space buddies fly to the moon to look for priceless minerals but come across an alien spacecraft instead.

The aliens are (mostly) friendly and are looking to reinvigorate their gene pool by mating with a younger race. The astronauts are definitely interested but the beautiful female commander is a right bitch.

You may never have heard of Perry Rhodan. This is the only film adaptation that features him, after all. But, amazingly enough, he is the bestselling science fiction literary character in the world… ever. To date, over one billion copies of his adventures have been sold worldwide in their pulp booklet format. These are not full length novels as such, more shorter ‘novellas’ and over 2,700 have been produced so far, as well as comic strips, audio plays and collectibles. The first book was published in Germany in 1961 and they have been translated into Hebrew, Spanish and many other languages. There were even publication runs in America and Great Britain, although not recently. A Dutch astronaut took one of his own childhood copies into space in 2004.

Critics and highbrows dismiss Rhodan’s adventures as pure space opera (George Lucas cites them as an influence) and ‘Mission Stardust’ (1968) does the character few favours in his search for credibility. The books are obviously the work of an ever changing stable of writers and one of them was allegedly involved with the film. However, fans of the character point out that it the movie bares little or no resemblance to the books, beyond the starting point of the story. In fact, some of them even try to pretend that the film doesn’t exist!

Mission Stardust (1968)

I don’t understand. What is this Earth thing that you call ‘kissing’?

Why? Is it that bad? Well, it certainly isn’t very good. This was a West Germany-Spain-Italy-Monaco co-production and perhaps it was the need to cater to all tastes that results in a film that is a clumsy mixture of space adventure and espionage thriller. Rhodan isn’t only an astronaut here; he’s also a cut-price James Bond, all too ready with his fists and pistol and using alien technology as his ‘go-to’ gadgets. The earthbound villain is simply a wealthy drug dealer and criminal mastermind, who ticks all the usual boxes. He wants to get hold of the extraterrestrial machinery so he can fulfil his rather vague plans of world conquest. It’s all very half baked and more than a little dull. The SFX are also extremely tatty, even for the later 1960s, with the design of the robot’s face particularly awful (if quite amusing).

The major plus point here is the presence of Swedish actress Essy Persson as the alien commander. Although the English dub does the cast few favours, at least she commands some screen presence and personality. And she’s also super hot. Is that sexist? Well, I’m a bloke, after all. What do you expect?

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