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 and 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 reusing footage between the various movies), they aren't really sequels to one another, but they do all take place in the same shared universe of cars with plastic roofs and interplanetary space ships. And, as one might guess from the origin, these aren't the height of film 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 adventure, this movie tries to do it all.
Back at the UN Space Station Commander Rod Jackson (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart aka Jack Stuart) and his manly pal Frank (Renato Baldini) are 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 the mountain to see just what they can find. Joined by the base commander's sexy (well, not really but I think she's supposed to be hot) assistant Lisa Nielson (Ombretta Colli) the group goes through many hardships scaling the mountain side and, as if that wasn't enough, 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 planet's 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 them on 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 battle.
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 cheap plastic vests and capes was bad enough, but only thing alien about them was their blue 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 show 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.