The Tramps In The Planet War/Brazilian Star Wars/Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas (1978)

The Tramps In The Planet War/Brazilian Star Wars/Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas (1978)‘Hey guys, I found a bangerine tree.’

A group of four friends are forced to spend the night in a remote, isolated spot after escaping from a gang of thugs. During the dark hours, a UFO lands nearby, and the occupant asks the quartet for help in his fight against a tyrannical galactic overlord. Initially reluctant, they are persuaded when the alien prince offers them each their weight in gold…

Os Trapalhões were a four man Brazilian comedy group, whose name could most closely be translated as ‘The Bumbling Ones’ but was generally given as ‘The Tramps’ in the English language. They had a hit TV show that ran from the 1970s to 1993 in their native land, episodes apparently consisting of short sketches showcasing the kind of physical humour practiced by The Three Stooges. When ‘Star Wars’ (1977) became an instant, global phenomenon, it was an obvious target for parody and, by this point, the group already had four movies under their belts, including a comedy version of ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968).

The Tramps In The Planet War/Brazilian Star Wars/Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas (1978)

🎵Dale a tu cuerpo alegria, Macarena
Hey Macarena!🎶

The film begins with a wacky five-minute carchase. It’s not the perfect way to introduce our heroic quartet, but it will have to do. There’s Renato Argao (the leader), Dede Santana (second-in- command), Mussum (a black man), and Zacarias (who wears a bad wig and speaks like a baby). That’s about as much character development as you get. The chase features repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down, all accompanied by lots of wacky noises on the soundtrack.

Hiding out in the woods, our zany quartet meet handsome alien Prince Flick (Pedro Aguinaga) who dresses like Luke Skywalker but gives off more of a Han Solo vibe, especially given his sidekick Bonzo; an incredibly tall man who wears a dog mask and speaks backwards. Aguinaga needs some help with defeating evil overlord Zuco (Carlos Kurt) who wears a costume and helmet that would get any self-respecting 20th Century Fox executive reaching for the nearest lawsuit. The dastardly villain has kidnapped the Princess Myrna (Maria Cristina Nunes) and is demanding that Aguinaga hand over half of this electronic brain gizmo so that he can rule the galaxy (or something). The Tramps spring heroically into action, especially when Aguinaga promises them fabulous riches in return.

The Tramps In The Planet War/Brazilian Star Wars/Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas (1978)

‘I don’t know if I’m going to make it home for ‘Life Day’ at this rate…

Making landfall on Aguinaga’s homeworld (some sand dunes that looks a bit like Tatooine), our heroes are immediately ambushed by some creatures that look a bit like Jawas. The resulting fight features lots of repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down. During one of the slowed down moments, we can clearly see that one of the aliens is wearing training shoes. Everything is accompanied by lots of wacky noises and disco music. The sequence last more than five minutes.

Afterwards our conquering heroes pair up with four alien space babes, who seem under the strange impression that these four middle-aged losers are kings from another planet. Naturally, it’s straight off to the nearest nightclub (not a cantina), where Aguinaga interrogates some guy in a back room and The Tramps commandeer the jukebox so they can throw some crucial shapes on the dancefloor with their new girlfriends. Yes, we get a full, unbroken three minutes of them grooving to some inane disco number with various extras standing around in joke-shop alien masks. But these extra-terrestrials don’t like disco (boooo!) and another fight breaks out. It features lots of repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down. All accompanied by lots of wacky noises. Who’d have thought it?

The Tramps In The Planet War/Brazilian Star Wars/Os Trapalhões Na Guerra Dos Planetas (1978)

 ‘I find your lack of a lawsuit disturbing.’

Eventually, we get the big face-off between good and evil, i.e. the Tramps, Aguinaga, his dog faced buddy and the space babes vs. Kurt and his massive horde of about ten people. The inevitable fight breaks out. It features lots of repetitive visual gags, very little dialogue, and action that’s alternately speeded-up and slowed down. And it’s accompanied by lots of wacky noises and disco music!

Argao got hold of a freeze ray in the nightclub car park earlier, and he uses it every 30 seconds or so when one of the good guys is in trouble and we need another hysterical gag. Also it gives him the chance to kick big bad Kurt in the butt. Over and over again. Every time he does, there’s a hilarious ’boing’ noise on the soundtrack. This sequence goes on for ten whole minutes! My friends, it’s a riot. I had to have surgery afterwards because my sides had split.

