February 03, 2006

Stretching your cinematic budget

If you enjoy B-films, then you probably know the name Roger Corman. Even if you don't recognize the name, you've probably enjoyed some of his films. He's responsible for movies like Attack of the Giant Leeches, the Wasp Woman, Little Shop of Horrors, a terrific series of films based on Poe stories, Boxcar Bertha, Death Race 2000, Humanoids from the Deep, and over 350 more.

After last weekend's Mummy jag, I started watching a series of prehistoric women flicks. I'll post a review later of classics like Wild Women of Wongo and Mesa of Lost Women.

So last night I started watching a movie and things seemed *very* familiar. About halfway through I started laughing when I realized that I'd already seen much of the movie under a different title, but there were serious differences in the plotlines.

It was time to do a little research. VideoHound's Cult Flicks & Trash Pics gave up this gem:

Communism met a most ignominious humiliation at the hands of Yankee capitalist pig Roger Corman when the latter purchased the 1962 Soviet feature Planeta Burg (Planet of Storms), a serious-minded feature (with groundbreaking and costly special effects) about a collection of brave, bland cosmonauts exploring a hostile planet.

What Corman did was to use the acquired Russian film as the basis of two different movies. By adding english dialogue and extensive editing, the original film was rearranged into 1965's Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet. Scenes were added starring Basil Rathbone as an Earthbound professor and Faith Demergue as Marsha, the lady astronaut who stays in orbit as the mission doormat while the commander patronizes the hell out of her. The basic plot involves a rescue mission for two explorers and a robot on the surface of Venus. I've seen it mentioned in more than one place that the film credits were invented to disguise the fact that it was a Russian movie.

In 1968 Corman did it again, again re-editing and rearranging the original movie to create Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. This time, Mamie Van Doren stars as the leader of a telepathic group of mermaid Venusians who can control volcanos and the weather. When the exploring astronauts kill their pteradactyl "god", the women get pissed and try to destroy the alien invaders.

About 70% of the two movies duplicate each other, and I was greatly amused when, in the second movie, it's explained that "Marsha" is the code-word that everyone uses to refer to Earth. Silly, but it saved money by letting them share more of the dialogue between the flicks.

Both movies suck, and I highly recommend them.

Posted by: Ted at 10:07 PM | category: Cult Flicks
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1 Sounds hysterical. I know of Corman. THE Basil Rathbone?! You know, I still get a hankering for Zsa Zsa in "Queen of Outer Space" ("I hate zat Qveen!") every now and then. True, I have nowhere near the knowledge of this stuff you do, but I appreciate the awful suckiness of the ones I do know.

Posted by: dogette at February 04, 2006 08:04 PM (0ckUk)

2 Aw jeah!

Posted by: BLUE at February 06, 2006 11:30 AM (4Xncc)

3 how totally post-modern that someone make alien-invasion b-movies out of a soviet film.

all those alien-invasion b-movies were about the red menace, weren't they?

Posted by: wegglywoo at February 11, 2006 08:15 AM (X6QVH)

4 Soviet sci-fi was much like the culture it came from: earnest and dull. The crews are always multi-cultural (while any female crew are pointedly there to do the menial tasks like cooking), and inevitably one or more is sacrificed for the good of the entire crew, and by sacrificed I mean left behind. No rescues are attempted because individuals are expendable. It's all very communist in attitude and depressing as hell.

And yep, a lot of those "alien" movies played on the underlying fears of the time. Just like there was a slew of 50's and 60's movies featuring giant creatures caused by radiation. In the 1930's it was mummy movies, after the discovery of the real Tut's tomb in the 1920's.

Posted by: Ted at February 11, 2006 03:10 PM (+OVgL)

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