With the release of The
Snow Devils, Warner Archives has put out the final film in the Gamma I Quadrilogy on DVD. That's
a quite a treat for fans of hokey 60's
Sci-Fi movies (and I usually abhor the term sci-fi... it sounds childish
shouldn't be used for films like
2001: A Space Odyssey, but in the
case of these films, the term fits all too well). These
four Italian films, War of
the Planets, Wild, Wild Planet, War Between the Planets, and Snow Devils* were directed by Antonio
Margheriti in a period of weeks in 1965.
Shot at the same time on a very limited budget (and freely
footage between the various movies), they aren't really sequels to one
but they do all take place in the same shared universe of cars with
roofs and interplanetary space ships.
And, as one might guess from the origin, these aren't the height
making as The Snow Devils clearly
illustrates. Still even for its faults,
and there are many, the film is a wild ride.
Partially bergfilme (a German genre of films involving mountain
climbing), part spy film, part monster movie, and part outer space
this movie tries to do it all.
In the Himalayas, a weather
monitoring station takes some strange readings:
the temperature will suddenly jump 50 degrees, and just as
back down. They're trying to investigate
the strange phenomena when the main window on their command center
something ominous appears....
Back at the UN Space Station Commander Rod Jackson (Giacomo
Rossi-Stuart aka Jack Stuart) and his manly pal Frank (Renato Baldini)
shown footage of what was discovered at the Himalayan station: the entire station is wrecked and the crew
are all dead. The base's commander is
missing. It's up to Commander Rod and
Frank to discover just who, or what, wrecked the station, and why.
Arriving back on Earth, Rod and Jack hire a group of native
porters and a guide, Sharu (Wilbert Bradley) and start travelling up
mountain to see just what they can find.
Joined by the base commander's sexy (well, not really but I
supposed to be hot) assistant Lisa Nielson (Ombretta Colli) the group
through many hardships scaling the mountain side and, as if that wasn't
they run into a group of Yeti, or Snow Devils as the natives refer to
them. Captured by these plastic
vest-wearing monsters the team learns their plans:
The Snow Devils are actually aliens, the last
of their kind. They want to take over
the Earth, but it's much too warm for them, so they're altering the
climate to both kill off humans and make the place more palatable for
them. It's up to Rod and Jack, along
with scrappy Lisa, to stop this menace.
The odd thing is that once they do stop the Yeti, there's
still half an hour left in the film. The
climate change hasn't stopped! Rod and
company discover that the Yeti's are not all dead, there's a group of
another planet and they're wrecking the Earth's climate from a distance. Those tricky devils. So
it's off into space for the final climatic
This was a cheesy film, but still a lot of fun. The
longer it went on, the more outrageous it
became. While I spent the first third of
the film wondering why the pace was so glacial and why it was all about
mountain climbing, when the Yeti's did appear it was well worth the
wait. The fact that they were wearing
vests and capes was bad enough, but only thing alien about them was
makeup and the fake fur that was glued to their arms.
I also really liked that the Yeti took the
time to build air ducts into their system of caves.
Not many aliens would have taken the trouble.
Just when you think that the movie can't get any hokier, I
mean how do you top guns that fire a six inch flame, it does. The final third of the film plays out like an
episode of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, complete with 50's children's
special effects and bad dialog.
Wonderfully irreverent, though not intentionally.
This film comes on a made-to-order DVD-R in a standard keepcase.
The two channel audio if fine. There isn't
a lot of range and the lows are
particularly anemic, but there isn't a lot of background noise either. There is a bit of distortion during some of
the explosions, but it's minor.
I was happy to see that this film received a 1.85:1
anamorphic transfer. It was generally
very nice looking with good colors and a fairly sharp image. There was some speckling and dirt in various
places but it wasn't a distraction.
Nothing aside from a trailer.
This film is not good by any means, but it is fun to
watch. A space
opera/spy/adventure/monster movie that can't be beat.
The Warner Archive edition looks good and
it's well worth picking up. Recommended.
*All of these are available from Warner Archives, with the
exception of War Between the Planets
which has been released by Dark Sky films.