Hideously shot on videotape, this no budget monstrosity was apparently aimed at small children, even if some of the ‘jokes’ seem a little adult from time to time. Obviously, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but there’s really nothing that can excuse such a travesty of the cinematic art. Can it even be classed as a feature film? lt’s more like a series of amateurish, improvised skits held together by the barest whisper of filmmaking technique and SFX that look like they’ve been cobbled together on a workbench in someone’s back room. Individual scenes are padded to beyond ridiculous length; often featuring little spoken dialogue, static visuals and backdrops so crude they seem to have been designed with the sole purpose of making your eyes bleed.

It’s excruciating. Still, it is better than the ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ I suppose.

Star Odyssey/Sette Uomini D’Oro Nello Spazio (1979)

Star Odyssey (1979)‘Sol 3 is better than I thought it was when I bought it.’

An alien slave trader wins the planet Earth at auction and launches an invasion in order to secure the raw materials of his business. The situation looks hopeless until a gang of swashbuckling mavericks with special skills step into the breach to try to save the day…

In the wake of the global explosion of ‘Star Wars’ (1977), many filmmakers rushed their own space operas into production in all corners of the world. Most of them only had one go at the genre, but some were markedly more enthusiastic. Take a bow, Alfonso Brescia. Under the name of Al Bradley, the Italian director delivered four such pictures in the space of a couple of years, five if you count ‘The Beast In Space’ (1980) (although we probably shouldn’t as it was a semi-porno.) Of course, he recycled the same sets, costumes and SFX, and even some of the same actors, most notably Yanti Somer, who was the female lead in most and appears here.

The last of Brescia’s quartet of space epics doesn’t waste any time in getting started (more on that later), with big bad Kess of Kol launching an immediate alien invasion that leaves the Earth at his mercy. The authorities simply can’t deal with him, even though his main weapons seem to be badly integrated library footage of big explosions and androids in silly blonde wigs prancing about in the woods. Mankind’s last, worst hope turns out to be freewheeling Professor Ennio Balbo and his ragtag bag of misfits who operate on both sides of the law (try not to yawn, Ladies and Gentlemen). These include dapper Gianni Garko, who sports black leather trousers and a nifty shirt with a glittery spider design. His hypnotic powers allow him to see through cards at the local casino (useful thing this hypnotism stuff!) and break scientists Chris Avram and Malisa Longo out of intergalactic prison (‘It’s a terrible bore being under the freeze ray for a warm-hearted girl’.)

Strangely enough when Garko’s well on his way to work the jailbreak via a cut-price Millennium Falcon, he finds himself right back at the card table in the casino, and the blonde he’d helped win earlier is still playing her numbers game across the room. Then we see Kess  of Kol buying the Earth at auction (which we kind of thought that he’d already done?!) So, what’s happening? Has the film a complex flashback structure? Or does it have a mind-bending timeline in the tradition of director Christopher Nolan? Um, probably neither. It’s far more likely that the editor simply got the reels of film mixed up and put some of the scenes together in the wrong order! l’m not even joking.

Star Odyssey (1979)

‘Don’t make it so…just don’t.’

Once we’ve passed this strange temporal anomaly, we’re treated to the scientists spending most of the running time trying to isolate something to counterattack the alien substance ‘lnderium’ (ln the end they call it ‘Anti-lnderium’ folks!) We also get ‘comedy’ (l use the term very loosely) provided by two bickering robots in love (the girl ‘bot has big eyelashes!) There’s also a pedal bin with flashing lights that stands in for R2D2.

After about an hour, our zeroes do finally manage to achieve something when they get their hands on some lnderium Swords (cough; lightsabers; cough). There are no big space battles, but we are treated to Norman (Roberto Dell’Acqua) taking part in the Android-Human World Championship where he squares off in the ring against an eight foot tall tin can called Hercules. And we also get uptight Nino Castelnuovo as Lt Oliver ‘Hollywood’ Carrera who has a ridiculously paint-on Errol Flynn moustache.

As 1970s Science Fiction goes, this is predictably dreadful stuff (which ‘Star Wars’ knock-offs weren’t?) but it’s actually worse than most due to its almost total lack of action and annoying ‘humorous’ elements. There’s a second (third?) hand feel to everything, and it’s no surprise that Brescia abandoned intergalactic exploration shortly afterward (if you forget the porno!) Unfortunately, he did return to the fantastical arena with dreadful ‘Ator The Invincible’ sword and sorcery fiasco ‘Iron Warrior’ (1987).

