Tuesday, June 13, 2006

CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS / WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS

Dark Sky Films have just unleashed another in their Drive-In Double Feature series upon the DVD collecting public with two Sixties color sci-fi oddities, CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS/WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS (1962/1965).

CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS is a surprisingly cerebral and cinematically inept sci-fi treatise on tolerance set some decades after a nuclear war, when mankind has created a race of blue-skinned 'bots to help rebuild civilization. Disparagingly called "clickers," the robots continue to evolve, becoming more human-like. But not everyone is happy about that. A fanatical group of humans called The Order of Flesh and Blood is dedicated to halting the 'bots' evolution and preserving human purity. One of its leaders, Cragis (Don Megowan, THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US) is surprised to discover that his own sister is living "in rapport" with a "clicker," and goes to confront her. But there are greater surprises in store for Cragis…

Wesley Barry's direction is static, giving the film the feel of a stage play, with very little cutting and only a few (very long) scenes, made up almost entirely of dialogue. While thematically, the movie could be seen as a precursor to Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER, cinematically, it's about on the level of an Ed Wood film. In fact, Dudley Manlove, one of the stars of Wood's PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, plays one of the chatty "clickers."

As a side note for film buffs, the legendary make-up artist Jack Pierce, who decades earlier had created the original Frankenstein and Wolf Man make-ups for Universal, devised the bald, blue-skin look of the "clickers." Sadly, CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS was one of Pierce's last credits.

The second feature (actually, the first on the menu but not on the packaging) is Antonio Margheriti's colorful space opera, WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS. One of four inter-related sci-fi potboilers Margheriti directed in the mid-Sixties, WAR tells the sometimes-exciting tale of the Earth space force's battle with a rogue, living planet – which just happens to be on a collision course with Earth. Filled with delightfully cheesy miniature spaceships, space stations and model cities, not to mention square-jawed heroes and the Continental cuties they live love and fight for, WAR is a Fifties' pulp magazine story come to vivid life. It's a little talky at the beginning, but it pays off at the end, when our heroes land on and descend into the (literal) bowels of the wandering planet. Great fun, if you're in the right mood.

This second volume in Dark Sky Films' "Drive-In Double Feature" line offers both films in nearly pristine 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, absolutely rock-solid color transfers, with virtually no visible specks or scratches. WAR OF THE PLANETS is dubbed into English and both films are presented in 2.0 Dolby mono. Dark Sky has the disc set up so you can watch the two films as one long drive-in program – complete with trailers and snack bar intermission promos – or individually. The packaging is great, too.

Now that MGM seems to have all but abandoned its line of Midnight Movie double features discs, Dark Sky has helped fill the void with their own high quality, classic cult double-feature line. CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS/WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS is a satisfying two-shot of drive-in nostalgia and highly recommended for vintage sci-fi fans.

BUY: Drive-In Double Feature: Creation of the Humanoids/War Between the Planets