Planetary Giants/Gigantes Planetarios (1966)

Gigantes Planetarios/Planetary Giants (1966)‘As we imagined, the gorilla throws messy bangs.’

A race of humanoid aliens carry out acts of sabotage on planet Earth prior to a full scale invasion. A heroic scientist infiltrates their covert forces, and finds himself en route via rocketship to the alien homeworld. Can he and his companions possibly stop their dastardly plan?

Dreary black and white Mexican space opera from director Alfredo B Crevenna that roughly follows the story template of the original ‘Flash Gordon’ (1936) with Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe. Yes, Earth is being threatened by an extra-terrestrial dictator, yes, an eccentric old scientist has built a starship in his back yard, and yes, our square-jawed hero takes it to the stars to fight the aliens on their home turf. So far so good, but the outlandish qualities of that movie serial are notable by their absence here. As is the fun.

Top science bloke Daniel Wolf (Guillermo Murray) is a worried man. A series of flying saucer sightings seem to be linked with the mysterious deaths of esteemed colleagues and disasters at important installations. It’s so bad that he advises some people at some meeting or other that they need to consult with renegade egghead Professor Walter (Mario Orea). This does not meet with general approval; Orea’s claims that he’s been in communication with the ‘planet of eternal night’ for many years have made him an inappropriate guest at many a scientific conference and ritzy dinner party.

Gigantes Planetarios/Planetary Giants (1966)

‘Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?’

Nevertheless Murray and secretary/love interest Silvia (Adriana Roel) seek him out, and not only find that he can prove his claims but that he has designed detailed plans for an interplanetary rockstship! The aliens want this technology, however, and, in the blink of a rather large ray gun, Orea is reduced to a puff of smoke.

At Roel’s suggestion, Murray reinvents himself as a feckless playboy, hoping to entice the aliens to recruit him as an inside man. It’s such a brilliant plan that Murray is approached by off world femme fatale Mara (Jacqueline Fellay) the first time he steps into a nightclub! Told you it was brilliant! Murray agrees to hand over the rocketship plans for a wedge of cash, but the exchange goes terribly wrong when the alien’s envoy ends up getting fried in a bathtub. Ooops.

It’s then we find out that Orea didn’t just have the blueprints for a rocketship, he’d actually built it! How a discredited scientist managed to do this is not really addressed. So it’s up to Murray to go off planet to deal with evil potentate The Guardian (José Gálvez). It shouldn’t be too difficult, except his crack, trained crew of astronauts comprises girlfriend Roel (who has stowed away in the most predictable plot development ever) and heavyweight boxing champion Marcos Godoy (Rogelio Guerra) and his manager Taquito Rey (José Ángel Espinosa ‘Ferrusquilla’) who have replaced the original crew by mistake in a plot twist that is visible from several light years away.

Gigantes Planetarios/Planetary Giants (1966)

‘Mr Creosote knew he was going to finish last on Come Dine With Me.’

And here’s where the film starts to have real problems. Up until the point that the mismatched quartet leave the Earth, it’s been pretty underwhelming stuff. Not noticeably bad, but not very interesting either. However, when the spaceflight begins, everything grinds to a halt. Guerra and Espinosa provide some lame comedy (which sets alarm bells ringing), Murray has to go on a spacewalk to repair some technical do-berry thing on the outside of the ship and the audience begins to start thinking about putting the dinner on and walking the dog.

It’s not much better when they reach the alien world. Our heroes needn’t have bothered with spacesuit helmets as they just pop the visors as soon as they step outside without even making a pretence of testing the atmosphere. Every time they need to disguise themselves as one of the aliens the uniforms fit perfectly, and there’s no problem in dealing with these pesky beings anyway, as all they’re armed with is short swords! Yes, they all wear togas too, and the planet seems to have been designed by someone with an obsession for Doric Columns. Couldn’t be leftover sets from some historical Greek or Roman drama, could it?

Gigantes Planetarios/Planetary Giants (1966)

‘I’m worried we won’t be able to cope with their short sword technology.’

Gálvez is no Ming the Merciless either; cheerfully sharing his plans with our heroes and showing them his big ray gun so they can use it against him later on. One good aspect is that Guerra and Espinosa don’t turn out to be the usual comic buffoons we expect them to be (the former actually gets to do a lot of the heroic stuff) but saying that a film is not quite as bad as it might have been is not really all that much of a complement.

