Scientists investigating a mysterious incident at a remote location find a buried alien spacecraft. Not only does the alien commander want help with repairs, she also needs some new crew and she doesn’t believe in asking for volunteers…
Italian 1960s space opera that was edited, dubbed and released in the U.S. (as ‘Star Pilot’) to cash in on the ‘Star Wars’ boom in the late 1970s. It’s almost inevitable that some coherence would be lost in those circumstances, but little excuse for the complete chaos of the final third here.
Things begin reasonably enough with the researchers out in the wilds with their Geiger counters and other geegaws. The only flies in the ointment are some enemy secret agents (they’re not Chinese we’re told, just Oriental!) Also Chief Professor Roland Lesaffre has brought along his beautiful young daughter (Leontine May). These scientists and their beautiful young daughters, eh? She’s kooky and a ‘free spirit’, and yes, that’s pretty annoying, but some personality goes a long way with this dull bunch. And she does have very nice legs.
Luckily, conflict with the alien commander (Leonora Ruffo) is just around the corner. She’s a bit of a babe too; all red wig, short skirt and go-go boots and the Prof’s young assistant takes a shine to her at once. Meanwhile, May is making goo-goo eyes at hunky Mario Novelli, who’s too busy concentrating on his spaceship duties to notice. This is all unremarkable, run of the mill stuff, a little dull but acceptable enough, given the time it was made and the probably limited resources the filmmakers had at their disposal. But then the aliens take off for home with our heroes on board and everything cheerfully falls apart.
For a start, I was under the impression that the film was set in the present day, but when they get into orbit, outer space seems awfully crowded. This is thanks to footage from ’Gorath’ (1962) and ‘The Doomsday Machine’ (1972/1977?) We also see some of the cast from the latter, the presence of which may have given rise to the confusion relating to that film’s completion date and release. Obviously, none of this was in the original Italian version but has been stapled on by the U.S. distributor. Probably with the idea of using the footage in the trailer as well.
Having escaped the Earth forces (not difficult when they’re in a different movie) the aliens communicate with their leader, the ubiquitous Gordon Mitchell, who gets about 30 seconds on a TV screen, this fulfilling his contractual obligation to be in absolutely every Italian movie made at the time.
Damage to the craft means in-flight repairs, which results in a spacewalk for Novelli, which he carries out without the aid of a space helmet or safety cable. But it’s all fine because he has help from an off-screen trampoline. The stars in the background seem be moving about a bit too, which is weird. It’s probably due to some unusual optical space anomaly, rather than because they were lamps hung on wires as some unkind commentators have suggested.
Unable to return home, they stop on a rocky world, where Ruffo and May wear body stockings with feathers covering their naughty bits, and we get a bit of ‘this Earth thing we call kissing.’ Indeed, it’s seems as if personal relationships have developed at quite a pace. But they can’t stay long as they are attacked by some joke shop apemen and there was a U.S. film editor with a large pair of scissors getting very impatient. There’s some muddled message about the dangers of Nuclear weapons when Ruffo returns home to find her planet has turned into a model city with some houseplants growing on it. Then the credits roll with the future of humanity – and alien kind – left in the hands of this motley lot. I guess at least the males of the party won’t need much encouragement to start repopulating the universe.
Without interference from the U.S. distributor, this would still have been a pretty poor enterprise and, at its full length, rather tiresome. As it is, the cuts and dubbing do lend the film a certain wacky charm, once you get through the first half. Enjoyably naff.