Rather brilliantly, in this film some of the supporting cast appear ‘in alphabetical order’ in the starting credits. It actually says that. Only it seems that a mighty strange alphabet was used. Because they don’t. Not even close.

Take my word for it; the whole thing’s best avoided.

The War In Space/Wakusei Daisenso (1977)

War In Space (1977)‘Skipper, it seems strange. Electric waves are calling us from Venus.’

In the near future, alien spaceships attack the Earth fleet and the planet’s orbiting space stations. A brilliant Japanese professor revives an old project to build an intergalactic battleship to combat this deadly threat.

The global phenomena that was the original ‘Star Wars’ (1977) was welcomed with open arms by film producers from all around the world, who immediately began knocking out their own space operas to compete at the box office. Japan differed slightly in this respect as, by all accounts, the release of the movie was delayed there, to allow the homemade ‘A Message From Space’ (1978) into theatres first. This probably accounts for the fact that this slightly earlier effort actually bears very little resemblance to the George Lucas film, beyond the laser battles in space. And there are an awful lot of those.

Apart from lots of (fairly) reasonable models shooting out multi-coloured rays, the film takes a mostly earthbound approach to its material, with a good deal of the usual clichés present and correct. There’s a lot of sitting around planning stuff, a tiresomely predictable love triangle, heroic self-sacrifice and notable world landmarks coming to explosive ends. Some of these fiery events look suspiciously similar to those in ‘The Last War’ (1961), which kind of scuppers the producer’s claim that this was the most expensive film to come out of Japan in years! But the main problem the film has is that it’s dull. Unbelievably dull.

There are a few scattered moments of interest. The aliens attempt infiltration of Earth disguised as human beings, but their masks seem to have come from a cheap joke shop as they tear easily and expose their green skin! Their mothership seems to have been modelled after a Roman galleon, complete with figurehead and what look a bit like rows of oars! Our main villain seems to be dressed as a Centurion (perhaps there was a spare uniform in the wardrobe department) and his sidekick is a pantomime Minotaur! This large actor threatens the captured heroine with a cardboard axe while she wonders why she’s suddenly wearing a very skimpy top and short shorts.

War In Space (1977)

‘Hi Honey, I’m home…’

Unfortunately, anyone expecting the sort of inspired lunacy of Italian rip-offs from a galaxy far, far away, such as ‘The Humanoid’ (1979) or ‘Starcrash’ (1978) (with Hammer Scream Queen Caroline Munro, Oscar Winner Christopher Plummer and a young David Hasselhoff!) are likely to go home seriously disappointed.

This has little to offer even the bad movie fan looking for a quick giggle. Models fly about, laser beams fire, things roar when they explode in the vacuum of space, hell, you know the drill by now.

Completely disposable space shenanigans. It’s a challenge to the memory to recall much of the experience even a few hours afterward.

The War of the Robots (1977)

The_War_of_The_Robots_(1977)‘Yes, I understand. Thanks to this electronic translator.’

Alien robots kidnap a famous scientist and his assistant, who are on the verge of creating artificial life. The Earth Security Forces send a brave captain and his crew in pursuit but when they catch up with the miscreants on a remote planet, they find that things aren’t quite what they seem.

George Lucas is to blame for a lot of things. Not just those dreadful prequels but also the slew of cheap ‘Star Wars’ (1977) knock offs that emerged from continental Europe hot on the heels of his global success. Director Alfonso Brescia made 5 of them and proved that, although the concept had travelled, the technical expertise definitely had not.

Laydeez and gentlemen, the Human Lightbulb!

Laydeez and gentlemen, the Human Lightbulb!

Brescia’s 5 space operas were mostly interchangeable (apart from the one that was a porno!); Yanti Somer turned up in most of them, the spaceships are toys, the plots dull, the dubbing dreadful, there’s lots of over-explanatory dialogue, the girls wear black skullcaps or silly blonde wigs, there are low rent lightsabers, lots of running around in underground tunnels and underwhelming space battles that look like bad arcade games from the 1980s.

Apart from that, they’re great. This one isn’t even particularly coherent, with characters reveals having no credibility, either plot or performance wise. Yes, something may have been lost when the movie was translated into English but it’s hard to see exactly what that might have been.

This is simply a dire and cheap rip-off, a mechanical exercise in cashing in on the Science Fiction boom of the late 1970s.

Buy ‘The War of The Robots’ here. I would.