Crevenna had a long and active career in Mexican cinema, handling lots of different genres while running up a truly amazing 151 directorial credits! There were romantic dramas (‘Forbidden Fruit’ (1953)), other science fiction projects (‘Invisible Man In Mexico’ (1958) and ‘Adventure at the Centre of the Earth’ (1965)), and horrors (‘Bring Me The Vampire’ (1963) and ‘The Whip Against Satan’ (1979)). He also seems to have specialised in wrestling films, sitting in the canvas chair for half a dozen of Santo’s cinematic adventures, including ‘Santo El Enmascarado De Plata Vs. ‘La lnvasion De Los Marcianos’/ Santo Vs The Martians’ (1967) and the masked man’s final film ‘The Fist of Death’ (1982). He’d already cut his teeth on several similar outings back in the 1960s that featured one of the iconic grappler’s main rivals in ‘Neutron vs. The Maniac’ (1964) and the brilliantly-titled ‘Neutron Battles The Karate Assassins’ (1965).

Despite its shortcomings, the film must have met with some level of success as it got a quick sequel. Murray, Roel, Guerra and Espinosa all repeated their roles in the similarly themed ‘Planet of The Female Invaders’ (1966), again for director Crevenna. This was a far more interesting production, although in some respects it was just a rehash of this film. But the wonderful Lorena Velásquez’s alien queen made a far more deadly antagonist than the blustering Gálvez and both action and plot were far livelier.

‘Another flying saucer in Patagonia!’ screams a newspaper headline at one point. If only the film were half as interesting as that sounds. A dull slog.

Planet of the Female Invaders/El planeta de las mujeres invasoras (1966)

Planet_of_The_Female_Invaders_(1966)‘Only the oldest die, the children will live.’

A young boxer throws a fixed fight and he and his girlfriend are chased to a local fairground by the mob boss and his henchmen. The pursuit ends on a spaceship ride run by two women in silver dresses and pointy hats. Rather surprisingly, it turns out that the ride is real and everyone is whisked off to a low budget alien planet populated by women only.

Mexican Science Fiction comedy drama, which attempts a slightly more serious tone than usual amidst the inevitable tin foil trappings, and was a sequel to ‘Gigantes Planetarios/Planetary Giants (1966). The evil alien queen wants humans for their lungs due to oxygen-related difficulties! However, if there’s one thing that movies have taught us it’s that when there are twins involved one will be good and one will be evil. So, it is here, with her nice twin sister opposing the plan, and lobbying for a more peaceful solution.

The best news here by some distance is that these alien twins are played by the gorgeous and talented Lorena Velásquez. Her queen is haughty and imperious; her sister sweet and evanescent. Velasquez also played ‘Gloria Venus’ in the ‘Wrestling Women’ series, and there’s even better news for the audience because her tag team partner Elisabeth Bennett (‘The Golden Rubi’) is also here! She plays one of the Queen’s agents on Earth, although she doesn’t get much of a chance to shine. Also there’s no opportunity for the women to show off their grappling skills.

If audiences can ignore the Velásquez factor (not easy!) there’s not a great deal else to get excited about anyway. The film is slow, talky and the plot is paper thin. The alien world is the usual mixture of an old quarry and a few sparsely decorated rooms and corridors in the alien ‘city’. Back on Earth, the Queen’s agents fall out as Campbell begins to have qualms about their mission. The ‘comedy’ is mainly provided by chief gangster, who keeps walking into doors. Rather surprisingly, it’s not even funny the first time.


She hadn’t quite figured out how to use human vehicles.

The story is predictable and hopelessly contrived. Production values aren’t high and there’s no real build up to the rather half-hearted finale. The film also lacks the skewed ‘anything goes’ mentality of many Mexican science fiction and horror pictures of the era. It might just as well have been a straight remake of a generic American movie from the 1950s, such as the gloriously dumb ‘Cat Women of the Moon’ (1954) or the Zsa Zsa Gabor stinker ‘Queen of Outer Space’ (1958)

However, it is an improvement on the previous film, which was a weary trudge through a sub ‘Flash Gordon’ (1936) adventure without any of the fun or cheesy style. Several of the cast return here, including Guillermo Murray as heroic scientist Daniel Wolf, Adriana Roel as his girlfriend, and Rogelio Guerra and José Ángel Espinosa ‘Ferrusquilla’ bring the (banal) comedy. The delightful Maura Monti is also featured. 

But this is Velásquez’s show, as she easily eclipses the rest of the cast and effortlessly rises above the unremarkable material with her dual portrayal. We get the cruel ice queen in a long silver dress, and her goody two shoes sister in a much shorter one that shows plenty of leg. I’m sold.

Slightly lame shiny space adventure with the benefit of a leading lady who deserved much better.